On my desk this morning I found the following message laser printed on an ordinary piece of paper that had been treated to look like parchment. It was rolled up and neatly tied with a silk ribbon.
Hear Ye, Constituents of Minnesota's 9th District (all the water surface area in the state).
It's me, your congressman, Loomis Beechly.
I want to wish a happy George Washington's Birthday to every single American!
Even though most of us haven't got a clue what he was like and virtually no idea what Washington did in his life, I think it's pretty darn wonderful that we still can have a holiday to honor a politician right here in the United States of America! The man was a marvel. Republicans and Democrats still agree he was a patriot and a paragon. That's incredible!
And I'm not one of those cynics who thinks George Washington is popular with the masses because his face is on the dollar bill. That really sells the American people short. I happen to believe that the dollar bill isn't all that useful. People like the Five LOTS more than they like the One. The One is chump change, and if you had your picture on it, people might begin to think of YOU as a CHUMP. Worthless! Think I'm wrong? Look at how people toss the One around and throw it away! But in spite of that, they still LOVE George Washington.
And Washington is going to continue being great. Since he's safely dead, the chances are good that he won't do anything stupid and mess up his fantastic reputation. I'm happy for him, and I wish him a great birthday. As a living politician, I'm not so lucky. I have to keep a close eye on everything I say and most of what I do to be sure I don't screw things up and send my popularity numbers into the dumper. Unlike Revolutionary War times, the battle today is all about publicity and perception. As a politician in the 21st century, your career can rise and fall based on the smallest things, including something as simple as whose name is used in the same sentence with yours!
And that's why I'm asking you, as Americans and as kind and reasonable people, to stop comparing me to George Washington! I'm never going to be as cool or as noble or as wise or even as handsome as the Father of Our Country. Look at him! Is there a man alive today who would look as good in that flouncy shirt? I don't think so. Not even George Clooney! And what is that on the back of his neck? Some tory raccoon, crawling up his back to nibble the powder from his hair?
And yet ... look how calm and composed he is!
Freud says we all want to eclipse and maybe even replace Dear Old Dad, but when it comes to our national daddy, I'm ready to admit that I'll never beat him.
He led our army in the War for Independence. That war is over and we won - I can't top that.
He suffered disappointment and deprivation during that campaign, and proved brave and resolute in the face of overwhelming odds against him. It's hard to find odds stacked that strongly against you when you're a free 21st Century American who has had every advantage and opportunity fall in his favor. I'm not saying I couldn't be as tough as Washington, but the sad (wonderful) truth is - I'll never have the chance to find out. Again, I'm not worthy.
He had terrible dental problems and endured discomfort and pain on a daily basis. I have had great oral hygiene my entire life, and my teeth are perfect - all lined up in a tidy row of rectangular pearls - dazzling to behold. How do you think I got elected?
Washington served two terms as president and voluntarily gave up power to return to his private life. He was a well-to-do farmer. I don't have a farm OR a much of a private life to go back to. I might even be unemployable. Still, people send messages every day asking (demanding!) that I resign and return to whatever I was doing before. Impossible. There just aren't that many video stores left, and those that remain already have clerks! Do you really want me to force someone out of a job?
It's great to have role models and people we admire, but let's be reasonable.
Please, stop comparing me with George Washington. I am NOT HIM. I am simply your humble congressman ...
Have you ever been unfairly compared to another person?