On President’s Day: In Chapter Six of The New Founders, it is July 4th weekend in steamy Philadelphia and today’s incarnate of James Madison offers his views of the greatest American Presidents on the Tim Jenson (TJ) Radio Show….
“Welcome back to the TJ Show. It’s been one hell of a day here in beautiful, hot Philadelphia. The people of this great city have been nothing short of amazing, so accommodating and hospitable. No wonder the founders did their best work here. We could not have asked for anything more. Now in the remaining few minutes we have, it is my great pleasure to introduce the winner of the WJMD What would the Founders do? contest. This gentleman wrote an amazing piece on the timelessness of the U.S. Constitution and how it remains vibrant in modern American society.”
Jenson raised the winning essay to his eyes to make sure he didn’t miss a word.
“I’m quoting here, ‘the rich remarks within this document are like swords and shields in their constant battle with the activist judges that try to rewrite this sacred text on an almost daily basis. The Founders foresaw the potential for an activist judiciary legislating from the bench and built in safeguards such as checks and balances, separation of powers and an unambiguous method for amending the Constitution.’”
The host finished the quotes as his guest took the seat beside him.
“Folks, let me introduce you to a man who grilled me on the ride up like my fifth grade history teacher and who I now consider a friend, Mr. Jack Murray.”
“Thank you, Tim. It is great to sit with you for a few minutes in such a historic setting.”
Tim informed his audience of Jack’s educated views on the greatest presidents and the office of the president itself.
“In our last two minutes, I want you to explain to the listening audience your theories on these great presidents and where certain presidents should take their place among the greats.”
Murray, excited for being asked to opine further, jumped right in. “Uh, well um, presidential greatness discussions have to begin and end with George Washington. If the founders were the gods on Mount Olympus, certainly Mr. Washington would be Zeus. He was the one founder that was irreplaceable. It wasn’t so much that he was a great technical president, and he was, but he had the gravitas to keep our fledgling republic together as war, philosophical differences, power grabs, the unresolved question of slavery, and old-fashion politics swirled in chaos around the new nation. The people had an instinctual faith in and respect for General Washington and his ability to put the country first.
“And when you think about it Tim, aside from slavery, the issues I mentioned are very much the same as today. The big difference, and it is a difference of incalculable import, is the trust factor. The people overwhelmingly trusted President Washington to do the right thing in a directly inverse proportion to the trust they have in the current president which, frankly speaking, is almost non-existent.”
Jenson was impressed.
“Spoken like a true professor. But you must get into more than a few debates with your liberal colleagues. By the way folks, Professor Murray teaches history at James Madison.”
“Thanks Tim, I actually teach history at Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater, Virginia. I’ve been fortunate enough, recently, to do some night classes at JMU. It’s been great.”
Murray emphasized that while Mr. Washington may have been Zeus, the group that founded this country was for the most part everyday people who somehow came together and achieved greatness. The founders knew what they were doing was exceptional and knew they would live in history for it.
“Of all the founders I am partial to, and it’s funny because I teach there, is James Madison. Jefferson is well known as the writer of the Declaration of Independence, but Madison is kind of forgotten and even kind of underrated as the Father of the Constitution. He also wrote The Federalist Papers with John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and some others. They were instrumental in the ratification of the Constitution. Sorry, I’ve talked so much.”
“No by all means, please continue.”
Jenson knew the day was coming to a close and decided to let Mr. Murray have his few minutes of fame. He hoped to wrap up the long day in the hot Philly sun. Jack took a sip of water before concluding.
“Thank you, Mr. Jenson. Do you realize he wrote the Bill of Rights by himself? Another thing people forget was that he was the president during the War of 1812. At the time, they even called it ‘Mr. Madison’s War.’ He, Dolley, and their son had to flee Washington DC and rally the troops on horseback. Yet they managed to save important founding documents, artwork, and ultimately, the Republic itself. Do you know how close we came to reverting back to a British colony? Amazing, really. Didn’t mean to ramble.”
Jenson seconded Murray’s statement that the US almost lost its sovereignty. He asked his guest if God may have intervened.
“Yes. They say Providence lent a hand. If it was not for a massive storm, probably a hurricane spawning a tornado that stopped the British in their tracks near DC in August 1814, we would not be celebrating this holiday. That’s for sure.”
“Fine job, Jack. We are out of time today, so I want to thank all the great folks that made this show possible this weekend. We will be on hiatus for the next two weeks, returning to the air live on Monday the twentieth. I am Tim Jenson and this has been the TJ Show. Have a great Fourth of July weekend and we’ll talk to you soon. Be well.”