By Christine Todd Whitman
July 4, 2019
All right, we can all relax now, the President did not hijack the 4th of July. It’s too big a celebration of our Nation’s founding, with too many events in cities and towns across the nation, for any one person to dominate. Sorry, Donald.
The President did not give the partisan speech that so many feared. You can argue that we didn’t need a show of military force to appreciate how great our armed services are or to honor the men and women who serve and protect us every day. Certainly, the extra money expended could have gone to other important needs (improving border facilities would have been much wiser stewardship), but it wasn’t as terrible as many feared.
Yet there was something in that speech that should worry all of us: his historical inaccuracies. The fact that the President was sent out with a speech that displayed such an abysmal lack of historical knowledge should be of concern not just to us, but to the President as well. Not just because it made him look uneducated, but because of the intellectual laziness it implied.
No, the Continental army was not named after George Washington. A passing knowledge of our first president would know that that would have been the last thing he would have allowed. No, the army did not take over the airports in 1776, the Wright brothers didn’t take their first flight until over a century later. The battle of Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner”, was during the war of 1812, not the revolution.
These may seem like inconsequential, albeit embarrassing, gaffes in the big picture, but when the placement on a comma or semi-colon can change the entire meaning of a document or treaty, not to have had someone catch them before the words were uttered before a national audience is truly worrisome. You could argue, as I would, that the President should have caught the problems himself when he did a pre-read, but maybe he doesn’t do that and just relies on others to get things right. That’s scary too. If this is the Administration’s level of attention to detail, what harm could Kim Jung-un or Vladimir Putin do?
These are serious concerns, not just excuses to make fun of the Commander-in-Chief on Twitter. Someone, somewhere, has to pay attention or we may wake up one day to find that these “wonderful friendships” we seem to have with dictatorial regimes are costing us our freedoms.
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