by FRC Media Office
July 14, 2014
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.-USA) was interviewed by The Daily Caller about how the Obama administration has handled the VA and Benghazi scandals and the possible ramifications from these dealings.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.-USA) was interviewed by The Daily Caller about how the Obama administration has handled the VA and Benghazi scandals and the possible ramifications from these dealings.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll on President Obama finds that “while (President) Obama’s likeability numbers have recovered somewhat, doubts about his decisiveness and honesty persist. More than half of Americans wouldn’t describe him as decisive or honest. Fifty-two percent don’t find him particularly inspiring.”
Yikes. “Taking stock of President Barack Obama at the five-year mark in his term, less than a third of Americans consider him to be an above-average chief executive. Nearly twice as many find him likable,” the study finds.
A couple of years ago I wrote a column on likeability and politics. My comment then: “Character counts far more than likeability. A person can be winsome, charismatic, and funny, and also be a serial adulterer.” Or a chronic liar.
No president has an easy time in the Oval Office. The stresses and demands inherent in the job of being leader of the free world are enormous. On any given day, a president has to engage with a host of frequently unrelated issues.
Additionally, every president has flaws, character and managerial and philosophical. Expecting perfection or exact consistency of anyone is a standard no one can meet.
But we have a right to expect bedrock honesty and intentionality of purpose from the leader of the country. Telling falsehoods (“if you like your doctor and your health insurance, you can keep them”) and repeatedly splitting the difference on critical policy matters represent a failure of leadership.
Indecision and a lack of integrity are not character qualities we need in a President. As one’s character is capable of change, let’s hope (and, more importantly, pray) Mr. Obama will determine to be a person of honesty and wise and certain judgment in his final years in office.
President Obama likes to think out-loud. His public comments often sound like the musings of a graduate student in a coffee shop conversation with his peers. Here are some of his recent ruminations:
On federalism: “You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government — that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable — and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments … (but) that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and (South Carolina Sen. John C.) Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there.”
On the reasonableness of the Left: “The more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself — and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this — are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.”
On the power of repetitive rhetoric: “I’ve been in Washington long enough now to know that if once a week I’m not talking about jobs, the economy, and the middle class, then all manner of distraction fills the void.”
On U.S. foreign policy: “We remain the one indispensable nation. There’s a reason why … everybody asks what the U.S. is doing. It’s because the United States continues to be the one country that people expect can do more than just simply protect their borders. But that does not mean that we have to get involved with everything immediately. We have to think through strategically what’s going to be in our long-term national interests, even as we work cooperatively internationally.”
And so it goes: continuous qualification, judgments tempered by counter-judgments. As a conservative, I disagree with most of them (including most of those above). I am also wary of their purpose; are his public contemplations merely a mask, something he uses to hide his dogmatic liberal opinions? And given that he governs from the Left so consistently, is it not fair to question whether such musings matter, or if his appearance of empathetic understanding is really a mere pose?
Nuance only matters so much. Understanding both sides, or suggesting that you do, might lower the political heat a bit, which can be beneficial. But at some point, anyone in leadership has to decide. He or she has to come down on one side or another. And Mr. Obama always governs to the Left.
Producers of a forthcoming National Geographic TV special polled Americans, today’s Americans, in one of those fantasy fights that are so popular with boxing fans. This time, though, the pollsters asked Americans whom they would vote for in a matchup between Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.
The poll produced some stunning results: Reagan would win another landslide, defeating Obama 58% to 42%. Could that be accurate? Would President Obama, with all his famous political skills, really only outpoll the famously inept Walter “Fritz” Mondale by a single point? Recall, Reagan bested Mondale in 1984 by 59% to 41%.
What’s the purpose of such fanciful exercises? It is not a pointless diversion into wishful thinking. It’s a key indicator. It tells us something very important about our fellow citizens.
Americans did respond to clear leadership, to a strong figure who had a strong message. Here’s a little thought experiment: It’s only been one year. Try to recall a single line of Mitt Romney’s that was not a gaffe much exploited by the liberal media. In all seriousness, can we remember a single memorable phrase? I cannot.
I was on the road last year on the FRC/Heritage Foundation Values Voters Bus for nearly six months. By law, I could not endorse any candidates. I found it wiser not to mention any. But that did not prevent anyone from talking up their favorite candidate to me.
