donald trump insults germany. chancellor angela markel holds her nose and says US is no longer a reliable partner.
By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Donald Trump's offensive remarks to G-7 partners May 25th 2017 cause Chancellor Merkel to question the benefit of traditional alliances like NATO.
It's time for the major European nations to take their affairs "in our own hands", says Merkel. In other words the genie we worked so hard to contain is out of the bottle. Trump strikes again.
Here are the facts:
So, Donald Trump has returned from Europe. He will be remembered for his bumptious antics and rudeness, traits which are epitomized by the fact that he shoved Milo Dukanovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro, to get to his place in the sun, that he knows is always his. Where is Montenegro anyway?
If there is an insulting, foolish, crude thing to be done, Donald Trump will do it… and not even know it. For here is a man so self-centered and arrogant that anyone else’s point of view is completely beside the point. As King Louis XV didn’t say “Apres moi le deluge”. Or in the immortal words of Alfred E Newman of “Mad Magazine”, “What me worry?”.
However, he should be worried. He has got one scandal after another already on his plate. Moreover there isn’t a politician in the Capitol or in Europe’s capitals who thinks that number will decrease. At which I say, “Thank God for Angela Merkel“ (born 1954). Throughout the events of her watch she has been underrated, undervalued, and underappreciated. No more so than now.
Mrs. Merkel understands that to be a German leader is always to have a special responsibility to the German people and the world, for after all, it was Germany, always Germany that caused the great world wars taking the lives of untold millions to prove in the end that “Deutschland über alles” was a cruel joke and that Deutschland needed a firm hand to keep her wayward demons under control.
From April 15th 1945 when Admiral Karl Doenitz surrendered the “Thousand year Nazi regime”, the United States and Europe worked together to make sure there would be no World War III. To this end the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 and may be said to be the most important reason why Europe has not exploded in yet another of its endless destructive wars.
To make this situation work, the very name of Prussia (from which Germany evolved in 1870) was erased from the maps of the world. The map makers were hoping out of sight, out of mind. Thus the policy makers in Washington, London, and Paris worked hand in hand with the progressive German leaders of post Nazi Germany to keep the peace. They did it and succeeded right up to this very minute, one of the most significant achievements in the history of mankind.
Then onto the stage bumbles Donald John Trump, enjoying his midsummer night’s dream about places, people, and things he knows nothing about and never will. However this does not trouble him. No Indeed. His motto is” Lord what fools these mortals be”. For everywhere he goes he knows whatever he does, whatever he does, is right for by definition for after all a Trump can do no wrong. “Lord what fools these mortals be”.
Then something in Angela snapped, for she knows that she will have to pick up so many of the pieces of Trump’s fatuous regime. She will do it uncomplainingly (at least in public) because there is no one else to do it. The Trumps of this world are expert in one thing and one thing only, “Me!”. You are there for their gratification and for no other reason.
Such a person at such a time in the history of Europe could well cause major damage, criticizing as he does and seemingly without restraint. Every person and administration, that has had unfortunate duty to see must put the best gloss on the subject on what to do about the Donald and his almost laughably superficial ideas. Angela has taken the long view, she now running for her 4th term as Chancellor of Germany understands the truth of an old saying my father used to use so many times, “This too shall pass”.
Trump needs Europe, Europe doesn’t need Trump.
This is the problem. Because Angela Merkel is a statesman, she will get what she can get and make no fuss but people with the longer view even admiring Mrs. Merkel as they do are worried that Donald Trump has opened a fissure in the Grand Alliance. Given the malignant history of Germany from 1870 when the German empire was formed out of various German states, the Germans have been a rambunctious and dangerous element within Europe, anything that control and contains Germany is there for good, anything that allow Germany to set up an independent course makes all of Europe anxious.
Donald Trump’s behavior therefore is inexplicable, for he has cast a giant boulder at Germany and opened up a channel of menace with consequences unseen. Nationalist German demons may have been asleep since 1945, but they still exist with all that implies. Mrs. Merkel is just the kind of German leader the continent of Europe must have, cool; calm, not a touch of bombast, a woman you can do business with.
She believes that all problems can be solved without braggadocio or grandstanding. She knows that you can get more done, if you don’t take the credit; which is exactly why she has been so effective. This is why what is happening now is so significant. She now becomes the first head of state (with the possible exception of tiny Montenegro which will not abide being pushed around) to make it clear that Trump is irrelevant, unthinkable for the Great Republic whose standing in the world drips away every time Trump toots his horn.
But there is significant work to be done, and it must be done now. Angela Merkel and all the other nations of Europe are clear on the fact that they will never be able to work successfully with Donald Trump, a man with ants in his pants and an attention span measured in minutes. The agenda of problems to be solved is daunting, and what is necessary now is a joint concerted effort by virtue of size, wealth, and vision. The United States should be leading the ongoing negotiation with Europe in certain key areas including Russia, climate change, regional trade, and collective defense. However the Great Republic under Trump’s bumbling has left the leadership position to Germany and Mrs. Merkel.
Now this will only alarm those who feel the bones of German nationalism capable of rising again like doleful, dangerous artifacts from a “Harry Potter” film. Donald Trump by his unbelievably irresponsible behavior towards Mrs. Merkel and Germany in general has created a situation of menace that need not have occurred at all. Consider the following anecdote from the court of King Louis XVIII of France.
