Hello, it’s Wednesday, Oct.13, 2021. This morning, 90-year-old William Shatner is scheduled to enter low-Earth orbit aboard the Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin rocket. This event comes 55 years after Shatner was launched by NBC into our imaginations as “Star Trek” captain James Tiberius Kirk. If all goes according to plan, Shatner will become the galaxy’s oldest space traveler, at least among Earthlings.
In other news, snags in the supply chain continue to disrupt the U.S. economy, Americans are voluntarily quitting their jobs in record numbers, and travel experts warn that Southwest Airlines’ mass flight cancellations last weekend could portend difficulties for holiday season travelers.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has finally approved e-cigarettes on the grounds that they do more good than harm, the medical establishment has reversed itself (again) on the efficacy of taking low-dose aspirin to prevent strokes, and 2,500 Americans died in a single day from COVID-19. This grim statistic suggests that by the end of the week this scourge will have claimed 725,000 lives in the United States since it appeared on these shores 20 months ago. You’d think that would unite us. It was on this day in American history, by the way, that the cornerstone for the White House was laid. I’ll have a word on that event, which I often highlight on this date, in a moment. First, I’d direct you to our front page, which aggregates, as it does each day, an array of columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors, including the following:
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Are We Broken? What U.S. Grant Can Teach Us. Bret Baier reflects on how the 18th president’s leadership abilities would translate to these contentious times.
A Call to Amend Section 230 for Social Media Transparency. Kalev Leetaru introduces a RealClearFoundation report on First Amendment abuses and how to begin addressing them.
Sussmann Case Is Tip of the Iceberg in Govt. Plot to Frame Me. Roger Stone writes that Special Counsel John Durham's recent indictment of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann will shed light on his own persecution.
Philly-Area County Will Test Dems’ Suburban Dominance. Thomas Koenig reports on a shift toward the right as violent crime spikes and woke politics in schools stirs resistance from parents.
Terry McAuliffe and Critical Race Theory. At RealClearPolicy, Frederick M. Hess argues that the gubernatorial candidate’s downplaying of CRT controversy in Virginia ignores public eruptions over it in Loudoun County and elsewhere.
Why the Feds Need to Butt Out on Worker Freedom. Also at RCPolicy, Justin Owen explains his opposition to the PRO Act, which would overturn all state right-to-work laws across the country.
In Student Loan Debate, Ghost of 2008 Still Haunts Us. At RealClearEducation, Chris Keaveney urges potential borrowers to consider alternative pathways to career advancement and economic mobility.
Decarbonization Contradictions in ESG Investing. At RealClearEnergy, Rupert Darwall highlights counterproductive outcomes for both the environment and investors.
A Culture of Prayer Over Isolation. At RealClearReligion, Deirdre Reilly relates an edifying tale of engaging with a secular world in many ways at odds with believers.
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On Oct. 13, 1792, the cornerstone was laid for an executive mansion in the swampy new capital city named after the first president of the United States. The impetus for moving the capital from Philadelphia to Washington was a desire to place it closer to the geographical -- and political -- center of the new nation. By that standard, we should have moved the nation’s capital to St. Louis or Kansas City a century ago, but by then we had all these big, beautiful buildings in Washington, and a history to go along with them.
Much of that legacy would take shape on the site that George Washington himself selected for an executive mansion. It was destined to be burned down by the British, and remodeled and improved numerous times, but the relatively modest villa at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is always called -- at first unofficially, and later by fiat -- “the White House.”
The first president to reside there was John Adams, who moved in on Nov. 1, 1800, just as he was about to be unseated by Thomas Jefferson. The place was barely furnished and construction unfinished. Putting the best face on things, Adams dutifully wrote his wife, Abigail, still in Massachusetts, a letter beneath a dateline reading: “Presidents house. Washington City.”
“My dearest friend,” Adams' letter began, “we arrived here last night, or rather yesterday, at one o Clock and here we dined and Slept. The Building is in a State to be habitable. And now we wish for your Company.”
The new nation’s second president concluded his brief missive with another poignant sentiment, this one for the ages: “Before I end my Letter I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it,” John Adams wrote. “May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.”
It is a prayer, to paraphrase a later president, that was not answered fully. We, the people, generally give our best effort at the ballot box, but ascertaining which candidate will rise to the occasion after taking the oath of office, is an art, not a science. There is another side of the equation, too: The presidents and “first families” who occupy that house generally try to do their best. It cannot be an easy job, as Americans have an ungovernable streak that runs through our national DNA. If you doubt that, ask the British parliament and crown. Or remember the exasperated words uttered by the dowager countess in “Downton Abbey” (played by the immortal Maggie Smith).
Sitting (uneasily) in a swivel chair, she was informed that this wasn’t a new contraption but rather an invention of Thomas Jefferson. “Why,” she asked, “does every day involve a fight with an American?” Posed that way, the answer is contained in the question.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics