Last week, I thought of Ron Silver, the late actor. He was a political activist. He was an ardent Democrat. At Clinton’s first inauguration, he saw military jets flying over the Lincoln Memorial, and was disgusted. Then he thought, “Those are our planes now.” Later, after 9/11, he became a staunch supporter of George W. Bush, and spoke at the 2004 Republican convention. He spoke damn well, too.
I was in Washington last week, walking past the White House. (For some reason, the people never elect me. They won’t let me live there.) I should say, I’ve always loved the White House. It’s one of my favorite buildings. I have loved it since childhood — how it looks and what it stands for. It is a perfect republican building. It is exactly the kind of house the American president should live in. An American, a republican, mansion.
By the way, my great-grandfather had his shop quite close to the White House, at 13th and F. I have a letter to him from FDR.
Anyway, last week, I felt a surge of bitterness. Why? I am disliking the current occupant of the White House more than ever. And, on seeing this house, I winced.
And then I caught myself: “Come on, Jay. It’s still the White House. Presidents come and go. This is a great and glorious country, with a constitution, separation of powers, regular elections . . . Don’t have an ‘our planes’ attitude.”
Like others, I suppose, I have to remind myself of this from time to time. I think I’ll need ever more frequent reminders in coming years.
P.S. Just noticed the date — March 4. The old presidential inauguration day. It changed to January 20 in the 1930s. FDR’s second inauguration was the first on the new day.