As any pedantic patriot can tell you, there’s really no such thing as “Presidents’ Day”–the official name for the federal holiday we celebrated on Monday is “Washington’s Birthday.” And it wasn’t the first president’s actual birthday, which is today, February 22.
Washington had his faults, but, especially when compared to most of those who followed him, he provided an admirable model of probity and restraint. The teenage Washington copied in his own hand 110 precepts on etiquette: “The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,” and, as I noted recently, they make for a pretty stark contrast with the deportment of 1600 Pennsylvania’s current occupant. So, in honor of Washington’s (actual) Birthday, contemplate the distance between our first president and our 45th, with a selection of Washington’s “Rules”–and Trump’s:
Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him.
Speak not when you Should hold your Peace
do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.
Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Carefull to keep your Promise.
Trump: “I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one” (campaign rally, North Dakota).