George Washington and the press, the constitution; and his decision making methods

For my final installment on Ron Chernow's George Washington: A Life ... 

The Press

However trying he often found the press, Washington understood its importance in a democracy and voraciously devoured gazettes. Before becoming president, he had lauded newspapers and magazines as “easy vehicles of knowledge, more happily calculated than any other to preserve the liberty . . . and meliorate the morals of an enlightened and free people.” (p. 685)

he regretted that newspapers exaggerated political discontent in the country, but added that “this kind of representation is an evil w[hi]ch must be placed in opposition to the infinite benefits resulting from a free press.” (p. 685)

Washington never sought to suppress debate or clamp down on his shrill opponents in the press who had hounded him mercilessly. (p. 771)

The Constitution

For Washington, the beauty of the document was that it charted a path for its own evolution. Its very brevity and generality—it contained fewer than eight thousand words—meant it would be a constantly changing document, susceptible to shifting interpretations. It would be left to Washington and other founders to convert this succinct, deliberately vague statement into a working reality. (p. 539)

According to Adams and Jefferson

... John Adams said, if Washington “was not the greatest president, he was the best actor of the presidency we have ever had.” (p. 578)

By delaying decisions, he (Washington) made sure that his better judgement prevailed over his temper. At the same time, once decisions were made they "were seldom, if ever, to be shaken," wrote John Marshall. Jefferson agreed saytng that ... Washington’s mind was “slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion.” (p. 604)

In Summary

He brought maturity, sobriety, judgment, and integrity to a political experiment that could easily have grown giddy with its own vaunted success, and he avoided the backbiting, envy, and intrigue that detracted from the achievements of other founders. (p. 812)

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