Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Dignity of the Office

I wrote this in the very beginning of February, but for some reason I never posted it. Now that the 40th anniversary (40th? No way!) of RFK's assassination — immediately after winning the June 4 California primary made him the leading candidate for the Democratic Party's 1968 presidential nomination — has been observed, it seems timely once again to post this -- as the pundits are desperately trying to get the Vice-Presidential nominees tied up. (And, yes, I was again going to post this 2 weeks ago!)

29 January 2008

Over at Mere Comments, the blog for Touchstone magazine ("a Journal of Mere Christianity"), Prof. Anthony Esolen reflects upon a friend's comment that he intends to vote for Caligula's horse, Incitatus, in the upcoming primary, drawing upon a popular legend that the despotic Roman Emperor appointed his favorite horse to the Roman Senate. The legend may or may not be true, but given some of the things said by those running for President of the United States, particularly in this age of incessant campaigning, voting for someone with genuine horse-sense doesn't sound quite so bad.

Prof Esolen concludes:
Would Incitatus be "presidential"? Well, I do think so. He's not ambitious, in the old sense of the word, meaning that he doesn't make a nuisance of himself, running around trying to scramble up votes. William McKinley had that old Roman suspicion of the vice in mind when he refused to campaign for his re-election, appearing once in a while to give speeches from his porch, and that's all. He believed that electioneering was beneath the dignity of a sitting president. But in this regard we may be wiser than McKinley. If Bill Clinton did nothing else, he taught us that precious little is beneath the dignity of a sitting president.

Meanwhile, here it is the end of January and the political pundits have their knickers in a twist because the nominations for both parties are still unsettled. Heaven forfend that the conventions actually have something serious to do, like decide who the Party's nominee might be. I remember when California's June primary was something very important, though by the time I was old enough to vote, it had lost that importance.

But as one of the Youth for Reagan who rode several Continental Trailways busses from LA to Kansas City in August 1976 (I was 17, not quite old enough to vote), I actually attended a Convention where it was not certain who the Party's nominee would be. And it was more than "fun" for political junkies. It was a time for delegates and Party officials to get together, talk about differences (or perceived differences), and hash them out in a way that would enable them to work together to elect a President.

And it worked. Well, President Ford wasn't elected, but he very nearly pulled off a victory that no one was expecting, especially in the Summer of 1976.

C'mon, folks! Let the Party Conventions, and not the media punditry, do the work of nominating the Parties' tickets and setting campaign themes. Please!!!

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