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Local author 'picks the bones' of past U.S. presidents

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Retired newspaperman and longtime seasonal resident of Little Pine Lake, Jerry Moriarty, will be signing his new book June 24 in Perham.

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"Picking the Bones of Eleven Presidents and Others" is the title of Moriarty's book, which features interviews and observations from his years as an editor and reporter. He was editor and publisher of four daily newspapers in the Midwest.

Moriarty will be selling and signing his book June 24, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at Bev's Book Nook in downtown Perham.

His interviews with America's chief executives started with Harry S. Truman, and continued through George W. Bush.

A segment of the book features short impressions of each of those leaders, in which Moriarty suggests that by combining the attributes, it would create the "Perfect President."

The stage for Moriarty's book was actually set in high school, when he wrote an imagined interview with Samuel (Mark Twain) Clemens. The piece was noticed by a radio executive, and it was adapted for airplay.

The idea of "imaginary interviews" from his high school days resurfaces again as the 90-year-old author included in the book his three most-desired interviews: Mother Teresa, Muhammad, and Copernicus.

His first position was with The Tribune in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, which was interrupted by World War II, where he served with the Army Air Corps.

One of his early thrills in the world of politics and journalism was his ride aboard Harry Truman's presidential campaign train through Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In addition to his "presidential credentials," he also has several chapters on other famous people ranging from sports legend Bronko Nagurski to Errol Flynn to Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

There is even a familiar local name among the chapters: Paul Ceynowa, a Marine veteran and Perham graduate who was part of the invasion force at Iwo Jima, during the World War II campaign against Japan.

A dozen general topic essays are also included in the book, including a St. Patrick's Day story that reflects his Irish heritage--of which Moriarty is very proud.

Jerry and Elizabeth Moriarty, Little Pine Lake, are the proud parents of eight children--all college graduates. His wife earned her doctorate after the kids were grown.

Moriarty's motto: "Live your life, not just endure it."

Creating an Ideal President

Harry S. Truman--Feisty decisiveness, even directedness. He followed perhaps the most powerful president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Truman was one of the more remarkable men to occupy the White House.

Dwight D. Eisenhower--Popularity, activism.This man of dignity gave America a breather after World War II. He was probably the most popular man in the world after the war. He is now being discovered by liberal and neo-conservatives as an activist.

John F. Kennedy--Humor and grace. The youngest president ever elected (41) and the youngest president to die. He possessed charm, youth and vigor. He was inspirational but a somewhat ineffective leader.

Lyndon B. Johnson--Power. He did what Kennedy could not do, enacting the Great Society. "He knew power like salmon know how to swim upstream"-- George Reedy ofMarquette University.

Richard M. Nixon--Astuteness in foreign affairs. He hurt himself more than he hurt the country during Watergate. He will be treated better after passing the scrubbing board of history.

Gerald Ford--Decency. He was the most decent individual to serve after Watergate. He was in a virtually no-win situation, pardoning Nixon.

Jimmy Carter--Ethical. Intelligent but insecure. He was the victim of the anti-Washington stand on which he ran. He turned out to be a mediocre president, but a great "past president."

Ronald Reagan--Intuition. He had the knack of making judgments based on "gut instincts." He articulated the direction in which he wanted the country to go.

George H. Bush--Coalitionist. His finest hour came during the Gulf War in mobilizing an international coalition, but he wanted to be president of AKAGA--A Kinder Gentler America. He was undone by giving in on a tax increase.

William J. Clinton--Resiliency. He remains remarkable in always being able to come back from adversity, including impeachment. Truly he is one of the best communicators in recent history. Using his country lawyer skills, he even could have walked away from Watergate. He could have been brilliant except for flaunting excesses of personal life.

George W. Bush--Amiability (before 9/11)...?? (after 9/11).

The nation awaited his strengths after a divisive first-term election and he handled the 9/11 crisis well. He surprised pollsters by winning his re-election with the most votes in political history, despite massive dissent over the Iraq war. His legacy will depend on the conclusion of Mideast conflicts. If successful, he will be the "Liberation President."

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