I remember stopping at the Minnesota Republican State Convention in St. Cloud. It’s a beautiful state, especially in springtime. We were at the convention center early to set up. Mitt Romney had already wrapped up the GOP nomination by that time. But there were no bumper stickers, no buttons, no posters in evidence for Mitt. I talked to a lot of delegates and backers of various candidates for the U.S. Senate and the House. Not one of these political activists mentioned Gov. Romney.
I remember thinking at the time: this could spell trouble for Romney. I was aware that some parties had elected unloved candidates to the presidency. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, none of these men exuded warmth or elicited the love and esteem of their supporters. But they won nonetheless. What I had never seen in a winning campaign in more than forty years was a winning candidate who was not even mentioned by his own grassroots.
The fact that such a stunning percentage of Americans today say they would vote for Ronald Reagan in a modern election should be a source of greatest encouragement to us. It shows that a strong leader who lays out a clear program could win. Could have won.
In the aftermath of last November, the usual talking heads ran to the cable shows with their white boards and tried to prove that they hadn’t miscalculated. There was just an entirely different electorate out there. Demographics! Even Reagan couldn’t have won in this forbidding environment, they claimed.
Those political consultants—which is our twenty-first century title for flim-flam men, card sharps, and Ponzi schemers—were trying to explain away their disastrous strategizing, their deeply flawed campaign advice. Have you noticed that they are still making the rounds on TV and on talk radio, these architects of failure?
The first fatal flaw in their schemes is red state/blue state. The theory behind red state/blue state says you turn the Electoral College upside down and shoot for 270 Electoral Votes. You identify the states absolutely required to achieve this bare minimum for election. And you squeeze those states like lemons to get every last drop of voting power out of them.
A truly terrible idea, red state/blue state dangerously divides the nation. Barack Obama’s campaign in Virginia in 2008 had 84 local headquarters, staffed largely by volunteers. McCain’s campaign that year in Virginia had one national headquarters and one state campaign office—both located in the same Northern Virginia office building and both equally chaotic. Not surprisingly, Barack Obama became the first Democrat since LBJ in 1964 to carry the Old Dominion. And he did it again in 2012.
Last month, I attended the March for Marriage on the Mall. Four hundred Korean-Americans came to the event. They had all come from one church in Flushing, Queens.
That’s in New York State. The architects of failure haven’t put an ad on TV for a Republican in New York for decades. New York is not a part of the bare minimum number of 270 Electoral Votes they need for their grand strategy. So they write off the Empire State.
These architects abandoned California, too, and New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington and Oregon. By micro-targeting their appeals to specific groups—right to lifers, gun owners, home schoolers, NASCAR fans, etc., they lost the ability to move the country.
I still remember lines from Reagan’s 1980 campaign, and not just because I took part in it. “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours.
And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his job.” It was a light jab, not mean at all.
Jimmy Carter was so weak, he could be knocked over with a feather. Best of all, Ronald Reagan said America should be “a shining city on a hill.”
What today’s poll shows us in the fictional contest between Reagan and Obama is that the American people remember that shining city on a hill. Now, all we need is the leader to take us there.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2013
CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Darin Miller, (866) FRC-NEWS or (866) 372-6397
Pastor Giglio Disinvitation Signals Inauguration of a New Era of Religious Intolerance
January 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins offered the following comments in reaction to the news that Pastor Louis Giglio has been “kicked out” of the inauguration program because he has expressed his biblical views of sexuality:
“This is another example of intolerance from the Obama administration toward those who hold to biblical views on sexuality. Why is the president surprised that an evangelical pastor would teach from Scripture on homosexuality? One would be hard pressed to find an Evangelical pastor who hasn’t preached on what the Bible teaches about human sexuality.
“Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox churches all actively proclaim that sexual intimacy within the marriage of one man and one woman is the only biblically-sanctioned human sexual behavior. Are the scores of millions of Americans who affirm these teachings no longer welcome at the inauguration of our president?
“What is shocking is the intolerance of the Obama team that put such a high priority on forced acceptance of homosexuality that they totally disregard Pastor Giglio’s life work combating human trafficking. What we are seeing is the inauguration of a new era of religious intolerance in America.
