I interrupt this column for Breaking News. There was a presidential election last week. It was in all of the media.
The founding fathers intended the “nascent nations” elections to be a dignified, deliberative activity carried out by a small number of wealthy, well-educated men.” American politics have shown two faces – Sunday morning high church sermon side and Saturday night “break the bottles and let’s have a street fight” ugly side.
Washington faced minimal opposition and no political rancor or mudslinging. In 1800 Adams said “Jefferson will destroy Christianity and prostitutes…will preside in the sanctuaries now devoted to the worship of the Most High.”
Jefferson said Adams “wanted to attack France.” The technique of taking a real quote and exaggerating it to the point of absurdity was born and its progeny are with us today.
John Q. Adams said Old Hickory Andrew Jackson killed six innocent soldiers in New Orleans. The soldiers were guilty of robbery, arson, mutiny and desertion. Jackson said that Adams used a horse whip to drive away a “crippled old soldier” who asked for charity.
The Cincinnati Gazette reported, General Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute and that his father was a mulatto man and that Jackson and his wife Rachel were adulterers because she was already married. Not true.
If a candidate is articulate the immediate strategy of his opponent is to trash him as elitist - remember McCain vs. Obama.
In 1835 Davy Crockett described Van Buren’s baldness as “his face is a good deal shriveled,” called him “dung” and as “secret, sly, selfish, cold, calculating; a dandy.”
“When he enters the senate chamber in the morning he struts and swaggers like a crow in the gutter. He is laced up in corsets, such as women in a town wear and if possible tighter than the best of them.”
In 1840 this was taken to a hilarious extreme. When Van Buren installed a bath tub in the White House, Harrison’s minions heralded that only pimps and vampires bathed regularly.
Harper’s Weekly in 1864 noted that Abe Lincoln was disparaged as a “filthy story teller, a buffoon, a usurper, a monster and a land pirate.” His enemies described him as “a long, lean, lank, lantern-jawed, high cheeked-boned, spavined, rail-splitting stallion,” which actually makes Lincoln sound kind of hot, except for the spavined part, which means horses with diseased joints or decrepitude and decayed. In 1884 Grover Cleveland was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock.
Pres. Obama is called a Muslim who worships Allah. His Obamacare will bankrupt the country. His billions of tax dollars for stimulus did nothing. The birther dogs still nip at his heels. Romney is called a rich, Mormon elitist who pays little taxes.
Candidates today are on the end of a long branch of the tree of politics that political intrigue has been hacking on since George Washington. Sad. Shameful. If I ever run for office I am sure that Ronnie Woodsmall or Kenny Crites from Calvertville School would label me as an anarchist because I was involved in throwing mud balls that stuck on the brick wall of the school.
Larry Vandeventer is a Calvertville Native. Reach me at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656. Read about me, my books, and my columns on my Website – Larryvandeventer.com I am a graduate of Worthington High School and Indiana State University.