October 21, 2019

Acting Presidential?

One of the major criticisms of Donald Trump is that he often says things that are not presidential. Funny. No one ever says that about a Democrat candidate. Apparently, they are born presidential, if they are allowed to be born at all.

But words are cheap. The measure of a president should, at the very least, include character, and some well-known Democrats have fallen quite short of the mark. A short history lesson will prove the point.

We’ll start with FDR. Now there was a man who could turn a phrase. It’s hard to beat “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Or who can forget, “December 7, 1941–a date that will live in infamy”? He sure did sound presidential. But, at the same time, there is good evidence to indicate that Roosevelt had at least five mistresses during his years married to Eleanor. Apparently, he did little to hide his infidelity. In fact, his will provided that one of his paramours inherit one half of his $6 million estate. But around the fireside, he was “presidential,” right?

Harry Truman was known for his candor and his willingness to accept responsibility as president. On his desk was the famous plaque that read, “The buck stops here.” And he used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I guess that made him “presidential.” But Truman did not get the nickname “Give ‘em Hell Harry” for being a gentle soul. When the music critic of the Washington Post, Paul Hume, criticized Truman’s daughter for her lack of singing talent, Truman wrote a blistering letter to Hume that included the following lines: “Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!” And this gem: “Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.” How’s that for being “presidential”?

And then we have John F. Kennedy. People my age clearly remember, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Young, handsome, and virile, Kennedy looked the part of a president. However, Timothy Noah, of the New Republic, describes him as a “pathological adulterer” who “treated women like whores.” He often had prostitutes brought to the White House to satisfy his insatiable lusts. Naked pool parties and marijuana use were common. In addition, like a later president, he had an affair with a nineteen-year-old intern. Yet he was considered “presidential.”

Which brings us to Bill Clinton. He was a smooth talker, a real charmer. Here’s a couple of quotes you probably don’t remember: “Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.” or “A personal attack never fed a child.” But chances are the one quote you will always remember is “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Of course, that was a bald-faced lie. We now know that Clinton was, like Kennedy, a shameless womanizer. Juanita Broaddrick has accused him of rape; Kathleen Willey said she was groped by Clinton without her consent; Paula Jones says she was assaulted and sexually harassed; Jennifer Flowers and Dolly Kyle had long-time affairs with Clinton. And all that time he was married to Hillary. Boy, he knew what it meant to be “presidential.”

President Obama apparently has presidential qualities. He is another smooth talker and master of the teleprompter. Here is one of his lovely quotes: “If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists–to protect them and to promote their common welfare–all else is lost.” Now that does sound somewhat presidential. But then we also have this regarding health insurance: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.” Obama repeated variations of this quote nearly thirty times. And we soon learned that he was lying each time. In fact, Obama is a gifted liar, who, along with his surrogates, has created a culture of deceit. But the media will tell us that he is presidential.

And now we have Hillary Clinton, who has lied about Benghazi, her emails, and the Clinton Foundation. And yet the mainstream media never say that she is not presidential. Really?

Years ago, a failed coach once said, “You can lose with flair, and you can lose with style; but you’re still a loser.” When it comes to politics, you can talk with flair and you can talk with style, but that does not mean you’re presidential. Being truly presidential means you always tell the truth, you follow the Constitution, and you live a moral life worthy of imitation. Considering those three characteristics, there have been few real presidents in my lifetime. And this nation is the poorer because of it.

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Written by
Thomas Addis

THOMAS ADDIS is a retired high school teacher and published author, most recently authoring a children's book, A Gift of Light, which is available at Amazon. An M.A. graduate of Oakland University, he is Associate Editor of Catholic Journal. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and cycling.

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2 comments
  • Very thoughtful Piece! I read all your posts and pass them along to others. I’ts a shame it’seems so hard to change people’say minds. Keep them coming!

  • Well stated. Unfortunately, probably all true. But then, who knows truth today. So many half-truths and lies and embellishments abound. We really can’t make an intelligent decision on anything anymore.
    We are in the worst place I feel, as any other time in our country’s history. Most of our history was formed over good reason and facts, not lies, rumors, histeria and greed.

Written by Thomas Addis
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