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Monday, February 20, 2017

#47: The Mt. Rushmore Series

Following a three month break, seemed like Presidents Day was an appropriate time to return to this long-running series of mine. So, suppose a landslide destroyed Mt. Rushmore as it exists today. Which Presidents would you place on a new monument? For the purpose of this fantasy, no duplicates of the four who currently reside there are permitted. My nominations are ...

1.) John Adams: I freely admit David McCullough's biography of our second President had an outsize influence on this choice. That aside, if Adams had followed anyone but George Washington, I suspect history would have been much kinder to him. And first lady Abigail Adams - his most trusted political adviser - was a woman far ahead of her time.

2.) James Madison: Another early President whose legacy has suffered a bit partially because his fellow Virginians in that era were better grabbing the spotlight. If you have any doubt about Madison belonging on a new iteration of Mt. Rushmore, read "Founding Brothers" (2000) by Joseph Ellis. I think you might be persuaded.

3.) Franklin Roosevelt: What would have happened if FDR did not take charge in such a decisive fashion as we plunged into the Great Depression? He made lots of mistakes, not responding quickly enough to Hitler being the biggest. But, if the country had turned toward Lindbergh and the "America First" fringe, well ... Read Philip Roth's "A Plot Against America" (2004) and try not to shudder at what could have been.

Because I've purposefully avoided elevating any President who served after 1949 - the year of my birth - I can't come up with a fourth worthy of joining these guys up on my mountain. You can nominate someone from Harry Truman on, if you like. Because I've been around while #33-45 helped create history, my lens is foggy. But I'm interested in your perspective, foggy lens or not.

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