He had received his restored crown from the hands of Tsar Alexander the II of Russia. One evening he invited the Tsar for dinner. When the servants passed around the first dish, they ladled it on the Tsar’s plate. Louis, exploded with rage. “Me first!, “ Me first!”, he shouted thrusting his very hands into the dish.
Never mind that the Tsar had rescued his capital and made him a king again. And so it is with Trump and why wanton and pernicious remarks should never have been voiced even if true, much less because they are not. The peace of the world since 1945 has relied upon an unbroken chain of thoughtful statesmen particularly in Washington, and Berlin, these people, so many statesmen of high standing, have understood the importance of what they have done and congratulated themselves for being able to work together through good times and bad, through difficult political situations, and with a sincere, and thorough desire to maintain the Atlantic Alliance. What they have done, what they continue to do has resulted in better lives for millions of people. They are the beneficiaries, which include you and me.
Now Angela Merkel is called upon to perform the most difficult balancing trick of the century, she must keep the German people happy or at least sufficiently contented, to make sure the German nationalist do not gain power and prestige, and become a threat to stable government. She must work to keep the balance of nation in Europe particularly with Russia. She must find a way of working with the United Kingdom in a post Brexit situation. She must work on the big picture, never despairing, never complaining, never overwhelmed.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies”. This is the value of Angela Merkel. But there is a terrible gnawing fear in all this. Without complete and total agreement on major issues between Germany and the Great Republic it is inevitable the differences will ensue.
Who can expect complete and total harmony? Even the best friends must endure periods of estrangements. Mrs. Merkel is now the most significant leader in Europe where it is not inconceivable to think of additional cracks in the Atlantic Alliance. Donald Trump has no idea what this Alliance was meant to do and why it is so significant, yes even for tiny Montenegro down by the Adriatic. Of Course NATO founded in year 1949, now may be in need of a shakeup. Success often produces lethargy, new blood, new ideas, new ways of doing things is necessary in all organizations, even marriage.
Donald Trump should have traveled to Brussels with a basket full of praise and determination and tangible benefits to know the G7 members better and understand their situation.
Then he should have called these leaders together to begin implementing a strengthened NATO. Mrs. Merkel would have helped him in that situation. When Berlin and Washington work together they can achieve anything. Sadly this did not occur. Instead Donald Trump gratuitously pummeled the Alliance to the extent Mrs. Merkel will no doubt find any means to avoid Donald Trump.
For she has taken the measure of this diminutive man and found it severely lacking. She has found in him no statesman, no visionary, no indefatigable seeking after a better Alliance, a better Europe, a better world.
Thus the President’s trip to Brussels will go down in history as a date of carelessness and unnecessary failure and insult. What will happen next? No one knows for sure. But Mrs. Merkel, Europe’s governess, keeps on doing her necessary work; everywhere willing to labor to achieve beneficial results, irked no doubt by the bumptious Mr. Trump but determined nonetheless.
She can work around him, doesn’t need to see him very often, and as always will go about her crucial work quietly, without flash or wild egotism; content to be what her great pre-decessor Prince Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was, “The Pilot of Europe”. For this we say,“Gott mit dir” for the future of so many, depends on you.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Today, for the 360th time in its exalted history, a history far older than
the republic itself, Harvard will, with all the colorful paraphernalia of the
Academy, send a goodly percentage of the brightest young people on
earth on their way to kismet.
Some of these people will become heads of state, women too; that is why
the address of Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of the
Republic of Liberia is so important. It proves that even in territories inclement
towards women, women may rise high indeed.
Some of these people will head corporations and reap billions, some of
which will undoubtedly be given to Harvard in the form of very public generosities.
Some of these people will buck the capitalist trend and found worthy causes
of every kind. The world has need for every one of them and the people who
give up much, the better able to give more.
Others will rise high in the military, in governments of every nation on earth,
in education, science, medicine, the arts... there will even be a movie star or two but,
perhaps, no rap musician. Not, however, because Harvard would not welcome one; it
would. Rappers, however, may demur; it's a matter of image.... and no people on
earth are as stringent about image as they are.
One more category may well appear: terrorist, revolutionary. Harvard does not
go out seeking such people, but Harvard has helped shape many such. Red
John Reed, Bolshevik, (class of 1910) is buried in the Kremlin wall... a signal honor
for a gentleman of Crimson. Like so many Harvard graduates he rose high, though this
time for a cause most every other Harvard graduate loathed and disdained. John
Reed wouldn't have cared about that; Harvard graduates are above such trivia.
They know that what they do is important, even if no one else on this planet agrees.
This profound conviction is part of what the graduates take away today... you can
be sure of it. It is one of the best reasons for the very existence of Harvard.
Many of today's graduates will write about their Harvard experiences; I am one of
them. Most will cherish happy memories and say so, fudging the truth on
which Harvard prides itself and pruning things not quite happy enough. In truth,
their classmates were probably never as bright as they will remember, as bright or
as dedicated. The faculty never as welcoming and helpful as they will recall. And the
university overall not as profoundly influential. But embroidering your Harvard past
is winked at since happy memories beget handsome legacies. And there is no need
to remind so many, and in print, too, that their time here was not as sun-kissed as they
ardently desire it to be. You were young, vibrant, surrounded by possibilities, and you'd
been marked with the most winning brand of all. Under the circumstances, the utmost
joy and contentment are understandable; indeed mandatory.
