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Mt. Rushmore After Dark

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(The following "conversation" is only partly a product of my imagination; all of the italicized lines represent actual quotes from the four men looking out from Mt. Rushmore . . . )


T. Roosevelt: "Psst . . . Mr. Lincoln . . . Are you awake? In the mood for a chat? I've got a horrific case of insomnia and just know that I'm going to be up all night. I've got a lot on my mind, and can't stand just being idle . . . must do something to wile away the night."

A. Lincoln: "Yes, Mr. Roosevelt, I am also awake, and also have a lot on my mind. I'm always up for a good jawing. As the saying goes, 'I like talking with a man who likes to talk.' So, on what topics shall we speak this beautiful moonlit night? And by the way, after all these years, isn't it about time you started calling me 'Abe?'"

T. Roosevelt: "Thanks . . . Abe. And likewise, please call me Teddy . . . it's much more friendly-sounding than 'Theodore.' Now, as to what's on my mind . . . well, to be quite blunt, it's the state of politics . . . indeed, the very direction of these United States. And when I say 'politics,' I mean not to refer just to the Democrats or our fellow Republicans, although I must say -- and in this I suspect you shall concur -- it is not at all the party we belonged to and led in our day. It seems to me we used to be so much more concerned with people than with power . . . with speaking to the point rather than obfuscating the issue. I mean today, a typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues."

A. Lincoln: "Ah, you've noticed that too, have you? Yes indeed, this current crop of Republicans -- and many Democrats -- when you get down to it, are seemingly incapable of addressing real issues with anything approaching sincerity or conviction. Or of even speaking the truth. Nonetheless, I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. And as for our party -- of which I am proud to have been its first standard-bearer, I remember us being for both the man and the dollar, but in the case of conflict, the man before the dollar. I am greatly saddened to conclude that this is no longer the case. These capitalists generally act harmoniously to fleece the people, and our partisans are either totally blind to the fact at best, or in full agreement at worst."

T. Jefferson: "Excuse me gentlemen: mind if an old Virginian joins in the conversation? I couldn't help but overhearing what you are talking about, and am likewise quite exorcised by the craven mindlessness of our republic's leaders. Seems to me that your party has been hijacked by a faction whose fuel is anger and fear . . . leavened with a rather large dose of sectarian apocalypticism."

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T. Roosevelt: "Ah President Jefferson! How wonderful having you and your felicitous phraseology enter our conversation . . . hope our chattering did not awaken you."

T. Jefferson: "No, not at all. You may remember that in life, I rarely slept more than 3 hours at a stretch. From the time I was a mere lad, I was always of the thought that too much sleep would likely deprive me of too many experiences . . . In any event, I am truly concerned about how little the nation's politicians or leaders actually lead or act; of how much they follow or react. And what's more, it seems to be a virtual mania these days to promote ignorance and denigrate knowledge. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects that which was never was . . . and never shall be. Indeed, your party has definitely been taken over by a beast."

A. Lincoln: "I certainly agree with you there Tom. As I have often said, When you have an elephant by the hind legs and he's trying to run away, it's best to let him run away. I think that before too long, our Republican leaders will wake up and see that the faction they nurtured and anointed is, if left unchecked, going to lead them into 40 years of wandering in the political wilderness. I mean, this notion that by cutting taxes on the wealthiest 1% somehow the 99% will be better off is political alchemy; I mean, how many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg . . ."

T. Roosevelt: "With all due respect, President Jefferson . . . uh . . . Tom . . . As much as I do agree with you on the issue of political ignorance, I'm not so sure about your take on the religious aspect of the problem. I mean after all, you've never been what might be called a 'believer.'"

T. Jefferson: "Ah, there you have it wrong, my dear Teddy! As I once wrote my good friend, Dr. Rush, To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus Himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which He wished any one to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to Himself every human excellence; and believing He never claimed any other." I have nothing against religion; it's just that I cannot fathom it playing such a seemingly crucial role in our national political discussion. The truth is, the greatest enemies of the doctrines of Jesus are calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. Nonetheless I remain a thorough-going optimist. A little patience and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolved, and the people recovering their true sight, restoring their government to its true principles . . ."

G. Washington: "Thomas: might your reference to "witches" be an illusion to that young woman from Delaware? Seems to me that more than concerning ourselves with witches and warlocks hovering about the nation's political arena, we would do well to guard against the postitures of pretended patriotism."

T. Jefferson: "How delightful having you join our conversation, Mr. President. I certainly agree that I too am greatly bothered by those whose patriotic fervor will not permit them to see -- or even consider -- the opinion of another without declaring it to b e essentially treasonous. These modern folks seem to have forgotten that every difference in opinion is not a difference in principle."

G. Washington: "Yes, Thomas. There you have it right. I remember writing Mr. Hamilton, Differences in political opinions are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary; but it is exceedingly to be regretted that subjects cannot be discussed with temper on the one hand, or decisions submitted to without having the motives, which led to them, improperly implicated on the other; and this regret borders on chagrin when we find that men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view, and the same upright intentions to prosecute them, will not exercise more charity in deciding on the opinions and actions of one another. . ."

T. Roosevelt: "Gentlemen: I regret to say that the dawn is breaking, and soon the tourists are going to be gathering and taking all those interminable photos and videos. Perhaps it will be best for us to continue the conversation in the near future, for there is so very much to discuss. Next time, perhaps we can get into the corruption which pervades the entire political process. Perhaps as we sign off, each of us can ante up a thought in anticipation of our next chat. For me it would be , When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer "Present" or "Not guilty." How about you Abe?"

A. Lincoln: "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed."

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Kurt Stone is a rabbi, writer, lecturer, political activist, professor, actor, and medical ethicist. A true "Hollywood brat" (born and raised in the film industry), Kurt was educated at the University of California, the Eagleton Institute of (more...)

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but after all, those presidents were preachers.&nb... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Dec 19, 2011 at 9:01:52 AM
The other night, the four gentlemen enshrined on M... by Kurt F. Stone on Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 at 7:17:57 AM