The Bully Pulpit, part two

“The Bully Pulpit,”

The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt,

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Writing this a few days after the 2016 election of a man who lacks even a trace of so many of the attributes of any president in my lifetime, I’m searching for anything that will give me some hope. As so often has been the case, returning to a history book read a year or two ago has provided a bit of rescue.

A little over a hundred years ago Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, was thrust into the presidency of a country in crisis. Elected to his own term after completing the term of the assassinated William McKinley, Roosevelt confronted a widening gap between the rich and the poor a struggling middle class, and a country dealing with scores of other serious problems stemming from the Industrial Revolution.

“Yet by the end of Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House, a mood of reform had swept the country, creating a new kind of presidency and a new vision of the relationship between the government and the people. A series of anti-trust suits had been won and legislation passed to regulate railroads, strengthen labor rights, curb political corruption, end corporate campaign contributions, impose limits on the working day, protect consumers from unsafe food and drugs, and conserve vast swaths of natural resources for the American people.”

An impressive list of achievements that helped America continue to be great. Those who supported those achievements were then called “Progressives.”

We will be vigilant and active while watching to see whether governance during the next four years will transcend the regrettable, bizarre and often insulting campaign tactics of the last eighteen months.

Will the changes be progressive or will they take us backward?


Teaching the Statute of Frauds

The title of this short story is a bit misleading; can’t make it more accurate without giving away the ending…..

A young mother came to me before class to ask whether it would be OK if her 8 year-old daughter sat with her. “My sitter called at the last minute. She couldn’t make it. Amy, say hello to Mr. Bohlin.”

I’m a world class sucker for kids, especially kids whose parents have clearly taught them well.

I told Amy and her mom I was a dad and a grandfather and it would be fine for them both to be in class for the evening.

I was teaching aspiring real estate sales persons what they needed to know to pass the North Carolina broker exam. During the first hour I spent a fair amount of time on a law called the Statute of Frauds, which requires certain documents to be in writing. Can’t say exactly, but I probably said Statute of Frauds a dozen times or so.

At break time I was making my way out of the classroom to get a soft drink. Before I reached the door Amy presented me with a drawing. Clearly a talented young artist, she gave me a drawing of a man – looked like a soldier – sitting on a horse. On the ground around the base of the pedestal on which the man and the horse were perched there were several smaller drawings I didn’t recognize right away, until I read the sign on the front of the pedestal, which read: “Statue with Frogs.”

Amy’s version of the topic was much more amusing. And interesting.