There will be some of course, but just a handful who will write otherwise, telling, years
from now, of painful isolation, alienation and the persistent thought that they never were, not for a moment, good enough to have gone to Harvard in the first place, that they were a fluke, a sport of nature. Perhaps. But they will write such sentiments in a ringing style, lyric, too, that shows in its careful refinement and clarity another benefit of a Harvard education.
This day, the most important day in the life of virtually every graduate, save only the
day on which they were born, will start early; the ceremony commences in Harvard
Yard at 9:45 a.m., but Harvard Square is awash with the camera-totting hours before,
even from first light. A sign of the times: persons unable to be present can see it all, and
clearer, on the Web. There is not a one who so watches that does not wish to be
in Cambridge instead... for all that they see more and better than the audience
shaded by the great trees in Tercentenary Theater.
Graduates, at once shy and proud, will move today surrounded by their personal
claques, the lucky ones invited to see and venerate. Proud parents, who often dipped deep to make this happen, have been admonished, several times, to be prompt and organized. Graduates have conflicting feelings about these folks. They are grateful, of course, though never as grateful perhaps as they should be. It would not do to slight them, but, this is the last day, the very last day, they can see their classmates and friends, similarly burdened, as they will never be again: present, accounted for, resoundingly young; friends, colleagues, lovers, too. This recognition, this sadness is palpable. The pull of the golden past, slipping away forever, against the dawning future, ardently desired... but not this day. This is why the tears fall today for this must be a bittersweet moment for all. In these precincts the past and future truly collide today, to roil emotions. Parting is indeed such sweet sorrow... and now they truly know it.
It is now just 5 a.m., the dawn of this day of days is nigh. It is a day of memories,
memories retrieved, memories born. Parents will recall memories unbeckoned
of their beloved graduates and their brief lives. They will have, for themselves alone,
moments poignant and keenly felt, the more so if they had, once upon a time, a Harvard
Commencement of their own. Then Cambridge becomes the best it can be: an ever-
renewing place of reverie and remembrance, a place where you are always welcome,
for you are part of what has shaped this special place.
The trickle of early comers, seeking parking spaces more valued than gold,
will soon grow into serious traffic. Ladies in hats otherwise known only at weddings and
gentlemen in ties they will later shake off as gladly as a noose begin to appear as
do the marked men of the day... the sheriff of the county who will ride in on white
horse to declare the proceedings open; officials in their always ill-fitting cuttaways
and top hats... and of course and always the brightly garbed graduates in mortar
boards they never wear quite right. With their gowns a Rosetta Stone clearly indicating
just where the graduates have been and where they are going, these players gather
together, together to march into the ceremonies where they shall become, so the
University's president will pronounce, members of the company of educated men and
This is what every graduate has earned... and everyone has come to hear. And
it is a marvelous thing, not just for those present but for the entire world, soon
to benefit from the skills, dedications, and hard work of this renewed company,
the company we all rely upon so much.
Think of these new members of this company today. They have much to accomplish
and many lives to touch and improve. We must all be glad they have such a day as
this to start them on their way, for they go forward for us all.
Every commencement comes alive when the University's fight song, "Ten
Thousand Men of Harvard", written by A. Putnam (class of 1918) is played.
Listen and rejoice.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
There are many ways to sell products through creative marketing and sales endeavors. But nothing beats coercion. Wouldn’t you like to increase your sales quotas by certain can’t lose methods? Well the British, that nation of shopkeepers, found towards the middle of the 19th Century a sure fire way to fill its voracious coffers.
That way came to be called the Second Opium War (1856-1860). The goal was to turn the entire Chinese Empire into an opium den. You can imagine the British licked their chops at the prospect of having hundreds of millions of constant and predictable users, each one contributing to Rule Britannia.
They used any methods they could dream up, and the results of course were predictable. Imperial China dissolved in a chaos and cruelty of unlimited opium.
As part of their plan, they took a torch to one of the most beautiful and civilized complexes of exquisite and lavish display, the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. It pleased these civilized gentlemen to destroy every beautiful thing they could find, whilst collecting booty to take home, including what was called the bixi, a magnificent 17 foot marble stele which showed a tortoise surmounted by a dragon.
It was presented, in due course, to Harvard University in 1936 for the 300th anniversary. It was said that anyone who rubbed the nose of the statue would have good luck. But of course good luck flowed only one way… towards the gentlemen looters. They were the hare, and while they gamboled, the dragon slept, as it did all over China for so many pernicious years.
China was simply a box of treasures to be emptied as soon and completely as possible, while insouciant Harvard undergraduates walked past the stele and never knew what it was or the tragedy it represented. That was no concern of theirs.
But quietly, sometimes imperceptibly, but always certainly, the dragon began to stir. This time it was the hare who slept, as it was want to do in the famous tale by Aesop. The tortoise simply moved ahead, unheralded, largely unknown, but without opposition or even acknowledgment… until now.
The slow moving tortoise is now about to astonish the world, and economists and financial advisers worldwide are now aghast at what the sleeping tortoise has done, and what the hare has slept through, all unawares.
All hares, tortoises, people everywhere, are moving inexorably now towards the day of the tortoise, now just literally hours from changing the world when the year 2018 will become a date every school child knows… for it is the day the Great Republic is surpassed by the tortoise.
No longer will American students rub the nose of the tortoise for their luck… for the good fortune that was once theirs has shifted forever… and it is now too late to change the dynamic of events, for the American Era is dwindling, dwindling, soon to be just another statistic, no longer the basis for a superior life.
