“In 1664, Louis the Fourteen, in his own efforts to encourage the arts, donned brilliant tights and played in a drama called Furious Roland before a happy court. Moreover, he drafted the highest officers of his administration for the play so that, according to an account, all clad in brilliant tights themselves, they passed before the queen and the court.
This was suggested tonight but for some reason or other the committee turned it down.”
~President John Kennedy, National Cultural Center Dinner, 1962
Kennedy & Sorenson, 1988, Let the word go forth, p. 206.
It could be that there is a sense of humor in the White House these days and that I am just missing it, but the drollery, wit, grace, and class of JFK exemplified the Presidency par excellence. Ronald Reagan brought that same sense of “presidentiality” to the role. Neither were perfect, yet both were role models demonstrating how a sense of humor, linked with deep principles and a sense of care and respect for our country and its citizens can serve to lead a country and to lead the free world. Their policies were different, yet they would both be considered moderates today. They worked across the aisle, with respect, honoring our system of government, the law, the checks and balances of our three branches of government, and the Constitution. I can and do respect and learn from people such as these, who have varying political views and experiences and approaches.
Both Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy inspired me then and do to this day, like other past Presidents. No, I didn’t like everything they did, but aren’t we all flawed, make mistakes?
But these two, like other past Presidents we honor to this day, were great leaders. Great…leaders.
I will never follow someone willingly who is a crass bully. Someone who disrespects people who can’t fight back. Someone who uses his role for his own personal gain and the country as a game. Someone who tears down what has taken centuries to build, without a qualm, without considering consequence. I might pray for such a person’s soul, I might wish him balm for the torment of inadequacy he must feel, but I will never bow down to someone with tyrannical, demagogic tendencies.
And that’s all I have to say about it today.