The 23rd president of the United States was born 180 years ago this month. Can you name the 23rd president of the United States? I’ll give you a hint. He was the grandson of the 9th president of the United States.
I’m referring, of course, to Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison.
A one-term president, Harrison propelled federal spending to one billion dollars annually for the first time in the United States. But he was also a strong proponent of Black civil rights and frequently spoke about the necessity of ensuring an open and free vote. Unfortunately for Harrison, he was defeated in his election bid. Aside from detailed U.S. history textbooks, he doesn’t get much mention in the curriculum anymore. You might say it was his destiny, being born in August and all that.
That’s because August is where, fortunately for some, unfortunately for others, political news stories go to die. Congress is in recess, Americans are sunburned from their summer vacations while the attention of many families is turning toward the school year. It’s still hot and fall is another month away, but it no longer really feels like summer, either.
So, in honor of the weird vacuum that is August politics, here is a collection of news stories both locally and across America that although they might be interesting August new stories, will surely be found to not stand the test of time.
First, Mitch Vilos, attorney for now-infamous gun lobbyist Clark Aposhian, must be feeling a little left out of the limelight. Though the two are often seen side-by-side in the pro-deadly weapons debate, Aposhian clearly has the upperhand. Perhaps not for long, though, as Vilos was reported to have fired his gun during a 2nd Amendment rally over the weekend in Vernal. Vilos was attempting to underscore the drama of his arguments by firing his gun into the air. Clint Eastwood would be so proud.
Second, Salt Lake County Republican Chair Chad Bennion made the news rounds last week for his racist comments about Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. Bennion claimed (three consecutive times!) that Gill’s Indian heritage prevents him from being able to do the job of Salt Lake County’s top prosecutor. This is actually serious news, but it’s obscure occurrence in the month of August means that even though a Utah Policy poll showed that a majority of influential Republicans favor an apology by Bennion, if he can hold on for just one more week Bennion will likely avoid any consequences.
Third, in demonstrating the Nietzschean principle of the Eternal Return, Texas Tea Partier Ted Cruz found out this week he has dual citizenship–with Canada. Born in Calgary to a mother with U.S. citizenship, Cruz was granted automatic U.S. citizenship at birth. But, by virtue of being born in Canada, he also has automatic Canadian citizenship. If you’ll remember, the Tea Party was particularly anxious about Barack Obama’s citizenship. Will they turn on their own?
Lastly, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle and children Sasha and Malia went on a bike ride last week. That’s according to the White House Press Corp who are spending the waning months of August following the President around on his August vacation. It’s a hard month to be a political reporter. Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria is rising, Egypt shows no signs of easing, and the western United States is on fire. Rest assured, however, that all four Obamas were wearing helmets.
But that’s the nature of August. The well-worn Las Vegas motto applies equally to this month: what happens in August, stays in August. If John Swallow is listening, he might consider this month a good one to resign. We’ll have forgotten all about his scandal by the time the next election rolls around.
This is Maryann Martindale with this week’s edition of the Better UTAH Beat.
Have a great week, and remember, together, we can make a better Utah.
For more information, visit betterutah.org.