I have always loved history. And if you’re going by my school grades, then remember that my history grades were pretty good until high school. Once I reached high school, they employed the same teaching method as the English classes… dissect the book, in essay format. Yes, I know that this was supposed to be good practice for the Advanced Placement exam, but I thought I’d left dissection behind in Biology. Apparently not. We were required to write essays that nitpicked down to the last detail, canceling any interest or opinion you might have on the subject. When all you care about is getting a good grade, why pay attention to more details?
Warren G. Harding
But if you forget about the grading bit, I always enjoyed learning about history, whether it was American history or not. I’m a bookworm, so I like a good historical fiction book, too, that makes you feel like you’re living back in the “old days”, too. But now that I’m out of school, I’ve discovered that most of what I was taught in school was actually garbage.
How do I know that? Well, I’ve never stopped my reading, and over the years, I’ve imbibed biographies and general histories, and gotten the backdrop on many things that interested me when I was younger. But now that I’m out of school, and doing this for my own benefit, I have time to think about it, not just look no further than the next grade.
Who wrote the history books? Well, in any conflict, the winners get to write the history books, so despite growing up in South Carolina (I was born in New York), our books still taught us that the Confederacy was deluded, the North was in the right, and Abraham Lincoln was a god disguised as a man. And because I’ve always liked history so much, it’s probably the subject I remember best from school. So, when I read a book that tells me something different than they told me when I was 15, I set back and say, “Wait a minute! They never taught me that!”.
Yes, my post-school education has taught me to think. I’m not saying that what I believe about certain subjects is completely right or perfect, but I can now read any book I like, on any subject, check their references, and if the conclusion I come to disagrees with the majority, then I won’t get an F on what I think. There’s freedom in life after grades, you know.
So, just recently, I finished reading The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. When I first heard of this book, several years ago, I barely knew what the word “capitalism” meant. I told myself that I would probably never read that particular P.I.G. guide, and continued on to the more fun ones, like The Politically Incorrect Guide to English & American Literature, or The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution.
If you’ve never read a P.I.G. (Politically Incorrect Guide), and you enjoy seeing the conservative, politically incorrect side of history, and find out what they never taught you in school, these books are for you. They cover subjects from the Civil War, the Sixties, the Bible, and global warming to the Vietnam War, the South, science, and the Founding Fathers. I recently went and looked on the Regnery Publishing website, and I’ve read either 19 or 20 books in the series, because I can’t remember if I’ve read the one on science. I’m pretty sure I still need to read the one on the Middle East.
I can now say that from all my reading in the last few years, I have a much better idea of what capitalism is, how the free market works, and the kinds of things people do to mess it up. So, I was finally ready for the P.I.G. to Capitalism. It was very informative, interesting, and never dull. Really! I learned a lot, but I won’t try to explain it to you, because I’ll just confuse you. If the subject interests you, then read it, and if it doesn’t, think about it.
Then, the other day, I realized that Presidents Day had just gone by without me realizing it. Of course, they don’t celebrate it, here in Australia, and I’ve never paid a lot of attention to that holiday, when I was at home. That’s because somewhere during my teenagerhood (is that a word?), I found out (probably from watching the musical Holiday Inn, starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby) that it used to be called George Washington’s Birthday.
Now, at this stage of the game, I don’t know which states celebrate which, but our South Carolina calendars always had Presidents Day written in. And I was brought up to think this was a bit silly, because why should we be celebrating the bad presidents as well as the good? And why didn’t George Washington get to keep his birthday celebration to himself, when Martin Luther King got his own holiday? So, I took notice of the day, when we were let of from school, it being an In-Service Day, but other than that, we paid very little attention.
But with Presidents Day going by, Regnery published The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama, by Stephen F. Hayward. Oh, boy, I had to download it to my Kindle, immediately. Because since graduating, I’ve read any number of books about Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and many more, and I know for sure that what I was taught in school was WRONG.
The book begins with an explanation of what the Founding Fathers intended for the Presidency. His office was never supposed to be the size it is now, and they would be alarmed, if they could see it. From there, it gives a succinct explanation of the Electoral College, which I was extremely grateful for. I’ve heard people say that we need to get rid of the Electoral College system, and I’ve heard them complain about George W. Bush winning over Al Gore, in 2000, because of it. But what they don’t realize is the reason the Founders put it in place.
The Electoral College was intended to prevent the country from being swayed by whoever happens to be popular. Being able to directly vote for the President would allow whatever person who happens to be the recent fad to take over the Oval Office. In essence, the candidate could campaign in several states with large populations, and they would achieve the majority, without ever reaching out to any of the small states. But the Founders intended the Electoral College to achieve a “constitutional majority”, where the candidates had to have a wider appeal to all the states, not just staying in the West or the North. In 2000, George W. Bush won majorities in more states than did Gore, which is why he received more electoral votes, and it means that Bush was more widely acceptable, not just achieving a local majority vote.
