Nobody's Perfect

Posted in: A Summary View, Thomas Jefferson

A recent editorial by Thomas Fleming in the Wall Street Journal asks the question, "Was George W. Bush such a bad president?"  I mean, look at...Thomas Jefferson, for example! He really whiffed on that embargo thing.  Read Fleming's litany of Low Moments in the American Presidency and decide for yourself...

Comments

says

The reference to William McKinley’s Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation of December 21, 1898, was because I believe that the Philippine/American war is the proper historical analogy to the War in Iraq, not the Vietnam War. There are many valid comparisons which can be made between the two conflicts, and a recently read book is still far too fresh in my mind:

Blount, James Henderson, Jr. (1912). The American occupation of the Philippines, 1898-1912. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. - Google Books

The author, James Henderson Blount Jr., was a Rough Rider in Cuba with Theodore Roosevelt, who volunteered to serve as an American military officer in the Philippines from 1899-1901, was subsequently appointed to be a U.S. District Judge in the Philippines by provincial governor, William Howard Taft, serving in that capacity from 1901-1905. Blount Jr. was the son of Georgia Congressman James Henderson Blount, who had served in the Confederate Army in the Second Georgia Battalion, Floyd Rifles, enlisting as a private, and later receiving a LtCol commission. Blount Jr. had been born during reconstruction, and at times his writing exposes some of the worst about early 20th century Southern Democrats. This experience also provided him with an unusual perspective about occupational military governance though, and his blatant racism towards American Blacks was not a part of his feelings about Filipinos.

I realise this is far afield from your historical focus, but it does offer a valid counter-argument to those who believe that a History major carries little intrinsic value. The world would be a far better place if humanity would ever actually learn the lessons provided by history, instead of committing the same asinine mistakes. Mr. Fleming's recent WSJ editorial was an attempt to elevate the Presidency of G.W. Bush, by noting wrongs committed by past Presidential Administrations, yet he avoided mentioning what I consider to be a proper analogy with the Presidency of William McKinley, that also casts its log shadow upon the Presidencies of William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Although English Romanticism has never been a personal favorite area of study, one of the few William Blake citations that has seemed to stick with me for many years now seems an appropriate way to end to this comment:

"There will be as many hypocrites born as honest men, and they will always have superior power in mortal things. You cannot have liberty in this world without what you call moral virtue, and you cannot have moral virtue without the subjection of that half of the human race who hate what you call moral virtue."

William Blake, "A Vision of the Last Judgment", as quoted in: Gilchrist, Alexander, and Anne Burrows Gilchrist. 1880. Life of William Blake, with selections from his poems and other writings. London: Macmillan and co. pg 198

says

Oh yes, I'm sure Fleming missed dozens of opportunities to hoist past presidents on their own petards. But he probably was given a word limit by his editors!

says

Seems Mr. Fleming forgot William McKinley's Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation of December 21, 1898, to which valid comparisons could be made to the Presidency of G.W. Bush, and also taints the legacies of William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. "White Man's Burden" was hell on earth to indigenous populations in application.

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