Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Interesting times ...

Contrary to folk wisdom, "may you live in interesting times" is not a Chinese curse, even though Robert F. Kennedy and others have declared it to be such. In fact, no one knows precisely where that line came from. But it occurs to me now and then that "interesting times" have been the story of my life.

I recall, for example, exactly where I was on the morning of Aug. 9, 1974, when disgraced former president Richard Nixon boarded a helicopter on the lawn of the White House, first leg of his journey into political exile.

Driving east on the blacktop that parallels the north shore of Lake Rathbun, listening to the car radio, headed for Centerville to photocopy the probate file of Creed M. Bozwell, brother of Peachy Gilmer Boswell, of Corydon, who was my great-great-grandfather.

Uncle Creed, who never married, died on July 17, 1880, while confined to what was known at the time as the Iowa Lunatic Asylum in Mount Pleasant. Most likely suffering from what we would call Alzheimer's today, he had failed to make a will before becoming incapacitated. As a result, it was necessary in order to settle his estate to track down every living sibling or descendant of deceased siblings, by this time scattered from West Virginia to Kansas. The resulting file was the key to unlocking secrets of a huge family that could not even agree on how to spell its name --- Bozwell in Appanoose County, Boswell in Wayne.

For a family historian, this find was as memorable as the ignominious fall of a disgraced and corrupt president.


President Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey --- the gentleman leading an investigation into links between his election campaign and Russia, links that at the outset seemed almost too surreal to be taken too seriously. But now ...

Dan Rather, also a relic of the 1970s, wrote: "Future generations may mark today as one of the truly dark days in American history, a history that may soon take an even more ominous turn.

"President Trump's sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey is a matter that should deeply concern every American, regardless of party, partisan politics or ideological leanings.

"The independence of our law enforcement is at the bedrock of our democracy. That independance, already grievously shaken under the brief tenure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is now shattered by uncertainty."

Those of us who remember the Nixon debacle also remember that he attempted to control the firestorm that eventually consumed him by firing those investigating what became known as "Watergate."

We already know that President Trump is an amoral opportunist, a bully, incompetent at governance and stunningly ignorant. It's beginning to seem increasingly likely that he is hopelessly corrupt and, perhaps, a fool.

I'd like to think there will be a genealogical development as diverting as the Boswell breakthrough if and when this ludicrous caricature of a president comes crashing down.

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