How About a Little Self-Control?
George Washington, President Number One, is known to have been a man of few words.
Historians point to his rather humble beginnings and his lack of a formal education as reasons for his relative silence.
He was also in the company of intellectual big dogs, Adams, Jefferson and others, who were steeped in analytic thought and debate.
As a young man he famously copied out a lengthy set of rules related to manners and decorum and committed them not just to memory but to practice, in order to smooth the rough edges of his childhood and to learn the art of self-control.
Lesser known is his volcanic temper which he struggled to hold in check.
Ron Chernow, the superb biographer of both Washington and Hamilton, describes Washington as having an “irritable” nature which seems a nice way of saying he was easy to piss off. He was also quick to take offense at a perceived slight.
There are only a handful of documented instances of Washington “losing it” over the long course of the War and his presidency; those who witnessed it never forgot it.
Though lacking a college education, he apparently had a PhD in cursing.
In one case he was said to “curse until the leaves fell from the trees.”
Nevertheless, Washington is known to history for his grave, studied manner and iron-willed self-control.
We Could Use a Little of That
Here we should say that Washington was abused by the press far more than Donald Trump yet he understood that intense, even abusive criticism was part of the job; he seethed but held his fire.
Trump’s latest tweets about Mika Brzyzinski reveal a man who is bereft of self control and who targets women in the most hateful (and bizarre) manner.
Megyn Kelly and Mika Brzyzinski have become martyrs as Trump has wholly solidified his position as a fool with a gigantic but very fragile ego.
He’s a fool because with each vile tantrum he gives his dwindling allies on the Hill more than enough reasons to back away from him, not just because of policy positions but because he is being widely (and correctly) perceived as loathsome.
Anyone with serious hopes of a political future cannot be seen as becoming cozy with an out-of-control ogre, a gleeful one, at that.
Those still enamored with him, including Christian fundamentalists, find themselves saddled with a “leader” who is far more devil than deity.
Having been baptized into his “church” they are stuck with the reverend of hate and discord.
We know Trump hates to read but perhaps Reince and the gang can come up with a powerpoint on Washington and self-control.
It’s doubtful, though, that Trump is the type to learn from any book he didn’t write.
This Fourth of July we can marvel at Washington’s restraint and Trump’s complete lack of it.