Once Upon a Time in Americarnby Bill KauffmanrnOne of the strangest rituals in the United States Senate isrnthe annual reading of President Washington’s FarewellrnAddress. The chore of recitation usually falls to a freshmanrnnonentity eager to curry favor by performing what is regarded asrna drudge task. The chamber is emptv, save for the classicalrnremnant: New York’s Senator Movnihan and West Virginia’srnRobert Byrd, the pomaded knight from the mountaineer state,rnwho, with his florid defenses of American sovereignty and thernDaughters of the Confederacy and the United States Constitutionrn(as opposed to the Republican pollsters’ Contract withrnAmerica) has become something of a statesman. “I do not secrnin front of this chamber the U.N. flag,” Byrd told the Senaternduring the Bush-Clinton Somalia debacle. “I never saluted thernU.N. flag. I saluted Old Clory, the American flag.”rnThis is a homey patriotism that traitors can never understand;rnwhich, indeed, they sneer at. It is of a piece with the remarkrnby Wild Bill Langer of North Dakota during the originalrnNATO debate that “when a Senator casts his vote in favor of thernAtlantic Pact, in favor of getting us mixed up in all the problemsrnof European nations, that Senator says to the American people,rn’I know more about things than George Washington everrnknew.'”rnFor saying this Langer was deemed a provincial idiot. Thernreal fools, though, are the Honorables who every February readrnBill Kauffman is the author of Every Man A King, CountryrnTowns of New York, and America First! This article was givenrnas a speech at the J 994 meeting of the ]ohn Randolph Club.rnWashington’s Farewell Address, with its injunctions againstrn”oNcrgrown military establishments” and “permanent alliancesrnwith anv portion of the world” and “excessive partiality for onernforeign nation,” which leads to a disastrous situation whereinrn”real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite arernliable to become suspected and odious.” (Whicheer favoriterncan he mean?) After this perfunctory nod, the Senate spendsrnthe next 364 days of the year repudiating the Father of ourrnCountry. Or as an insurrectionist shouts in Caesar’s Columnrn(1891), Ignatius Donnelly’s dystopian novel of late 20th-eentur’rnAmerica: “We are a republic in name; free only in forms.”rnThe substantial public dissatisfaction with the New WorldrnOrder suggests that Americans remain essentially Washingtonianrnin their reluctance to subjugate distant brown people,rnsubsidize distant white people, and subserve distant yellowrnpeople. (By the way, why is it that those who object to killingrnforeigners are the ones called xenophobes?)rn. Potomac chin-puller recently boasted to Time magazinernthat for half a century “only a bipartisan consensus among elitesrnkept the country’s latent isolationism at bay.” This consensusrnhas been enforced, in part, by smearing any outlaw who holds,rnwith Wild Bill Langer, that the counsel of George Washingtonrncontains more wisdom than the effluvial pool of the NewtrnGingrich-Clark Clifford Party. We have been taught, in GorernVidal’s phrase, that the price of freedom is eternal discretion.rn”Well,” as the song goes, “how did we get here?” One hundredrnand one years ago a Nebraska congressman was defeated inrnhis bid to represent his state in the United States Senate. So hern18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn