Thursday, January 18, 2007

Personal Asides: It’s Gidwitz and Walls on Sunday’s Shootout…The Continuing Mystery about Obama’s Original Religious Orientation…the 100 Most Important Americans.

Ron Gidwitz 3
Gidwitz and Walls on Shootout.

Ron Gidwitz, a former Republican candidate for governor, entrepreneur and longtime civic leader, will appear on “Political Shootout” Sunday along with Bill “Dock” Walls, III, a candidate for mayor of Chicago. Believe me the first question I’m going to ask is about the “Dock” name—how did he get it and why is it so important now that he uses it?

This is the first time Wells, 48, will be on the show. As you know, Wells is the second of two major candidates to oppose Mayor Daley, the other being Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Circuit Court. He is the third of seven children, attended Chicago public schools--Horace Mann elementary and Chicago Vocational who played on its championship football team. He graduated from Tuskegee University with honors in 1980 and received his law degree from IIT-Chicago Kent in 1986. He ran twice unsuccessfully for the post of city clerk.

He was deeply involved in Harold Washington’s mayoral campaigns, organizing the Lawyers’ Committee. He was an assistant scheduler and later was personal assistant to the candidate. From 1983 to 1986 he served as Confidential Assistant to the Mayor. He recently co-managed Joyce Washington’s campaign for lieutenant governor and served as national political director to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH. In filing for mayor, he submitted nearly 40,000 signatures on nominating petitions. He was an Illinois primary speaking surrogate for Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and is currently director of the Committee for a Better Chicago an IRS 527 organization. He is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, is married to Pamela, is father of three adult children and grandfather of four.

The Mystery.

The media are playing everything about the forthcoming presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama than his religious orientation—evidently hoping to dissuade others from commenting on it under the spurious reason that somehow to do so is either unfair, racist or intrusive of personal privacy. But such has not been the case with other candidates, from the Catholic Al Smith, the Catholic John Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, an observant Jew and both George and Mitt Romney, Mormons. Also it is remarkable that in a multi-paged exposition of all the candidate’s virtues, with photos of him posing with his paternal grandparents, there was not a single photo of him with his mother who happens to be white. Why is that? Why was his first book about his black father who skipped away from the family with few references to his white mother? Are we at the point of political correctness in this country that it is improper even to mention, much less ask? It appears we are because the ultra-patronizing Chicago media is handling this matter very, very gingerly. Why?

The scarcity of such information has led others to try to supply the missing facts. Such as: Ann Dunham, his Wichita, Kansas-born mother married Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. who was from Nyuangoma-Kogel, Kenya when the two met at college at the University of Hawaii. Dunham is reported to be an atheist: okay, fine—but why is it so difficult to get details on his mother? Eisenhower’s mother was a Jehovah’s Witness: so? Big deal. Reagan’s mother was an evangelical so turned off by his Catholic father’s drunkenness that while she allowed Neil to be baptized Catholic, she withheld permission for Ronald to be (which is what Reagan himself told me in 1979). So? It isn’t a big deal after we know it. But why don’t we know about Obama’s religious history? All of this should be grist for the public mill if indeed we have a super-star presidential aspirant here.

Why no photo here of Ann Dunham? If she exists, why is there no mention of her? When Obama was two, his parents reportedly returned to Kenya. They divorced and then his mother married a Muslim from Indonesia, Lolo Soetoro, supposedly a radical Muslim. Obama attended a Muslim school and then spent two years in a Catholic school. Was he ever a Catholic? Who knows? Reportedly, his stepfather introduced young Obama to the Muslim religion and saw that he was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. The same questions remain—with increased interest now that the media are so protective: Was Obama ever a Muslim? Since he is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, how long has he been a Christian and when did he leave the Muslim faith if in fact he ever belonged to it? If he never belonged, say it. If he belonged, say it. What does the Koran say about leaving the faith? Isn’t it true that it says a former protagonist would be better off dead as Islam expert Robert Spencer has written? Or is that not the truth? Why the silence?

Doesn’t David Axelrod know the answer to these questions? Or does he know the answer and the media with its typical `60s-style reenactment of civil rights sanctimony that attaches to this black candidacy refuse to ask him? Why is the media so powerfully interested in Romney’s Mormon faith and forgets…just slips their mind…to ask about Obama’s religious orientation? Why do the media cover Sam Brownback’s conversion from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism and yet skims over this story?

The 100 Most Important Americans.

First, thanks to Terry Przbilski for submitting the brain-teaser the other day listing a number of presidents’ full names and asking what they have in common. As a number of you responded, their middle names were their mothers’ maiden names. Now Terry has another one which isn’t a teaser but requires a good dose of study and cogitation. “Atlantic” magazine employed 10 historians to rank the 100 Most Important Americans. I’m submitting them here and asking you to delete and substitute—not changing the 100 tally. For starters, I would say that No. 1 should be George Washington without whom there would be no country; after him, I’m willing to put Abraham Lincoln second. A number of them don’t belong in my mind and there are a good number who aren’t there. Take a look at them and give me your recommendations.

The Atlantic Magazine List.

