Category Archives: democracy

President Washington’s Day



Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it was traditionally celebrated on February 22, Washington’s actual day of birth. However, according to, the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.


I think it was a damaging mistake to change from honoring the best of our presidents, as we did when I was growing up, to celebrating them all, as is done today. No doubt, some will say that my lament here is nothing more than me being sentimental about how things were “back in the day” but I truly see this shift as resulting in a loss for our culture. I see it as being akin to the philosophies of “no winners or losers” and “everyone gets a trophy”. With these, in what is likely to have started as a well-intentioned attempt to protect those with lesser abilities from being mistreated, the result is a homogenous society where all are rewarded equally, regardless of what effort is applied to their varying sets of talent. And, since there is no greater reward associated with greater effort and/or greater ability, the incentive to actually strive for greatness has been dramatically diminished. That seems to me like just the opposite of the standard we should be setting in establishing a holiday in recognition of America’s presidents.

Of course, I recognize that some may view Presidents’ Day as just being meant to honor the office. I’m OK with that but I believe most Americans look at Presidents’ Day in the way described it, “… a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.” With that being the case, I ask: Have they all been great and are they all deserving of being honored as such? In looking at the list of 44 U.S. Presidents, I think it’s pretty obvious that the answers to these questions are no and no. As a matter of fact, there have been two in my lifetime who have so dishonored the office that I would object to their being honored with their own holiday. One of these famously said, “I am not a crook.” He was. The other just as famously said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” He did. Ironically, with both of these, if not for their acts which truly dishonored the office, they might have been remembered as among our best presidents, if not among the greatest.


Thankfully, many of our 44 presidents have been distinguished. But I think there are just a few who were truly great. Chief among them is President Washington. In addition to the fact that he will always hold a unique position, as Father of Our Country, there are many other aspects of his life that can be pointed to as great. Arguably, one of the greatest things about his presidency was something that he didn’t do. He could have become King George I of the USA or U.S. President for lifetime. But, in keeping with the objectives set forth in the U.S. Constitution, that were ‘in order to form a more perfect union”, Washington willingly relinquished his presidential authority in 1796, at the end of his second term. In an article entitled The Wisdom of George Washington, provides the following comparison to illustrate how very exceptional this act was:

The world’s most generous prize money is attached not to the Nobel Prize but to the Mo Ibrahim Prize, awarded for good governance in Africa, as determined by a very simple test: a democratically elected leader who actually leaves office at the end of his term. The winner receives five million dollars plus two hundred thousand dollars a year for life. The 53 African nations yielded one claimant in 2011, but none for the two years previous. The precedent set by George Washington has not been easy to establish elsewhere, prize money or not.

With this in mind, rather than continuing with a Presidents’ Day that honors all U.S. presidents past and present, I’d like to see us return to honoring George Washington, as the Father of Our Country and as the U.S. President who set the standard for true greatness in that office. Whether we do this on the third Monday in February or on February 22, Washington’s actual day of birth, doesn’t matter to me. What does matter to me is preserving America’s founding ideals. As this relates to the subject at hand, I see it as inappropriate to include those who may have only been great at getting elected but who were inferior leaders, when we set aside a special day in appreciation of the office of U.S. President. Rather, I see it as most fitting to observe a President’s Day … President Washington’s Day, to recognize the one who showed the most honor to the office through greater effort applied to greater ability, as our nation’s leader.

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Filed under character, democracy, Government, greatness, ideals, leadership, Liberty, Making a Difference, Presidents, United States

We The Purple

NYPD Ball CapThis past Wednesday, I wore a black ball cap that has NYPD embroidered in large white letters on its front. In smaller white letters, 9-11-01 is embroidered on its back. I bought the cap during the week following that 9/11 at a Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa memorial service. I’ve made it a point to wear it on every 9/11 since then. I guess it’s sort of my Ebenezer to raise, to honor those who lost their lives on that tragic day in American history. I’m pleased to observe that it seems I’m not yet alone in paying this sort of tribute. However, I’m sorry to say it seems that we’ve all but lost a very important gain we realized through our great loss. It was rediscovering the strength of our being One Nation, Under God. Sadly and maybe even more tragically than 9/11 itself,we have failed to cling to and nurture what we gained on9-12-01.

For me, the apparent prospects for gain were symbolized by seeing President (R) Bush and Senator (D) Daschle hug, as the President arrived to address a joint session of Congress, shortly after the 9/11 tragedy. However, in an article entitled The President Bush/Senator Daschle Hug – 7 Years Later, I lamented that our nation was letting that prospective gain slip through its fingers. Instead, for the most part, we’ve returned to the course that political polar-opposites, Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas warned us against in their co-authored book, Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America. That book explores the people and groups that the authors believe have artificially deepened the divide between liberals and conservatives in America. In the book’s Introduction, they say, “We intend to put polarization on trial. We will introduce an abundance of evidence detailing the damage polarization has inflicted on politics, and why this insidious culture continues to operate to the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many.Continue reading

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America’s 21st Century Civil War

When asked about the state of the U.S. economy, Hillary Clinton first takes the opportunity to imply some similarity between John McCain and Herbert Hoover. At the same time, Senator McCain delivers a speech addressing, “Senator Obama’s fantasy plan for making us safer.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama compares Senator Clinton to Walter Mitty, in responding to her “mistake”, in recounting her visit to Bosnia, as First Lady.

