I’ve been reading (in starts and stops, but mostly the latter) this book. It’s pretty great and does a very good job of not getting too bogged down in either the Jefferson or the wine. It also pretty much reinforces an opinion of mine that was previously based on gut reaction and a completely superficial reading of Jefferson’s Greatest Hits: Thomas Jefferson was a huge jerk. No, I’m not talking about his slavery contradictions (a criticism which, frankly, is totally played out for me). It’s the stupid, piddly, day-to-day antics. He spends a great deal of time and thought coming up with elaborate ruses to avoid paying taxes on his imported wines, for example. He requests that casks he ships back home be labeled as vin ordinare instead of the actual, more expensive contents. Sure it couldbe because he wants to avoid theft in transit but the much more logical conclusion is that he just doesn’t feel the obligation to pay the taxes on the good stuff. The Cult of Jefferson likes to explain these things away by painting him as some sort of absent-minded-professor-who-doesn’t-balance-his-checkbook-type. I don’t buy that reading.
Anyway, Angus and I were discussing how it’s pretty silly that Thomas Jefferson is always a name that pops up on those ridiculous “historical figures you’d like to invite to a dinner party” lists* as he seems like he’d be a complete loser. Add that to the fact that he’d probably be the Founding Father with the least amount of actual experience in the whole Revolution thing and you have one boring walking architecture treatise**. He would be the worst blogger of his founding peers, in other words.
There were Founders who’d make great bloggers and dinner guests. Angus and I agree that Washington’s blog would be awesome. He distilled his own whiskey, for crying out loud. I’d blogroll that. Hamilton’s blog would be “pseudonymous” in the vein of Richelieu. Madison wouldn’t have his own blog, rather he would be writing on half a dozen group blogs. James Wilson would be the blogger’s blogger. Franklin would either be the uber Instapundit or have set up a content-rich geocities page in 1995 that he was still maintaining in a wink, nod antiquated style.
We know we are lame. No need to comment to drive that point home.
*My own list: Angela Lansbury x 5.
**I’m not trying to say he is an inconsequential figure, but he really is more of an American Salutati than anything else. But what do I know?