Presented by C-SPAN: Obama Weighs Tighter Ebola Controls; Tillis Backs McConnell; Lafayette's Return

Presented by C-SPAN: Obama Weighs Tighter Ebola Controls; Tillis Backs McConnell; Lafayette's Return

By Carl M. Cannon - October 14, 2014

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, October 14, 2014. It is three weeks until Election Day, although political aficionados know -- given the vagaries of possible recounts and election rules in Louisiana and Georgia -- that before it’s over we may be talking about the November-December-January midterm elections.

President Obama is doing his bit for his side, keynoting Democratic Party fundraisers on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Today, the president also attends a meeting at Joint Base Andrews hosted by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey for some 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss the coalition efforts in the ongoing campaign against ISIS.

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, George Washington conferred with his coalition partners, too, albeit in a smaller meeting: the coalition of nations fighting to protect Americans consisted of precisely two countries -- the fledgling United States of America and France.

But those planning sessions were fruitful. On this very date in 1781, a joint operation of French and American soldiers captured two small forts in the Virginia Tidewater area that determined the course of the Revolutionary War, and world history.

I’ll have a further word the Battle of Yorktown, and the remarkable French officer who fought under George Washington’s command, in a moment. First, I’d direct you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which aggregates stories and columns from across the political spectrum -- and to a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors. But now, a word from today’s sponsor, C-SPAN:


Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton (R) square off in the second and final debate in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race, LIVE tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on C-SPAN.


* * * 

Obama, Advisers Confer on Tighter Infection Controls. Alexis Simendinger updates the situation as public health officials try to learn how a nurse contracted the disease in Texas despite following proper precautions.

Tillis Backs McConnell as Leader If GOP Takes Senate. Adam O’Neal reports on yesterday’s RCP-hosted forum in Charlotte, where the challenger to North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan committed himself to McConnell after previously hedging on that question.

A Cave in Kenya Tied to Ebola. RealClearScience’s Ross Pomeroy retells the “Hot Zone” story of a Frenchman’s fatal encounter with fruit bats and the sister virus of Ebola that they carried.

Getting Cancer at San Francisco Airport. Also in RCScience, Alex Berezow spotlights the chemophobia that leads to foolish public warnings -- and the unintended consequence of ignoring true threats.

Missing the Mormon Message. In RealClearReligion, Ryan Jenkins assesses criticism of “Meet the Mormons,” a new film on LDS members.


“This devil Cornwallis is much wiser than the other generals with whom I have dealt. He inspires me with a sincere fear, and his name has greatly troubled my sleep. This campaign is a good school for me. God grant that the public does not pay for my lessons.”

So wrote Gilbert du Motier, or the Marquis de Lafayette, on July 9, 1781, in a letter to a friend.

By October, however, George Washington and the officers and men under his command -- including Lafayette -- had set a trap for the great British general that would bring the long war to an end.

In France, Lafayette had rallied to the patriots’ cause in 1776. The following year, he set sail for the colonies with a small warship he purchased, along with a contingent of freedom fighters, to join the American Revolution. He was not yet 20.

He wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge, saw combat at Monmouth, and was wounded in the Battle of Brandywine. In the middle of the war, he returned home for a time, but this was no ordinary furlough: Lafayette was determined to persuade his government to enter the war on the side of the Americans. This he accomplished, too, and so as the battle lines formed at the fateful Virginia city of Yorktown, a French fleet sailed from Haiti to the Chesapeake Bay.

As he fortified Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis and his army of some 8,300 troops found themselves surrounded by a joint Franco-American force twice that size.

To hold off the siege, the British built a series of earthen fort-like defenses, called redoubts, to try and stave off the advancing attackers. On October 14, 1781, 400 French captured Redoubt No. 9. Moments later, 400 Americans led by Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton overran Redoubt No. 10.

The redcoats tried to evacuate Yorktown by water, but a sudden autumn storm left them trapped, and Cornwallis surrendered his army.

The British still had some 26,000 troops in the colonies, but Lord Cornwallis’ mystique had been broken. So had the will of the British public.

Forty-three years later, at President James Monroe ’s invitation, the marquis embarked on a tour of the country he helped bring into existence. He was 67, and life in Europe had in some ways passed him by. He’d participated in the French Revolution and then had nearly been devoured by it, as had his wife, Adrienne. (She escaped the guillotine, but her sister, mother, and grandmother did not.) After escaping The Terror by fleeing to Belgium, Lafayette was imprisoned by European monarchs.

After Adrienne joined him, George Washington was moved to urge Emperor Franz II to free them as a humanitarian gesture. Eventually this was done, but Adrienne died in 1807. Deprived in childhood of his parents’ love, Lafayette in old age was denied his wife’s company. He lived until May 20, 1834, his passing scarcely mourned in France.

This was not the case across the ocean. “In America,” writes Laura Auricchio in a superb new biography, “Lafayette’s death reignited the outpouring of affection that had greeted the living man ten years earlier. President Jackson declared a national state of mourning, flags flew at half-mast, government buildings were draped with crepe.”

On Capitol Hill, a special joint session of Congress was convened. Former U.S. president John Quincy Adams delivered a three-hour eulogy.

When I think of the man, however, it is his own words that come to mind, contained in a letter he wrote as a young man to his wife while on his ship sailing to an unknown land.

“I offer my service to that interesting republic from motives of the purest kind,” he wrote. “The happiness of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she will become the safe and respected asylum of virtue, integrity, tolerance, equality, and tranquil happiness.”


The debate marathon continues all this week on the C-SPAN networks. Tonight, Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton  square off in the second and final debate in the Arkansas U.S. Senate race, LIVE at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on C-SPAN.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau Chief
Twitter: @CarlCannon

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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