Ultimate Democracy

9 09 2022

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

I was born on March 31, 1977.

On that day:

Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.

Paul VI was Pope.

Leonid Brezhnev was the Soviet leader.

Helmut Schmidt was the West German Chancellor.

James Callaghan was British Prime Minister.

Elizabeth II was Queen.

I was too young to have any conscious memory of the ruling or governing times of all of these listed individuals, except for the last one. And I was too young to remember Pope John Paul I, who followed Paul VI and was pope for a month until he himself died, and also Yuri Andropov and then Konstantin Chernenko, the two short lived immediate successors of Brezhnev who themselves died in power.

So for me and my conscious lifetime and recollection, Ronald Reagan was the first President, John Paul II Pope, Mikhail Gorbachev Soviet leader, Helmut Kohl West German and then German Chancellor, Margaret Thatcher British PM, and obviously Elizabeth II as Queen.

January 20, 1989 was the first date in my lifetime that someone in one of those high positions of power was no longer going to be. I had already known for a few years before then that that day was coming, why it was coming and what it meant. And I watched the entire 1988 Presidential campaign season unfold, from the primaries to the conventions to the fall season then the general election, the first time I was able to understand and learn what was going on, so I knew that George Bush (back then, you didn’t need the “H. W.” or “41” part) won the election and was going to be the new President. But even in spite of all that, and even in spite of the fact that I was well cognitively sophisticated as a late 11-year old about two months away from turning 12, I still couldn’t help but worry that the world was about to end, or at least be in a far more perilous state, for no other reason alone that the only President I ever knew was no longer going to be President. My mother did her best to calm me down and bring me to my senses, but it wasn’t until January 20, 1989 came and went and the world didn’t end did I have the confirmation I needed. As an aside, a St. Louis TV station, and probably also a lot of TV stations in other cities, played a lot of Reagan movies on the weekend after Reagan left office, as a tribute.

The next time I had that feeling was April 2, 2005, when the only Pope I ever knew died, and the process kicked off to find a new one. By then, I had just turned 28, so I knew the world wasn’t going to end. It was just going to seem weird, and then it did actually seem weird, seeing a different man wear the Papal white after a whole conscious lifetime of only seeing JP2 in it. Of course, when JP2 came to St. Louis in 1999, I made sure to get myself in a position to see him in the flesh, and he was the first head of state I so witnessed. As an aside, Benedict XVI is a native of Marktl, Bavaria, very near the current Austrian border (and it was the same when he was born). I’ve seen Wadowice, Poland, the native city of JP2, and I fully intend to see Marktl one of these days. It’s about halfway between the point on the particular Autobahn that leads to Salzburg, Austria to the south and where the Danube crosses from Germany into Austria to the north, and I’ve seen both, so I at least kinda know what Marktl is like from a regional terrain and topographic standpoint.

Yesterday, September 8, 2022, ditto, and for the final time in my life, on that sentiment. Full circle in a way.

Margaret Thatcher leaving Number 10 on November 28, 1990 because of her own party not liking her opposition to European unification, then Mikhail Gorbachev being more or less phased out of power in the fall of 1991 during the final days of the USSR actually existing, and legally losing power on Christmas Day 1991, and then Helmut Kohl no longer being what was by then the Chancellor of “reunified” Germany on October 27, 1998, after his welcome wore out and he could no longer politically coast on being the Chancellor that got “reunification” done, didn’t evoke the same kind of feelings in me, they were just curiosities in the world news section to me when they happened. As another aside, Gorby just died here back on August 30, though that news kinda got lost because of more critical matters relating to Russia these days. And Kohl’s successor, Gerhard Schröder, after himself being un-elected in 2005, eventually became a lobbyist for Russian energy interests, something that always caused some measure of angst and unease around here, but became totally intolerable after February 24, so much so that official proceedings are underway formally to throw him out of the Social Democrat Party.

***

George H. W. Bush became President of the United States on January 20, 1989.

John Major became British Prime Minister on November 29, 1990.

Boris Yeltsin became the undisputed head of government and state of the Russian Federation on December 26, 1991.

Gerhard Schröder became German Chancellor on October 27, 1998.

Benedict XVI became Pope on April 19, 2005.

And Charles III became King on September 8, 2022.

Some people might wind up having a lot of power and clout in life. But no human being is ever so important that the world ends in the happenstance of their no longer having power or dying.

And I guess that’s the ultimate democracy.

