Fisher Investments Presents: Todd v. Johnson; Govt. Corruption; Steady Eddie

Story Stream
recent articles

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. Last night, the Washington Nationals treated their fans to a decisive win on a warm autumn night, and now head to Los Angeles to see if they can prolong their season. The team’s unofficial motto -- “Stay in the Fight” -- would be a fitting appellation to a heroic American born on this date in 1890 in Columbus, Ohio.

His father was of German and Swiss extraction and the boy’s christened name was the Teutonic-sounding Edward Reichenbacher. He would Anglicize it slightly as the Great War raged in Europe, which was understandable. It was a time when anti-German hysteria in the United States was rampant. “Hamburger” was supposed to be called “Salisbury Steak,” the German-American population in Pennsylvania decided “Pennsylvania Dutch” was a better moniker than “Pennsylvania Deutsch,”   and Edward Reichenbacher’s hometown featured a riot in which German-language books were seized from the local library -- and even private homes -- in a neighborhood called German Village. Those books were then set ablaze in what had been called Schiller Park. It was renamed Washington Park.

When the U.S. entered World War I, tens of thousands of those “Pennsylvania Deutsch” answered their country’s call. And a son of Columbus’ German-American population became the U.S. military's greatest flying ace. In a moment, I’ll have more on this American original, whom I’ve written about before in this space. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Divided America Agrees on This -- Govt. Corruption Is Rampant. Greg Orman spotlights an overarching problem in U.S. politics.

The Absurdity of the Low-Birthrate Narrative. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny counters alarmists who warn that lower birthrates promise to substantially reduce production and lead to falling government revenues.

Don’t Be Surprised If the NYT Axes Its Top Editor. In RealClearPolicy, Patrick Maines reports on backlash to the paper’s increasing tendency to lace news and feature stories with opinion.

Chuck Todd and the Demise of True Journalism. Mark Hemingway explains why he found the “Meet the Press” host’s interview with Sen. Ron Johnson so disheartening.

The Cost of Inclusivity. In RealClearEducation, Shaun Cammack argues that curbs on free expression result in colleges that produce soft, unprepared, and shallow thinkers.

* * *

By the time the United States entered the First World War, Eddie Rickenbacker had altered the spelling and pronunciation of his last name and was already famous -- as a race car driver. When America was dragged into Europe’s conflagration, he tried in vain to convince the War Department to let him set up a combat air wing. Rebuffed, he joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to be a chauffeur on the staff of Gen. John J. Pershing.

“Black Jack” Pershing knew a soldier when he encountered one and he encouraged Rickenbacker to pursue his passion. The general believed it would help the war effort, and he didn’t care that Rickenbacker was neither a college man nor “a gentleman,” presumed prerequisites for the aristocratic early combat aviation brotherhood.

Capt. Rickenbacker won over the men he commanded in his soon-to-be-famous squad, not only for his innate skill in the cockpit but also for his leadership abilities, organizational know-how and, above all, his relentlessness as a warrior. To use modern parlance, he led from the front.

“Just been promoted to command of 94th Squadron,” he wrote in his diary when given the reins of the unit on Sept. 24, 1918. “I shall never ask any pilot to go on a mission that I won’t go on. I must work now harder than I did before.”

“His assignment to the 94th Squadron was not pleasing to the other airmen of the unit,” the New York Times noted when he died in 1973. “They resented his civilian fame and his undeniable cockiness about it. In addition, he was regarded as uncouth, domineering and profane. To top it off, he insisted on checking his plane engine before every flight and personally supervised the loading of machine-gun bullets in his ammunition belts, instead of relying on the fortunes of war as gallantry dictated.”

This attention to detail was one of the hallmarks of his life. It would help him shoot down 21 enemy planes and four balloons, win the Medal of Honor, head the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and guide Eastern Airlines, which Rickenbacker ran profitably after saving it from bankruptcy.

“Mr. Rickenbacker ran his company in much the same manner he had commanded the 94th Squadron,” the Times noted. “He set impossible goals, and then went out and achieved them himself before complaints got out of hand.”

He was a Tea Party-type Republican three generations before that term came into vogue, leaving Eastern Airlines in 1963 to devote himself to conservative politics. He didn't like government handouts and he didn’t like communists and he predicted, erroneously, that this country would one day erect a statue to Joseph McCarthy.

He wouldn’t have approved of Elizabeth Warren’s underlying philosophy that building a business is a collective enterprise -- or of George W. Bush’s acquiescence to the notion that some banks were too big to fail. The greatest privilege this country had to offer, he liked to say, was the “freedom to go broke.”

Carl M. Cannon  
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

Show comments Hide Comments