“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

Frequent contributor Jim Peters shares some thoughts on modern politics:

I get an awfully lot of email and mail from the Democratic Party of both Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., and just once I would like to open one that says “Thank You for Your Fifty Years of Service and Allegiance to the Standards of the Democratic Party.” I have a personal in with Barack Obama apparently, but at the end of each of these emails is a request for money. They do not usually ask for a great deal of it, although the “Women in Democratic Government,” started at one hundred dollars which is a fortune if my credit card companies are to be believed. I have gotten closer to the heart of politics in the Democratic Party than most people, through my relationship to my father and my brother-in-law, Paul Tsongas – yes, that Paul Tsongas. But, I still feel a distance, and constantly reminding me how much money I do not have to put into Democratic coffers still bothers me.

I generally hang around with people like myself, people who are getting up there in age who have small bank accounts and have to try like heck to make ends meet on their monthly checks. They are the ‘salt of the earth’ in that they are the first persons to volunteer when the church is doing a mailing. They contribute of their time constantly, but the last thing I would do to them is ask them for money as a handout. I know they do not usually have it.

Granted, fundraising is and has become more of, an important part of the political pie. I wonder though, I was talking to this very engaging older woman about her life experiennces and she grew up in Washington. She said that her grandfather used to tell of his school days when it was not uncommon for the sitting President of the United States to walk by his school window and poke his head in and say “Hello, kids.” No Secret Service, because he knew how to slip out once in awhile. This president, she said, was much less prone to stand behind the wall of his office than his predecessors. What if American politics could be that way again.

What if Grover Cleveland’s large rear end, which got stuck in the White House bathtub, was one of the only stories covered in a day? What if we did not have body counts of young men and young women who got killed in a country that has never known full occupation? Afghanistan is definitely a country to stay out of, just ask the British in their colinization efforts in the Boer War. At least, I believe it was the Boer War, although that one was mostly about South Africa. But the point is that Afghani’s will never allow you to win control of their country for very long. In the English experience, the Afghan women would follow the men onto the field and cut off the fingers of the British soldiers who wore wedding rings. They would gouge out their eyes. This is not a placid place and this is not a war we can win, so what are we doing there. Osama Bin Laden was found in Pakistan, but we do not want to go there because they are our “allies.” They harbored the major fugitive of the 21st. century and they are our “allies?”

The woman I talked to from Washington has had an interesting life. She was with her Girl Scout Troop touring the White House when the staff attendant said that they could go to the yellow rope and see President Kennedy in person. When they saw him they started yelling and screaming to much so that the President turned and smiled at them. “And, did you know Mom? He has red hair,” she told her ,mother that evening. I have seen pictures where his has a definite reddish tint to his hair, and she practically swore that he had red hair. I thought that was cute and interesting.

She also said that she used to be a hairdresser in D.C. and that Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, a client, and the President’s secretary told her, after he died. that it was not uncommon for him to put her husband and herself up for the night if there was an important speech or announcement he was going to make. It was also, according to this woman, not unusual for the President to burst into the bedroom with an idea that just could not wait.He was always dressed in pajamas.

I admire Jack Kennedy. He always called her “Mrs. Lincoln.” Unless he was with good friends, he always refered to them as “Senator Russell,” if he was Senator Russell, or ‘Congresswoman Rogers’ if he was in the Fifth District. He toured Lowell City Hall when he was Senator and when I worked there, many of the older women in the departments would remember the day he came.

I have to admire a man who could write a book called “A Nation of Immigrants” while in the presidency. I wanted Obama to be like John Kennedy, but, except for his sense of humor, that does not seem to be possible, but the hope was there. When Obama started, I thought he would concentrate on the debt, and I even wrote in this blog that he was concentrating on how to pay the debt in the same way that John Maynard Keynes wrote in his book, “How to Pay for the War.” That was a book about the WWII debt and it is interesting, although drier, reading. However, Obama seems to be a good politician, not statesman despite the definition of a statesman.

So I will continue to share stories and thoughts like these in the hopes that they might start us to think ‘outside of the box.’ And maybe, just maybe, Americans will come up with the right solutions for the troubles of the day. One thing is fairly certain, with Washington more interested in making money than passing along a story, it is going to be a long recovery.

Just a passing thought, why is Washington diminishing nuclear deterrents when China will be our biggest threat?