- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Our father

The last time we wrote about George Washington (aka James Renwick Manship, who keeps busy impersonating the “father of our country” at patriotic rallies across America), was after the New Hampshire legislature voted to rename a mountain after President Reagan.

A master of American history, Mr. Manship considers Mr. Reagan “the most important man in the world in the past century” — but that’s where he draws the line.

“The highest peak in the presidential range is ‘Mount Washington’ for President George Washington, the most important man in the world in the last millennium,” he says. “Because he was the first military leader in over 2,000 years — since before Jesus Christ, since Cato and Cincinnatus in the Roman Republic — to peacefully give up military power and thereby gave birth to our American Republic, thus becoming the father of his country.”

Mr. Reagan, himself, declared in 1982, “The most sublime picture in American history is of George Washington on his knees” in the snow at Valley Forge.

Anyway, back to Mr. Manship, who travels coast to coast wearing Washington’s garb, including at one event for Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican, where the audience rose to their feet to welcome him — “only to be a bit surprised,” he admits.

“I gave one of my lines,” he explains. “We have a constitutional duty to do as Article Four, Section Four says: ‘The United States shall guarantee to every State of this Union a Republican Form of Government.’

“And can you imagine that some folks said to me, ‘That is not what that means.’

“To which I reply, ‘As the president of the Constitutional Convention, I may be a better judge as to what we meant in this Constitution.’ ”

Surely, senior Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat and the leading constitutional authority in Congress, would argue against such an interpretation. Nevertheless, Mr. Manship repeated his summary of “this Constitution” at Michigan State University Law School’s recent Constitution Day celebration Sept. 19, ironically held in conjunction with Mr. Byrd’s legislation promoting education of the Constitution.

Imagine, meanwhile, the liberal eyes rolling in Charlottesville, Va., at the annual Jeffersonian Thanksgiving Festival, where one year, Mr. Manship led a program on the Constitution in the main courtroom of “Mr. Jefferson’s Courthouse.” (It wasn’t surprising the very next year, when festival organizers had the father of our country sitting “on the floor with toddlers reading to them.”)

At the festival earlier this month, Mr. Manship ran into his friends Thomas Jefferson (Steve McDowell), James Monroe (Dennis Bigelow), and James Madison (John David Hall).

“I learned that many of the U.S. circuit courts employ James Madison to speak with them on the ‘History of Jurisprudence in America,’ and … that even some Supreme Court justices seek out his wisdom on the history of jurisprudence and this Constitution,” he says. “I find that to be a very encouraging bit of information, that judges and justices are indeed trying to learn ‘original intent’ from one or some of the Founding Fathers.”

For others in his audience, especially children, history never changes: They all ask about his wooden teeth.

“Well no, I did not have wooden teeth, I had wood in teeth,” Mr. Manship tells them. “Let me explain. I had tiny dowels of wood, the size of toothpicks, to connect my teeth carved from cow teeth with the metal frame to hold them in place.”

Bustling Arkansas

Even in retirement, former President Bill Clinton is a boon to Little Rock, Ark.

Visitors to the new Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock are finding its archival and museum holdings to be the largest in the nation’s presidential library system — 76.8 million pages, 1.85 million photographs and more than 75,000 artifacts.

An intriguing enough collection — and presidency — that in the space of only four months, the Clinton Museum Store reported sales of $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, while welcoming a record number of tourists to the state capital, the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce is touting the rankings of Moody’s Investment Service, which has named Little Rock the second most diverse economy in America — the city scoring a 95.1 out of a possible 100, second only to Chicago.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, by the way, will be featured speaker at the chamber’s 139th annual meeting on Dec. 7.

Deck the gals

“Merry Christmas!” she said, and then smiled,

Leaving less seasoned shoppers beguiled.

“Now get out of my way

‘Cause I don’t have all day

And I must have that toy for my child!”

—F.R. Duplantier

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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