During an election year, it is only fair to speculate how George Washington would do if his presidential campaign were being managed by some of the people involved with today's campaigns.
"George, you're a very popular figure, but the fact you won the war for us doesn't necessarily mean you'll be elected as the first president of the United States. We're going to have to work on your image."
"What do you suggest?"
"Well, for a starter, you're going to have to get rid of those wooden teeth.
We're going to have to get you some ivory ones that shine, so when you smile everyone can see them."
"I have no intention of smiling. I hate to smile. Have you ever seen one painting of me smiling?
"All right, forget the teeth. We need a slogan that will catch the imagination of the 13 states."
"How about 'Vote for a man who has never been to Washington'?"
"You are Washington, George."
"I meant Washington, D.C."
"There is no Washington, D.C. It won't be named that until after you die. If you're elected, you're going to have to live in New York and Philadelphia."
"Well, I'm not sure I want to be president if I can't live in Washington, D.C."
"It doesn't make any difference where you live. The important thing is to get elected as the first president of the United States."
"I'm not certain I want to be the first president of the United States."
"But don't you see that if you are, you will go down in history as the 'Father of Our Country'? If you don't go for it, John Adams will. We have to launch a 'Stop Adams' campaign and you're the only one who can do it."
"He's not a bad fellow."
"George, would you want the capital of the United States to be called Adams, D.C.?"
"No, I guess not. What do you want me to do?"
"First, we have to show that you're completely honest. The question is how do we do it?"
"What if I say that if I am elected I will never lie to the American people?"
"That's good, but how do we dramatize it?"
"Well, I never told anyone this story. But when I was a kid, we had this cherry tree on our plantation, and I went out with an ax and chopped it down. It was my father's favorite tree, and he was really mad so he said, 'George, do you know who chopped down my cherry tree?' I still had the ax in my hand so I figured I'd better tell the truth and said, 'I did it, Father,' and he whacked the living daylights out of me just for one lousy cherry tree."
"That's beautiful. We'll put out a press release on that story right away.
The papers will eat it up. Anything else you can tell us that will help the campaign?"
"I once threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River."
"You'd better not talk about that. It might give the taxpayers the impression you're willing to throw away their money."
"Wait a minute. Let's not reject that out of hand. Suppose we say George threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock and then swam over to retrieve it. It would show he really cared for a buck."
"But, gentlemen, that would be a lie."
"Look, George, every president of the United States is going to have to lie to the people sooner or later. If you set a precedent of absolutely no lying, no one will ever be able to govern the country."
"I hadn't thought of that. Okay, you can say I swam over and got it back."
"Great, we'll leak it to the papers. Now what about detente with the Indians?"
"What about it?"
"We'll say you're for better relationships with the Indians but detente is a two-way street. If they want to buy grain from us, they're going to have to give us Ohio."
"Why do we need Ohio?"
"We need Ohio just in case John Adams wins the primary in Pennsylvania."