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RANDOM THOUGHTS

November 21, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Nothing shreds my immune system or shatters my well being quite like a cold or the flu. So for more than a week I have been in a constant state of misery. I hardly feel up to putting the time in to write about a particular subject so I’ll make fewer comments on several top stories from cable network news.

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TO BOW OR NOT TO BOW :

The picture of President Obama bowing to Japan’s Emperor presented his detractors a favorable combination of circumstances for a couple of days of excessive complaints. Former Vice President Cheney even entered the fray by asserting that real Americans never bow, especially to the Chinese.

However, it wasn’t long before the self-righteous fell flat. In this modern Internet Age there was the last President Bush holding hands and kissing a member of the Saudi Royal Family followed by President Nixon bowing to the Emperor of Japan. If that wasn’t enough to embarrass the accusers there was that picture of President Eisenhower, Ike of all people, bowing before Charles De Gaulle. Yes, Charles De Gaulle of France--an American President bowing to a Frenchman.

Regardless of how bad they get upended on the facts the contrarians are quick to fall back on our Founders for national inspiration as a substitute for fact. To a person the detractors, with a straight face, will insist that our founding fathers refused to bow to anyone. That’s why what remains of the Republican Party so easily eschew higher education, particularly Ivy Leaguers because these are the folk that have read a history book and frequently dispute idiotic claims. George Washington avoided physical contact with people and favored bowing when extending greetings. He was so averse to handshakes that he would deliberately rest his hand on his hip or his sword and hold a hat in the other to avoid being forced into a handshake. President Washington established the practice of bowing to guests at presidential receptions, a tradition that lasted sixteen years through his tenure and that of his successor John Adams.

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SARA PALIN:

Sara Palin may never become President, she may never even win the Republican nomination but from the presidential contenders Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal there is little doubt which campaign rally would generate the most excitement. Although I haven’t read Sara Palin’s book critics claim it’s thin on that vision thing and thick on settling scores, especially her handlers from the McCain campaign. Regardless, Sara Palin stands to make a barrel of money and her support may well determine who gets the Republican nod for President.

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THE GRAND OLD PARTY:

The Republican Party began in 1854 with a noble purpose; to oppose the expansion of slavery into the territories. Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860 and 17 Republicans have held that office since. In the 1870s-80s the Party acquired the additional monicker as the Grand Old Party (GOP), a nickname that is still widely used. Men and women of substance, leaders with names like Lodge, Saltonstall, Brooke, Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Smith and Javits, Snowe and Collins once dominated the Republican Party. Today, influential moderate and liberal Republicans have been driven to the sidelines and replaced by Conservatives who have gained control of the Grand Old Party. Sara Palin and her followers have effectively installed a purity test for Republicans. There is little doubt that Sara Palin is the leading spokesperson for the revised Republican Party. However, Republicans have been there before.

The Republicans split in the 1870s with the ‘Stalwarts’ defending the spoils system while the ‘Half Breeds’ supported civil service reform. Independents called “Mugwumps” opposed the spoils system and helped elect Democrat Grover Cleveland. It took the Republicans nearly twenty years before most of the dissidents returned. However, in 1890 the Republicans were swept away in mid term elections for supporting a 48.5% tariff on imports.

Will Democrats capitalize on this Republican split? A supermajority in the Senate and a comfortable margin in the House so far hasn’t been impressive for the Democrats. We need healthcare, but that should have already been accomplished with Democratic majorities. Wall Street Banks have been bailed out and now is the time to get money to community banks. That’s where the rubber hits the road for small business and creates jobs on Main Street.

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