One of the advantages of growing older is the fact that you have so many great memories about people and things that have happened in your lifetime. As a political person, with a long history of holding public office, I look back fondly on the many people who made a difference in America’s past and I am proud that I was able to be an observer.
I guess my first flashback is to John F. Kennedy. In the final days of his first campaign, I stood on Sunrise Highway in Freeport in pouring rain waiting to get a glimpse of a young dynamic candidate passing by in an open convertible.
I recall his great inauguration speech proclaiming, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” I also recall with sadness the day he was killed during a campaign stop in Texas.
The late Lyndon Johnson left many powerful memories as he fought for civil rights, passed many great laws and battled against Southern injustice. I still recall the night when he announced that he would not seek an additional term in office, primarily due to the fallout of the Vietnam War. Johnson left us with a keen understanding of how the power of the presidency can be a force for good.
Richard Nixon, with all his warts, had the courage to establish a relationship with China, much against the wishes of his cabinet and the conservative Republicans. His debate with John F. Kennedy stands out as a key moment in history when two powerful figures went toe-to-toe in their battle to win the White House.
The two Bush presidents left their own marks even if you disagreed with either one. George H. W. Bush, the father, brought an impressive resume to the job. His remarks that you should “read my lips, no new taxes” is a precautionary tale for politicians to pay attention to what they say and how to keep your word when you govern. George W. Bush stood tall on a rock pile outside the former World Trade Center on 9/11 and the photo of him was of great assurance to all Americans.
I can easily recite the great moments in the Clinton and Obama presidency, but that would delay the observation that the current President has denigrated the high office he holds with one tragic mistake after another. There are many who will still stand with Mr. Trump because he was their choice, but you don’t have to be blind to see that this president has turned his tenure into a circus.
The past seven months have been a nightmare for our country. Trump has been a divider and not a uniter and his conduct has made our allies around the world wonder what has happened to the America that they knew and respected. He has destroyed any possibility of legislative successes with his animosity for the Congressional leaders. The thought of him protecting us from the nut job in North Korea is frightening.
The contrast between the great names of the past and the current president is stark and depressing. The history books will not have anything positive to say about the current president as his election is a fluke. I just pray that we Americans will still be around to read those books after they are written.
Former State Assemblyman Jerry Kremer is a partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale. The views expressed are not necessarily those of
the publisher or Anton Media Group.