George Washington Would Fuck Bush's Shit Up:
On this President's Day, which, in less hurried times, was George Washington's Birthday (or at least when we could fit it in our weekend planners to celebrate it), let us consider the first President of the United States. For, indeed, if his zombie bones could roam the halls of the White House, passing judgment on the living around him, oh, what a feast of flesh his apocryphal wooden teeth would have to feed on. Everywhere zombie Washington would look, every document he saw, every act he witnessed, would make him wonder, in the deep recesses of his withered zombie brain, "I was dragged out of retirement back in the day for this?" And, perhaps, because he always saw it as his duty to serve his country, zombie Washington'd understand why his reanimated skeleton was brought forth: time to eat some brains and set things right.
Take a look at just a few lines of George Washington's First Inaugural Address (sure, sure, it's his Farewell Address that gets all the glory, but it's important to note that the man was talkin' this stuff early on): In a statement that, said by a President today, would be sure to make neocons shit their Armani slacks and make Tom DeLay vomit endlessly, Washington said, "I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world." "Private morality" here, of course, meaning, "Do unto others and, hey, leave me the fuck alone."
For rather than saying that "God loves America" or some such nonsense, Washington writes that we gotta earn that blessing, that America is an opportunity given to the citizens of the country: "[T]he preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." The ol' slaveowner believed that the people had to have the power, man, to make decisions, to succeed or to fuck-up.
To that end, Washington believed deeply in the (some might say "Christian") qualities of mercy and forgiveness. Said Number One in his Annual Message to Congress in 1795, "I shall always think it a sacred duty to exercise with firmness and energy the constitutional powers with which I am vested, yet it appears to me no less consistent with the public good than it is with my personal feelings to mingle in the operations of Government every degree of moderation and tenderness which the national justice, dignity, and safety may permit." Washington was referring to his pardon of the leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion, where federal force was used to put down a state insurrection. Well, hell, didn't George W. Bush pardon a bootlegger?
Washington believed that education - an enlightened people - was an end in itself, not merely a means to financial success: "To the security of a free constitution [education] contributes in various ways - by convincing those who are entrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights."
At the end of the day, President's Day, if you will, George Washington would fuck Bush's shit up because he placed the Constitution above all else, and he saw the Constitution as the will of a people. As the current administration callously manipulates the document, as if it has some fine print only it can discern through use of secret fluids and strange lenses and unholy alchemy, maybe we can remember that there was a time when a belief in the Constitution wasn't quaint or that the laws themselves weren't an impediment, but a means to greater ends.
Washington could not stop talking about the Constitution in his presidential addresses. Bush did not mention it in his first Inaugural Address, and he gave it passing reference in his second. In his State of the Union addresses, he uses mention of the Constitution as a cudgel, in his crude understanding of the role of the Senate in considering his judicial nominees or as a defense for violating the rights of Americans. Zombie Washington would weep with rage and deep, deep hunger.