I “learned” in school that our best presidents were Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and JFK. This was because FDR saved us from the Great Depression and because… I don’t know why JFK was supposed to be on that list. Maybe because he was handsome. We were also taught that our worst Presidents were “do-nothing” men, such as Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding. Yes, I remember being taught that “Silent Cal” barely ever said or did anything, and Warren Harding was only known for the Teapot Dome Scandals.
If I hadn’t already learned more about them than I ever knew before, this book would open my eyes further. It begins with Woodrow Wilson, who is supposed to be the wonderful President that brought us safely through the first World War. Actually, Woodrow Wilson was a racist who believed that blacks were not as highly evolved as whites. His belief in the works of Darwin and Marx also made him despise the Constitution, and do his best to get around it. There was much more to this man that came up with the idea of the “living Constitution”, and how much damage his Progressive thinking did to our country. But you’ll have to read the book, to find out.
Warren G. Harding is regularly slammed as a man that was ill-prepared for the Presidency, and that when he did come into office, it was one scandal after the other. But the chapter on Harding reveals the truth, that he was an intelligent man (though he didn’t go to college) who let the free market take its course, when the U.S. headed into a recession, and when things corrected themselves ON THEIR OWN, the Roaring Twenties were the eventual result. And by the way, Harding gets a bad rap for using the word “normalcy”, when it actually WAS in the dictionaries at the time. But I remember his use of the word being mocked in my history book.
“There is not a menace in the world today like that of growing pubic indebtedness and mounting public expenditure.” –Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge was Ronald Reagan’s role model. If that doesn’t tell you something about him, right from the start, I don’t know what will. He could read Greek and Latin, wrote his own speeches, had a razor-keen wit, and he is the only President to receive an A+ grade from the author of this book. He believed in limited government, revered the Constitution, and those who quote him as saying “The business of America is business”, have their quote wrong. He actually said that “…the chief business of the American people is business… Of course, the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence…. So long as wealth is made the means and not the end, we need not greatly fear it.”
People should know that it was Herbert Hoover who made the Great Depression worse, that FDR furthered all of Hoover’s works, as well as denying the dangers of Communism, and FDR even had a huge number of Communist spies working in the government. But no, FDR said Stalin was his friend, and denied the atrocities occurring in Russia.
Those that still want to think about the glory of JFK and “Camelot” should know that John F. Kennedy was a sex addict, addicted to drugs (some for his health problems, and some just because), and a coward that abandoned the Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs incident. And he very likely stole the Presidency, with tons of voter fraud, but Richard Nixon was too gentlemanly to contest it, though many statesmen thought he should. It should also be remembered that JFK called Joseph McCarthy, and defended him against all comers, when most of the government thought McCarthy was delusional about Communist spies.
If you think FDR helped expand our government, it was nothing to what Lyndon Johnson did, in the name of a “war on poverty”. Crime escalated drastically, during LBJ’s Presidency. But that is forgotten, when it comes to vilifying Nixon over Watergate, which only the result of liberals wanting to prevent Nixon’s shutting down all their unnecessary programs. After they managed to get Nixon to resign (but he wasn’t impeached), they could hold this threat over any other President that disagreed with them.
It’s quite interesting that Jimmy Carter’s F grade is more a result of what he did AFTER he was President, than before. He continued to interfere with all the incoming Presidents, even to communicating with foreign leaders, without telling our President.
Ronald Reagan. Enough can’t be said about this man, who did his best to return our country to what the Founding Fathers had intended. The liberals stood back in shock, as he won the Cold War, got the Berlin Wall to come down, and did it all with grace (and humor) under fire. There’s also an interesting discussion in the book about the Iran-Contra Affair and “presidential prerogative”. It bears a second and third reading, as I’ve never heard the term used before. And it goes back to comments made by Thomas Jefferson, in bygone days, about times when the President must take the initiative for something that the law doesn’t cover. It’s a very interesting subject.
The abuses of power by both Bill Clinton (and his wife), these are innumerable. I didn’t know everything there was to know about the selling of presidential pardons, but a goodly few of them are covered in the book. Our Founding Fathers would have vomited over the excesses of William Jefferson Clinton. Can someone tell me again why he got to have two terms as President?
I have not skipped over Truman, Ford, and the Bushes on purpose. I don’t think I can do them justice, at present. Yes, I think W. made some mistakes at the end of his Presidency, but I will be forever grateful that he was President when he was. I think some people have judged him too harshly on certain things, and not just liberals. But like other presidents, history will vindicate him. And I hope to read Decision Points, sometime soon.
Finally, I come to our current President. I do not like what he is trying to do with our country, but I won’t be going into any extensive criticism here. But I think Stephen Hayward is spot on, in everything he says about Obama. Our President is trying to continue in the footsteps of Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, and remake our country into what it wasn’t meant to be. Like in the now-famous painting by Jon McNaughton, he has trampled on the Constitution, and looks down on the American people. I can only hope that in the upcoming election, the people of American will make the right decision.