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A Calvin Coolidge Christmas In Washington

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A Calvin Coolidge Christmas In Washington


Our little town of Washington is missing Christmas cheer this year. The Capitol dome and the Mall green are under repair, but that’s not it.

Many are melancholic about Donald J. Trump’s un-American idea to ban Muslims from entering the country. Especially, in the Joy and Peace season of Lights, when we’re hurting from the Paris and San Bernardino tragedies.

When a sober President Obama addressed the nation in the wake of the attacks, did he meet the moment?

I was looking for a blast at the National Rifle Association or Congress for blocking legislation that would halt gun sales to the FBI’s terrorist no-fly watch list. Frankly, the president lacked spirit. Nor did he bring comfort, as merry gentleman Franklin D. Roosevelt did in his Fireside Chats.

The White House is decked out for Christmas, but you have to laugh at the 2015 tree ornament. It honors Calvin Coolidge, a flinty Vermonter famous for saying nothing at all. It’s hard to get excited about Coolidge. Come on.

By contrast, Barack Obama was once the young president with the golden voice. Now he seems like King David shorn of his harp and songs he composed to inspire his people. While I remain in his camp, sweet reason is not going to lull the NRA or ISIS.

Some Republicans rebuked their 2016 presidential frontrunner, saying they are shocked, shocked at Trump’s hate talk.

On the Hill, one pithy voice struck me. The new House Speaker, Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Trump’s religion ban “is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

Well-said by the man from Wisconsin.

Belatedly, there’s an awakening among us that Trump plays with perfect pitch to an anxious, angry constituency that feels left out of the political equation. They are the angry folks — white men — who listen to Rush rave on talk radio by day and watch “Fox News” by night. They may be working class or wealthy. They are not locked out of political ownership, given a Republican congress. But they feel aggrieved against Obama. And Hillary Clinton makes them see red.

Trump speaks directly to their discontent. The economy in wartime, with the Wall Street crisis, has not been kind since. It has been a bleak recovery, as most millennials know in their bones. Washington’s wise men and women say he can’t win, but I’m not so sure. He’s textbook demagogue.

Up the road, things stay tough in Baltimore, where April race riots over Freddie Gray’s hard death in police custody won’t soon be forgot on the streets. One police officer is now on trial; there will be more. “Ain’t nothing changed out here,” was how the story went in The Washington Post.

The Washington Post is leaving its own building. Granted, the city block look was getting old, but great and good journalism happened within those walls. The “Nixon Resigns” headline as the culmination to the Watergate burglary is the paper’s pride and joy. Bob Woodward, 72, had a hearty laugh with his old partner, Carl Bernstein, at the fare-thee-well.

David Maraniss, the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author, told me:

“When I arrived there in 1977, it had the smell of ink and paste pots and cigarettes and we wrote on typewriters with carbon paper between the sheets and signed 30 at the end of our stories and it was all noise and controlled chaos and the operators Mary and Joyce would field and place calls for you and the floor would start shaking when the presses started running a few floors below. It was a newspaper, and there was such a visceral deeply enjoyable feeling to it all.

“That all disappeared long before the building move. The journalism is in many ways the same, but everything else has changed, some for the better, some for the worse. It was time for the move.”

Bittersweet. I turned into Martin’s Tavern on N Street in Georgetown. The rumble seat, perfect for reading the newspaper, was open and so I sat where the senator, John F. Kennedy, often came for Sunday breakfast. He proposed to the ravishing Jacqueline Bouvier in a nearby booth.

Martin’s opened in 1933 and still serves meatloaf. How sweet it is, with festive holiday lights and all, when time stays a while.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit Creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama waves during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas



  1. 2ThinkN_Do2 December 11, 2015

    In reality, there is very little difference between Trump and Obama, they are both in it for themselves, family, and their close friends or new found friends that serve their goals; politics and business as usual. Now and again there comes along a great politician/’businessperson that really cares about the people. Sadly, many of them eventually fall into the same trap and lose sight. May there be True Hope and Peace around the corner that will return society to that which it can be, and pull us out of that which it has become.

  2. Canistercook December 11, 2015

    Obama has brought ‘change’, we have been changed from a united nation to a divided nation!

  3. tdm3624 December 11, 2015

    The problem with saying an American can’t own a firearm if they are on a government watch list deprives them of due process. The no-fly list should have more transparency as well.

  4. Whatmeworry December 11, 2015

    Think we all can agree that speech that Barak was the 1s one in 5 years where he was sober and not in a dope induced coma

    1. Whatmeworry December 12, 2015

      Thank we all can agree that speech that Barak was the 5s one in 1 years where he was sober and not in a dope induced coma

    2. Daniel Max Ketter December 12, 2015

      Well I think Mr Obama gives FINE speeches. Can’t remember his name, but I heard the best speech ever a fellow ripping Ford Motors management at a UAW convention back in 1979. God bless our organized labor movements for their service to our country.

    3. Staci K Whatmeworry December 13, 2015

      President Obama makes sense in every aspect of the truth. The Department of Education and our teachers unions are very important in educating our children. Vote republican and you will end up with stupid kids like they were at one time.

    4. Whatmeworry December 19, 2015

      Whatmeworry is fat “Dan M Ketter,” a retired parts clerk with Ford Motors, Vietnam War draft evader, a military impostor claiming to be a retired USAF Colonel, and Williamsburg Virginia’s republikan village moron!!

  5. ralphkr December 11, 2015

    Well, at least Stiehm and all the rest of us who are aghast at The Donald’s antics can take comfort that Trump is working out of a well worn playbook catering the the fears of the most ignorant and worst of the populace and that he is headed for a well deserved fall. After all he is using that same venerable playbook that was used by Adolf Hitler in Germany with just different labels and we all know what a failure that turned out to be…uh, er, perhaps we should all practice our Sig Heils now to be ready for Emperor for Eternity Trump and his re-incarnated Thousand Year Greater America.

  6. joeham1 December 13, 2015

    Besides the increase of 9 trillion in national debt, dividing the country like never before, his lack luster attempt to stop ISIS and misguided priorities of climate change instead of fixing the ACA or upgrading the power grid, our president has completely failed regardless how well he speaks.

  7. Teddy December 13, 2015

    He asked for the grid in his first year but he could not get enough votes to get it.


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