Hoping Mr. Costello is inspired by Gen. Butler

I was happy to have a letter in the Daily Local News on 1/9/15.

Ryan Costello, is the just-elected member of the US House of Representatives for PA district 6. Michael P. Rellahan’s article “Ryan Costello set to take seat in 114th Congress” in the 1/3/15 Daily Local started out:

The politicians from West Chester who have served as U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District hold remarkable and sometimes colorful biographical histories.

Like the private in the U.S. Army during the Civil War (Smedley Darlington, who served from 1887-1891) and grew to be a banker and the eventual grandfather of a military man known as the “Fighting Quaker.” Or the businessman who began his career (William Everhart, 1853-1855) in Congress 30 years after surviving the sinking of the ship Albion off the coast or Ireland.

Or the war veteran (John Hickman, 1855-1863) who led the impeachment hearing of a federal judge from Tennessee in the 1860s; and the Everhart scion (James Bowen Everhart 1883-1887) who supplemented his work as a Harvard-educated attorney by publishing works of poetry, notably “The Fox Chase….”

Yes, Costello joins a distinguished and varied roster. Time will tell whether he will be serving the public or his party.

I felt called on to react after Mr. Rellahan mentioned Smedley Darlington Butler. I had written a blog “Smedley Darlington Butler of West Chester,” 9/28/12.

In that post I noted:

On a recent trip to Virginia, I was surprised to see Butler mentioned in one of the commemorative markers at the site of the Battle of the Wilderness (May 1864, Ulysses S. Grant vs. Robert E. Lee). You can review the history in Wikipedia.

It turns out that Butler was largely responsible for the establishment of the battlefield park I was standing in….

As well as his grandfather Smedley Darlington, his father Thomas Butler was also a Republican congressman representing our district. His house, where his son Smedley grew up, is at 228 W. Miner St.

General Butler’s turn against the military-industrial complex is reflected in his pamphlet “War Is A Racket” (which you can read here). In further evidence of his intellectual independence, as I summarized:

… by his account, he foiled a right-wing plan to overthrow the government of the United States in 1933-34….

That is such a monumental business that I followed the trail as well as I could and I remain convinced that he could well, as many believe, have saved the Republic as well as FDR’s political career. I wonder if the alleged “Business Plot” against FDR inspired Philip Roth’s rather gripping historical novel The Plot against America (2004), in which the right wing takes power from 1940-42 before FDR regains his rightful position.

So, as the Daily Local titled my letter, here’s hoping Mr. Costello is inspired by Gen. Butler.

Here is the text as published.

I’m glad that the article “Ryan Costello set to take seat in 114th Congress” (Daily Local, Jan. 3) mentions West Chester native Smedley Darlington Butler, grandson of a long-ago Republican holder of the 6th congressional seat.

General Butler, the most popular military leader of his time, wrote “War Is a Racket” in 1935, showing the obscenity of military profiteers controlling policy to their own benefit.

Mr. Costello could well be inspired by Butler, who is honored on one of the four panels in the West Chester Courthouse’s former North Wing at 10 North High St., next door to Mr. Costello’s future office.

Although Mr. Costello has been criticized for accepting over $15,000 in campaign contributions from the NRA, he did declare that such contributions will not influence him. I hope that he will reassure his constituents by keeping his distance from what President Eisenhower, also a former general, warned the country about in 1961, the “military-industrial complex.”

— Nathaniel Smith
West Chester


About politicswestchesterview

Nathaniel regards himself as a progressive Democrat who sees a serious need to involve more Americans in the political process if we are to rise to Ben Franklin's challenge "A republic, madam, if you can keep it," after a passerby asked him what form of government the founders had chosen. This blog gives my views and background information on the local, state, and national political scenes. My career in higher education was mainly in the areas of international studies, foreign languages, and student advising, most recently at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, from which I retired in 2006. I have lived in West Chester since 1986.
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2 Responses to Hoping Mr. Costello is inspired by Gen. Butler

  1. gordo53 says:

    Regardless of Mr. Costello’s inspiration, he will be a good soldier and follow orders from the party leadership. He will also keep mum about the felonies committed on a regular basis by his colleagues of both parties. Failure to do so will destroy his political career. That is how our system works.

  2. Pingback: “The Plot against America” by Philip Roth | politicswestchesterview

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