February 22, 2013
For this I peacefully surrendered my authority after two terms, establishing a crucial precedent?
For this I peacefully surrendered my authority after two terms, establishing a crucial precedent?

Friday marked George Washington’s 281st birthday, and the founder of our country and gracer of our $1 bills would no doubt be a little taken aback by life these days. Here are just a few ways we are disappointing him.

1) In his farewell address he noted that “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

Oops. Sorry about the sequester, George!

2) We have so many teeth, and we are so ungrateful for them. By the time he became president, he only had one of his original teeth left!

3) This exists.

4) As a young man, George Washington toted around Rules of Civility to copy out for his own personal edification, because this was his idea of a good time. “Want to come out and chop down cherry trees?” his friends would ask. “Naw,” he would say, “I would prefer to stay indoors and write out some rules of civility in longhand. But if you decide to survey anything, give me a call!”

Needless to say, the rudeness common in our national discourse would probably startle the man who painstakingly lettered out: “Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”

5) Congress is less popular than Nickelback. George Washington would be disappointed both by our loss of faith in the legislature and the fact that Nickelback exists and people pay money to listen to it.

6) Beyonce lip-synched at Inauguration. We’re all disappointed.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.