Saturday, September 08, 2012

bullets first -- ballots next

One of the joys of traveling is imagining what it would be like to live in the town or country I am visiting.

That was today's exercise.  Instead of doing my best culture vulture impression, I decided to pretend I was a resident of Morelia.

A trip to Costco.  A visit to a long-term expatriate.  Lunch with two other residents.  Nothing much out of the ordinary.  But an opportunity to reflect on my non-tourist side.

And living anywhere sometimes means simply sitting and enjoying the day with a good book.

I am currently reading Kenneth D. Ackerman's Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield.  As part of my project to read at least one biography about each American president.

Even though it initially read like an article in a popular history magazine, I am quite pleased with it.

I am at the point where Garfield is beginning his quest for the White House -- after being unexpectedly selected as the Republican nominee and defeating former President Grant's attempt to serve an unprecedented third term.  A fact I had completely forgotten.  The Grant part, that is.

People keep complaining -- even in blogdom -- about the personal nature of the current presidential campaigns in the United States.  I am not certain what people expect.  Personal attacks in politics are as American as Olive Garden.

The example cited most often is the election of 1800 where the supporters of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams published attacks that would have made Bill Maher and Rosie O'Donnell blush.  Assuming that anything can.

But the election of 1880 makes this one look like a Buckingham garden party.

Take this beauty from Illinois lawyer Robert Ingersoll:

I belong to a party that believes in good crops; that is glad when a fellow finds a gold mine; that rejoices when there are forty bushels of wheat to the acre.  The [other party] is a party of famine; it is a good friend of an early frost; it believes in the Colorado beetle and the weevil.
Where else but politics can you find reductionism, agrarianism, and Manichaeism wrapped in one overblown package?

Each time this year I hear one of the candidates of accusing the other of inventing numbers, I will know it is simply the lesser of two weevils.



Felipe Zapata said...

A few  months back I read the other Garfield book, Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard. It was very good, and I think Garfield would have made a great president if he had only lived longer. Sad tale.

John Calypso said...

"...simply the lesser of two weevils."  You are a clever pundit.  Will read the book.

NW said...

Wow, your NW is showing with that one, very punny. Kinda sounds like water cooler humor at the Circle K in Sweet Home. ;)

Steve Cotton said...

He certainly started out well.  His best legacy may have been turning Chester Arthur into a respectable person.

Steve Cotton said...

I fear it is my way.  I wander around with my tongue firmly embedded in my cheek.

Steve Cotton said...

There you go.  Steve Cotton -- Man of the People.