Sunday, February 22, 2009

Celebrating Washington

Since today is George Washington's real birthday -- not the hateful "Presidents Day" -- a few observations on our first president. Harvey Wasserman did a provocative piece recently, wondering if he was a gay pot smoker. Probably to the second, unknowable to the first. Like most of the founding fathers who had land he grew hemp, which was and is one of the most versatile and useful plants known to humankind, useful as fiber and much more (the gruel most peasants ate in times past was probably hemp). But did he smoke the flowers? Here's Wasserman's observation:

"But in one of his meticulous agricultural journals, dated 1765, Washington regrets being late to separate his male hemp plants from his females. For a master farmer like George, there would be little reason to do this except to make the females ripe for smoking."

I would still place Washington way ahead of Lincoln in a "best presidents" poll (actually I would place Lincoln the centralizer and advocate of enhanced central power among the worst) for the simple reason that he declined to run for a third term, establishing a precedent that lasted until FDR, and saw his office as a modest one, establishing yet another valuable precedent that no president would think of emulating today. And if he smoked pot, all the better.

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