“However, I would remind the president that the Constitution does not guarantee us only freedom of worship but also the freedom of religion. The two are very different. Freedom of religion goes further by guaranteeing the right to live out one’s faith not only in the privacy of their home but in the public square as well.
“This president appears determined to stir division and create two Americas: One America that holds to a biblical view of sexuality and another that offers tolerance so long as you embrace its redefined view of sexuality,” concluded Perkins.
Not you, too, Bill Clinton! Thats what I wanted to yell when I saw this incredible scene on TV. Bill Clinton is shown bowing to President Obama at the Democratic National Convention.
It was bad enough when Barack Obama bowed to the odious King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in London just days after becoming president. That desert despot is one of the worst human rights violators in the world. Even our own State Department recognizes this much. There is no religious liberty in Saudi Arabia, their official reports have laconically statedfor years.
Americans dont bow. One of the most affecting scenes in our history occurred on April 4, 1865, in Richmond. For four years, Richmond had been the Confederate capital; it still smoldering from the fires set by retreating rebel soldiers. President Lincoln had waited four long and bloody years for this day. He had said: I want to see Richmond, and moved quickly to enter the Virginia city. An American flag flew over the State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson.
Accompanied only by his son, Tad, and a small detachment of sailors, the president walked to the Confederate White House and sat at the desk of Jefferson Davis. The Confederate president had fled the city less than forty-eight hours earlier.
Most white people stayed inside, behind shuttered windows. But free black people crowded around Father Abraham. One elderly black man knelt down in front of his Emancipator. No, Lincoln admonished him, this is not right. You should bow only before God and thank Him for your freedom.
This is a story that bears repeating. Americans should never bow to any foreign head of state. And we certainly can find more democratic ways to greet one another than bowing.
President John F. Kennedy faced an interesting situation in 1963. He was acutely aware that he was the first Catholic elected as our president. When he went to the Vatican to see the new PopePaul VIshortly after the College of Cardinals had elevated himKennedy knew what he should do. Normally, it is protocol for faithful Catholics to kiss the Popes ring, a sign of reverence for the man whom Catholics believe is the Vicar of Christ.
But President Kennedy recognized his role as constitutional leader of thisGreatRepublic. So he sat respectfully at the Popes right hand and did not bow. Later that year, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had the tragic duty of receiving mourners at her husbands funeral. When numerous royal heads of state came through the White House, draped in funeral black crepe, Mrs. Kennedy did not bow.
Granted, George Washington bowed to dignitaries on the balcony of New Yorks Federal Hall on April 30, 1789, when he was inaugurated. And he bowed to the tens of thousands of American citizens who came to witness the first taking of the presidential oath.
But Washington was mildly rebuked by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and other republicans for aping this monarchical practice. They preferred a simple handshake to put distance between our new experiment in self-rule and those royal courts of Europe.
Democrats used to understand this. Franklin D. Roosevelt never bowed. Confined to a wheel chair as he often was, it would really not have been possible. When FDR played host to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in June, 1939, he not only did not bow to the British monarchs, he made a point of serving them hot dogs and beans at a Hyde Park picnic! The royals loved it.
Jimmy Carter showed an appreciation of American history when he was inaugurated. Following the taking of the oath and a thoroughly forgettable Inaugural Address on January 20, 1977, President Carter got out of his limousine and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the reviewing stands in front of the White House.
Carter did this to emulate the famous Inaugural walk of President Thomas Jefferson in 1801. I applauded Jimmy Carter for this fine action. (Come to think of it, its the last thing he did that I could applaud.)
So, please, can we remember we are Americans? We bow only to God!
I hadn’t really expected to see the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag flying at an Independence Day celebration on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. But I knew this would be a special celebration. Peter and Margarete wanted to include a reading of the entire Declaration of Independence at their gathering of family, friends and neighbors. The Chesapeake Bay breezes, very warm, ruffled and flourished the American,Maryland and Gadsden flags on Cook’s Point.
The waters of the bay invited, but we were warned of jellyfish beneath the cooling waves. A boat ride may be better than a swim today. Maryland is just beginning its Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Two hundred years ago, it was stinging British warships that posed a greater danger than jellyfish in these waters. You cannot go anywhere these days, it seems, without pointed reminders of the country’s heritage.
