The Mount Rushmore Group
By Arianna Huffington
August 03, 1998
On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Bob Novak wondered what Thomas Jefferson might be feeling about the current scandals. Last week, on the "Today" show, guests considered whether any of the Mount Rushmore presidents could have survived today's scrutiny. What's happening? Why are people so busy talking about the Slab Four? And then it got even worse. Just last night, while flipping channels in my dreams, I came upon the opening credits of a show I had never seen before: "The Mount Rushmore Group."
As the show opened, the four ex-presidents were striking their famous Mount Rushmore pose (from screen left to screen right: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.) They held it for a beat and then Washington cracked up and they all retreated upstage to their seats.
Jefferson spoke first: "Good evening and welcome to another edition of "The Mount Rushmore Group." I'm your host Tom Jefferson. Issue one: Character and leadership. Let me start with our guest panelist, our Teddy's fifth cousin, Franklin Book-Me-At-The Delano Roosevelt: What are the most important traits of leadership?"
FDR: "Without integrity in our leaders, the confidence of the people will not long live. The trust and confidence of the people thrives upon honesty, honor, on unselfish performance."
Jefferson: "What about you, Teddy Rough and Ready? You were once a cowardly, weak and sickly child, and yet you became a strong and forceful leader. How?"
Teddy Roosevelt: "My father built me a gymnasium when I was young, and I lifted the heavy bars without cease. A great leader does not shrink from danger, from hardship, from bitter toil. And neither does a great nation. Glory and triumph will come to those who live the strenuous life."
Jefferson: "Or, as I have so eloquently written myself: He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual. The falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions."
FDR: "And its good depositions, too."
Jefferson: "Quite. Honest Abe, what are you thinking?"
Lincoln: "Important principles may and must be inflexible, Tom. If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem."
Washington: "Let me add that the people themselves need a foundation of faith and integrity. Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instrument of investigation in courts of justice?"
Here the show was interrupted by an Archer-Daniels-Midland commercial, hosted by Warren Harding.
Jefferson: "Issue two: In light of the relentless character attacks against public officials today, are we mistaken in our strong advocacy of complete freedom of speech? Or can we assume that the discernment the people have manifested shows that they may safely be trusted to hear everything true and false and form a correct judgment between them?"
Lincoln (pulling out a piece of paper): "But didn't you write in 1814, and I quote, `I deplore the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them. These orders are rapidly depraving the public taste, and lessening its relish for sound food'."
Jefferson: "Well stated, if I may say so myself. But I also said that to open the doors of truth and fortify the habit of testing everything by reason are the most effective manacles we can rivet on the hands of our successors. Now, Teddy Not-so-Steady, what's your opinion of the press today?"
Teddy Roosevelt: "Gross and reckless assaults on character create a morbid and vicious public sentiment. They deter able men from entering public service at any price."
Jefferson: "Hence, Al Gore. Exit question. On a scale of 1-to-10, with one being Benedict Arnold and 10 being George Washington (who therefore has to recuse himself), how would you judge the character of the present White House occupant? Abe!
Teddy Roosevelt: Two.
Jefferson: Wrong. The correct answer is four. Time for predictions! Georgie Porgie, Puddin' an' Pie.
Washington: "President Clinton will tell the truth and ask the nation's forgiveness."
FDR: "The president has nothing to fear but DNA itself."
Lincoln: "The president has nothing to fear but congressional Democrats. My party no longer has any stomach for the good fight."
Teddy Roosevelt: "There will be another coup against Gingrich just after the midterms."Jefferson: "Final prediction. Mike McCurry will leave his White House job. Next week, Clinton's resurrection, quicker than Marv Albert's? Bye bye!"
© 2004 Christabella, Inc. All rights reserved.
Find this article at: