The Obama Legacy
Forty-three years ago Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. published a book entitled “The Imperial Presidency,” in which he outlined how our presidents have managed to exceed the powers granted to that office by our Constitution. And they've done it with impunity, especially over the last 43 years.
Since George Washington assumed the office in 1789, our nation has been led by a variety of presidents, some exceptional, and some we would just as soon forget, and the latest incumbent is considered by many to be one of the latter.
Nonetheless, many, if not most, of our presidents have enjoyed cloaking themselves in somewhat of an imperial manner, and always at the taxpayers' expense; unlike our first president, who said that assuming this new office was “not unlike [that] of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.”
Latter day incumbents to the White House seemed to have felt quite differently, and over the years the office has well become that of an “Imperial Presidency”--at the taxpayers' expense.
Richard Nixon clothed the office in a shroud of secrecy, which became his undoing. Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter were there—which is about the best we can say of their tenures. An unease was felt across the land when the “cowboy movie actor” took up residence in the White House, but the nation soon heaved a sigh of relief from 1981 to 1989.
Then we had the Bush's—father and son-- with Bill Clinton in between. When he assumed the mantel President Bill Clinton besmirched the office of the presidency—with virtual impunity—and recently his wife made an unsuccessful run for the office, bringing with her a sordid collection of baggage that she and her lackeys attempted to sweep under the carpet. More may be said of that page in our history; but don't hold your breath.
And now we're awaiting the ascendency to the throne of Donald Trump, a development that has been met with unprecedented negativity that brings shame to our democracy.
Ironically, but not without reason, Richard Nixon could well fit into both categories: best and worst president. He started out on a positive note, but his vault mentality was his undoing.
What is troubling about the recent run for the presidency is the venom and hatred that accompanied this election. It brought shame to the office, as well as to the political parties. Despite all the hoopla that naive fans introduced into the picture, the current presidential incumbent has done nothing over his two terms to bring credit to the office of the presidency.
And now we can only hold our breath and wait and see. But we should try to do it with some degree of decorum. Arthur Schlesinger would have had a field day with this one.
Will we ever learn?
One would think that with more than five centuries of trying, mankind would by now have learned how to create an educational product of some degree of uniformity; one that was capable of producing a product of some semblance of excellence. But one would be wrong.
The Babylonians thought they were on to something back in 3100 BC when they launched the first educational endeavor. Learned men in a community were called upon to share their knowledge and wisdom with the youth of the village. Bureaucrats had not yet entered the picture, so the process was somewhat simpler; and more effective.
They dealt primarily with rote learning, although there were some notable exceptions; Aristotle and Plato as examples. The early classroom employed memorization and a liberal application of the rod as its means of educating the youngsters, as revealed in a clay tablet uncovered in Egypt, on which a student had written: “Thou didst beat me and knowledge entered my head.” In today's society, the rigorous use of the rod is frowned upon, resulting often in a rather shoddy end result.
By the first century AD the Jews had perfected the educational product somewhat. Housed usually in Synagogues local young lads learned the laws of society and religion, and learned to read and to write. And in other societies they learned from local wise men who shared with them the knowledge and wisdom they had acquired through their studies and travel.
In all, these early societies took great stock in the educational process, but by the 21st Century, especially in the United States, it all started to unravel.
Initially, education was not a universal endeavor; rather it was the domain of the ruling elite. They had the means to either hire or require that scholars be hired, or required, to tutor emperors and their families, and the education endeavor grew from there.
At about the same time, heads of households became aware that once their crops had been harvested and until planting time began in the springtime, their sons had time on their hands; and idle hands often did the devils work. So, heads of households quickly decided that something had to be put into place that would keep their sons busy during this idle time between harvest and planting; and teaching their sons to read and cipher was a suitable endeavor.
And thus, public education was born.
But, in the centuries that followed, community leaders lost sight of their goals and bureaucrats entered the picture; and something quite different began to take over education.
And now, the process is in the hands of bureaucrats and unions , and educators place a greater interest on vacations and holidays, salaries, sick days, attractive bulletin boards, and a host of other elements and tasks that distract from the process of teaching and learning; and today we're close to being back where we started in centuries past.
It seems downright incongruous that those professing to be educators would permit their calling to fall into such a state of disrepair.
Ever since Donald Trump was elected to replace Barack Obama the nitpickers have been having a field day.
Turn your television to any newscast, and you'll see and hear the nitpickers at full voice. There seems to be nothing that our President-elect does that isn't picked to death by this group of malcontents.
Since 1950, this term has come more and more into vogue, especially among newscasters, who have lovingly adopted it in their references to a new President of the United States; especially to the current victim: Donald A Trump. There is virtually nothing this man can do that is not vigorously criticized by one faction or another. In fact, it seems as if those on the left begin and end each day with breathless degrees of nitpicking over anything and everything Mr. Trump does.
The dictionary tells us that nitpicking originated as a term to describe removing the eggs of lice from the host's hair. That host being originally an animal, but it soon became associated with human beings also.
Today the adjective is used to refer to looking for small or unimportant or insignificant items as a means of fault finding.
Among those folks on the left, newscasters, politicians, and associated other ne'er do wells, this has become a pastime du jour that one is required practice with a vigor. Surely Mr. Trump has done something worthy of praise, other than sparing the American public with having had to endure Hillary as their chief of state.
If not, could they please find a new adjective?