Happy Birthday Great Helmsman Bill Clinton
Back in 1931, one of the most vilified dictators in the history of Latin America came to power in a rigged election in Guatemala. Jorge Ubico came to power during the midst of the Great Depression in the small Central American republic and found less than $100 in the national treasury, along with an economy under stress because of the low prices being paid for the bananas and coffee so essential to the country’s survival.
While he was a military man, Ubico was not one by training even though he had had previous success in wiping out bandits along the border with Mexico and instituting some basic hygiene. It was in administration that he excelled as president, applying the principles of business to his direction of the country. Already one of Guatemala’s richest men, the portly Ubico grew even richer during his time as president while he ran the little country like his very own plantation.
He set about on a public works program by building roads and public buildings, including a magnificent palace for himself. Greeted as a reformer at first, he excelled at fostering good relations with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt who even presented Ubico with a splendid limousine complete with a mounted machine gun. In return, Ubico would pass on his greetings along with the advice that Roosevelt should crush pesky labor unions in the United States and deal harshly with his critics. It worked for Ubico in Guatemala. Hedging his bets, Ubico was also friendly with the German banking houses and coffee merchants in Guatemala who cooperated with the unfolding National Socialist regime in Germany.
Bringing better roads, chastising bureaucrats, and executing dissidents were all part of Ubico’s government that he oversaw with an avuncular visage. But the strong arm was evident from the beginning, since it was in his inaugural address that he said that his “hand would not hesitate nor fail” to crush his enemies.
What he required from the Guatemalan people was their love and gratitude. So it was that every year on November 10 that Guatemalans gathered in their thousands in the capital city to wish him a happy birthday and thank him for his devotion to order, progress, and sensible accounting. Matrons brought flowers and children wrote heart-felt encomiums to the great man who emulated his hero, Napoleon Bonaparte, in a love of ceremony and snazzy uniforms. In public, the little Caesar of Central America stroked the heads of grateful children, kissed the babies offered to him, and patted the heads of the impoverished Indians, while his government crushed dissent and murdered its opponents.
The cult of personality was not limited to Guatemala in the 20th century. Other strong men like Juan Peron, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao tse Tung, were equally if not more adept at seeking the approval of their people – regardless the crimes they committed in the dark. Their citizens had to be not only aware of their accomplishments, but also grateful or even marveling at their feet.
So what does this have to do with the United States?
We now come to Bill Clinton of Arkansas: disbarred lawyer, saxophone playing former President of the United States. Certainly he is no tin pot dictator or malevolent murderer. But he can be said to have taken a page from the legacy left behind by past rulers who desire approval or even adulation. Whatever one may think of Clinton, it seems less than democratic – and reminiscent of those regimes that put up a front of jolly public support – that the Clinton Foundation is asking for supporters to send birthday greetings to Ole Slick Willy.
On the Clinton Foundation website, Chairman of the Board Bruce Lindsey recalls his forth years’ association with the former president of the United States. Crediting the Foundation for “incredible” accomplishments, Lindsey says “Thousands of farmers now earn enough to send their children to school. Rural communities have access to critical health care services. People are living longer and healthier lives due to better testing and diagnosis.”
Rising to a crescendo, Lindsey writes “You made this progress happen, and I hope you will celebrate with us. Right now, you can take the opportunity to wish President Clinton a happy birthday and to send a message of appreciation for the work that we've made possible, together.”
“Will you help me send President Clinton a much-deserved message of thanks and celebration in honor of his birthday and the Clinton Foundation's incredible work?”
He caps this by saying that Bill “really appreciates your messages of support.”
So, take a minute and click the link below. Tell Bill Clinton how you really feel as he turns sixty-seven. You’ll be glad you did.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.
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