In the November 25 issue of the Westchester Guardian
Thomas Paine was not without controversy in his day, and neither is Dick Morris, political author, commentator and former consultant to President Clinton. Morris acknowledged in his keynote speech he was "delighted to be attacked for something new," when he spoke at the Huguenot and New Rochelle Historical Association dinner on November 17 in New Rochelle. He quipped, the other group is "a royal Paine."
Morris continued, When a new form of communication presents itself, a new process is set "in motion that changes politics." When the printing press was invented, Thomas Paine "invented the pamphlet" that could propagandize people. Millions of the copies of his pamphlets were printed. Other new communication examples were cited: President Lincoln developed expert speeches and letters. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used radio to effectively reach out to the people. Television's use was promoted by President John F. Kennedy. Then commercials became popular and President Richard Nixon was able to use them. But it was Thomas Paine's amazing creativity when he wrote his pamphlet that got the country to rally to"set us free." The domestic revolutionary army was getting "creamed" by the British which had captured New York and pushed Washington's troops further south. The British army had 400,000 soldiers, but there were only 4,000 fighting under Washington's command. But Paine felt if the Revolutionary War continued it might influence the British Parliament and people in Britain negatively. Then Paine wrote another pamphlet, "These are the times that try men's souls." This was a new idea in the court of public opinion. The British soldiers were defeated and more than anything else, these "two pamphlets won the American Revolution."
Since the recession ended in 2009, Morris lamented, "What we are confronted with now is a new normal," with high unemployment. He asked, "Do we care about people who can't get jobs?" The policies of our government have terrified people. Consumers won't spend because they are terrified of their taxes. The inheritance tax stops rich people from reinvesting their money. Consumers have reduced their debt, and this money could have been used for spending and helping the economy. He asked: would someone open a medical center now if the government is taking control of health care? Even in manufacturing, this country is "beating the Chinese by 25%." But under the present administration, "pessimism is the bodyguard of liberty." All these daunting changes according to Morris are the same kinds of issues Thomas Paine addressed. He added "I wish I could write as well as he did."
After the talk, Kathleen Gallagher commented that the middle class which was the strength of our country has been decimated. There are so many out of work. "What's the government's plan now?" George Imburgia summed up, "I think that Dick Morris' account of the current administration was right on target. Let's hope and pray that the USA will continue to be a land of opportunity instead of a land of hand-outs."
Other awards given that evening were to Trinity St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Metro-Med's John Jacoby, MD, and Norman and Sydelle Herzberg. Sydelle Herzberg spoke briefly about the difficulties the Historical Association faced in the past in their efforts to preserve the Thomas Paine Cottage on 20 Sicard Avenue in New Rochelle.