Wednesday, September 23, 2009

H.R. Blockhead

The flinty-eyed Hawkeye pictured above, Harold Royce "H.R." Gross, served the citizens of Iowa for thirteen terms in the House of Representatives, earning a reputation for ignoring the greater good while watching every nickel spent in D.C. Among the projects he voted against: the Peace Corps, the Marshall Plan (for rebuilding Europe following World War II), the US space program, foreign aid, and the White House security detail.

(Sidelight: before going to Congress, he was a newscaster on WHO Radio in Des Moines, where he worked with another announcer named Ronald W. Reagan, who later appeared in movies. True!)

The point of all this, please? Take you back to November 1963, and the resultant emotional trauma suffered by the nation following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the beloved president. His widow made a simple request that the president, who was also a World War II hero - the war in which Reagan served the nation by making recruiting films from the safety of Hollywood - be remembered by the placement of a simple eternal natural gas flame by his grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

What sort of person, what miser would oppose this? What kind of
cheapskate, piker, scrooge, skinflint, tightwad gozzlehead would vote "NAY" on the request, demanding to know the price of the gas to fuel the flame? Well, don't you know, it was our boy H.R. Truly a standout moment in a non-lustrous career.

Except for what happened next. First, on the floor of the House, there was considerable opprobrium directed Gross's way. And the following summer at the Republican National Convention, a move was afoot to take away his credentials to serve as a delegate and replace him with a housewife, the vote ending in a tie.

But in those days, an outrage against an honorable president engendered an appropriate bilateral response. Wish it could be the same today. I was going to post a representation of the signs being toted around currently, but they tend to make me want to vomit. Someone care to explain how and when it became all right to advocate killing the president? I mean, without the "oh, that's only 1/10th of 1% of the protesters" qualifying explanation. I say, if you have one such person on your side, better stop and figure out where such invective is being brewed, before continuing on a lawful and decent protest.

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