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Mr. President, please answer one question

By Harold Witkov
web posted October 12, 2009

Mr. President, I know you are not the first politician to stretch the truth, but come on, you have lobbyists, you are aware your health care program will not pay for itself, you have no problem signing earmark pork legislation, you understand the dictionary definition of the word tax, and "transparency" is not exactly your middle name. In fact, I would wager a list of your whoppers could probably extend "as long as a telephone wire."  Let's face it Mr. President, when it comes to telling the truth, I am sure even you would agree that you are no George Washington. 

Speaking of George Washington, Mr. President, there is a well-known American folktale concerning him and a certain cherry tree.  According to that story, young George Washington was in possession of a new hatchet.  Looking to test it out, George struck down his father's small cherry tree while practicing with it.  In great distress upon seeing his beloved cherry tree damaged beyond repair, George's father asked George if he was responsible, to which young George responded, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet."

Although the story is almost certainly an American yarn, the fact that the legend has carried on for so long says as much about Americans as it does about George Washington. It says we Americans pride ourselves in believing that the Father of our Nation was an honest man, and a man of integrity.

Mr. President, do you find it corny and out of touch that I should bring up the name of George Washington?

Mr. President, the truth is that George Washington was a man of integrity and this gospel is indisputable based on two facts alone. To begin with, George Washington was a very wealthy landowner at the time of the American Revolution who could have played it safe, yet he was willing to risk everything, including his life and fortune, for a noble cause. Second, as our first president, George Washington willingly relinquished his Commander-in-Chief authority and chose not to run for a third term because he thought a third term would set a poor precedent for future Presidents (who might be more interested in their own power rather than what was good for the nation).

Liberty Tree
The Sons of Liberty make life difficult for a tax collector under the Liberty Tree

Mr. President, besides Washington's cherry tree, there is another tree in American folklore that most certainly did exist, and that was the "Liberty Tree." The original Liberty Tree was an elm tree that was located in Boston in the 1700's. It was in the area of this large elm that American colonists would share with each other their seeds of discontent regarding British rule, and clamor for a government of the people.

During the Revolutionary War, in an act of contempt for colonial idealism, the British cut down the Liberty Tree and used it for firewood during their Boston occupation. The British act backfired. The Liberty Tree became a living symbol for American resistance and it became one of the first American icons. Liberty Trees were featured on colonial war flags, cities throughout began growing their own Liberty Trees in town squares, and Liberty Trees and the liberty concept began to grow in the hearts of American men and women.

Mr. President, you have created a private corps of czars, and seem to be taking over the private sector: the mortgage industry, the banks, the auto companies, and now health care.  Americans are justifiably concerned with what will be the next move in your reformation of America. Could it be amnesty and citizenship for those in our country illegally, or is it going to be the elimination of conservative talk radio, perhaps taking away the guns of law-abiding citizens?

Mr. President, pretend you are in a courtroom and place your hand, once again, on that historic Abe Lincoln Bible you used when you swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  Americans today do not expect you to be a George Washington. We do need one question answered, however, and for this one question, America needs to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. 

Mr. President, our Liberty Tree is precariously teetering before our very eyes.  It is time to fess up like the time when young George Washington did for his father.

Mr. President, are you cutting down our Liberty Tree? ESR

Harold Witkov is a Chicago-based writer and a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right.


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