The Conference Board indicates that by 2018, China’s contribution to the world’s gross domestic product will surpass that of the United States. In other words, China’s economy will become more significant than the American economy.
How could such a terrible thing (from our standpoint) have taken place? Was every one of the nation’s captains asleep through his watch, or just praying that he could get through it without further damage, and without widespread public knowledge or concern?
In 1970, the United States contributed 21.2% of the total global economic output. This remained consistent for another 30 years. That is, until the year 2000. In every year since 2000, with one exception, America’s percentage of the world economic output has declined. In 2015, for example, the United States contributed 16.7% of the world’s economy. By 2025, this is expected to fall to 14.9%. Nowsee the other side of the coin.
In 1970, China was responsible for a mere 4.1% of the total. By 2015, this had risen to 15.6%. In 2025, China’s contribution to the global economy is projected to be 17.2%. And so it goes, with the aging U.S. economy more and more at risk; the Chinese dashing ahead, fueled by the kind of enthusiasm and adamant endeavor that distinguishes winners. We talk about our need to succeed. The Chinese simply do so.
Just the other day a body blow to the image of the United States took place, and right down the road, too. This time, the bad news came from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. News & World Report, which annually rates top learning institutions, demoted M.I.T. as the top engineering university in the world, elevating instead China’s Tsinghua University as the top engineering university in the world in 2015, the latest ranking.
Moreover, of the top 10 engineering schools, China and the United States each have four. However, China annually graduates 4 times as many students in the core subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as the United States. In these subjects, there are 1.3 million Chinese students versus 300,000 United States students. Moreover, in every year of the Obama Administration, Chinese universities awarded more PhD’s in the core subjects than American universities. Suddenly the boast that we were #1, always #1, felt hollow, even fatuous. The tortoise had done its work well. Most Americans never saw it coming.
What had gone wrong?
I think one illustration will help show what has gone so seriously wrong, and why we may be slated for a permanent number two position, no matter how much face paint and glory hallelujah music is dispensed.
On May 23rd, 2017, the black students of Harvard University held their own commencement exercises, detached from the main University. Although white and other students were invited to attend this program, only two or three actually did so.
They gathered together to share with each other stories about how ill treated they often have been at the World’s Greatest University. Instead of celebrating all the benefits they had, they chose instead to whine and snivel that their golden road was not richer still.
Of course this was a slap in the face of the University, and showed how off center the Administration at Harvard has become, allowing black students to have their own commencement activities, when every other racial configuration was not singled out for special treatment, and didn’t need it.
Now let me tell you how the Chinese would have handled this matter. The admistration in Beijing or anywhere else in greater China would have said:
“Boys and girls, you are among the privileged of the Earth. Get on with your work. You don’t need a special stole or a special ceremony or a special opportunity to complain, because what you’ve got is the most important thing on Earth… the ability to strive mightily and succeed. Young China, you are privileged. Young China, you know it; now get on with the task at hand.”
And so as all the black students complained about the trivial, the Chinese ate their lunch, and put the whole of the rest of us at risk. For shame, for shame.
We in America, prattling on constantly about how successful we are, have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we no longer understand the necessities for success, and where we do, we are not willing to implement them.
Can you even imagine that the habits of the average Chinese student are so lax and slothful? They have a joy of learning that once distinguished the Great Republic and its proud institutions, that now, like everything else has gone to Beijing, where the joy of learning flourishes.
Who saw all this coming, that we shall have to eat the dust and take the jibes that will surely accompany China’s inevitable rise to the top of the heap. Professors did not see this, for you can check the curricula of universities worldwide for courses that focus on the rise of China in our time, and for the foreseeable time to come. The media never saw this coming. Tracing the development of the new Chinese Empire is not as exciting as following the sexual peccadilloes of so many of our office holders, or their pilfering. They don’t care that the United States declines, so long as their pockets are filled with ill gotten gains that attract no special prosecutors.
For too long, America has believed what is no longer truth. We have become a nation of second rate quitters who fail to see the Chinese will do whatever they need to do, no matter how time consuming, difficult, and thankless the work. In 2018, these people will push their nation over the top to a glory not seen in China for centuries, and which was ours for but a short time.
So remember this: in 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president, China’s economy was just 10% the size of America’s. By 2014, the indefatigable Chinese had catapulted to 100%. And today, it stands at 115%. Consider this shocker: China’s economy will be 50% larger in 2023 than America’s, and by 2040 it will be 3 times larger.
We have slept for decades while the Chinese looked to the bixi and rubbed its nose, seeking the luck which did not need to be conferred upon them, but which was hewed out of the raw elements of their unstoppable humanity. They would succeed because any other course was un-Chinese… unthinkable… beyond the pale.
Theirs is the example of our time. Our children, and children’s children will have to learn to live with tattered 2nd place, or even less. For that is what we have left them. It was not good enough, once upon a time, for us, but it is perfectly acceptable now… so long as we can shut our eyes to the facts and accept the reality that is intolerable. God bless America… She needs the help.
“REMEMBER THOU ART MORTAL!” DONALD TRUMP NEEDS HELP. THIS ARTICLE EXPLAINS WHY AND WHAT MUST BE DONE TO SAVE A TROUBLED PRESIDENCY.
By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
In the days of Ancient Rome, victorious generals were permitted a Triumph. A Triumph was the greatest honor a conquering hero could get and so lavish and important that for the next few days after it occurred, the general was near to God-like status and treated accordingly.
