Paul Jacob

Presidents’ Day came and went . . . and I didn’t give my wife a present!

As you age, you forget these things.

In honor of George Washington, I could have given her a wooden smile, or retired after my second term as Taker-Outer of The Garbage.

In honor of Abe Lincoln, I could have grown a beard.

Or I could just have given her a box of chocolates.

Among my favorite presidents stands Grover Cleveland, a man of girth, the kind unlikely to pass up the chocolates (if you can tell from pictures). His daughter, Ruth, first presidential offspring to be born in the White House, was honored with a popular chocolate bar named after her, the Baby Ruth.

So, next year, chocolates.

But Presidents’ Day got me thinking. I notice that when historians choose the “greatest” presidents, they tend to choose war guys, or those who increase the size of the government. (Surprise, surprise: these are often the same.) I prefer, on the other hand, presidents like Jefferson and Harding, politicians who actually decreased the scope and budgets of the federal government while in office.

Recent presidents have talked about following suit, but have yet to accomplish anything like it. That’s why they aren’t great presidents, if you ask me.

So, in this spirit of cutting back, maybe I shouldn’t eat any of the chocolates I give. Maybe I should go on a diet.

Ahem, er, let’s not think about that; let’s wander back to the beginning, the beginning of all American political celebrations.

On July 2, 1776, America’s Second Continental Congress agreed upon the Lee Resolution, resolving that, in the words of the document, “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

John Adams, writing to his wife the next day, prophesied that July 2nd would become the most memorable in the history of our country, celebrated with parades, marching bands, speeches . . .

He was wrong. It was the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, on the 4th, that went down in history. Who remembers the Lee Resolution?

No biggie, I guess. Celebrating the Declaration makes sense. Call it a triumph of eloquence over legislation.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.