Weekly Comments: Did January column predict November election?

As I prepared to write this last column of 2016, I looked back at the first one on January 3. Although I made no prediction on the divisive presidential race that was developing, I believe the opening paragraph hinted at the eventual outcome:

“President Obama (has pondered) the most important issues facing the country in his last year as president: stagnant wages, stagnant stock market, high unemployment rate for minorities, higher costs of health care, soaring national debt, Islamic terrorism in America, Russian aggression, Chinese cyber-attacks, and Islamic terrorism in the Middle East. After all that pondering he announced that the biggest issue is… gun control.”

Even though Hillary Clinton captured the popular vote thanks to big city Democrats who favor tighter gun control, rural voters gave the Electoral College vote to Donald Trump.

If you heard this week that the United Nations had taken a major step toward peace in the Middle East, you might assume the UN was forcing Assad in Syria to resign and Iran and Russia to pull out of Syria so the country could have peace and millions of refugees could return home. Or maybe a UN plan to wipe out ISIS. But no, they voted to punish Israel. The United States could have vetoed that action against our closest friend in the region but President Obama declined. Now, if you wonder why he waited until his final month as president to abandon Israel instead of doing it in his first year, you don’t understand politics. Mr. Obama prefers friendship with Palestinians over Israel, and most of the UN agrees with him.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“There is very little dignity, very little sportsmanship, or very little anything in politics.” DT #1949, Nov. 2, 1932

“Politics is not the high class, marvelous thing that lots of you picture.” Nov. 10, 1932

“Well, there is lots more good cheer this Christmas than last (or the last three). It’s in the heart, in the confidence and in the renewed hope of everybody.” DT #2306, Dec. 24, 1933

 “Well, Christmas has passed. I was just thinking if there was some way to make the Christmas spirit continue during the other days of the year, why we would be the most happy and wonderful Nation on Earth. Gosh, if all of us that was able would just feed and do things for folks without waiting till Christmas. I think we mean well, but we just sorter got in our heads that about one day a year pays our obligations off, then we swell up and hide our Conscience till the next gift day comes along.” WA #628, Jan. 6, 1935

Weekly Comments: Remembering a hero: John Glenn

America lost a hero last week. You probably know John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, on Feb. 20, 1962.

But that was not the beginning of his service to the country. He left Muskingum College (Ohio) in 1942 to fly fighter planes for the Marines in World War II. He also flew 63 combat missions in the Korean War and then became a test pilot, setting a transcontinental speed record in 1957. In 1959 he was selected as one of our first seven astronauts.

After retiring from NASA, he returned home to Ohio. He was elected to the Senate in 1974 and served 4 terms. As his Senate career was winding down, in 1998 he returned to space for 9 days on the Space Shuttle. He was 77.

Still not ready to completely retire, he became an Adjunct Professor at Ohio State University in the unit that was later named the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He spent a lot of time on campus until a few months ago.

I enjoyed a story in the Columbus Dispatch today. The Editor told of a chance meeting with Annie and John Glenn two years ago. They had stopped at the newspaper office to pick up the morning paper. In a brief conversation Mr. Glenn talked about how valuable newspapers are to society. His own appreciation began with his first job: delivering the local paper in New Concord, Ohio.

John Glenn may be remembered for his courage and heroism in the air, but he was a down-to-earth, common sense, easy-to-talk-to gentleman. One of a kind.

Donald Trump is interviewing a wide range of potential Secretaries of State. Observers are debating whether the Secretary needs to be a seasoned diplomat or if an international businessman, such as the top man at Exxon Mobil, could deal with these foreign leaders without losing his shirt.

You have heard complaints that Trump only selects billionaires or Generals for top positions, but what could be wrong with selecting successful people. They seem to know how to hire, train and work with the good people, so why can’t it work in the federal government. I don’t know if it’s ever been tried before.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

          “What constitutes a life well spent? Love and admiration from your fellow men is all that anyone can ask… You must judge a man’s greatness by how much he will be missed.” WA #139, Aug. 9, 1925

“Diplomats are nothing but high class lawyers; some ain’t even high class.” WA #5, Jan. 14, 1923

“(Europe’s) diplomats are trained; it’s their life’s business. Ours make a campaign contribution and wake up in Belgium and don’t know which ocean they crossed to get there.” Jan. 19, 1935

Looking back to see

Now that the election is over, it’s time to ponder all sides of the outcome. If you supported Trump for president have you considered how the Democrats feel? If you were whole hog for Hillary Clinton have you thought about views of the Republicans in Middle America who gave Trump the edge in the Electoral College?

In the Historical Quote (below) you will see that it’s a good idea to look and listen to the other fellow’s viewpoint. A Republican farmer in Kansas or Nebraska could contemplate how a young female in a big city back East could be devastated and exasperated that more people did not vote for the first woman president. Is this first-time voter, who has lived almost half her life under President Obama, scared that Trump will set the country back fifty years?

Or, let’s reverse it. If you live in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City or Boston, where you can walk or bike everywhere you need to go, can you understand how country folks don’t want to lose access to fossil fuels? These farmers and ranchers work hard to grow your food, which you may think magically appears on grocery shelves from a 3D printer.

Trump is rapidly filling out his Cabinet and selections for other top officials. Not everyone agrees, but the men and women picked so far seem to be successful in business or the military or governing a state. None of ‘em are dead broke.

Folks are concerned about Trump’s vast business empire. I’ve heard Democrats insist he must sell all of it to avoid any conflict of interest. Maybe we should think this through. Henry Ford contemplated running for President. Would he have been forced to sell the Ford Motor Company if elected? In West Virginia the incoming governor owns a lot of coal mines and the famous Greenbrier Resort. Should he be forced to sell? If we want successful business folks, to run for high office, including President, we need to remove or minimize obstacles, not erect new ones.

This Wednesday is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. We don’t have many veterans left from World War II, so this is a good day to honor and thank them again.

Historic Quote by Will Rogers:

“(Indians say) the reason a white man always gets lost and an Indian didn’t was because an Indian always looked back after he passed anything so he got a view of it from both sides. You see, the white man just figures that all sides of a thing are the same. That’s like a dumb guy with an argument, he don’t think there is any other side, only his. That’s what you call politicians.

The Indians say you must never disagree with a man while you are facing him. Go around behind him and look the same way they do, when you are facing him. Look over his shoulder and get his viewpoint, then go back and face him and you will have a different idea.”  WA #514, Oct. 30, 1932