Monthly Archives: January 2019

Donald Trump: He’s no “Virginia Gentleman”

Alexander Spotswood by Charles Bridges (Colonial Williamsburg copy).jpg

A true “virginia Gentleman” – Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740)…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

The last post I did was on December 10, 2018.  (My excuse is the rush of the holidays.)  So here goes:  The first post of 2019.

I just started reading Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose.  In the process I found a timely passage – relevant to today’s political scene – at the start of Chapter 2.  It described Lewis when he was a young “Virginia Planter,” from 1792 to 1794.  (“Touchstone” edition, 1997, pages 30-31.) 

Some side notes:  Lewis and his co-captain William Clark didn’t begin their famous “Corps of Discovery” expedition until May, 1804.  That came about after his career as an army officer started – and thus after his career as a Virginia planter ended – in 1794.

That “change of life” was a direct result of the Whiskey Rebellion (The “tax protest” in western Pennsylvania, from 1791 to 1794, during the presidency of George Washington.)

That is, in 1794 Meriwether Lewis joined the Virginia militia, to help put down the Rebellion.  In turn he left the family plantation in the care of his mother.  At the end of his term (1795), his mother wanted him back home to run the plantation.  Instead he joined the regular U.S. Army and – In due course – got court martialed.  (For “arguing politics” with a fellow officer.)  He was found not guilty, but had to be transferred to a different outfit.  As it turned out, he joined the “Chosen Rifle Company of elite rifleman-sharpshooters.”  The captain of that company was William Clark,* with whom he went on to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

But we digress…  The point is this:  Ambrose began Chapter 2 by describing the life of a Virginia planter in the mid-1700s.  (“Foaled, not born, Virginia planters were said to be,” in part because riding a horse “was not a matter of sport or diversion but of necessity.”)  Ambrose continued:

A Virginia gentleman was expected to be hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness…  Wenching and other debauchery, heavy drinking, and similar personal vices were common enough, but as long as they did not interfere with relations between members of the gentry they were condoned.  The unpardonable sins were lying and meanness of spirit.  [E.A.]

Which led to my conclusion that – whatever else he might be – Donald Trump is not what you would call a “Virginia Gentleman.”  Another aside:  I Googled “donald trump lying” and got 49 million results.  “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results.  “Donald trump mean spirited” got transformed into “donald trump is mean spirited.”  That got a mere 432,000 results.

Donald TrumpBut among the results from “mean spirited” was a May 2012 piece from Newsmax(The “multiplatform network focused on conservative media…  the most trafficked conservative website,” and – according to one study –  “the number one site for conservatives in the U.S., making it one of the most influential conservative news sites in the nation.”) 

The title of that 2012 article?  Donald Trump [says] Mean-Spirited GOP Won’t Win Elections.  Which made for some interesting reading.

Among the gems:  Trump said he “really doesn’t like to fire people,” a point that was confirmed by a “top aide for 26 years.”  The aide said that “there are two Donalds: the ‘outrageous’ one portrayed on television and the real one only insiders know.”  The private Donald Trump – the aide insisted – is “the dearest, most thoughtful, most loyal, most caring man,” and that “caring side inspires loyalty and is one of his secrets to success.”

But the main Trump point:  “The Republican Party will continue to lose presidential elections if it comes across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming toward people of color.”  Then too:

“The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says.  “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.”

But again we digress…  Except to note that the Donald Trump of 2012 seems markedly different than the Donald Trump that we’ve seen as president the last two years…

Getting back to the internet, we’ve seen the Google-term “donald trump lying” got 49 million results, “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results, and “donald trump is mean spirited” got almost half a million results.  So just to be fair I Googled “donald trump is hospitable,” and got just under 25,000 results.  The term “donald trump is chivalrous” got under 14,000 results.

So there you have it.  “Donald trump is mean spirited” outweighed “donald trump is chivalrous” by a margin of 35 to 1.  And “donald trump lying” outweighed “donald trump is hospitable” by a margin of 3,500 to 1.  Which proves again that – whatever else he might be – Trump is not what you would consider a “Virginia Gentleman.”  (And it’s on the internet so it must be true.)

Bonjour!!!

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The upper image is courtesy of Alexander Spotswood – Wikipedia:

[He] was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army and a noted Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.  He is noted in Virginia and American history for a number of his projects as governor, including his exploring beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, his establishing what was perhaps the first colonial iron works, and his negotiating the Treaty of Albany with the Iroquois Nations of New York.

Other notes:  “Spotswood Hall,” at the College of William and Mary was named for him, along with “Old Spotswood, a cannon seized during the Revolutionary war,” along with the Spotswood Society.  Spotsylvania County in Virginia is also named for him:  “Spots” + “sylvania” (“woods” in Latin).  The county seat is Spotsylvania Courthouse, the sight of a Civil War battle in May 1864.

Yet another BTW:  “Virginia Gentleman” is also the name of a bourbon, a hot sauce, and a “men’s collegiate a cappella group,” the oldest such group at the University of Virginia,” founded in 1953. 

Re:  Lewis having to transfer to Clark’s rifle company because of a court-martial.  Army regulations at the time forbade officers from either using “reproachful or provoking speeches” to another officer, or challenging him to a duel.  Lewis was charged with “disturbing the peace and harmony of a Company of Officers” by arguing politics.  Not surprisingly, Lewis held “Jeffersonian” views, while the bulk of officers at the time were cherry-picked Federalists.  (Who went on to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts, arguably to quash political opposition.)  When Lewis got thrown out, he challenged the fellow officer – a Lieutenant Eliott – to a duel.  Lewis was found not guilty, in large part because the commander of the “Second Sub-Legion,” Mad Anthony Wayne, thought the regulations were – in a word – stupid:

So the partnership of Lewis and Clark, destined to become the most famous in American history, began because General Wayne preferred to have his officers fight out their differences in a duel rather than in a court-martial and therefore found for the man who had issued the challenge [Lewis] rather than the one who had followed the law and brought charges.

See the “Touchstone” edition, 1997, at pages 45-46.

Re:  The Trump image to the right of the “Newsmax, mean-spirited” graf.  Most recently I borrowed it from the November 16, 2018 post, The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings.

Re:  A Virginia Gentleman being “hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness.”  See Cherry-pick[ing] – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  And also Turnabout is fair play – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  To be fair – for example – the term “donald trump is kind to his inferiors” got nearly 13 million results, but those results included Katy Burns:  Trump fumes, and America loses a bit more of of itself, and Donald Trump’s mother asked: ‘What kind of son have I created?’  Another note:  I started typing “donald trump is” and immediately got the primary result, “donald trump is an idiot.”

The lower image is courtesy of Internet Must Be True Bonjour – Image Results.  See the original State Farm “Bonjour” television ad at State Farm® State of Disbelief French Model – YouTube.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.