Of course the powers that be were happy for the victory, but they also knew that any general with an army at his instant command could produce chaos and unwanted political instability. Thus each Triumph had to be carefully planned, measured, and controlled. As part of this process of keeping the Triumphal general in check, a public slave was placed on the chariot of the conqueror; his job was to whisper in his ear these chilling words, “Remember thou art mortal!”. You can imagine that no conqueror ever took kindly to such remarks, but he submitted for his own good and the good of the Republic.
Now, Donald Trump finds himself driving a chariot which is going every which way to the consternation of the people who want good government and a nation they can be proud of. There is no one now in the White House or in Trump’s inner circle to give plain, simple, timely advice to the President. There is no one in his present circle who can simply tell him the God’s honest truth.
This is causing disruptions for the good ship United States because no one is at the rudder. Thus this vessel lists, founders, reverses and veers in muddle and confusion. What can be done? What indeed… Right now advisers dispense information from many directions and for many reasons. These advice givers include Steve Bannon (Chief Strategist), Kellyanne Conway (Counselor to the President), Jared Kushner (Special Adviser to the President and Head of the White House Office of American Innovation), Reince Priebus (White House Chief of Staff), and Ivanka Trump (Special Adviser to the President).
Here is the situation. These people, no matter how bright, no matter how seemingly attached to the President are not and cannot be unvarnished truth tellers of the utmost integrity and discretion. Each of these people is an employee, admittedly at a high level, but no employee no matter how well placed, can ever give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, It just cannot be done, especially in the White House where the Presidential incense blowing never stops.
That is why previous Presidents have invited well placed individuals, knowledgeable, loyal, without an ax to grind to assist them. These people are appointed to provide the truth as they understand it, keeping the President focused and quash silly ideas of which the Trump Administration has come up with more than its share.
On my first visit to the White House when Jimmy Carter was President, I saw this incense wafting machine at its full speed. I was taken into the Executive Office and went behind the scene where the White House staff was situated. It was like the harem of the Ancient Ottomans where the President can see no evil, speak no evil and do no evil. You were either in this circle, this charmed circle, or you were not. It was very heady stuff indeed. But it is not what is needed now or in any Presidency to keep the President real, not merely the unquestioned sovereign of the hive.
To show you what I mean, I wish to introduce you to Colonel Edward Mandell House (1858- 1938). You may not know of him now, may never have known anything previously about this once powerful American diplomat, politician and adviser to then President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921).
Colonel House, as he was familiarly known, had a challenging task; he assisted a prickly, self-satisfied, difficult man move from the back waters of New Jersey politics, from author, from President of Princeton University and then thanks to a split in the Republican Party in 1912, President of the United States. He was deft indeed, but Wilson needed the help and at this point in his astonishing career admitted it.
Like so many academics he thought himself superior to everyone; thought that he was sent from God himself to the White House to be His agent and keep those blessings flowing. House played a pivotal role in the 1912 Presidential Election and kept the campaign organization purring by focusing on the big picture, the Presidential picture. Although Woodrow Wilson upon election offered him any Cabinet post (except Secretary of State), House made the calculated decision that he would better serve Wilson and the nation by remaining outside of the formal Ins and Outs of the presidency.
As he saw it, his task was keeping Woodrow Wilson on track, focused on the achievement of his expansive and important agenda. This agenda became even more important when World War I broke out in Europe and President Wilson had to lead a reluctant and skeptical nation. All of a sudden this very sharp tongued, egotistical, academically inclined, bookish President became the most important man on earth; the man who could either refrain from taking the United States to war thereby gambling the future of all of Europe and Western Civilization or chivvy the nation bit by cautious bit to bring the nation into the war.
Of course everyone in the nation, indeed everyone on earth, had an opinion on what President Wilson should do, how he should do it, and to what extent he should do it. Here is where Colonel House fit in.
By now House was not only advising the President as executive agent; the title invented for him. He actually had his own apartment in the White House so he could slip in and out at will without the slightest recognition beyond the President himself. From the time the British passenger liner “Lusitania” was sunk by a German U-Boat (May 7th 1915) drowning 128 Americans, Colonel House was in the very center of all the developments in the fast-developing war. He became Wilson’s private and personal agent on such matters as Wilson’s 14 points, the Treaty of Versailles, and the Covenant of the League of Nations. This was important work indeed, and Colonel House did it in an exemplary fashion which is to say he was honest, discrete, totally dedicated, and loyal to Woodrow Wilson and his agenda.
First of all he was a man of the world. He had traveled widely, had business success, helped elect 4 governors of Texas and advise them. He even wrote a political novel which if not a best seller, certainly presented ideas which he would later present to President Wilson. He also believed strongly in Wilson’s progressive liberal ideas.
House knew when to push and when to hold Wilson back. His job was to ensure Wilson's best ideas were presented to the public and his less good ideas thrust aside; all without irritating this very temperamental man. Wilson like so many prima donnas, did not want to believe or acknowledge that any one knew more than he did, and he believed he was the most important man in the world. Colonel House held the executive hand, and always always said the appropriate thing for the moment. Just one notable example will go to prove the point and show House’s importance and insight.
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in other words the government body which could make or break Wilson’s 14 points and League of Nations. By now Wilson who believed, that he has been sent by God himself to save the world from woe and affliction. He had advised kings and queens, presidents and heads of state and was certain that he knew better than they did. Wilson believed he knew how to craft the new world order, a point of view easy to believe because millions of people worldwide had come to venerate and believe in this man whose name they screamed “Wilson, Wilson, Wilson!”
