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Presidents Day means more than bargains

Presidents Day - more, indeed, than bargain day.

It's a conundrum that well-priced television sets, mattresses, home improvements et al. ever became part of Presidents Day.

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For many years on Feb. 22, we honored George Washington's birthday. Since then, the holiday has evolved to honor all presidents.

What cockeyed entrepreneur turned it into a vehicle for sales?

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Forget the sales. I hope you ignored them.

Instead consider an informative and enlightening new book, "The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity."

"The Club," a highly informal arrangement without scheduled meetings or dues, formally was founded between then-President Truman and former President Herbert Hoover.

The two were not buddies. Politically and personally, historians relate, they were poles apart.

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Both were seated on the platform at the inauguration, in 1953, of Dwight Eisenhower. As the ceremonies ended, Hoover greeted Truman and, history tells us, suggested:

"I think we ought to organize a 'former presidents club.'"

"Fine," Truman replied. "You be the president of the club, and I will be the secretary."

George Washington, of course, had no predecessor to consult. He did, however, have the "Founding Fathers," a guaranteed group of heavy-hitters.

Modern presidents, frequently have called for advice, or at least consultation, from another who has sat in that awesome seat in the Oval Office.

They have shared a unique responsibility, but have often previously been adversaries.

Truman and Eisenhower, close friends after the General's victorious leadership in World War II, became bitter enemies when Eisenhower changed parties and successfully ran for the Presidency.

Years later, they buried the hatchet over sandwiches and coffee following Kennedy's funeral.

LBJ, toward the disastrous end of his Presidency, counted on Eisenhower's counsel; George H.W. Bush wrote to Clinton, "I'm rooting hard for you." After serving humanitarian causes, Clinton and George H.W. Bush have become close personal friends.

"Dubya," however, Clinton is quoted in the book, "never has forgiven me for beating his Father."

Pat and Richard Nixon even organized a club "reunion." All five then-living Presidents and their families were invited.

So will President Obama ring up George W. Bush over a knotty problem that's worrying him?

Perhaps, but there's one unspoken rule: deference to the sitting president and mum's pretty much the word of what goes on.

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