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More unambiguously positive are assessments of Washington’s strategic vision as Commander of the Continental Army and of his quiet leadership at the Constitutional Convention. As president, setting the fledgling nation’s finances on a sound footing complemented solid accomplishments in foreign policy — among which was the treaty with Britain negotiated by Chief Justice John Jay. Against claims by critics that the first president was ignorant and aloof, Johnson provides evidence of Washington’s mental acuity and willingness to endure the dangers of travel in order to meet citizens of the nation he labored so strenuously to create.
Ironically, this compendium of observations about the “father” of the United States speaks with a thick British accent. References abound to Cromwell, Wellington, Walpole, and other prominent figures from the pantheon of British history and literature. Also surprising is the redundancy one confronts in a work of such brevity. Twice, for example, Johnson repeats the anecdote where Washington declares, while picking up his reading glasses, “Gentleman, you must pardon me. I have grown grey in your service, and now find myself growing blind.” Additional puzzlement arises from repeated references to Washington’s fondness for “baseball” — a sport also favored by George III.
Such considerations make it difficult to say that this book serves as an “ideal introduction” to Washington’s life — the publisher’s stated goal for works in this series. But Johnson’s pointed comments on matters of contemporary concern (e.g. on judicial power and First Amendment church-state issues) make this book, at the least, an engaging and informative read.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?