Happy President’s Day from the RNC

Commentary

When it comes to ignorance, mean-spiritedness and general lack of class, how low can the GOP go?

Plus a short addendum: Anti-Semitism in Marin County

I was researching and plotting out another story when the above image flashed across my screen. Although the other story was important, it was not time sensitive. Coming right after President’s Day, this one is.

Just in case you missed the nuances of this “classy” image, let me unpack it for you.

Just to be clear, this message is from the Republican National Committee’s official Twitter account. This is the same RNC that recently censured two of its own members, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, for their participation in the Congressional January 6 Select Committee which, the RNC asserts, is ‘persecuting ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.’ You know, those ordinary citizens who attacked the Capitol of the United States in an armed insurrection.

I wrote about this earlier this month in this space (https://around-the-block.com/2022/02/05/the-irony-of-two-january-6th-related-headlines-today/) and in an Op-Ed in the Palm Beach Post (https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/opinion/2022/02/08/commentary-pences-truth-party-censure-congressmen-reveal-gop-lie/6686746001/).

The tweet itself was an obnoxiously, mean-spirited, self-congratulatory message featuring curiously selected, “great” [GOP] U.S. presidents.

There have been 45 presidencies (not including the current one, Joe Biden, whose term began in 2021), and 44 different individuals have served as president.* I would suggest that any president in the top 10 could be considered “great” or at least “near-great.” Based on that assessment, only three of the nine “such great U.S. presidents,” Lincoln (#1), Eisenhower (#5) and Reagan (#9) make the cut.

(*Grover Cleveland was elected to two nonconsecutive terms, and as such is considered the 22nd and 24th president of the United States.)

Interestingly, the number one ranked president, Abraham Lincoln, the “father of the Republican party,” considered almost as holy as St. Ronald of Reagan (#9), would have a hard time recognizing the party he “founded.” Remember, while the Civil War was about slavery, it was also about states rights. The Southern states wanted to assert their authority over the federal government so they could abolish federal laws they didn’t support, especially laws interfering with the South’s right to keep slaves and take them wherever they wished. On the question of states rights, the red (Republican) states now seem very much like the Southern states then, chaffing against federal laws they don’t like.

The Southern states seceded from the Union; an insurrection, if you will. Lincoln went to war over this insurrection. Republicans now? The attack against the Capitol, an insurrection against the democratic process, was fueled and encouraged by Republican office holders, including the incumbent Republican president (#41 of 44). But then again, official GOP policy is that these folks weren’t insurrectionists but “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

The RNC, by including Trump, (and, bizarrely, Calvin Coolidge[!] left out a GOP president whom presidential historians consider truly great: Theodore Roosevelt who ranks #4, just below his distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (#3).

Of course, as the GOP moves inexorably towards becoming the POT (Party Of Trump), it is also becoming the party of ignorance (historical and other) and hatred. There cannot be a better example of this than this years’ RNC President’s Day greeting.

And just to disabuse the knee-jerk right-wing accusation that the survey participants were “radical left-wing historians,” the panel consisted of over 140 academics and presidential historians from every political persuasion imaginable. Here’s the list: (https://www.c-span.org/presidentsurvey2021/?page=participants).

Short Addendum to this Post

Just as I was about to press, “publish,” yet another image flashed across my screen, in this case not simply about hatred, ignorance, and mean-spiritedness, but anti-Semitism as well.

As many readers know, I lived in Marin County California for over 43 years. Marin is one of the bluest, most liberal counties in a very blue state. It is also the home to a moderately large Jewish population. Marin has two Jewish congregations, one Reform, the other Conservative. There’s also a Chabad House, a Jewish Day School and a very active, very large, Jewish Community Center.

Novato is Marin’s northernmost city. It includes a neighborhood called Wild Horse Valley. While Novato might be considered by some, a little more politically moderate than the rest of Marin, it would never have been mentioned in the same breath as say, Montgomery or Charlottesville or Little Rock. Until this, as reported by a member of the social network, NextDoor:

Is it my imagination, or did someone once say, “There are fine people on both sides?”

Oh, yeah. Now I remember, #41, the third worst president in U.S. history.

I haven’t asked but if I did, I guess the RNC chairwoman would shrug and say this poster is simply “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

To quote the great Ukrainian*-American comedian, Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!”

(*Couldn’t resist getting up-to-the-minute current events into this story.)

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

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