Monday, February 17, 2014

Impeaching Presidents’ Day

Washington National's Racing Presidents at Mount Rushmore

February is the shortest month of the year. It used to be even shorter for many government workers. Many state’s used to celebrate both Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th and Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. The problems with such a festal federal arrangement was that it shut down not only the government, but banks, mail delivery and impacted the financial markets. The other trouble was that celebrating these Presidents’ on their actual birthdays did not ensure a three day weekend for federal workers.

 So in 1971, Congress passed and President Richard Nixon the Uniform Holidays Act which made observance of many Federal holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and originally Veterans Day) to be on set Mondays. While an early draft of the law referred to President’s Day, the legal name of the holiday has never been changed.

Perhaps it was years of silly commercials for White sales, appliances and new cars which paired Washington and Lincoln that people started calling it “Presidents' Day”. Or maybe it was a deliberate de-emphasis by the education system on the greatness of our first President because he owned slaves that it was called President’s Day. Nonetheless, that moniker seems stuck in the popular culture.

 This year Groupon was continuing the tradition of commercializing this federal free day off by promoting a sui generis deal:

 When it was politely pointed out that Alexander Hamilton was never an American President, their muddle headed marketing point person responded:

 It seems that the the folks at Groupon is that they seem to be educated by the concept of Dead Presidents being on paper money. While that is generally true, it ain’t necessarily so as demonstrated by Hamilton (the first Secretary of the Treasury). Benjamin Franklin on the hundred dollar bill was not President, even of the Continental Congress. While it is unlikely that Groupon will encounter a $500 bill, the 1918 edition of the Federal Reserve banknote had John Marshall on it (before being replaced by PRESIDENT William McKinley). Marshall sat in the Supreme Court’s chambers, not the White House.

Aside from mocking the invincible ignorance of the Groupon Twitter spokesman, for me it serves as an impeachment of President’s Day. One would be hard pressed to find someone who wanted to celebrate Millard Fillmore’s or William Henry Harrison’s accomplishments as President. Partisans today might chortle at celebrating George W. Bush or Barack Obama as the Commander-in-Chief. Not even a homage set to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” should justify a Presidents’ Day Holiday.

By celebrating an office creates ambiguity among the citizenry. We ought to celebrate the leader who instituted the concept of citizen politicians and led by example. That Indispensable Man is George Washington.

 In the hopes of educating low information votes and those who have forgotten the past, I hereby resolve to refer to the the third Monday in February shall be referred to by it’s proper name “Washington’s Birthday (Observed)”. We need to all do this, lest next year Groupon is tempted to have another Presidents’ Day "duel deal" with  Aaron Burr.

h/t HotAir

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