The PJ Tatler

The More Things Stay the Same

I’m reading Harlow Giles Unger’s excellent biography of John Quincy Adams. Unger rates up there with David McCullough in his ability to bring history to life.

When James Monroe announced his intention of retiring after his second term as president, it served as the starting gun for many serving in his Cabinet.

“With the exception of [Secretary of State] John Quincy, cabinet members all but renounced their oaths of office and personal pledges to the President and launched a bitter struggle for political power the left the President impotent…” (page 221)

Treasury Secretary William Crawford called Monroe an “infernal scoundrel” and raised his cane as if to assault the president. Monroe grabbed fire tongs to defend himself, and told Crawford to leave.

Andrew Jackson used his popularity as the winning general in the Louisiana and Florida campaigns to build his own power base. By violating the outgoing Spanish governor’s diplomatic immunity and arresting him, Jackson embarrassed the administration during the sensitive turnover of Florida to the U.S.

“Jackson resigned in a rage, went home to Tennessee, won election as senator, and returned to Washington to wreak havoc on his political enemies.” (page 221)

“As cabinet members and other presidential aspirants turned on the President or on each other, the vicious rhetoric created political schisms in Congress not seen since the days of the Confederation of American States.” (pages 221-2)

Infighting in Washington D.C. may be a good thing, focusing power-mad mini-tyrants’ energies on each other rather than working together to pass more bailouts and debt ceiling increases that sell out the People. In any case, we can find comfort in knowing that prostiticians always return to their natural inclinations. Being able to predict an attacker’s behavior makes it easier to devise winning defensive tactics.

Thus we know beyond a shadow of doubt that Dianne Feinstein’s theatrical production of introducing a new “assault weapons” ban is nothing but a sham. We know beyond any doubt that any protestations by Feinstein and her ilk that banning guns create a safer society is a lie.

History: Study it, or repeat it. Your choice.