“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy,” (Groucho Marx)


Rumor has it that there is a secret book of instructions that gets handed down to each new President of the United States. If this is true it would certainly explain why so many of them have made the same mistakes over and over again. I took it upon myself to do a little research into this theory and here’s what I found.

In my estimation, this book was created shortly after President Harrison died in office. A brief history of this president would help explain my thesis. William Henry Harrison was our 9th president. He was the first president to die in office and he served the shortest term, just 30 days. The legend surrounding Harrison’s death begins with his inauguration on March 4, 1841. It was brutally cold and wet that day but Harrison chose to ride a horse rather than seek refuge in the presidential carriage. His long ride to the platform paled in comparison to the 2 hour inaugural speech he delivered. To be fair, his original speech was even longer but he asked Daniel Webster to help him shorten it. In retrospect, asking a Webster to use fewer words is roughly the equivalent of asking Hugh Hefner to date fewer women. Harrison took ill with pneumonia less than 3 weeks after the speech and died from complications very quickly. Harrison’s minimal accomplishments included being the first president to be photographed and calling a special session of Congress to declare a continuing resolution to fund the government. He died nearly broke himself but his widow was given $25,000 and free postage for life. His demise caused a major headache for Congress. The resulting debate over presidential succession ended with the 25th Amendment that delineated a clear line of successors.

I think this was the impetus for the secret book but, as with most things our government does in a hurry, it was ill-conceived, poorly drafted and infrequently updated. I can only speculate as to what might be in that book but a little deductive reasoning should yield an educated guess. Based on the events surrounding Harrison’s death, I would guess the first chapter includes some directions on how to hold an inauguration including how to dress for the weather, why carriages are preferable to horses and how to write a speech in 8,000 words or less. Probably, the next chapter covers things like getting lots of photos taken right away and making sure to ask for more than $25,000 and free postage for the widow. Most likely today we have a government employee assigned immediately to handle all of the First Lady’s social media needs in perpetuity.

Once the book gets past the day to day life of being the president I would imagine it goes into more critical areas of governance like natural disasters, recalcitrant Congressmen, ungrateful media moguls, foreign affairs, geopolitical theories, war and peace. Oh and maybe a line or two about budgets and why it’s important to keep the lights on over at the Bureau of Engraving so the presses can print money non-stop. There’s got to be a chapter on picking Supreme Court Justices who will maximize their efforts by making laws whenever Congress refuses to do so. In Harrison’s time there were only nine federal bureaucracies so there has to be some pretty specific language that details the need for more departments and an ever bigger government. I’m guessing that was printed in bold letters and underlined in red.

Now here’s the crux of this story and why it’s important today. Somewhere in that book is a chapter on crisis management and, more specifically, the challenge of surviving a second term in office. In my lifetime I have seen nothing good come from a second term in office for any of our Presidents. Once the election is over and the realization sets in that they are truly Master of the Universe for the next four years, then it all falls apart. As we sit here today, watching this same disaster unfold once again, I can almost predict the next act in this drama; we will start another war. Syria has thrown down the gauntlet of chemical weapons, the rest of the world has said nothing and America stands alone with a President who still hasn’t finished reading the book. He got as far as the line that says, “When all else fails, start a war” but he can’t keep himself from falling for the oldest trick in the book. When it comes to Third World countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan the rules of war do not apply. It is impossible to bomb someone back to the stone age when they are already there. Any dictator who willingly kills 100,000 of his own people does not value life like we do and therefore will not be affected by any punishment we choose to inflict. This is a no-win situation just like Afghanistan and I for one do not want to see even one more American soldier die in a vain attempt to bring liberty to people who wouldn’t appreciate it even if they had it.

Mr. President, please don’t start another war. Somewhere in that book, probably on the last page, it says, “Put the best interests of the American people before your own and you will be remembered forever.” That’s the only part of that book that matters to your countrymen and you could be the first president who ever made it to the last page. I’m going to start praying right now that this blog finds it way to you and you do the right thing for all of us. This is your chance Sir, make us proud to be Americans.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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One Response to “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy,” (Groucho Marx)

  1. gwenna says:

    Excellent! Especially enjoyed: “…why it’s important to keep the lights on over at the Bureau of Engraving so the presses can print money non-stop.”

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