By this time Colonel House knew if the new world order was to have a League of Nations; a key point of Wilson’s message, many more people beside Wilson himself would have to be involved in the process. It could not be, could never be done by any single man no matter how beloved of the desperate people yearning for freedom, peace, and serenity. But of course by this time Wilson walked on water; he didn’t like Senator Lodge, and he definitely did not want to hear anything from him on this matter or any other matter.
Thus Colonel House, who saw the big picture, advised the President that Senator Lodge must be a part of the American delegation along with other key Republican senators. The President was adamant, no way; no how, don’t even think of it. It was a measure of how petty and out of control Wilson could be and how much he needed discrete, honest, thoughtful, and carefully considered advice. Wilson’s decision to blackball Lodge was the beginning of the end, for Wilson, for the tragic millions in Europe who needed all the help they could get, and for Colonel House himself. It didn’t happen overnight but it happened soon enough.
House had been asked to provide advice, and he had done so. Woodrow Wilson like the Roman generals who traveled with the public slave on their chariot, whispering in their ears, “Remember Thou Art Mortal!” Woodrow Wilson heard it and was irritated by it Thus he went forward to do battle with his own demons, alone, for towards the end of his life, the pressure he had created for himself induced a series of strokes which left this once most important man in the world playing out his last months in a dim room in the White House while his second wife Edith, tried to keep the Wilson Administration from falling apart, a story far too many Americans have never heard about our first woman President.
Perhaps by now she didn’t like House or his unprecedented access to the White House. Many people credited her with easing House out. Perhaps by now Colonel House had had enough; it is after all a difficult feat, to keep a head strong leader, prone to self-glorification on track, on the modest trail where he must admit and work with others.
Now then keeping Colonel House in mind, let us advise The Donald. He desperately needs a friend, a confidante, a detached adviser familiar with the Ins and Outs of Washington DC; whose sole task is to help the President and help America. Such a person doesn’t exist in the White House today. This is why the current administration resembles the Keystone Cops, smart people doing stupid, pointless things in the full glare of today's modern media, where a small mistake can be magnified in the world media in seconds.
Take a breath now, Mr. President, and admit you need help, help that your leading advisers cannot provide because in the long run you don’t listen to them and only follow your own counsel; this is the greatest calamity of all.
“Remember Thou Art Mortal!”
You are the President of the greatest country in the world. You cannot have a finger in every pie, and you cannot have different advisers running in and out of your office with policy ideas which are contradictory and are all too often ill considered, vague and, dubious.
Consider then your predecessor Woodrow Wilson and his independent executive agent Colonel House. They forged a model which you could use to your advantage.
Remember intelligence is knowing what you don’t know and knowing where to find it; not bluffing your way from crisis to crisis holding the country and the world to ransom and all of us in it.
Author’s program note. My mother is dead now. But I want you to know that hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of her… not in some idealized fashion either. For she was a vibrant, beautiful creature whose reality, for me, even if flawed, was more compelling than any fairy tale I might make up. And as for charm, why she was a by-word for that; I knew that before I even knew what charm could lead to. Some say that along with her penetrating eyes I inherited my full measure of that charm too. I leave that to you to find out.
This article is being written because it gives me the perfect opportunity to remember her… not just vaguely… but as she was and remains in my mind’s eye, a real woman, my much loved and often argued with mother. Here I am able to indulge myself in the most profound memories, certain that I am writing this article for you… not just for myself. And because the woman is important and the day I am recalling here one of the handful of truly special days of her life (so she often told me afterwards), I savor every word as I think it, write it, consider it, review it — and if not perfect and exactly so, change it. For there is not a word here or even a comma that I can accept in any other way. For you see, this was one of the handful of truly special days of my life… and I want you to share it and know why.
Thomas Gray, treasured poet.
Where did my mother’s love affair with England and her poets begin? I cannot say, but I can recall that wherever we lived its premises were littered with the lyric beauty of the English language… where words mattered, where understanding them mattered, where using them to maximum effect mattered, and where a word was never an obstacle but a friend not yet known well enough, but welcome for all that. As such, books, rarely closed, always open with makeshift book marks were found in every room. We read as effortlessly as we breathed… and the splendor of language surrounded us, shaped us, sustained us… and no one more than my mother for whom poets were accounted special beings well deserving of the veneration they received from her… and in due course from me. And so the profound love between a mother and her first-born son was made manifest in the poems we discovered and shared, the readings of such poems to each other, and the meanings we strove to find… especially for me when she was gone before. Then these bonds mattered most of all.
Thomas Gray, 26 December 1716 – 30 July 1771, just 54 years old.
Thomas Gray was born in Cornhill, London, the son of an exchange broker and a milliner. He was the fifth of 12 children… 11 of whom died in infancy. the smell of death permeated his young world… a constant visitor to his home, a constant reality where birth and mourning seemed inextricably linked and inevitable. And so he grew up wondering whether his own expected demise was nigh, accelerated by his abusive father. This recurring thought shaped his life, his outlook, and his poems. Later in life Gray became known as one of the “Graveyard poets” of the late 18th century, along with Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, and Christopher Smart. But for Gray this was not a pose; he had been to the graveyard too often too early for that. Death and Gray were on intimate terms from the start.
His sense of humor.
