ONE PERSPECTIVE: Looking for a statesman

Ted Streuli, The Daily Record Newswire

There are many great things about being an only child. You always get the first choice of desserts. On Christmas morning, all the good presents are for you. You never wonder which child your parents love most.

One of the downsides is finding enough people to play a board game. Our game-buying decisions were often based on whether it could be played with just two, and the two were usually my mother and me. That led to a lot of Yahtzee, Chinese checkers and a now-obscure game called Facts in Five, in which players drew five cards and five alphabet tiles. The cards determined the categories and the answers had to start with the letters drawn. There was a timer that gave players five minutes to fill in a grid. If the category was Famous Couples and the letters were R, G, J, K and B, one might write in Romeo and Juliet; George and Martha Washington; Jack and Jaqueline Kennedy; King Henry and Anne Boleyn; and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Sometimes a player would get stumped and write in something silly, like Batman and Robin. Hilarity ensued.

Because I was 10, give or take a year or two, my mother, also known as Player 2, sometimes had to explain one of the categories. One time the category was Statesmen, and I needed an explanation. She said a statesman was a highly respected politician, someone like Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. It didn’t have to be a president, she said. Henry Bellmon was a statesman, as were Robert Byrd and Henry Kissinger. A statesman didn’t have to be American, she said, pointing to England’s Winston Churchill and France’s Charles de Gaulle. Although the category wasn’t gender-neutral, my mother explained that the idea was. She talked about Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir. Today she would have included Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher and Madeleine Albright. A statesman didn’t have to come from a particular political party, either. Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican, FDR was a Democrat. Both were statesmen.

The cumulative total of her examples painted a clear picture in my elementary-aged mind. Statesmen were the people of political influence we looked up to, the ones we admired, the ones we aspired to become. They were the people who made us proud, the ones who garner for our country the respect of other nations.

Their commonality was neither in their political nor religious beliefs, but in their presence, their demeanor, and their grace. It could be seen in the way they dressed and the way they spoke. Even the most impassioned oratory was dignified: “Ask not what your country can do for you ... “; “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”; “... conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Last week, would-be Republican U.S. presidents said these things:

“He doesn’t sweat cause his pores are clogged from the spray tan that he uses.”

“He’s flying around on Hair Force One.”

“Don’t worry about it, little Marco.”

“Donald Trump likes to sue people – he should sue whoever did that to his face.”

“Lyin’ Ted: You’re the one. You’re the one. I’ve given my answer, Lyin’ Ted.”

“We should go for waterboarding, we should go tougher than waterboarding.”

“The people in Florida wouldn’t elect him dogcatcher. He is right now 21 points down to me (in Florida).”

“He’s like 6’2’, which is why I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5’2”.”

“He referred to my hands; if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee.”

I would like my president to be a statesman. I don’t see one in this field.
 

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