- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2014

The grill beckons most Americans on Friday, as does the potato salad and strawberry shortcake. But consider how Americans feasted on the Fourth of July in centuries past — like founding father John Adams, for instance.

“Adams and his wife, Abigail, on July 4, 1776, ate turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas, boiled new potatoes in the jacket and Indian pudding, which would have been made with corn meal, or apple pan dowdy, which is like an apple cobbler. Fourth of July foods have changed with the times,” says Jane Marshall, a Kansas State University culinary historian who declares it’s “un-American” not to celebrate the day with food.

“The first Independence Days were to celebrate our nation’s independence. In 1804, Merriweather Lewis and William Clark reportedly had the first Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi,” Ms. Marshall adds. “Even wagon trains heading west were known to stop for the day to celebrate, sometimes baking cakes while on the trail. Now it seems people use the day to show off their patriotism.”

And a footnote. A passage from a Lewis and Clark journal indicates that the explorers — passing through what would become Kansas — issued members of their party an “extra gill of whiskey,” fired off a swivel cannon and named a nearby river “Independence Creek” in celebration of the day.

“We camped in the plains, one of the most beautiful places I ever saw in my life,” one of the men wrote, according to University of Nebraska historical records.

AL GORE CAN ‘MESS WITH THE CLINTONS’ HEADS’

The list of possible Democratic presidential hopefuls grows by one as Independence Day weekend gets underway. Al Gore, now 66 and a Prius-driving millionaire vegan, has made declarations only about climate change of late. But he has also been added to the list of those who could impinge on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s somewhat sacred territory when the time comes for the Democratic Party to get its 2016 act together.

“I don’t know that Al Gore will run against her. But I do know that of all the other people who’ve talked about running against her, I don’t think anybody has his strengths. And I think Al Gore would like to be president. And I think that if he decided to do it, it would be a matchup worth running,” Mark Halperin, political analyst for Time magazine and MSNBC, said in an appearance on the network Thursday.

“I think he’s got a better chance of beating her in a primary, today, than any Republican does in the general election,” Mr. Halperin continued. “There is a vacuum. Gore is more of a populist than she is. He is more liberal than she is on a lot of issues important to the party.”

And for good measure, Mr. Halperin also tweeted this about Mr. Gore: “He knows how to mess with the Clintons’ heads & he understands the media. Plus, he’s unbound, unplugged & won the national popular vote.”

Uh-oh. Unbound and unplugged. Mr. Gore, who has never declared officially that he won’t run, now joins a growing roster of potential Democratic hopefuls that has come to include Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

AND THE LIBERTARIANS’ DECLARATION

“On Independence Day, the Libertarian Party calls on American voters to declare independence from the Republican and Democratic parties, declares Nicholas Sarwark, the newly elected chairman of the Libertarian Party.

“The Republicans and Democrats have maintained their power partly by fostering the illusion that they are significantly different from each other. Supporters are told that if the other team gets elected, the world will end. In reality, the Republicans and Democrats are so similar that it doesn’t matter which of them are in power,” he notes.

PATRIOTISM: IT’S COMPLICATED

A creeping sense that America’s essential values and stature are becoming muted on the global stage has produced some conflicted feelings. It’s complicated. And it gets even more so when President Obama advises Republicans to practice “economic patriotism” and pass his favorite policy initiatives. Yeah, well. The motto is catchy but confusing, given that most in the Grand Old Party are seeking to return to fiscal conservatism.

But moving right along, two Rasmussen Reports polls released Thursday reveal that 86 percent of Americans say they are proud to be, well, Americans. Hurray. But a sister survey found that 46 percent now agree that the nation offers “liberty and justice for all,” the closing line of the Pledge of Allegiance, while 45 percent disagree altogether with the statement.

Yes, it’s complicated.

“Political leaders do not define America. They are merely the guides who try to bring the nation closer to the true intent of the Founding Fathers,” notes a stern op-ed in the Concord Monitor, a New Hampshire newspaper.

In the meantime, we can dwell on one of those Founding Fathers to reflect, perhaps, a very stable aspect of the nation’s character. “Put none but Americans on guard tonight,” George Washington told his officers, this on April 30, 1777.

FOXIFIED

Some unapologetically patriotic TV coverage to consider as the barbecue is readied and the guests arrive Friday: live, special coverage on Fox News showcases how Americans are “honoring their country” on Independence Day.

On the schedule: Ohio’s “Americana Festival” during the morning hours, plus “Proud To Be an American” at high noon. The network notes that top daytime and prime-time hosts, anchors and correspondents will also share reflections on why they are proud to be American.

Megyn Kelly devotes an hour to Dinesh D’Souza’s political documentary “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” Fireworks of a different variety could be included. Ms. Kelly will discuss and debate patriotic values with Mr. D’Souza and former member of the Weather Underground Bill Ayers.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: the town of Garryowen, Mont., “where the Battle of Little Big Horn began, and the only town within Custer Battlefield boundaries.” Property consists of 18,300-square-foot real estate complex with 600 front feet on interstate highway. Includes tomb of an unknown soldier, town hall, museum, convenience store, post office, gas station, penthouse suite overlooking battlefield. Total area on 7.6 acres includes stockade fence, guest suites, office space. Price: $7.4 million through Naibusinessproperties.com.

POLL DU JOUR

72 percent of U.S. voters say it’s likely that Islamic militants will attempt a terrorist attack on the U.S. if they take over Iraq; 85 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independents agree.

63 percent of voters overall oppose sending ground troops to Iraq; 56 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents agree.

61 percent overall say going to war with Iraq in 2003 was the “wrong thing” to do; 37 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents agree.

58 percent say President Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq was the “right thing” to do; 30 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents agree.

51 percent overall say the U.S. should not work with Iran to help Iraq; 58 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,446 registered U.S. voters conducted June 24-30 and released Thursday.

Happy Fourth of July, and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.