For all that Gray’s life was turbulent and difficult, it had moments of unalloyed joy, not least because he had the valued knack of seeing the humorous side of even the most oppressive subjects. It is good to see he skewered the masters of Peterhouse at Cambridge University as “mad with Pride” and the Fellows of this College as “sleepy, drunken, dull, illiterate Things.” It was the kind of thing I wrote to my college friends, too, and I knew the joy of such characterizations.
My mother knew I wrote these kinds of acid word pictures; I sent them to her, and she carefully tied them with ribbons adding her own often equally acid responses. These, too, bonded us; we laughed together. Too, there were other traits which may have made her see me in Gray: he spent his time indoors, voracious reader, avoiding athletics and exercise of any kind. But when the companionship of his friends was offered, he was a crowd pleaser with the apt, devastating mot at the ready. Gray and I might have been siblings; surely Kindred Spirits… she must have seen this… and if so have approved.
“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”.
Thus, my mother traveled to England where I was then working on my first book and asked me to accompany her to the setting of one of her favorite poems, the “Elegy” written slowly, painstakingly between 1742 and 1750. She had waited a lifetime for this excursion… and so she and I on Mother’s Day went hand-in-hand to the ancient village of Stoke Poges, to the churchyard of the Church of England parish church of St. Giles. There great Gray’s remains repose for the numberless ages, his monument weathered, tilted, too much too illegible, special torment for this man of perfect wording.
We had come hence to see, to learn, to venerate…. and in the graveyard to read the “Elegy”, together, in turn, lyrically, each word a pledge to love each other now and forever, though I didn’t know its purpose then.
She had her tattered, well-thumbed Gray in hand, so did I.
So we commenced the reading, the first stanza hers by right to intone:
“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day/ The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea/ The ploughman homeward plods his weary way/ And leaves the world to darkness and to me.”
We are borne on these words to the place we most want to be with the person in this sublime moment we both wish most to be with.
Thus we walked and read together from the celebrated words which British General James Wolfe read to his officers September 12, 1759 the day before he was killed in battle, saying “Gentlemen, I would rather have written that poem than take Quebec tomorrow.” It was an admission made by thousands of those who have thrilled to these sonorous words and their eternal relevance to struggling mankind.
‘Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife”
Now my mother has gone the way of all flesh, the way we all must trod in time. We know such an end is natural but that does not assuage the bitter grief and finality of the matter, particularly when the dear departed is one’s mother. This loss is bitter indeed at whatever age it occurs.
Thomas Gray knew all this and in his beloved “Elegy”, popular from the moment of publication, popular still, he gave us all the words we need to cope, find hope and resignation — and the words of remembrance and above all of love.
Thus whenever I miss her and want her near me in all her humanity and that dazzling smile I can never forget, I take down from the clutter of my library her copy of Gray’s “Elegy” and read it aloud, as we did that memorable Mother’s Day so very long ago. Whenever possible I go to any search engine and play Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor (published 1738). It was one of Gray’s favorites and perfect accompaniment to his surgically precise words.
“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power/ And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave/ Awaits alike the inevitable hour/ The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
But not, with God’s help and with Thomas Gray’s, to the dark void of forgetfulness and oblivion. They have given us the joys of memory and the words we need to summon it –and our loved ones — at will and thus they live again in us.
By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
I have always taken a great interest in the Presidency of the United States. I've wanted to know who was elected, who was defeated, and what happened next. I just cannot get enough, and I know readers are in the same boat.
Everything any President does is hot news, subject to instant analysis and argumentation. In this connection, I am especially interested in the burgeoning candidacy of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). She clearly wants to run in 2020, and is making all the old familiar moves.
Since her two-story Victorian home is just a few blocks from where I live and am writing you now, my interest is more tense than it usually is. I mean, how are we going to install a helipad in our ultra-packed neighborhood? Where are we going to put the Secret Service agents? Where will the journalists covering her hang their hats?
This is problem enough, and when I ask people in the neighborhood about these things, I am pleased to tell you that no one but me has given any attention to these issues at all – just me.
Of course, each and every one of them has an answer, but not worth too much trouble until she demonstrates that she may well end up as the President of the United States. However this may never take place. First, because of the Massachusetts Curse.
Massachusetts has nominated more candidates for President than any other state in the nation, including big ones like New York and California. In recent years, some of the best and brightest Americans of both parties have been nominated and then crushed in the Presidential election, thereby making Massachusetts Presidential and Vice Presidential poison.
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge was on the 1960 Nixon ticket. John F. Kennedy, of course, headed the 1960 Democratic ticket. Michael Dukakis, Democratic nominee, was on the 1988 ticket. The next one was Mitt Romney, who headed the 2012 Republican ticket. All were defeated except JFK.
The next potential Massachusetts Presidential Candidate is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Will the curse capture her? I think there are good reasons to suppose so, and the prime one of these reasons may well be the fact that she sounds like everybody's mother in law... nagging, hectoring, determined to have the last word on every subject. Is America ready for a White House nag?
Hillary Clinton tried this stubborn carping approach that boiled down to this failed formula: "I know everything in the whole wide world, and you better listen to me, because you don't know squat." Understandably, this approach to the important business of changing America, correcting the flaws, and improving her in every aspect, did not go down well with the American electorate, particularly men, who found Hillary insufferable, and her mode of information distribution irritating in the extreme.
Despite the fact that she was America's best funded and arguably smartest candidate ever, she took it on the chin, because particularly men in the West, Midwest, and South had enough criticism at home everyday from their nagging wives... She Who Must be Obeyed. They didn't like it at home (thank God for the golf course), and they didn't like the thought of it for the White House... and so the "cannot be lost" election became a historic nightmare for the Democratic party.