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8 responses

9 09 2022
Hard Right

January 20, 1989 was the first date in my lifetime that someone in one of those high positions of power was no longer going to be.

Took me a few days to get used to it. He was the first one I remember who made it to 8 years. I was too young to remember when Ike was President.

9 09 2022
David In TN

When I was born Harry Truman was President.

Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union.

Mao-Tsetung had taken China a year earlier.

Clement Atlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain. George VI was King of England. Winston Churchill became Prime Minister again in 1951.

Konrad Adenauer had been West German Chancellor for a year.

It’s difficult for me to get accustomed to King Charles III. I’ve known him as “Prince Charles” for so long. People my age grew up with him in a way.

As I told you 1960 was the first Presidential election I followed. We were Democrats. It was exciting when the 43-year old JFK won succeeding the 70-year old Eisenhower.

Several months ago I reviewed a book on the Cuban Missile Crisis critical of JFK while showing Khrushchev was the true villain.

My memory of the Crisis is we were confident JFK and his advisers would handle the situation. I remember the nightly news telling us the Russian ships were about to meet the US Navy blockade. Would they stop?

Yes.

In 1962 we believed America always won.

10 09 2022
countenance

You’ve got 27 years on me, and even you only ever knew Charles as a Prince until two days ago.

11 09 2022
David In TN

Speaking of dynasties, here (https://spectator.org/bobby-kennedys-name-should-not-be-on-dojs-headquarters/) is a recent item at TAS on why Bobby Kennedy’s name should not be on DOJ’s Headquarters)

The way things are now, maybe it belongs there. I’ve more to say about this later.

11 09 2022
David In TN

Former Republican Congressman James Rogan (he lost his seat when his district tipped Mexican) wrote a book in 2018, “On to Chicago,” a what-if with the premise of Bobby Kennedy surviving the assassination attempt. Rogan, 10 at the time, still carried a starry-eyed feeling about RFK: Rogan wrote:

“The excitement of Bobby Kennedy’s battle, and then the horrible violence that ended it instantly, left a profound impact on me that never waned. Decades later, during my service as a Republican congressman, I still held Robert Kennedy in awe—a reverence no other conservative House colleague apparently shared. In 1998, Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) and I cosponsored a bill to name the US Department of Justice building after his late father. Republicans killed the bill in committee. Thirty years after RFK’s death, his memory still aroused so much Republican disdain that they would not have named the DOJ outhouse after him. When I tried raising the issue with Speaker Newt Gingrich directly, he cut me off. ‘That bill is dead—dead,’ he snapped irritably.”

“Later when my friend Lyn Nofziger, Ronald Reagan’s longtime spokesman and adviser, visited my Capitol Hill office, I saw him staring at a large autographed photo of Bobby Kennedy hanging on my wall. Turning to me and looking both confused and disgusted, he asked, ‘What the hell is THAT THING doing here?'”

Rogan does give a realistic, unsentimental portrait of RFK in his book.

In 2001 then-President George W. Bush named the DOJ building after RFK by executive order. Bush was courting the Kennedys and spent eight years courting liberals. They hated him anyway. This gave Bush poll numbers in the low 20s by the time he left office.

12 09 2022
countenance

My what-if with the premise of RFK surviving the assassination (or better, there being no visible attempt on his life at all at the Ambassador Hotel):

He wins several more states, piles up a lot of delegates, but not enough to prevent Humphrey from winning the nomination. Then back to our regularly scheduled history, except for RFK being on the left of the Senate Democrat caucus and keeping on winning re-election to the Senate until his death circa the year 2000, being a bigmouth loudmouth attention hog, but never rising higher than that or being more than that.

17 09 2022
countenance

I mentioned the 1988 election cycle.

A certain someone for the first time that season made intimations and overtures that he was ultimately interested in the job.

What Has Been Done Will Be Done Again

18 09 2022
David In TN

I’ve read that Trump for a long time felt he couldn’t run for President due to his, shall we say, checkered personal history. Remember, Gary Hart was the Democrat front runner in 1987 and was bounced out for being caught with Donna rice and his “history of womanizing.”

Trump changed his mind when Bill Clinton survived the Monica Lewinsky Affair. Clinton lowered the bar to somewhere below the ankles.

Trump flirted with running for a few cycles, finally went down the elevator in 2015.

It's your dime, spill it. And also...NO TROLLS ALLOWED~!

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