We began our July 4th observance with prayer. A priest reminded us of the rare privilege we have in this country to pray publicly and how this right is the basis for our civil liberty, as well. Then, we all faced the flagstaff as the Star-Spangled Banner was played.
Following this, our hosts’ 13-year-old daughter stood atop a picnic table and read the first two stirring paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence.
She read with the enthusiasm and conviction that only a bright teenager can bring to this venerable 236-year-old document.
I had the honor of reading the middle part, everything from “…pursuit of happiness” to “…let facts be submitted to a candid world.”
My portion of the Declaration included that line stating that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” I cannot help but consider the process of passing Obamacare when we talk about consent of the governed.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House rammed through the Senate a bill that did not include protections from abortion coverage—on Christmas Eve, 2009. This in a country that Gallup tells us is increasingly pro-life. (51%-41% in the latest survey.)
Then, they spoke of having to go to a conference committee of the House and Senate to reconcile the different versions of the bill. That was because the House of Representatives in November 09 had passed Obamacare with the famous pro-life Stupak Amendment. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) joined with Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) to attach a pro-life provision to the Obamacare measure that passed the House.
Earlier, on November 7, 2009, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed the House by a vote of 240-194. It was the highest vote cast on any measure related to the overhaul of health care. If you were seeking consensus, if you yearned for bi-partisanship, if you cared about the consent of the governed, you must look to this historic vote.
The Senate might have taken up the House-passed version, and passed it, with its pro-life provisions. Or, it might have gone to a conference committee, reconciled the two versions and then re-passed the result.
But the Senate had passed a milestone with the Jan. 2010 special election in Massachusetts. Republican Scott Brown had been elected promising to be “#41” —a decisive vote to stop Obamacare from passing. In that famously liberal state, in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Massachusetts voters emphatically did not give their consent to Obamacare.
Faced with the possibility of the Senate’s having to swallow the House version, with the Stupak Amendment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pledged to go down the chimney, around the gate, over the wall; in short, to do whatever was necessary to steamroll the bill through. Stupak and most of his pro-life Democratic House colleagues were pressured and arm-twisted into swallowing an Executive Order from President Obama. They were gulled into believing this measure from the most pro-abortion president in history would protect Americans from having to pay for abortions. It wasn’t a fig leaf; it wasn’t even a bay leaf to hide their nakedness.
Dozens of those faux-life Democrats went down to defeat the following November as voters gave a “shellacking” to the president’s party. But not before the whipped and tricked House Members voted through the Senate version of the health care bill, 219-212. It was a hair’s breadth victory, but it met the Pelosi test of doing anything to jam and sham it through.
It was to this dog’s breakfast of a process that Chief Justice Roberts gave his blessing in his infamous ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius late last month. Then, continuing a wholly dishonorable tradition, the Chief absconded to the island fortress of Malta. He left the country perhaps to avoid having to answer any questions about his tortured reasoning and its suspect timing.
The American people at every point had rejected this bill. They had voted in an avowed opponent in the nation’s most liberal state. They had voted out scores of Obamacare backers in the House. And yet, Chief Justice Roberts genuflected to this bizarre legislation as evidence of his judicial restraint. He tells us he is constrained to respect this abuse of power, this rape of the representative process, as the prerogative of the legislative and executive branches.
One of the classic political science texts on Congress is called The Dance of Legislation. This bill might more properly be called the St. Vitus Dance of Legislation. And the four-Justice minority pointed out that if this is a tax, then tax bills have to originate in the House of Representatives (Art. 1, Sec. 7, Clause 1).
The pretzel pundits in many an elite journal are tying themselves in knots trying to see a silver lining in the dark cloud Chief Justice Roberts pulled over us.
He labeled the Individual Mandate a tax, they say, thus making it harder for this administration, or any liberal successors to do anything worse.
If you allow them to keep this scaffold in place, why do they need anything worse? Roberts’ ruling merely takes away one rope. Just as then-Speaker Pelosi swore back in 2010, they will find another rope.
