“Grandpa,” asked six-month-old Elijah yesterday, “who’s George Bush?”
“Which one, Elijah?”
“Yes, but there are two Georges. Both were presidents of our country. There’s George H.W. Bush, who is now 94 years old, and there’s his son, George W. Bush. Which one do you mean?”
“The old one. The one like you, Grandpa.”
“Why are you asking about poor old George, Elijah? He’s not doing well. He’s gotten a little feeble.”
“What’s feeble? My baby sitter says George is a dirty old man like Garrison Keillor, Al Franken, President You-Know-Who — Marissa told me never to say the President’s name in her presence or she’d throw me out of day care — or that judge down in Alabama, but NOT like Jimmy Carter! Who’s Jimmy Carter?”
“Oh, my, Jimmy Carter! I almost forgot. Jimmy was president too. Way back before George H.W. Bush. People made a big deal out of it when jimmy said he’d lusted in his heart. But, so far as we know, he didn’t harass anyone. That was a long time ago! Way before your time. It seems ages ago.”
“We want to be like Jimmy, right Grandpa?”
“Jimmy Carter would be a wonderful person to emulate, Elijah. But remember, even Jimmy’s not perfect. None of us is perfect. I want you to grow up to take responsibility for your own behavior and follow the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.”
“So Jimmy’s a lot different from President You-Know-Who, right Grandpa?”
“He’s pretty special, Elijah. A professor named Ted Gup wrote about the difference between President You-Know-Who and President Carter last year in New Republic. Here’s what he said, Elijah.
“Unlike Carter’s words, Trump’s suggest a man incapable of looking inward, of feeling shame, humility, or love. That such a purposefully divisive figure could represent the best hopes of tens of millions of Americans, even as he revolts and alienates tens of millions of others, speaks to the yawning chasm that divides the nation politically and culturally. What comes to mind is the question that once brought down another demagogue, Joe McCarthy, more than 60 years ago: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?'” [“On the Subject of Lust, Donald Trump Is no Jimmy Carter,” New Republic, Oct. 10, 2016].
“Hmmm. Grandpa, who was Joe?”
- Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, December 1, 2017.