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt
5. Alexander Hamilton
6. Benjamin Franklin
7. John Marshall
8. Martin Luther King, Jr.
9. Thomas A. Edison
10. Woodrow Wilson
11. John D. Rockefeller
12. Ulysses S. Grant
13. James Madison
14. Henry Ford.
15. Theodore Roosevelt
16. Mark Twain
17. Ronald Reagan
18. Andrew Jackson
19. Thomas Paine
20. Andrew Carnegie
21. Harry S Truman
22. Walt Whitman
23. Wright Brothers
24. Alexander Graham Bell
25. John Adams
26. Walt Disney
27. Eli Whitney
28. Dwight Eisenhower
29. Earl Warren
30. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
31. Henry Clay
32. Albert Einstein
33. Ralph Waldo Emerson
34. Jonas Salk
35. Jackie Robinson
36. William Jennings Bryan
37. J. P. Morgan
38. Susan B. Anthony
39. Rachel Carson
40. John Dewey
41. Harriet Beecher Stowe
42. Eleanor Roosevelt
43. W. E. B. DuBois
44. Lyndon B. Johnson
45. Samuel F. B. Morse
46. William Lloyd Garrison
47. Frederick Douglass
48. Robert Oppenheimer
49. Frederick Law Olmsted
50. James K. Polk
51. Margaret Sanger
52. Joseph Smith
53. Oliver Wendell Holmes
54. Bill Gates
55. John Quincy Adams
56. Horace Mann
57. Robert E. Lee
58. John C. Calhoun
59. Louis Sullivan
60. William Faulkner
61. Samuel Gompers
62. William James
63. George Marshall
64. Jane Addams
65. Henry David Thoreau
66. Elvis Presley
67. P. T. Barnum
68. James D. Watson
69. James Gordon Bennett
70. Lewis and Clark’
71. Noah Webster
72. Sam Walton
73. Cyrus McCormick
74. Brigham Young
75. Babe Ruth
76. Frank Lloyd Wright
77. Betty Friedan
78. John Brown
79. Louis Armstrong
80. William Randolph Hearst
81. Margaret Mead
82. George Gallup
83. James Fennimore Cooper
84. Thurgood Marshall’
85. Ernest Hemingway
86. Mary Baker Eddy
87. Benjamin Spock
88. Enrico Fermi
89. Walter Lippmann
90. Jonathan Edwards
91. Lyman Beecher
92. John Steinbeck
93. Nat Turner
94. George Eastman
95. Samuel Goldwyn
96. Ralph Nader
97. Stephen Foster
98. Booker T. Washington
99. Richard Nixon
100. Herman Melville


  1. "Supposedly"? "Reportedly"? Who supposes this? Who reports it? What are your sources for all these questions? Could it possibly be the scurrilous and sourceless e-mail making its way around the Web? If you have any other sources that prompt you to ask these questions, then let's hear them. Meanwhile, you might want to do to the following site on the Web that ought to answer all your questions:

  2. Since the untimely death of Michael Kelly, The Atlantic is slipping back deep into its liberal womb. I could probably change half the list, but my Top 10 are:
    DELETE: 39,44,51,52,66,74,77,81,96 & 99.
    ADD (in no particular order):
    Carl Sandburg, John Paul Jones, Thomas J. Watson, Adm. Hyman Rickover, Gen. George S. Patton, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Gen. William T. Sherman, Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay.

    Honorable Mention: Thomas F. Roeser

  3. Send #s 3, 4, 21, 35, 49, 50, 52, 63, 69, 74, 76 & 79 to the bottom of the list.

    Eliminate #s 10, 12, 22, 29, 39, 40, 42, 44, 46, 51, 55, 78, 81, 84, 86, 92, 93 & 99.

    Replace (in no particular order) with: John Randolph, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Orestes Brownson, James Cardinal Gibbons, Robert A. Taft, Russell Kirk, William Casey, Thomas F. Roeser, Edgar Allan Poe, Phyllis Schlafly, William F. Buckley, Jr., Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush, Mother M. Angelica, Robert Noyce, Fr. John A. Hardon, Thomas Sowell and Whittaker Chambers.

  4. Since I called this site's attention to it, I may as well throw in my two cents on The Top 100:
    --Yes, put Washington 1st, Lincoln 2nd.
    --Both MLK Jr. and Woodrow Wilson are too high; drop them down into the 20s.
    --Babe Ruth should have a (slightly) higher ranking than Jackie Robinson.
    --Drop altogether: Nos. 49, 56, 59, 64, 69, 79, 82, 84, 86, 89, 90, 93, 99, 100.
    Add these 14: John F. Kennedy (ahead of LBJ, who should drop way down), Gen. Douglas MacArthur, J. Edgar Hoover, Branch Rickey, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Billy Graham (the two most influential modern U.S. clergymen who, unlike MLK, stuck solely to religion), Dr. George Washington Carver, Michael Jordan, former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly (ahead of Betty Friedan--Friedan pushed the ERA; Schlafly stopped her!), Rush Limbaugh, heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey, and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy (a genius on the musical side and the business side).

  5. drop 49 and79 add bill wilson and dr bob smith aa co founders

  6. A correction to my original was Ralph Nader (96) I meant to drop from the list, not Richard Nixon (99). Nixon stays--if for no other reason than that his being there will make the liberal establishment types foam at the mouth! (Although if they were as brilliant as they claim to be, they would have realized long before now that Nixon was, by his own telling, actually closer to being liberal than conservative on many issues.) Still, like LBJ and JFK, his importance can't be denied. In fact, I'd actually have Nixon, LBJ and JFK all pretty close together somewhere in the bottom part of the list. Maybe the 80s to upper 90s...

    As for Nader--well, my father was an auto company draftsman in Detroit for 40 years, and if I didn't kick Ralph off this list, he might disown me!

    Sorry, Tom--didn't mean to short-shrift your old boss there.