Before I go further, let me state unequivocally that Elizabeth Warren is a smart cookie. But, she needs better advice than she's been given. Consider the way she handled the matter of a $400,000 speaker's fee to be given to former President Barack Obama. The story broke on April 28th, 2017, just the other day. The payment in question came from a large Wall St. firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, which has substantial interests in the healthcare industry.
Elizabeth Warren jumped on this matter immediately, and soon the world knew that she was "troubled" by the Obama speaking fee. Now here is where judgment comes in. Imagine the situation. Obama opens an envelope, and there inside is a pledge for $400,000. He is not a rich man; never has been. He has no particular capital, and pretty much has to live on his income, which includes his White House pension. You can imagine how happy Michelle was when she learned about this plum.
And then, the manure hit the fan. Just think for a second what Michelle said, and what you would have said if someone offered you a chance to clear off some nagging bills merely by giving a 60 minute presentation. Then Elizabeth Warren did what she always does... she scolded, she criticized, she yapped, and tisk-tisked Obama.
I think we can all guess which word the exasperated Obamas would use to describe Elizabeth Warren's interference in a manner which was quintessential American politics. Can you guess the word? It starts with a "b". "Just where does Elizabeth Warren get off criticizing us?" That kind of comment rancors, and can simmer for years to come.
The thing we all need to realize about politics is that little things often count for more than big things. The littlest things produce welts and acute irritation. This was a situation tailor made for Senator Warren to shut up and keep her mouth closed. But the lady is constitutionally unable to let small things go by the wayside. And one of these things is you do not criticize a former President from your own party about a matter which is perfectly legal and customary.
However, Elizabeth Warren is famous for lack of discretion and people skills. This may not matter much in her Harvard Law School classes. After all, these pirhanas will do anything to get an A... even when they know their professor is wrong. You won't find any of them out on the street corner hammering their professors. That's just out of the question.
One of the things that constantly bothers Senator Warren is the role of banks and financial institutions in the government of the United States. Thus, every chance she gets to clobber the financial institution industry, she takes it, despite the fact that she is a card carrying capitalist herself, with a magnificent Victorian home worth close to $2 million dollars, a salary of nearly half a million dollars a year (currently suspended because of her Senate term), and a net worth of over $15 million dollars.
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks"
A few facts you should be aware of regarding Elizabeth Warren and campaign finance. Despite her constant jeremiads on the subject of campaign finance, as of 2017, she had $4.8 million in her account. This was more than any other Democrat up for re-election next year had in their account. It is also $1 million more than any other Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) aside.
Needless to say, Elizabeth Warren never troubles to discuss the financial resources that she has available for her re-election campaign in 2018, and whatever resources are available for her to give in key states where she would have to do well to stand any chance of being the Democratic nominee in 2020, presumably against President Trump and his re-election bid.
Elizabeth Warren now finds herself in a position where White House dreams may dance in her head like so many sugar plums; however to win she must make some major adjustments and make them immediately. First, America does not require a comment from Senator Warren on every single thing on the national agenda. What she needs to do now is do the behind the scenes grunt work that every Presidential candidate needs to master.
1) That is to say, identifying potential donors, and continuing to build significant fundraising lists.
2) Work the phones. She should be aware of and in touch with key Democrats, including all the Democrats who were elected as delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It is likely at least three quarters of the delegates who were active in 2016 will be active again in 2020. Everyday Senator Warren's staff should hand her a list of 15-20 calls. She should stay in her office, establishing beneficial contact with these people, and of course, always asking for their tangible financial support.
If she continues to comment on absolutely everything, she will turn off people who might otherwise agree with her and be willing to assist. But no one, absolutely no one, wants candidates for President who comment on absolutely everything. That turns electors off and ensures that they will ultimately stop paying attention. Senator Warren might very well fall into this pit.
But there is still more. She has gained a national reputation with a populist message that would do William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) proud. In case your history is a bit rusty, consider this: in 1896 Bryan took over the Democratic party with his message of powerful populism. His speech before the Democratic National Convention in Chicago electrified not just the party, but the nation, and caused every Republican to quail, for fear that the peasants were at the gate, armed with pitchforks and vituperation.
The final two lines of Bryan's speech were:
"Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."
The capitalist interests of the nation were terrified at what this young messiah could do to their vested interests. But a funny thing happens when the rhetoric of the people comes before the nation. The interest of capitalism in these circumstances do what is necessary to maintain their interests, and ensure mere demagoguery will not succeed.
What does this mean for Elizabeth Warren? Simply this: that throughout the history of the United States, populists have gone forth on crusades to bolster what they see are the prerogatives of the people. But each time these populists have gone for the people, these self-same people not only fail in their objective, but are crushed.
And so Elizabeth Warren, who has proclaimed herself the people's advocate, will likely wake up the day after the next election only to find that what seemed so promising in the matter of gaining her party's nomination, and a place on the national ballot, came a cropper in the election box.
Thus Senator Warren needs to re-think her position and approach, or else she may find herself the latest victim of the Massachusetts Curse. For while her vision of America may well be sufficiently clear in Massachusetts, it is popular nowhere else.
Dr. Jeffrey Lant, Harvard educated, started writing for publication at age 5. Since then, he has published over 1,000 articles and 63 books, and counting.