Friday, September 23, 2016

Tiny, real world update

I was talking to a youth who mentioned Hillary Clinton's health problems. How did you know about it? I was going to ask rather snarkily, since I gather Facebook and Twitter have prevented the topic from 'trending.' But I didn't get a chance to ask, because the nice youth launched into an obedient recital of her official history. "She had a concussion in 2012, and then pneumonia -- "

I made the 'pshaw' sound. "I don't believe a word anyone says about her. I mean, anyone from her camp." The youth giggled nervously. Then we talked about what might happen if, God forbid, she is ill enough to withdraw from the race or too ill to serve if elected. Not that I want her; I simply don't want the Democrat party troweling in Elizabeth Warren to replace her.

"In that case," the youth said, "Obama would probably just sign an E.O. postponing the election, and say, 'Hey, I'd like a few more years anyway.' "

"Ah, well, he can't do that," -- I did not snap, but only said -- I think. The youth's utter, easy seriousness and his tossing out of an abbreviation for "Executive Order" annoyed me and yes, shocked me. This is an American? And he wants to be a lawyer? I went on, "There are laws about that, at least for the moment. Of course you know about that," delivered not snarkily but pleasantly (I think) -- "you're going to law school." Then, musingly, "that's what it means to have a government of law, not men."

The youth giggled nervously. We carried on to neutral ground, talking about how there must be protocols -- laws? -- for situations where high elected officials or those running for election are sick or get sick. Remember the president who caught pneumonia and died three months after his inauguration? Yes, we both knew of that, the youth and I, but neither could remember his name. Garfield?

No, Harrison, William Henry (1773-1841), as it turned out. Last president to have been born a British subject, first to die in office; grandfather of another president, Benjamin Harrison. And he died only one month after his inauguration, not three. He lived an interesting and full life: soldier, farmer, representative in Congress, Senator, territorial governor, ambassador to "Gran Colombia" for eighteen months. What were the stages of travel from Washington D.C. to Bogota in 1828? The mind reels.

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