Doug Smith: Nihil sub sole novum

4 Nov

(There is nothing new under the sun)


Daisy“, sometimes known as “Daisy Girl” or “Peace, Little Girl“, was a controversial political advertisement aired on television during the 1964 United States presidential election by incumbent president Lyndon B. Johnson‘s campaign. Though only aired once (by the campaign), it is considered to be an important factor in Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater and an important turning point in political and advertising history. It remains one of the most controversial political advertisements ever made.


DOUG FOR FSPDoug Smith is an historian and Associate Editor at Free State Patriot

November 4th, 2018


I have always enjoyed history. The details of how men lived, and ate, and thought, and conducted themselves in times before my own, or even in my own childhood, when I didn’t really notice, have always fascinated me. That is only one of the things that makes me an oddity. Most, it seems, find history dreadfully boring. Who cares about Cicero’s words before the Senate, or Beckett’s opposition to his friend, Henry, or Luther’s 95 points at Wittenberg? The dual answers are very few, and you, if you live in the sphere of Western Civilization, which, if you are reading this, it is likely you do. Or at least, you should. Because where we have been and how we have travelled will be good indicators of the road on which we find ourselves.

As a lover and student of history (Mark Caserta continues to unduly flatter me with the title “Historian”, which I suppose I am, given the definition as “an expert or student of history”, but it seems presumptuous; I’m still learning.) I am somewhat amused at the shocked exclamation “We have never seen anything like this before”.  To those who are certain that this is all new and original, I say you ought to have paid more attention in school, or in life. Well, for the poor millennials, you have only lived a tiny slice of it, and while you may be dynamite with Tweets and Video Games and things that go BEEP in your hand, it takes a lot more living to be as wise and knowledgeable as you have been told you are. Be patient: if you manage to survive a few more decades, things will be a lot clearer. For now, permit me to hold up a lens:

We have Never had a billionaire, rich scion of a wealthy family with inherited money, as our President.

Meet Joe. He was a politically connected Boston Irishman, whose dealings were, let us charitably say questionable, and was worth the equivalent in today’s dollars of over 3 billion when, in 1960, he sent a telegram to his son, John, campaigning in WV, “Don’t buy another vote stop I won’t pay for a landslide stop. Dad. End” That son of a billionaire was John F Kennedy. (Yes, he did win.)

 We have Never had a crude, vulgar speaking President.

Lyndon Johnson talked like a longshoreman. He would urinate in the sink, invite people into the bathroom while he was on the pot to talk, and was known to expose himself and show off his scars casually. He bragged and stormed about Kennedy’s reputation as a womanizer, arguing that he had more paramours by accident that JFK had on purpose. He freely used racial epithets that cause people to lose their TV shows and high paying gigs today. And, (I might forgive the rest, but this?) he picked his dog up by its ears. (Odd that we never heard “He is not Presidential.)

We have never had such hatred and criticism of a GOP President (Or candidate)

I remember watching a TV ad, in black and white (Yes, I’m THAT old) run by our old Pal, Lyndon, against Barry Goldwater. It shows a little girl playing with a daisy and ends with a hydrogen bomb explosion.

You can watch it here ( )

I remember serious journalists calling Reagan a dunce, a fool, a loose cannon who might wake up one night and nuke the Russians. Nixon’s opponents were after his head long before he handed it to them by his mis-steps in Watergate. They slammed George H.W Bush as a light weight, a weak-minded pansy who lacked the guts for the Presidency. Bush 43 “W” was a simple-minded dunce, who lacked the “gravitas” for the Presidency. (At least they did have to explore history a bit to find that word.) Yet both Bushes were trained military pilots. The elder joined the Navy on his 18th birthday, shortly after Pearl Harbor, was the youngest pilot in the Navy, flew 58 combat missions in WW2 and was shot down near Iwo Jima ( and rescued by My boys: a submarine!) He earned the DFC, an award not given away for good looks. The younger Bush graduated from Yale and Harvard, with degrees in history and an MBA. Here is a picture of Bush 41 in his Torpedo Bomber.

 Our President needs to be, well, “Presidential”

No one has successfully explained to me just what that term is supposed to mean. I suspect that is it a holdover from the days, long past, in which we had nobility and royalty. Kings and Dukes were to act a certain way, be regal in their bearing, exercise Noblesse Oblige (being less cruel than they might), and, for our cult of Royal watchers who long for the good old colony days, when we were under the King, never incurring the displeasure of Queen Elizabeth.  But we forcefully and decidedly turned our backs on the whole idea of a Noble class, and leaned toward a meritocracy, in which a soldier, a farmer, a lawyer (we may need to rethink that one), or a haberdasher could be the fellow in charge. We also set it up so that there would be no dynasties, no passing down to lesser sons, (giving us the disastrous King John), and ceding power to the citizens, who may elect a haberdasher, then toss him out if he does a poor job.

In our representative Republic, the Chief Executive is less than we have made him, and there for just awhile, and does not have a particular “Presidential” bearing that he must display. He only needs to be a citizen, born here, and over 35. So, we have had the Texas BBQ White House of LBJ, the Faux Camelot of the Kennedy clan (who did establish a dynasty of sorts, to our detriment), the cigar smoke and whiskey of Harding, to the teetotaling Coolidge. The guy in charge is the guy in charge, and, our political and TV (half) wits notwithstanding, we only get to superimpose our ideas of behavior on him by voting for, or against his continuation in office.

One of my favorite Presidents was Calvin Coolidge, who, it is said, upon learning that he was President, went and took a nap. Now That is Presidential.

The quote at the top of this article comes from a writing somewhere between 180 and 450 BC. It was written in Hebrew, often quoted in English, but it tickled my fancy to quote it in Latin. If you got curious before reading this far, you may have searched in history for it, in which case my fancy is rewarded. For those of you to incurious or lazy to look it up, but still persistent enough to read to the end, it says

“There is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes




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