Alice was sitting on a summer lawn in the shade of a tree when the White Rabbit raced past. When she followed, Alice tumbled into the bizarre world of Wonderland.
I was sitting in the winter sun thinking dreamily about how America freed herself with a ragtag army, was glued together with a constitution, and how George Washington became our first president and then stepped down.
Washington, America’s “indispensable man,” might have become America’s king had he so chosen. I was smiling at how Washington loved to drink tea, and actually kept milk cows to supply his favorite drink.
The next thing I knew, I had tumbled into a bizarre tea party. Washington was pouring his own tea. Across the table sat Vladimir Lenin (the dictator created by the Russian revolution), Mao Zedong (the dictator created by the Chinese revolution) and Napoleon (the dictator created by the French revolution).
Washington: Sugar, Vladdy?
Lenin: Nyet, George. Vodka. What I really want is to try to understand?
Washington: I don’t think a tea party will do the trick.
Lenin: Why? Why did you never take the complete power that was there for the taking? No one else could have. You could have been King, or Chairman, or Emperor of America.
Washington: Walk down Michigan Avenue, Hollywood Boulevard or maybe a Main Street somewhere. Talk to people.
Lenin: What sort of vision is it to leave the ruling to a mob? To free men from the tyranny of capitalism I had to take total control.
Washington: Vladdy, why don’t you stop by a city hall or a county commission meeting? You’ll understand America better.
Lenin: George, that mob you called the Continental Army was a rabble. You made it an army and you controlled it. You could have taken over. Historians agree with me. You had generals, good generals, who wanted you to. They would have backed you. A coup. No one would have opposed you. Ask the Frenchman! Ask him!
Napoleon: It was necessary that I was Emperor and in total control.
Lenin: Instead you took orders from the Continental Congress. They were weak and divided.
Washington: They were strong, people with different ideas.
Lenin: In your dreams. Vodka, George?
Washington: Those dreamers came there to create America, not to fight each other for power. And, no to the vodka.
Lenin: Then you were the presiding officer at the Constitutional Convention, George. You were its chairman. You could have seized power then. Ask old Mao what being supreme chairman can do for you.
Mao: It was necessary that I was Chairman and in total control.
Lenin: Getting those people together to write a constitution, and the fight to ratify it, nearly killed you. The easiest thing to do with people who disagree with you is just to say “Off with their heads!” Soon, Senor Castro will join us and you will see how he took power where you did not.
Washington: He’ll tell us he had to be in complete control.
Lenin: Well, yes. But anyway, when you were president George, you did it again. You retired. You didn’t have to.
Washington: And you left your people to Stalin.
Lenin: Well, yes. But you, how could you not seize the power to build America as you wanted it? Yes, yes I know, dreams and principles. But if you had taken over – and we all know you could have – you could have made sure the revolution did what you wanted it to! You coulda had it all, George!
Washington: I did. You know, you guys ought to rent a Cadillac and drive coast to coast.
Lenin: You’re not one of us George. You’re a very different man.
Then I woke up.
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Happy birthday, George. And from all of us who love our independence, our way of life and the freedom of the open road, thank you.