9:31 AM, Feb 14, 2013 • By GARY SCHMITT
To hear various commentators speak about politicians today, the overwhelming impression one gets is that politicians fall into one of two camps—ideologues or modern day Machiavellians. Either they are hidebound in what they believe and, hence, unwilling to take seriously the other side (or even reality itself), or they are so willing to compromise for short-term gain that they neglect the common good. Of course, these are caricatures, but repeated often enough, they do stamp how the general public has come to think about its elected officials.
Although Americans have a long history of seeing politicians as “those rascals in Washington,” it was once the case that they also took note of, and celebrated, the lives of those exceptional political role models, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But this coming Monday, we will celebrate Presidents’ Day, largely ignoring which president it is that we’re celebrating as we run around hoping to beat the crowds buying, say, a new mattress or car.
But Monday is George Washington’s birthday, and it is Washington we should be celebrating—that model of character, principle and prudence. And there is no better place to start than an extraordinary new collection, “The Meaning of George Washington’s Birthday,” by my AEI colleague Leon Kass and his wife, Amy Kass of the Hudson Institute. As part of their ongoing American Calendar project, the Kasses draw on speeches, stories, and writings about Washington to explore the history of his birthday holiday and follow his career from military scout, to colonial farmer, to general, to president of the United States. In so doing, they make a powerful case for Washington’s greatness, and why he should remain, in the famous words of Henry Lee, “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
The American Calendar project is part of a larger patriotic and educational effort which uses the tools of the Internet to teach about the meaning of American citizenship. In addition to their work on our civic holidays, the Kasses provide a full curriculum of video discussions and lesson plans around a series of classic American short stories and songs. It’s well worth checking out—even if after you buy that new mattress.
12:00 AM, Jul 17, 2012 • By FRED BARNES
Before the United States had a president or a constitution, it had the Treaty of Marrakech with Morocco. That diplomatic pact has the distinction of being the longest standing treaty between America and another country. Tomorrow, July 18, marks the 225th anniversary of its ratification.
George Washington’s adventures as a British officer. Jul 16, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 41 • By MARK TOOLEY
Was young George Washington a slightly inept and self-serving martinet who helped to blunder the British Empire into the otherwise avoidable French and Indian War? Seemingly so, according to this account of Washington’s early military adventures.
9:01 AM, Mar 29, 2012 • By KEVIN R. KOSAR
James Anderson finally is getting his due. In 1796, George Washington hired the Scotsman as a plantation manager. Anderson quickly convinced the outgoing president to build a distillery. By 1798, the five still facility was gurgling forth 10,000 gallons of whiskey and other distilled spirits, which sold like crazy.
Finding press bias in the darndest places2:24 PM, Nov 1, 2010 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
One of the inherent difficulties of defining left-wing bias in the press to journalists is that it is something like describing the ocean to fish: It is so pervasive, and such a comfortable, nurturing environment, that it is hardly noticed.
The man, the myth, the legend.
12:00 AM, Feb 22, 2010 • By JOSEPH C. SMITH JR. and TARA ROSS
He is the most easily recognized member of America’s founding generation. His involvement in founding events was so pervasive that one of his biographers described him as the “central feature in every major event of the revolutionary era.” He was celebrated as a legend, even in his own time.
Yet few really knew him, despite his fame. He was a very private man when it came to personal matters. And his reputation sometimes seems to be built as much on myth as reality. As a result, America’s first president, George Washington, is not only one of our nation’s most famous leaders, but also one of its most misunderstood.
Today, his birthday, is a good time for a more thoughtful assessment of his record.
It’s not easy to demean the Man from Mount Vernon.Mar 1, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 23 • By EDWARD ACHORN
of George Washington
The Hidden Political Genius
of an American Icon
by John E. Ferling
Bloomsbury, 464 pp., $30
A pivotal moment in the struggle between France and England. Feb 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 22 • By MARK TOOLEY
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