The room — 14 feet, 8 inches wide and 13 feet long — has no windows. It had been a restroom at the Monticello home of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. But now, the small room adjacent to Jefferson’s, the one historians believe once belonged to Sally Hemings, will be restored and given its due, as will the enslaved woman who evidence indicates was the mother of six children of the third president of the United States.
As the current president, Donald Trump, is often lambasted for lowering the dignity and honor of the office, the news coming out of Monticello — where the role of its enslaved people is belatedly a part of the historical presentation to visitors — is a bracing reminder that our leaders have always been flawed. Founding Father Jefferson wrote stirring words of equality while owning fellow human beings.
We are still waiting for Trump’s Declaration of Independence to fill out the other side of his spotty ledger.
If lips are moving…
Americans do expect a base line of manners and truth-telling from leaders and are repeatedly and unrealistically disappointed when they disappoint — and it has been that way for a while. In President Trump’s case, his behavior has always been transparent, to the point of X-ray clarity. He maligned, bullied and fudged facts during the campaign and long before — and still won the Electoral College.
Why the after-the-fact surprise, then, with his popularity now hovering at around 40 percent in most polls, with the strongest support from die-hard Trump voters?