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[January 16th] -- It's a slow news day, so I thought I'd take a moment and pick the brains of those of you old enough to remember the Nixon Administration.

These pictures are taken from my 1973 J.E.B. Stuart High School yearbook. Our band was part of history that year. The Raider marching band, in conjunction with (as I remember) all the other high schools in Fairfax County, marched in Richard Nixon's second inauguration. Nearly 2,000 high school musicians paraded their way past Nixon's viewing box. I remember there being a comment attributed to Nixon in the next day's Washington Post about that "long, long band."

Though I was there, I remember very little about that day. It was cold -- freezing; I remember that. We had to get there early and stayed pretty late into the afternoon. I wasn't in the band - I was the photographer for the yearbook and newspaper.

Do any of you remember anything about that day? Perhaps someone was there, or was part of the "longest band ever to march together?"

That was a pretty special day and I darn well should remember more than the weather and the fact that I was tired when I got home.

The above picture shows Paula Sykes glancing up at the president as they marched by. I think they were told not to look but obviously at least one of them didn't get the message.

Leave a comment if you remember something. I'd appreciate it.

Something I found Interesting: Now, before I begin, I'm not taking sides. Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent at this juncture. Even though that taking sides inside the beltway is not only common but encouraged, a baseball blog isn't the proper place for it. You come here to discuss baseball, something that is far more important than politics. What if you found out that I was a *gasp* a Republican or *geez* a Democrat and pushed my beliefs here at TBB? I'd lose a lot of you.


And - this is for you Basil - there ARE Democrats in Idaho. There's Steve Johnson in Boise, Nora Smith is in Idaho Falls, Terri Lynn's over in Rexburg and Ezra Thompson lives in Arco. There's five democrats. No wait; Ezra died last fall. Make that four.

The point is, this is more of a "I find this interesting" than "how dare he say that" story. Okay?

I was reading Richard Nixon's '72 Inaugural Address seeing if there was something he might of said that could jog a memory or two. There were a few things in there that became ironic with the advent of Watergate, but that was about it. I pushed a wrong button and came upon James Earl Carter Jr.'s Inaugural speech. I found a couple of things interesting. First, he didn't just mention God, he thumped his Bible and quoted scripture like a minister during the "Great Awakening." Check this out:

"Here before me is the Bible used in the inauguration of our first President, in 1789, and I have just taken the oath of office on the Bible my mother gave me a few years ago, opened to a timeless admonition from the ancient prophet Micah: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8)

Think a president could get away with this today? Ronald Reagan mentioned in passing a generic God a couple of times. George Bush said that "My first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your heads..." and then proceeded to offer a fairly lengthy (but still generic) acknowledgment of God. Bill Clinton saved his recognition of the almighty to the very last sentence in both of his addresses. The current George Bush made a couple of innocuous references as well.

I find that interesting. As the nation began to accept is diversity of religion, our presidents stopped thanking one specific God and instead used the nonspecific "God" or "Almighty."

Kudos, guys. At various times in my life, I have been a Mormon, a Muslim and an Athiest, so Jimmy Carter would have offended me seven different ways from Sunday.

But that wasn't the paragraph that really drew my attention. It was this one:

"We have learned that "more" is not necessarily "better," that even our great Nation has its recognized limits, and that we can neither answer all questions nor solve all problems. We cannot afford to do everything, nor can we afford to lack boldness as we meet the future. So, together, in a spirit of individual sacrifice for the common good, we must simply do our best."

Republican or Democrat, few people I know said that the period during the Carter presidency was a particularly fun time to be alive. Look, of course Carter was 100% right in everything he said in that paragraph. Too much sometimes is too much, that America isn't the answer to every question, and that we should sacrifice and simply "do our best."

Yeah, but he was the President. He's supposed to give us all those lofty goals and then we don't come anywhere near following them. That's written somewhere; the Constitution I think. That's how it works. But when he began his administration by acknowledging the limitations of the country he was to lead, it was all pretty much down hill from there.

During those four years, Carter told us - in essence - not to eat so many doughnuts, and that driving a three year old car was just fine. When heating oil became scarce, he came on TV wearing a red sweater and told us to "sacrifice," -- to turn our thermostats down to 60 degrees at night.

What? I slept in the buff back then. That was just too much to sacrifice.

Then came the "malaise" speech (which is funny because he never actually used the word), and then the "new" relationship with the Iranians.

"I'm Ted Koppel and this is "The Iran Hostage Crisis - America Held Hostage: day 320." And Nightline was born.

Of ourse, the 18% interest rates and double digit unemployment was just the icing on the "I hate all this" cake.

By the end of his term, I was tired of white-knuckling my way through the bills and my job. I was tired of feeling bad because I had two cars and some family in China didn't have any. Why did I have to feel bad to live in a successful country?

Ronald Reagan, of course, brought back all the confidence with his "Morning in America" mantra. He told us to not only eat all the doughnuts, but to go back to the store and buy another dozen. The first thing I did after the election was to turn my thermostat up to 85 degrees for the rest of the day, a kind of "in your face" to Jimmy boy. Reagan told us that we were great, we were deserving and that we were feared. Sacrifice? I felt comfortable enjoying the bounty this great country provided. We could do anything, he told us.

Of course, he lied. All presidents do. He lied and didn't mean much of what he said, but we believed in it and began to believe in ourselves once again. We started buying stuff we didn't need, and put it all on credit. Soon, factories were open again and everyone was enjoying their life. Yuppies were born and Chrysler was saved.

Carter told the truth and he suffered for it. Carter was a good man but he didn't understand how to lead 250 million Americans. He thought by telling us what not to do, things would improve. Reagan succeeded by telling us what we could do.

Life was no fun under Carter and life was sweet under Reagan. Now, I promised this wouldn't be political, and it's not. Life was great under Clinton too. But I think each president who has come since has adhered to the "Carter rule," which is to not, not - not - tell the American public to acknowledge our limits and deficiencies.

It makes for a very grumpy electorate.

In the end, Carter's "individual sacrifice" way of seeing things backfired. Perhaps appreciating the president's astonishing frankness, the public rewarded him with higher approval ratings in the days that followed. But then, as historian Douglas Brinkley notes, "it boomeranged on him. The op-ed pieces started spinning out, 'Why don't you fix something? There's nothing wrong with the American people. We're a great people. Maybe the problem's in the White House, maybe we need new leadership to guide us.'" Historian Roger Wilkins concurs: "When your leadership is demonstrably weaker than it should be, you don't then point at the people and say, 'It's your problem.' If you want the people to move, you move them the way Roosevelt moved them, or you exhort them the way Kennedy or Johnson exhorted them. You don't say, 'It's your fault."

This paragraph culled from a PBS special says it all:

"A little more than a year later, Ronald Reagan defeated Carter by offering Americans a vision that was as optimistic as Carter's was pessimistic. Every four years thereafter, the Republicans' traditional refrain equated Democratic leadership with the notion that America was in decline and needed to reign in its famous appetites. The fact that ... Carter may have been right, in some sense, was almost beside the point. "If you are president and you're going to diagnose a problem, you better have a solution to it," Hertzberg notes. "While he turned out to be a true prophet, he turned out not to be a savior."

Number of Republican presidents given "good press:" One. Number of Democratic presidents given"good press:" One. Number of bad presidents getting "bad press:" One.

See? It all works out.


Just noticed this, and my memory is faulty. Did I say there weren't Democrats in Idaho?
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