American Elephants

A Fond Farewell by The Elephant's Child

The coverage of the memorials and funeral for a former President of the United States has been a time of looking back, trying to understand the history, celebrate the long life of what almost everyone agrees was a very good man. There are, of course, many Democrats who can’t manage to be polite or decent, because George H.W. Bush was a Republican.

President Bush was what is called a “patrician”– someone from the American aristocracy. An American aristocracy is an odd notion, for the sense of the word implies”noble birth”, but we don’t do that here. He was, however, the son of a senator, the father of another president, but also the father of another governor, so there is an aristocracy of public service.

President Donald Trump has been excoriated as “unqualified” to be president, because he has neither held public office nor served in the military. President George H.W. Bush not only served in the military, but flew a torpedo bomber in the very nasty Pacific War,  got shot down, survived in a tiny rubber raft, got picked up and went right back to flying and bombing.

Qualifications to be president are quite straightforward: you have to be a natural born citizen, have attained the age of 35, and been resident in the United States for fourteen years. We have had some four star generals: Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower, and others who had noted military service: Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, and a few others, but not all of the presidents were military men. Abraham Lincoln served for just three days. Joe Biden just announced that he is the most qualified person to be president. So there you are. Michael Avenatti announced that he isn’t running after all. But the line of Democrats who are just dying to run grows apace.

So in spite of being a country where anyone with the correct minimal qualifications is entitled to run, we seem to want our president to be someone special. We nitpick their every utterance, criticize their demeanor, their decisions, their behavior. George Washington set the standard. The people were willing to proclaim him King, but he would have none of it, and when his term was done, he just went on home.

There always seems to be a sort of itch to put them on a pedestal. Perhaps that is why the Democrats are so eager to have the first black, the first woman, the first (pseudo) Native American, and there’s Kamala Harris as not only being black – but also female. One can just be grateful for the 35 year-old qualification or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be running.

The country has hung out their flags, stood in long cold lines to have the chance to walk by the catafalque in the Capitol Building to mourn the passing of a good and kind man. I can appreciate all the other stuff, but I do marvel at the man who celebrated his 90th birthday by going skydiving.

Rest in Peace.

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