I understand that these tactics are common, for providing political leverage but how do they help our nation? None of the three current Presidential Candidates mentioned are perfect but, though their approaches differ, I trust that each of of them actually have hearts to serve our nation. Why, then, do we so consistently hear these sorts of slams while we ALMOST NEVER HEAR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF ANYTHING GOOD IN OPPONENT’S POSITIONS, that would in fact serve the best interests of our nation?

Maybe you agree with John McCain’s positions and maybe you don’t but he is unarguably a genuine National Hero. The late-night comics seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of repeatedly saying that McCain is “really old.” I get a laugh out of it and Senator McCain appears to too but isn’t it a shame that this sort of thing masks a greater truth … that, for a guy who was tortured in the equivalent of a kennel cage for six years, he looks pretty good? Then, he came home to continue to work tirelessly to serve his nation. With a guy like this, wouldn’t we be better off if McCain’s opponents were courageous enough to embrace the good they see in his positions and build on that? After all, McCain’s positions on Government Spending, Border Security, Environment, etc., haven’t always been completely in line with his party. Surely, there’s something in there that Clinton and Obama can draw on that would add to their strategies.

With Hillary Clinton, its not uncommon to hear about her “unlikeability.” Whether you want to have dinner with her regularly or not, you have to admit that she’s worked hard to prepare herself to serve and she has, in fact, worked hard in serving. Currently, she gets a lot of criticism for claiming “experience” through her roles as First Lady of Arkansas and then, of the U.S. Perhaps much of that criticism is deserved but, if so, she at least equally deserves consideration of that old adage about the most difficult instrument to play being second-fiddle. And, very obviously, her challenges were even greater, as the result of the “fiddling” of the one she was striving to support. You’d think that a person of her caliber would have some ideas about strengthening our middle class, our families and our schools that could be useful in the plans of her opponents.

Many question Barack Obama’s substance and the scrutiny his judgement is currently getting over the church he’s associated himself with for nearly 20 years seems legitimate. But the guy seems to have some desirable natural leadership qualities and he’s speaking out about a number of issues in our culture that have gone untended for far too long. With his intellect, surely he can contribute to a number of challenges but you’ve got to admit, he’s uniquely qualified to address some cross-cultural matters. Wouldn’t the U.S. culture benefit more if Clinton and McCain acknowledged their void in an area that Obama can so richly fill?

Unfortunately, our nation has drifted away from what I’m suggesting. Its a quality that made us great in the first place. Some think of it as Yankee ingenuity. I say its a greater strength that comes from the synergy of the best of our differing ideas. Instead, what we’ve gotten, for quite some time, is having those who say their purpose is to serve, pitting themselves against each other over any difference they can find. The most remarkable evidence of this is what’s known as “The Redstate/Bluestate Divide”, that became so obvious with the first Presidential Election of this century and millennium.

When Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel came out with their book, Common Ground – How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America, I was hopeful it could start a groundswell of interest that would turn us back in a more productive direction in this regard. I even dreamed that my Presidential Candidate (now dropped out) would pick up on this and champion the cause. Neither happened and that’s a shame because I don’t think we’re just missing out on doing something good here. I agree with Thomas and Beckel that this is a “…Partisan War That is Destroying America.” I think of it as America’s 21st Century Civil War. Of course, it doesn’t really compare with our 19th Century Civil War but, much as was the case with the circumstances that led to The War Between The States, if these circumstances aren’t addressed and turned around, I believe it will continue to lead to our decline, as a great nation.

So what’s the solution? I think we should look to that first Civil War for the answer. There was no “groundswell of interest” to turn us back in a more productive direction. Instead, our country split in two … North and South … and gunfire broke out “across the aisle” between the two sides. It was the bloodiest war we’ve ever known. Thankfully, Abraham Lincoln stepped into that breech and proved himself to be one of our nation’s greatest heroes. Without Lincoln’s courage, its doubtful that our nation would have survived that time. Although the circumstances of the North/South Split differ from those of the Redstate/Bluestate Divide, the results could be as tragic. My hope and prayer with this is that a 21st Century American Hero will rise up and have the courage to step into this “Divide” before it leads to a point of no return in our nation’s decline. Does anyone see a true hero like this on the horizon? I guess we’ll know when we see one of these, who say their intention is to serve the public, changing the words they use and more importantly, changing their actions to match.

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