This is a rather amusing series from HNN. The author (there are three pieces, look at the bottom of the page for links to the other two) comments on modern issues as if he is interviewing George Washington. The current piece is on campaign finance:
I’m [GW] talking about the Supreme Court decision, declaring corporations and labor unions are entitled to the right to participate in elections under the First Amendment. This punches a huge hole in the sorry 150 year history of campaign finance laws.
George and Thomas Fleming (the author) go on to debate this topic further:
"Didn’t all this start out with an attempt to reserve high office for the rich?”
“It’s nice to chat with an historian. Yes, at the Constitutional Convention, there was a motion to restrict the presidency to men who had a net worth of at least $100,000. That’s the equivalent of about $5 million in your depreciated dollars. Senators, congressmen and federal judges would be required to have half that amount. Then something – or more specifically – someone wonderful intervened. Ben Franklin rose and said he opposed any measure that tended to debase the spirit of the common people. The proposal went down in a negative roar so loud, I didn’t even bother to count the votes.”
“Do you think the current campaign finance law –what’s left of it -- does that?”
“Unquestionably. It puts politicians and contributors in the hands of a squadron of bureaucrats whose decisions have left the law so complicated, only a Chinese philosopher from the age of Confucius could understand it. The thing is gobbledygook.”
The other two pieces are written in a similar style, on different topics. Just a fun way of combing modern issues with past issues.
I did rather enjoy the bit at the end of the first piece on Mrs. Washington's opinion about Thomas Jefferson and their split over the French Revolution:
"Every newspaper scribbler in the country started spitting on me after I declared America neutral. I had turned my back on the wonderful French Revolution! Secretary of State Tom Jefferson was at sixes and sevens all day every day. He came to see me one afternoon and talked for a full hour. When he finally ran out of breath, I told him: ‘Mr. Jefferson, I don’t agree with a single word you’ve said.’ He resigned a few months later and wrote that vicious letter to one of his newspaper pals, calling me a Samson in the field who’d allowed himself to be shorn by the harlot, England. I never spoke to him again. If I did, Mrs. Washington would have changed the locks on the doors at Mount Vernon and told me to take up residence in the outhouse.”
“Mrs. Washington had political opinions?”
“Of course. But the smart First Ladies confine them to the bedroom. Bess Truman was a champion in that department.”
UPDATE (2/8/10): One more of these articles came out on HNN today.