Wise men say wise things. That is ordinarily how we determine that the individuals who say these things are smart. We have had wise men say wise things throughout this country’s history. Few of these individuals, however, could not have imagined just how applicable their wise sayings would be to an eventual occupant of the White House.
Abraham Lincoln famously said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Well, what he failed to recognize is that when it comes to an electorate, you can fool 35% of that electorate all of the time no matter how many lies are exposed and promises not kept. When are you going to pay for that wall, Mexico?
Thomas Jefferson has provided several insightful quotes, especially relevant in today’s political discourse.
“No government should be without critics,” Jefferson said. “If its intentions are good, then it has nothing to fear from criticism.” Does Donald Trump come to mind? “Fake news,” anyone?
Here is another from Jefferson: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
Do you think Jefferson saw the value of a free press? Maybe that is why the very first amendment to the Constitution included a specific reference to freedom of the press.
Here is another Jefferson quote on his views of the essential need for a free press: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” I guess Trump missed this portion of History 101 when he slept through his classes at the “best schools.”
Jefferson on Trump: “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second time.”
What about the more than 12,000 lies by the current president in just the two and a half years of his first and only term as president as compiled by the Washington Post’s fact-checkers? The more he lies and is not held accountable, the more he lies. Jefferson was, indeed, a wise man.
Benjamin Franklin offers a treasure trove of wisdom applicable to today’s White House. Here are just a few: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn” and “They that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.”
When you are Trump and claim you know everything, there is not much room for learning even when having no previous experience in governing. See James Mattis or H.R. McMaster or John Kelly or Gary Cohen for more information on this point.
Theodore Roosevelt, my favorite Republican, uttered prophetically: “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.”
This Rough Rider did not need or ask for any loyalty oath to him. Teddy did not ask, “where’s my Roy Cohn?” This patriotic American did not need to surround himself with sycophants like William Barr.
Teddy’s cousin, maybe my favorite Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, famously said: “We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions – bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another seeks to degrade all nationalities.”
Remind you of anyone?
If it were not for the fact that FDR died before Trump was even born, it would be hard to imagine that he did not have this specific individual in mind when he uttered these prophetic words. No president has been more divisive and more destructive to democratic ideals and the value of unity over divisiveness than the current occupant of the White House.
P.T. Barnum famously observed that there is “a sucker born every minute.” That is apparently how he filled the seats at his Barnum & Bailey Circus with its various circus acts comprised of “oddities” including the three-legged man, the bearded lady and the limbless man among many others. It is also apparently how Trump fills the seats at his campaign rallies. At a rate of a sucker per minute, the Trump base is growing. Clown-like antics do seem to work effectively to fill seats at clown-like shows.
Maybe the wisest one of all was none other than Harper Lee’s hero in her novel “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch. His wisdom is made evident throughout the book, but this quote has always stood out for me: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Is there any doubt that Trump has never considered any issue from any point of view other than his own and how the issue impacts him directly without any consideration for anyone else but himself and his pocketbook?
I just noticed that I have so far quoted only men — time to quote a female.
Let’s go with Hillary Clinton who, during the third presidential debate, famously pointed out that Russian President Vladimir Putin “…would rather have a puppet as president of the United States who spouts the Putin line, signs up for his wishlist, breaks up NATO and does whatever he wants him to do and continues to get help from him because he (Putin) has a clear favorite in the race.”
Who can ever forget Trump’s most eloquent retort when he uttered the now-famous words, “No, you’re the puppet.” For further details on this one, see the Mueller Report.
I will end with a quote from the great philosopher, Pee-wee Herman, who will be remembered for making famous the line: “That’s what you are, but what am I?”
Trump, the most crooked and corrupt president in our history, used this tactic on Clinton calling her “crooked” and is now using it on Joe Biden calling him “corrupt.” He is even using this tactic on Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and, believe it or not, Mitt Romney calling for their impeachments as he faces his own.
I’ll give you one more, from me, “Unbelievable!”