From Townhall article: "The Prince of Darkness as a Beacon of Dissent"
"Recently, a student asked Novak which politicians he admires. Novak paused, and thought—for a while. “Not very many at all,” he finally responded. Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn has topped Novak’s list for the past two decades, and Novak actually penned a forward to Coburn’s 2003 book, “Breach of Trust.” But one day, walking down Pennsylvania Avenue back to our office, Novak told me about his model politician, William Purdy.
Exactly. A politician who has no problem with doing very little. We do not need government doing anything but protecting our rights, securing our borders, and leaving well enough along to the states and the people.
When Novak met Purdy in 1957 in Omaha, Neb., the cub AP reporter had little regard for the retired farmer. Novak wrote a profile of the freshman in the unicameral Nebraska Legislature, and it was not a flattering picture. Purdy, after giving up farming, ran on a few promises: He would serve only one term, he would give no floor speeches, he would propose no legislation and he would vote against every item that would increase taxes or government spending. Novak’s AP profile of Purdy was “as snide and dismissive as AP style would allow,” Novak wrote in his 2007 memoirs, “The Prince of Darkness.”
We need more lazy legislators like Mr. Purdy, stalwarts who will not extend the power of government beyond necessary duties. Citizen-legislators in the mold of Cincinnatus and his indirect protégé George Washington. Farmers of great renown, they stepped away from their prized calling to serve their nation for a set period of time as men of little renown, then returned to their homes and took up their first occupation.
Why was Novak so down on Purdy? It was symptomatic of a typical malady among legislative journalists—a malady Novak would, over the years, shake off entirely.
More commentators seem to jump on the Big Government bandwagon. Indeed, more people are asking what their country can do for them, including creating jobs and fixing the economy and improving the lot of those who do not have as much.
"This emphasis on “accomplishments” is a systemic bias among legislative or presidential correspondents."
This bias is rampant in history books, political discussions, newspaper articles, and any other correspondence which touches on policy in this country. History tends to record bi government accomplishments, those events that move and shake people, places, and things. Wars, epidemics, scandals, all fall neatly into "he said-she said" good-and-evil rhetoric which makes for great bedtime reading but terrible political leadership.
The first five presidents of this Republic prided themselves on doing as little as possible. Congress initiated legislation, which they signed or vetoes--if they deemed the legislation unconstitutional. That's right: executives did not defer to the weak and marginal judiciary exclusively to make those decisions.
It was not until after the Civil War that the Federal Government took on a prominent role above the compact of states.
"Novak shared with me the same disposition towards presidents. Most of the media judge presidents by some standard of “greatness” that amounts to: “How much did the man change the country?” Novak has a different standard, which involves living up to the oath of office and not messing up the country, which is why Calvin Coolidge is his favorite president."
God bless you, Robert Novak. Would that we had more journalists and political analysts of your stripe in this country. We need more citizen-leaders at the local level, not Napoleonic megalomaniacs in Washington who entitle themselves to divvy out power and prestige at will.
"The business of the American people is business", so said President Coolidge, a welcome admission of how inconsequential the American Government can and should be.
"One “great” president whom Novak dislikes immensely is Teddy Roosevelt. “If you go into a Republican congressman’s office,” he told me once, “you’ll probably see one of two portraits hanging on his wall: Thomas Jefferson or Teddy Roosevelt.” One problem with the Republicans, Novak argued, was the pro-TR leanings.
Roosevelt believed in using his White House perch to intervene both in the U.S. economy and abroad. Teddy Roosevelt believed in himself and was willing to wield whatever power he could get his hands on."
I could not agree more. TR was a terrible President who did great things. His Progressivism fit neatly within Woodrow Wilson's fascist liberalism, undermining the Constitution in the name of instituting what effete elites believed would be in their best interests in the better interests of the rest of the nation.
John McCain adores TR. It makes one imagine: would there have been much difference between a McCain presidency compared with the current despicable administration?
Our current President, an academic with a penchant for pedantry, has as little regard for the constitutional limitations of his office, as much as the unconscious ignorance of the electorate. Voters cycle after cycle clamor for a President who will instigate change and rain down prosperity on the masses. Yet the government that does the least improves the chances of the individual being able to do the most for himself.
Government as Non-government, the ideal when pushed to pragmatic limits. Every man shifting for himself can accomplish more for his family and his community than distant politicians who care only for fame and reelection.
William Purdy, where are you? Come away from your house and work ( or do not work) in the state house.
Mr. Novak, thank you again for highlighting for us what a true legislator can do, and should be.