Omdahl: Looking for a flawless president to honor
Which of the presidents did you honor on Presidents’ Day? Or maybe you didn’t honor a president on February 20 but made it a shopping instead of an honoring day.
Originally, we celebrated Washington on his birthday February 22 and Lincoln on his birthday February 12. But two holidays plus Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day were too much for February so Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. That made president-honoring generic, sort of an “all presidents matter” deal.
If you like greatness, you will honor Washington and Lincoln. However, if you like mediocre, you can now choose the likes of Calvin Coolidge. It’s an honoring free-for-all even though an honor-worthy president is hard to find.
Some think Thomas Jefferson should be honored because he argued that “all men are created equal” but he didn’t quite practice his faith.
He not only owned slaves but he fathered four children by his house slave, Sally Hemmings. Even more unconscionable, he left all four of his own begotten children in slavery. What kind of dad is that?
Democrats like to honor Andrew Jackson because they think he brought democracy to the masses. However, the states passed the laws that broadened voter participation. They did the heavy lifting and he got the credit. Besides, his treatment of Native-Americans was reprehensible. He was somewhere between mean and wicked and mean doesn’t deserve honor.
Blustery Teddy Roosevelt has been honored, mostly by North Dakotans because he said he would not have become president had he not been to North Dakota. He was just blowing smoke. A lot of people became presidents without coming to North Dakota. James Madison was never here.
Woodrow Wilson was great because he advocated a League of Nations to prevent future wars. However, he was too stubborn to compromise so we lost the League and had to kill millions of people to prove that it was a good idea after all.
President Franklin Roosevelt was elected in the Great Depression just in time to keep desperate people from joining the Bolsheviks. He may have saved the country but we will never know because we didn’t get to see the end of the play.
Crusty Harry Truman had the guts of an artillery captain when he saved Europe from the Russians, fired General Douglas MacArthur, and stopped the Chinese at the 38th parallel in Korea. That was all great but he swore, got in the sauce, and played poker.
Jack Kennedy articulated dreams that went nowhere until Lyndon Johnson got a landslide victory to implement them. Co-presidents wouldn’t work for Presidents’ Day.
Ronald Reagan is a demi-god in some circles because he huffed and puffed to blow down the Berlin wall. We don’t know if it was his huffing or Russian bankruptcy that did it.
On this year’s Presidents’ Day, demonstrators created “Not My Presidents’ Day” to spite President Trump.
If I were going to play “Not My Presidents’ Day,” I would pick James K. Polk who made all those Hispanics in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado illegal immigrants when he stole their land.
He added Manifest Destiny to our lexicon. Manifest Destiny was making America great in the Nineteenth Century. Does that mean taking the rest of Mexico will be included in the new “Make America Great”?
Maybe we should honor governors. But even that would be a challenge. People don’t remember governors. In two months, most North Dakotans won’t even remember the governor before Doug Burgum.
(A lament: Lieutenant governors aren’t even remembered when they were still in office.)
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