In an historic event, what counts for American royalty – presidents past, present, and future – met Wednesday in the Oval Office. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush joined President George Bush and President-Elect Barack Obama in what Obama called an “extraordinary gathering.”
Why extraordinary? One reason is simply that American presidents rarely gather in one place. When it happens, it’s usually for a state funeral.
Also, the gathering shows the contrast of race – the first African American president with all white presidents stretching back to George Washington.
Obama’s election broke the unbreakable barrier of race. Yet Obama shares characteristics with his predecessors, such as gender and religion. All presidents are and have been men, and almost all have affiliated with some denomination of mainline Protestantism. Only one Roman Catholic: JFK. No Mormons or Muslims or members of other religious minorities.
The religion question prompted me to look up the specific affiliations of past presidents. Some interesting facts: Two Dutch Reformed (Teddy Roosevelt and Van Buren). Two Quakers (Hoover and Nixon). And, surprisingly, four presidents with no affiliation: Pierce, Lincoln, Johnson and Hayes.
I doubt a candidate for the highest office today could get elected without a firm religious affiliation. Holding other things constant, a religious woman would have a better chance than an agnostic or atheistic man.
What are your thoughts on this extraordinary gathering and what it represents?
Watch the MSNBC video below about the presidents’ lunch. You should see a video screen below. If not, you can jump over to the MSNBC site to see the video.
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