Britain's Queen Elizabeth is wrapping up her visit to the United States after official appearances at historic sites, state dinners, entertainment and of course a day at the races.
It is always a treat when the Queen comes to visit the US, bringing with her as she does a touch of the best of the old aristocracy, that being the refinement, the manners, and gentility. I'm well aware that the aristocracies owed their existence to the labors of the lower classes, which is why that form of government has pretty much fallen by the wayside across the globe, yet there still were some aspects of the lifestyle worth saving.
The Queen's visit has given Americans a welcome respite from the non-stop political back-biting, back-stabbing, chicanery and duplicity in Washington - and that is just what the Congress is doing to American citizens. When you add in what they are doing to each other down there it amounts to outright mayhem.
The official reason for the Queen's visit was to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first successful English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and she also used the opportunity to visit with friends, see the sights and hang out with George Bush.
It's interesting about Jamestown. When I was in grade school and heard only about Pocahontas and John Smith, I wondered why the native tribes that first encountered the English didn't just mass for one major attack and push them off the beach.
As it turns out, they did try, repeatedly. In fact, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine had a great article this month on the early years of Jamestown, reporting that fighting between the native tribes, just those in the immediate vicinity of the colony, and the English soldiers went on for nearly a decade. That was after 20 years of intermittent fighting between English explorers and native tribes. There were many times when the future of the colony was in doubt, and English forces on occasion suffered 100 percent fatalities.
In November 1609 a force led by Capt. John Ratcliffe was ambushed, suffered 66 percent fatalities, with Ratcliffe captured and skinned alive with mussel shells! Things would have been much worse for the settlers if John Smith hadn't been an accomplished military man and formed more effective militia groups. (Did you know that Smith fought the Muslims in Hungary before coming to America, killing and beheading three Turkish commanders in hand-to-hand combat? Effective then, but it would get him a one-way ticket to prison today.)
The fighting in Jamestown colony ended in 1614 when Pocahontas married John Rolfe (not Smith, Rolfe). But up to that point the natives had killed nearly 25 percent of all the settlers who landed in Jamestown beginning in 1607.
It occurred to me that if the natives had been more politically astute they would have gotten on a ship, sailed to London, and impressed on the English Parliament that they couldn't win in America, and it would be best if they cut funding for the colony, and pulled the troops back to Bermuda.
But they didn't, the English were both stoic and persistent, and ultimately the colony succeeded. That was the foundation for a four-hundred year relationship between England and what eventually became the United States, one that overall has been beneficial, despite a few historic moments of unpleasantness.
In addition to marking Jamestown's anniversary Queen Elizabeth attended the Kentucky Derby, where she saw Street Sense, which regular readers of this column will immediately see as an omen, come from way back to win.
And she actually got President George Bush to put on a white tie, and mind his manners at a state dinner in her honor at the White House. It has become a requirement for the mainstream media to make it appear that our president has no social graces, conveniently forgetting that he was born and raised in an environment where white tie dinners are more or less common. It isn't that he can't function with aplomb in that atmosphere, he just doesn't like it. (Most American males agree with him on this point.)
While at the White House, the Queen may have noticed that it is still in good shape after what happened to it in that last moment of unpleasantness, known on this side of the Atlantic as the War of 1812.
Since then, however, there has been plenty of good will between the US and Britain and to this day, most recently through the efforts of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, we have one solid and dependable ally in the War on Terror.
Prime Minister Blair will be stepping down this month, and while I am sure the British will have plenty of qualified people to vie for replacing him, I think Blair's tenure will be seen by history as one that equates quite well with the Churchill era.
I have written here before that we make it a point in the Winter household to watch the Prime Minister's Questions on CSPAN, a regular meeting, or perhaps time of direct confrontation, between Blair and the Parliament. If you ever want to see a Master of the Art of debate, go online and call up the videos of those encounters.
Regardless of whether you agree with his politics, Tony Blair can be counted on for lively debate, knowledge of the issues, a rapier-like wit, and the ultimate in British good manners, even in the midst of a knock-down parliamentary floor fight. He is a terrific ambassador of goodwill for Great Britain and his presence on the world political stage will be sorely missed.
Which brings me to Harry Reid, Democratic Senator from Nevada and majority leader of the Senate Democrats. In the midst of all the pomp and circumstance, in the midst of good manners, George Bush in a white tie, Laura Bush absolutely resplendent both in dress and demeanor, hosting the Queen of England at the ultimate formal dinner, Harry Reid snubs the Queen! He claims he had something better to do than attend a state dinner with the Queen of England!
What a total horse's ass. What a boor. What a despicable, low, crass example of the absolute worst of guttersnipe behavior. For what? Political points?
Note to Comrade Harry and your fellow communists: The aristocracies are gone. They are merely symbolic, and in the case of Queen Elizabeth the citizens of Great Britain have said repeatedly that they want that symbol to continue. It is none of your business!
The aristocracies as a form of government, the excesses they created, and the power they wielded, which formed the basis of the communist philosophy you adhere to, are gone, as is the reason for your existence. Get a grip. The aristocracies are no longer relevant.
What is relevant is the role the senior American senator plays in international relations and to snub the head of state of one of our most solid and longstanding allies is reprehensible.
Once again, leaders of the Democratic majority in Congress have demonstrated that while they constantly criticize what everyone else is doing, when given the chance to actually show their stuff, they fall flat on their faces. Exactly what is a deliberate snub to the Queen of England supposed to demonstrate? Knowledge of international relations? Where, oh where, is John Kerry when we need him?
Harry Reid and his allies, Nancy Pelosi, Carl Levin, John Murtha, John Kerry, Jane Fonda, Cindy Sheehan, etc. etc. etc., have once again shown that all they really have to offer is mouth, with no substance behind the white noise they generate.
The Queen is heading back to England and Tony Blair will be wrapping up his affairs and going off to a somewhat more private life. I seriously doubt that Reid was missed at dinner, or that the Queen was more than slightly aware of or concerned by his incredible gaffe.
But Americans should be! The Democrats have claimed for years that America is looked upon with disfavor internationally, all because of George Bush. But Harry Reid has shown that the real boors in the American government are not in the executive branch, they are on the Democratic side of the aisle in Congress.
Maybe Reid can take some time during the summer recess to enroll in a finishing school and learn some basic manners.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007