Let’s understand what Obamacare is: It is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. It is the basis for the HHS Mandate against hospitals, schools and para-church ministries. The HHS Mandate is the gravest threat to religious freedom in our nation’s history. It will force all of these private and religious groups, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to provide coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs. If they can Mandate abortion drugs now, why not Mandate abortion procedures and sex-change operations after election day? Then, as we’ve all overheard, Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world may see an even more “flexible” administration.
I believe the Roberts Ruling and the media reaction to it reflects a bottomless, Inside-the-Beltway cynicism. The best example of cynicism I’ve read comes not from Washington but from Paris. In 1815, France’s Foreign Minister Talleyrand waited impatiently for the Russian Minister to meet him. When the Russian failed to show up on time, Talleyrand tapped his foot in irritation. Told that the Russian had collapsed and died in his carriage en route to the meeting, Talleyrand stroked his chin pensively and said: “I wonder why he did that.” That’s how I read the pretzel pundits.
Chief Justice Roberts may actually come back to the Constitution when the many lawsuits against Sec. Sebelius’ HHS Mandate get to the Supreme Court. Let us pray he does. But that is no reason to go silent now. If his outrageous ruling of June 28th was a mere maneuver intended to give him more latitude later, that ignoble tactic can only work if conservatives help him out by raising a hue and cry against his unprincipled opinion. We must beat the drums of opposition to this appalling decision.
After he was confirmed in 2005, reporters asked Chief Justice Roberts if he would wear the three gold stripes that the late Chief Justice had added to his robes as a badge of rank. “I think I’ll have to earn them,” Roberts said with becoming modesty then. Now, unfortunately, it is the liberals and the pretzel pundits who are sewing on those gold stripes.
As the sun set over the Chesapeake, I was encouraged by the faith and courage of the good people I met on July 4th on Cook’s Point. Our beloved Declaration was crafted with such folks, the “good people of these colonies,” in mind.
After our reading of the Declaration, I pored over the names of those intrepid Signers of 236 years ago. Two names stood out:New Jersey’s Rev. John Witherspoon andMaryland’s Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian pastor, a leader among hundreds of clergy in the “Black Regiment” of preachers who rallied to Freedom’s cause. Charles Carroll lived in my home town of Annapolis. A wealthy landowner, he was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration. Witherspoon and Carroll pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Can we do any less? In that Catholic-Protestant alliance our nation was forged. In such a strong faith coalition, it may yet be saved.
So, Barack Obama urged the men of America - he called them “gentlemen,” specifically - to “go big” on Valentine’s Day. He said he speaks from experience that it is unwise to forget.
Good counsel. Yet why did this man whose views on marriage are “evolving” (read that, becoming ever more sympathetic to homosexual unions) not include “ladies” in his exhortation?
Perhaps because it is only normal for a man to think of traditional marriage when he talks about Valentine’s Day. The husband and the wife, the boy and the girl: Heterosexual romance is what comes to mind when one thinks heart-shaped candy boxes or red roses sent with a private note.
As a man married for three decades, I appreciated the President’s charge. Yet in it was a subtle reminder of what we all know, intuitively: Love is something to be shared by a man and a woman.
Mr. Obama’s call to remember that gallantry, affection, and initiative are qualities a man should possess, and direct toward the female love of his life, likely was unintentional. Still, it was welcome.
The comparisons between Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt began even before our 44th president had taken the oath. In late 2008, TIME magazine portrayed president-elect Obama as FDR on its cover. The wish was father to the thought. Mr. Obama encouraged such dreams from his political father. He did not look to Bill Clinton as a model. And certainly no one would take Jimmy Carter as a mentor. No one, that is, who wanted to have a successful presidency.
Barack Obama might have wanted to offer Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson as a role model. At least, Johnsons signing of historic Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation could be commended. But LBJ led us into the morass of Vietnam. After four bloody years in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Johnson could give no convincing reasons why the U.S. should prevail there. Hey! Hey, LBJ! How many kids have you killed today, chanted anti-war protesters then. The parents of todays Occupy Wall Streeters drove Johnson from office in defeat and disgrace. Scratch Johnson.
