I don't know about you but I'm getting a bit tired of the whole contest for the Republican nomination for president. It's a bit like watching a sitcom written by a third rate writer.
Allegations that Herman Cain put his hand up someone's skirt, Rick Perry suffering a "brain freeze" during the last debate, Michelle Bachmann being Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney still leading the pack (he looks a little bit like an aging Ken doll, doesn't he?), Ron Paul who, if offered the chance just might accept a resurrected Ayn Rand as a running mate, Newt Gingrich blaming the press for EVERYTHING and Jon Whatshisname just wishing he could rise above two percent in the polls.
I was so bored with the whole mess this weekend that I decided to read a book rather than watch all the Sunday morning shows.
So, I picked up a copy of "Henry Clay: The Essential American" by David & Jeanne Heidler ( $18 Random House). The paperback had been taking up space on my "to be read" table for a few months so it was time to reduce the pile. Besides, there is nothing like escaping 21st century politics by jumping feet first into the politics of the 19th century. It's a lot more fun to talk about people who have already done all the harm they can do.
The Heidlers present a complete picture of the man who, more than anyone else, defines what it meant to be an American politician in the first half of the 19th century. The creator of The American System, a plan to improve life in the republic by focusing on internal improvements, you know, stuff like roads, bridges, canals and harbors. A three time presidential candidate. The nemesis of Andrew Jackson. Enemy of the Spoils System. The man who was known as The Great Compromiser. The man who once said, in reference to the corrupt politics of his age, " Misrepresentation, falsehood, bribery, forgery, perjury, corruption of the Ballot boxes, have all been established upon members of that… party." Clay felt that such tactics by one political party would soon cause the other to use the same approach to winning office. "Then, farewell to Liberty."
That brings us back to the current campaign. After reading the Heidlers' biography of Clay I'm inclined to conclude the more things change, the more they stay the same. Take the time to read "Henry Clay." You'll close the book convinced this nation has had at least one intelligent, honest politician in the past 160 years.