Thursday, January 31, 2008

Franklin the Cynic

Biographer Walter Isaacson, author of the highly acclaimed book Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, was recently interviewed by NBC's Katie Couric regarding the life of America's "most accessible Founding Father." In the interview, Isaccson was asked how Franklin might respond to many of the current events of our modern world. With regards to politics, Isaccson stated that Franklin would be quite cynical of the Bush Administration:

"Franklin would be disgusted with the Bush/Cheney Administration. I have no doubt that he would reveal his criticism for the way Bush has responded to terrorism by taking us to's not that Franklin disapproved of war, but I think he would be upset at the direction of U.S. foreign policy over the past 30 years. Nobody understood foreign policy better than Franklin."

In addition, Isaacson pointed out the fact that of all the Founding Fathers, Franklin would be the most comfortable in the 21st century. There is little doubt that Franklin would be a devout supporter of the internet (he'd probably have several blogs), not to mention the plethora of media outlets that exist. Not only would Franklin be the most comfortable Founding Father in the 21st century, but we'd be the most comfortable with him. As Isaccson states:

"you can't really imagine touching George Washington on the shoulder. In fact one guy at the Constitutional Convention did and he never quite recovered from it because Washington was so mean to him afterwards. But Franklin is one of those people who, you know, you can, you can imagine having a beer with him after work and showing him how a Palm Pilot or a Blackberry worked or show him a business plan. Or making jokes about, you know, Clinton scandals or Bush's foreign policy. And he, he's just very real."

One can only imagine the thoughts and feelings that Franklin would have regarding 21st century America. We can, however, rest assured that Benjamin Franklin would have plenty to say, of course employing his traditional witty Cynicism.


Steve Becknall said...

I think Franklin would love the technological advances, along with the mass media, but he would hate just about everything that had to do with government.

Brad Hart said...

I agree. Since 1945, America has adopted a new forign policy, new domestic policies, new executive powers and Privileges, and a new global objective. In short, we have bastardized a great deal of what our Founding Fathers stood for. It is a lot like when Rome ceased being a Republic and became an empire. Are we headed down the same road?

That is why I maintain my belief that Dwight D. Eisenhower was the last great president we ever had.