That leaves John F. Kennedy as the Democratic hero to whom Barack Obama might look for inspiration. Well, maybe not. JFK said we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Oops! Thats not the kind of martial music Obamas Peace Caucus-goers could march to. And JFK took us to the Moon. President Obamas NASA chief thinks his Mission One is to make Muslims feel good about themselves. Also, Jack Kennedy cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, arguing that a rising tide lifts all boats. That wouldnt do for a socialist program of spreading the wealth around.
Pursuing far-left policies in office has left Obamas partisans with no role model except FDR. Roosevelt, to be sure, was the longest-serving, most influential political figure the left has ever produced. But even here, and especially here, Mr. Obama comes up short. The Weekly Standard lampooned TIMEs worshipful treatment with a stunning caricature of the 44th president rather shrunken in the shadow of our 32nd.
We dont need to approve of FDRs New Deal. Many if not most aspects of that Big Government solution worsened the Great Depression. Harold Ickes, the left-wing Republican who served the Squire of Hyde Park as Interior Secretary shot back at Republican criticisms of his day: Tax and Spend, Tax and Spend, Elect and Elect.
Ickes was right about that much. In those heady days of liberalism, it seemed you could prime the pump with confiscatory taxes without the pump ever going dry.
Ronald Reagan never criticized FDR. In Reagans day, there were simply too many millions of voters who had voted for that Man four times. Reagan was one of them.
So, its not surprising that we get an unrecognizable FDR for todays generation. Barack Obamas representatives testified recently on Capitol Hill. The administration opposes the suggestion by World War II veterans to include Roosevelts D-Day Prayer in his memorial. Dont dilute the FDR Memorial, they say. Dilute? They dont want to water down the rest of his stirring rhetoric.
Watering down? Is this administration really so anti-prayer as that? President Roosevelts nationally broadcast prayer spoke of faith in our united crusade against the evils of Nazidom. FDR addressed the American people on June 6, 1944. My friend Bill Bennett plays the D-Day prayer on his radio program every June 6th. Good for him.
Those who think a Roosevelt prayer diluting dont know FDR. When Roosevelt first met Prime Minister Winston Churchill, seventy years ago last summer for the first summit, the presidents son Elliott made a point of telling the British leader my father is a very religious man. Churchill had already learned that. He had studied the American leader and had chosen those great hymns most likely to tug at Roosevelts heartstrings. More than 5,000 young British and American sailors joined heartily to sing the words of O God Our Help in Ages Past, Onward Christian Soldiers, and Eternal Father Strong to Save.
Heres a compromise we can offer to avoid diluting the FDR Memorial:
Lets take that statue of Roosevelt on his wheel chair and ship it off to the Bill Clinton Library. As president, Clinton made it his business to tell us all that Americans were lied to about FDRs crippling condition of polio. Expert as he was in lying, Bill Clinton got that totally wrong. Readers of TIME and every other journal of the 1940s read every year that the president was going to Warm Springs, Georgia, for treatment for his polio-stricken legs. The president publicly raised funds for the March of Dimes, a group then dedicated to polio research. And, Mr. Clinton, guess whose picture is on the dime?
It was President Roosevelt who requested that no pictures of him in his wheel chair be shown. Thats the real reason only two of more than 14,000 photographs of President Roosevelt show him in his chair. To claim otherwise, as Clinton does, is to delude Americans.
If we transfer the wheelchair statue that FDR would have hated, we can avoid diluting the FDR Memorial. We can stop deluding Americans. We will have plenty of room to display Roosevelts eloquent D-Day Prayer. Then, we can remind ourselves that we truly are One Nation Under God.
Its safe to say our relations with the British have probably never been worse in our lifetimes. Recall that just before he went to London and bowed to beheaders, the newly inaugurated President Obama let it be known he had returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the British Embassy. He might as well have tossed it out of the Oval Office into the snow.
Then, he gifted Her Majesty with, what else, recordings of all his speeches. He followed that up with the amazingly thoughtful gesture of bestowing on Prime Minister Gordon Brown a $29.95 collection of DVDs of Hollywoods greatest films. Mr. Brown is doubtless enjoying them now, in his retirement, if he can get an adapter.
The Special Relationship fostered so carefully by the World War II alliance of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt is in tatters. The Obama State Department is happy to tell us that Britain is no more special to us than any of the other 192 countries in the UN. (Of course, President Obama is known to think the U.S. itself is no more exceptional than Britain, or even Greece.)
