I have not meandered in awhile, so I thought that this might be a good thing to do. I have noticed that my books keep getting older, and while that does not make them useless, it does create in some readers a little askance as to the modern relevance of a classic book or author. I tell people that there are four main sources in American Literature of quotations. They are, and not in any particular order; Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, and the Bible. Most modern writing has been influenced by one or more of these people, or in the case of the Bible, multiple persons. For instance, when Abraham Lincoln was called in to settle a dispute that bordered on violence, he was asked if having long legs or short legs was a better option. He said, « This question has been a source of controversy for untold ages, and it is about time it should be definitely decided, » he said slowly and deliberately. « In my opinion, a man’s legs should be at least long enough to reach the ground. » (The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Alex Ayres; a Meridian Publication; 1992)
Mark Twain made similiar observations, and Alex Ayres wrote of his opinions too. Do those opinions serve us in 2015? Probably not, but they can still be endearing. Sometimes the oddest of all answers is the answer that best serves.
So, where am I going with this? Presumably nowhere. It is just a passage in a book that grows older everyday. We try to capture our wit and wisdom on Twitter, or on Facebook, or somewhere else on the computer. It seldomly works out to our level of understanding, or our intent. We think we are brighter than we often are, and that lends itself to some ego-boosting. I firmly believe I am one of those who looks for those things, although I seldomly see Facebook and never have read a « Tweet. »
My meanderings often come back to my television shows. I have two now, « Peters’ Principles » and « This Town’s Character. » One is about those opinions I value and the other is about someone who has character, described in Webster’s as « integrity, fortitude, and reputation. » Not a character, but having some of those qualities. While I write this a constant face appears on my computer, and it is not a face I have often associated with one with whom I agree. It is Hilary Clinton’s face. A new topic pops up with the picture each time the face of the former First Lady smiles broadly on it. Now I have problems with Mrs. Clinton. I do not believe that she is the person to lead the nation. Her email dodges are to prevalent to put much faith in her abilities, I believe. Her unanswered questions on happenings in the Middle East make her someone who I believe does not have that character that would put her on my show.
I have another show which I appear on fairly regularly. That is John McDonough’s and George Anthes’ « City Life. » On it I have reiterated why I will not back Mrs. Clinton in elective office. She is the one who convinced her husband that he should not address his supporters in the 1992 New Hampshire Primary and make a conciliatory speech. He was going to, she stated that she told him, go down there and be the « Comeback Kid. » There are rules for running for President, and conciliatory speeches are one of many. As a friend said that night, « They don’t call them Razorbacks for nothing. » Mrs. Clinton seems to circle above the rest of us, making up rules to explain emails or other things for her benefit. Even her husband’s explanation for the affair seems to be above the norm. Perhaps, unlike Lincoln, their feet do not touch the ground.
Her husband was one of two Presidents to be impeached. No apologies, per se, just an explanation from him. You cannot even ask which corner of the Oval Office the incident which became so famous took place in, because it is, after all, an Oval. Earlier Presidents had their office upstairs or elsewhere. The Oval Office is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of the Presidency. That is something that those old books do tell you. You see, they were published at about the time that the President made the change to the now famous oval room in the center of the White House.
Speaking of that, I was discussed by name by the then President of the United States while he was in the White House. Jimmy Carter called my brother-in-law, according to Paul Tsongas, and asked him if I was actually backing John Anderson in Massachusetts. When Paul answered in the affirmative, President Carter asked him to put pressure on me to get aboard the Democratic train. « We do not do that, » Paul told me he answered. This rebuke on Jimmy Carter’s part from the man whose brother inspired « Billy Beer. » When Paul told me all I could say was that I was extremely flattered that I was discussed by name in the White House. Paul thought that was what I would say.
So, where am I meandering tonight? All over the place. Sometimes in my books, sometimes on my computer, and sometimes in my past. I remember one other thing that Paul told me. When I asked him what the difference was between being in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate he reached in his pocket and pulled out a plastic container. « I have to be ready for the television cameras, » he said. So the major difference was, and this was a joke, of course, that he had to carry a small container of facial cream of some sort.
I have had an excellent life and I have enjoyed it tremendously. I still find others to be much more interesting than I, but that ‘goes with the territory.’ My meanderings tonight take me to no special place, just alot of places that I hold dear. Most of them have something to do with my past experiences or history. Some of them have to do with the present, and many of them deal with the future. It is a good thing to be in a place that some people would disdain. I value my family, both immediate and satellite, and my friends. Thusfar it has been an interesting life. As I told a man recently, there was very little difference between being the son of the School Superintendent and the brother-in-law of the U.S. Senator. My meanderings are such that there were many secrets once kept. Fewer exist now. All will disappear at some point. That makes them much like those old books. That also keeps my two feet on the ground, as Lincoln would have liked.