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Tag Archives: Harry Leslie Smith
December 2, 2018Posted by on
At the end of this post, I’ve quoted words that purport to be from Charles Pierce, recently published in Esquire magazine. I say “purport” because I saw it on Facebook and we all know about the problems with the accuracy of things you see there.
I was reminded of it with the passing of George H.W. Bush. The thing about American Presidents is that they are imperfect human beings just like the rest of us. The thing about American Presidents is that the have different political beliefs, different ideologies, different ideas of how to lead.
I rarely agreed with Ronald Reagan. I rarely agreed with George Bush — either one of them. Clinton had his personal failings. Obama made mistakes as well, although not that many from my perspective.
This is the thing about having human leaders. There will be differences.
But even though there are differences, there is one thing that unites them and commands some level of respect. I feel it when one of these leaders passes away. I may have disagreed with George H.W. Bush on most things, but I respected him because he respected his office, he respected the institutions of America, and he respected the American people.
This is the great tragedy of our current President. He has no respect for his office. He has no respect for the democratic institutions of America — instead, he is intent on tearing down every such institution he can. And he has no respect for the American people.
I recently finished reading Harry’s Last Stand, a book written by Harry Leslie Smith, who was born in Great Britain in the mid-20’s. He survived in the Great Depression, living a horrible existence where he went to work at the age of 7 to help his family. He fought in WW II and eventually found love and a family and success of his own.
The book is his case for what must be done in the Western World today. In the post-WW II era, countries and their peoples came together for a common good, intent on creating a society and system that brought everybody up. Smith describes the horrors of his childhood and that after the war, their was a concerted effort to ensure that never happened again.
That effort lasted until Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were elected in their respective countries. Since then, corporate interests have taken over in the West and there are all sorts of efforts to roll back the progress that was made after WW II. I can’t say it better than Harry Leslie Smith did in his book, so go read the book. It’s a very clear statement of the problems we face.
The problem is that everything Smith described in Harry’s Last Stand, which was published in 2014 when he was 90 years old, has been accelerated in the last two years. Donald Trump, our American President, has turned up the flame that is fueling the destruction of the post-World War II common ground — a search for progress for all because the common good is greater than the individual good.
He is intent on doing as much as he can to destroy stability and consensus. His goal is chaos. And those who still support him are sheep — they are lambs waiting to be slaughtered.
It’s a shame. Say what you will about each President we have had over the years, but they have respected their office and the democratic institutions of America. Respect. They had it. Donald Trump does not. He respects only two things. His ego and his desire for a revolution that will only serve him and the few at the top.
By the way, Harry Leslie Smith died last week at the age of 94. Spend a couple of dollars on Harry’s Last Stand. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s a message people need to consider. If you Twitter, you could also go check out @harryslaststand over there. Over the last few week’s Harry’s son has kept his supporters and followers up-to-date as Harry went through his final days. It is a poignant story that unfolds via Twitter. And you can read plenty more about the man through other people’s tweets about him.
Poignant and sad words from Charles Pierce in Esquire:
“In my life, I have watched John Kennedy talk on television about missiles in Cuba. I saw Lyndon Johnson look Richard Russell squarely in the eye and and say, “And we shall overcome.” I saw Richard Nixon resign and Gerald Ford tell the Congress that our long national nightmare was over. I saw Jimmy Carter talk about malaise and Ronald Reagan talk about a shining city on a hill. I saw George H.W. Bush deliver the eulogy for the Soviet bloc, and Bill Clinton comfort the survivors of Timothy McVeigh’s madness in Oklahoma City. I saw George W. Bush struggle to make sense of it all on September 11, 2001, and I saw Barack Obama sing “Amazing Grace” in the wounded sanctuary of Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
These were the presidents of my lifetime. These were not perfect men. They were not perfect presidents, god knows. Not one of them was that. But they approached the job, and they took to the podium, with all the gravitas they could muster as appropriate to the job. They tried, at least, to reach for something in the presidency that was beyond their grasp as ordinary human beings. They were not all ennobled by the attempt, but they tried nonetheless.
And comes now this hopeless, vicious buffoon, and the audience of equally hopeless and vicious buffoons who laughed and cheered when he made sport of a woman whose lasting memory of the trauma she suffered is the laughter of the perpetrators. Now he comes, a man swathed in scandal, with no interest beyond what he can put in his pocket and what he can put over on a universe of suckers, and he does something like this while occupying an office that we gave him, and while endowed with a public trust that he dishonors every day he wakes up in the White House.
The scion of a multigenerational criminal enterprise, the parameters of which we are only now beginning to comprehend. A vessel for all the worst elements of the American condition. And a cheap, soulless bully besides.
Watch him make fun of the woman again. Watch how a republic dies in the empty eyes of an empty man who feels nothing but his own imaginary greatness, and who cannot find in himself the decency simply to shut the fuck up even when it is in his best interest to do so. Presidents don’t have to be heroes to be good presidents. They just have to realize that their humanity is our common humanity, and that their political commonwealth is our political commonwealth, too.
Watch him again, behind the seal of the President of the United States. Isn’t he a funny man? Isn’t what happened to that lady hilarious? Watch the assembled morons cheer. This is the only story now.”