It was fairly easy to be the new broom sweeping clean back in 2009. Now, however, as Rev. Wright might say, Obamas chickens are coming home to roost. Along with his sagging approval numbers is coming increasing disrespect. Rep. Maxine Waters is asking permission from her constituents to take the president to the woodshed. Former backer Peggy Noonan briskly calls him a loser on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and asks aloud if he might just be snakebit.
The worst example of dissing the commander-in-chief, doubtless came from leftist Bill Maher. He told a nationwide audience, in an obscenity-laced routine, that he had been hoping for a president who would shoot the BP executives after the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A short review of our Special Relationship might be in order. When Churchill crossed the U-boat infested North Atlantic seventy summers ago in the HMS Prince of Wales, he forged an alliance that lasted through World War II, the Cold War, all the way into the hills of Tora Bora, in Afghanistan and the oilfields of Basra in Iraq. Churchill, it was said in that 1941 First Summit, felt as if he was going to meet God Almighty. FDRs son told the British Prime Minister his father thought him the greatest man in the world.
Following Roosevelts death and V-E Day in 1945, Churchill nimbly befriended Harry Truman. In fact, it was President Truman who invited the defeated ex-Prime Minister to Fulton, Missouri, the next year. Churchills Iron Curtain speech at Westminster College on March 5, 1946, made headlines around the world.
Returning to Number 10 Downing Street, Churchill welcomed in 1952 the election of his old wartime comrade Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. True, Britains Prime Minister was less entranced with Ikes Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. Hes the only bull I know who carries his china shop with him, Winston said bitterly. But he took care not to break ranks with President Eisenhower, a man who was revered on five continents.
Ikes successor, John F. Kennedy, might have had reason to shun Sir Winston, now in retirement. After all, his father, Joe Kennedy, bitterly attacked Churchill as the man responsible for World War II and blamed Winston personally for the death of his eldest son, Joe, Jr.
As president, John F. Kennedy rose above all that. In the last months of his life, in June, 1963, he named Churchill an honorary American citizen, the first such distinction granted since Lafayette. He marshaled the English language, said JFK at the Rose Garden ceremony, and sent it into battle. During the Berlin Crises and the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy had no stronger supporters than the British.
With Lyndon Johnson, we have the first tear in the fabric of friendship. When Sir Winston died in 1965, LBJ let it be known that he would decline to attend the state funeral in London. Instead, he sent Chief Justice Earl Warren. Johnson reacted with bitter sarcasm to press inquiries as to why, if he declined to go himself, he would not at least send Vice President Humphrey:
I may have made a mistake by asking a Chief Justice to go and not asking the Vice President. I will bear in mind in connection with any future funerals your very strong feelings in the matter and try to act in accordance with our national interest.
Of a previous death in London, that of King Charles I, it was said: He nothing common did or mean upon that memorable scene. Lyndon Johnson did nothing common or mean, either, but only because he stayed home. Queen Elizabeth saved our honor then by inviting former President Eisenhower to be her personal guest.
Ronald Reagan revived the Grand Alliance. He and Margaret Thatcher were fast friends.
When Ronald Reagan became the first U.S. President to address the British House of Commons in 1982, he took care to wear a Royal Air Force tie. It was a visual reminder of Churchills tribute to the brave young fliers of the RAF: Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.
As we look back on the years of our lives, its interesting to note that all of Churchills greatest American friends FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK and Ronald Reagan died honored and loved by the people of this Great Republic, as well.
Just four years after he was hailed as a Caesar at his 1964 nominating convention, LBJ found he dare not show his face at his partys convention in Chicago. Even his chosen successor, the hapless Hubert Humphrey, was hit by human excrement thrown by protesters and tear-gassed in his hotel by responding police as he claimed the mantle of party leadership. And who remembers Lyndon Johnsons funeral?
I do not predict and certainly do not hope for such a fate for President Obama, or even believe he is snakebitten. I dont think he has had just a run of bad luck. Nor do I think in my soul that hes being haunted by Sir Winstons ghost. Just dont tell Bill Maher who founded BP—British Petroleum: It was Winston Churchill.