RCP Morning Note, 05/24/2017: Montana Election; Border Tax; Dershowitz and Trump; TR and Friends


Carl Cannon’s Morning Note

Montana Election; Border Tax; Dershowitz and Trump; TR and Friends

By Carl M. Cannon on May 24, 2017 08:50 am
Good morning, it’s Wednesday, May 24, 2017. On this date 110 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt delivered the commencement address at Friends School in Washington, the venerable institution now known as Sidwell Friends. In the Quaker school’s institutional memory, the 26th U.S. president’s speech is not exactly a source of pride. Not that Quakers are supposed to boast, necessarily, but let’s just say that Teddy’s talk is not required reading for Sidwell students. This is not a case of “presentism." One gets the feeling that administrators on the dais back in 1907 winced when the president launched into a speech titled “The American Boy." Perhaps TR was focused on one particular Friends School student in the audience: his own son Archie. But the record shows that half of the 1907 graduating class of six were young women. I’ll have more on “The American Boy" in a moment. First, I’ll point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * Dems Target Trumpcare in Uphill Montana House Race. Party officials bet voters’ fears about GOP health policy will carry their candidate to victory in the red state special election, Caitlin Huey-Burns reports. House GOP Pushes Border Adjustment Tax Despite Opposition. James Arkin reports on yesterday’s Ways and Means Committee hearing. Who Will Stand Up for Civil Liberties? Alan M. Dershowitz asserts that he is not pro-Trump despite his criticism of a special counsel/grand jury process he considers unfair. Mr. President, Here’s Your Trillion Dollars. In RealClearPolicy, Lynn Fitch & Jon Christensen suggest a way for states to help pay for Trump’s infrastructure agenda. A Tale of Two Allies. As Trump attends the NATO summit, Gary Schmitt assesses the military readiness of Germany and the U.K. in RealClearDefense. German Defense Spending — a Case Study. Also in RCD, John Beckner spotlights budgetary allocations based on industrial, rather than military, priorities. Detroit and Puerto Rico: Which Is the Worse Insolvency? In RealClearMarkets, Alex Pollock lays out the comparison. With China vs. the United States, Spot the Capitalist. Also in RCM, Allan Golombek examines Trump administration trade policies he finds troubling. Why Nutrition Guidelines and Policies Should Continue. In RealClearHealth, Deborah Cohen explains why healthy eating shouldn’t be a partisan issue. More Money Is Never Enough. In RealClearEducation, Jonathan Butcher and Liv Finne push back against persistent calls from teachers’ unions for increased education spending. Top 10 Baseball Brawls. Recent bench-clearing confrontations prompted this list from Ben Krimmel in RealClearSports. * * * Numerous sons and daughters of prominent American statesmen and stateswomen have attended Sidwell Friends over the years, the most recent being Malia and Sasha Obama. Chelsea Clinton went there, as did Al Gore III. So did Julie and Tricia Nixon, as well as Herbert and Lou Hoover’s son Allan. The entire school grieved when two of Ethel and Robert Kennedy’s sons were picked up at Sidwell on the November 22, 1963 afternoon their uncle was assassinated in Dallas. In the early 1920s, a young girl named Anne Frances Robbins, who went by the name of Nancy, attended Sidwell Friends’ elementary grades. We know her as Nancy Reagan. Friends Select School, as it was originally known, was opened in 1883 by 24-year-old educator Thomas Watson Sidwell, who had been teaching at a Quaker school in Baltimore. Its first campus was the Friends Meeting House near the corner of 18th and I Streets in downtown D.C. Although it may have been news to Theodore Roosevelt, the place was co-ed from the start. The modern version of the school consists of a five-acre Bethesda campus for the lower grades, and a 15-acre campus in Northwest Washington for the upper grades. Although tuition is steep, the school is racially and ethnically diverse. It still promises “a Quaker education," and though the meaning of that term has evolved over the decades, it still has a nobility to it. “The Quaker belief that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone shapes everything we do at Sidwell Friends," the school proclaims in its official description. “We see it in the classroom, where teachers value the unique gifts that each student offers. We hear it in Meeting for Worship, when we listen deeply to those who feel moved to speak into the silence. We experience it in service to others, when we encounter worldviews and cultures that challenge our own." The worldview espoused on May 24, 1907 would itself have been a minor culture shock to the Quaker faithful, except that Teddy Roosevelt had espoused on “the American boy" before. In a famous essay published in 1900 he began, “Of course what we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man." So when he began speaking that day, Roosevelt was continuing a conversation he’d been having with the American people for years. Looking out on a sea of faces, male and female, young and old, Roosevelt modified his message — but only slightly. “When I speak of the American boy," he began, “what I say really applies to the grown-ups nearly as much as to the boys." It didn’t get any better after that. What I mean is that it didn’t get any more gender-inclusive. If you can look past that, if you can mentally add the phrase “boys and girls" whenever the 26th president said “boy," then the speech he delivered that day – well, it still isn’t that great. But it had its moments. “The boy who will maltreat either a smaller child…or a dumb animal is just about the meanest boy you can find anywhere in the world," Roosevelt said. “You should be brave and able to hold your own just because you should be able to put down such a bully. It should be your pride to be the champion of the weak." That was the crux of his brief speech, and it’s a good point. TR ended his talk with a bit of advice he said he’d gleaned from the football field, but which he said was equally applicable to life after leaving school: “Don’t flinch, don’t foul, and hit the line hard." Ninety years later, another incumbent U.S. president — with another presidential offspring in the student section of the audience — gave the commencement address at Sidwell Friends. That president was urged by Sidwell administrators to put a little more effort into his talk than his predecessor had. But that speech is the subject of another Morning Note, coming to you on its anniversary date in early June. Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

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