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Front Page » January 20, 2009 » Opinion » Staff column: Keep it simple, be the Pres for all of us
Published 2,453 days ago

Staff column: Keep it simple, be the Pres for all of us

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I am going to keep this short, because today you will be hearing an awful lot of words from people much more important than me.

I just want to remind our new president that the simpler we make things, the less can go wrong. Now I realize the world is a complicated place, but I just ask that our new leader try to see things in plain terms. It seems sometimes the smarter people are the more complicated they make things; and our new leader is certainly much smarter than most of the people I know. Sure some of them don't think so, but I ask them, how come they aren't president then.

It's easy to admire legends, even with Presidents whose lives have been documented to death for over 225 years. George Washington is one of my favorites, and I don't say that lightly based on the good things we learned about him in elementary school. Most people really don't know much about him except for the legends about the cherry tree and throwing the dollar across the Potomac, neither of which are true. I have read three fairly comprehensive books about his life and he was quite a guy; but he was not a saint, he was human like the rest of us.

His first inaugural address was in New York and since it was the first for any President, he made it quite an occasion. Of course unlike us with our hindsight he might have thought that could be the last for any leader of the United States. The new country was struggling with debt, a poor economy, and a government of a kind that had no real precedence in human history. The whole thing could have gone down the tubes during his first term, but it didn't.

He really didn't want a second term, but everyone talked him into it. All he really wanted to do was continue on with a life as a gentleman farmer, but duty called. That duty being a country that really had no other national leaders of his stature and was craving leadership. In those days there were no political parties, no "ticket" to run on. Men ran for president and the one that won became President and the guy in second place became the vice president.

When inauguration day came for his second term at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, George Washington, true to his for of wanting to keep things simple, said 135 words. Here they are.

"Fellow citizens, I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.

Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony."

In his second term he solved many problems, but faced many more. He could have run for a third term and easily won (in those days there was no 22nd Amendment that kept someone from running for a third term), but he declined. It was probably best for the country because two years later he died.

Washington, a complicated man, who had simple ideals, said we should stay out of foreign entanglements and should avoid political parties in our country and government. I am not one that wishes for the old days, but I hope our new president, with all his brains, charisma and education can see his way to cut through the malarkey we have been plagued with for many decades, and can simply be the President for all of us.

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January 20, 2009
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