Unfortunately, I was unable to interview George Washington for his birthday. My time rocket is in the shop, and I’ve had to work overtime at the mop head factory to pay for repairs. For quality mops, you can’t beat Benson’s!
Presidents’ Day honors America’s first president and Founding Father, George Washington (born February, 22, 1732), along with our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809). Lincoln, an Aquarius, led the Union through the Civl War, defeating the secessionist Confederacy and saving our republic. Washington, a Pisces, victoriously led the Continental Army against the British during the Revolutionary War. Great men to be sure, but let’s not forget the other forty-four presidents of our country’s short history.
Presidents come and go. The immensely popular Washington could have secured power indefinitely and treated the title as a king, but he stayed true to the ideals of a representative republic. Governance should be limited in time and scope. Today, many of our most decrepit representatives shamefully cling to power as though their lives depend on it. There’s nothing wrong with staying active, but retirement is an option.
If you’re lucky, they’ll put your face on the currency. Lincoln got the five dollar bill and the penny. Washington, of course, has the one dollar bill and the quarter. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin went on the one-hundred-dollar bill in 1914, the only non-president besides Alexander Hamilton to make the cut. Take that Ulysses S. Grant! Franklin was sort of the Steve Jobs of his time, inventing all sorts of things, like the electro-kite that didn’t sell very well.
Historians have their own ranking of U.S. presidents. Most presidents are viewed objectively through time, but political biases undoubtedly exist. How can they not? Everyone has their own opinion. I was a big fan of Theodore Roosevelt (our 26th president) in my youth after writing a school paper on him.
He was like the Ernest Hemingway of presidents (without all the drinking). Roosevelt was a writer, soldier, boxer, outdoorsman, and hunter who also established the National Parks service. He even delivered a speech after being shot in an attempted assassination. The bullet stayed lodged in his side for the rest of his life. These larger than life stories drive the mystique of some of our most memorable Oval Office occupiers.
William McKinley (25th president) was assassinated within six months of his second term. Yikes! As Vice President, Roosevelt was thrust into the role as chief executive. Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th president) was notable for winning two non-consecutive terms, giving hope to all one-term weirdos out there.
William Taft, America’s “jolliest” Commander-and-chief, regularly ate all the White House food. Martin Van Buren (8th president) helped usher in acceptance of bald men in public office. As wigs grew out of fashion, bizarre hairstyles such as his would become the norm.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd president) served four consecutive terms. His lengthy tenure led to an amendment that limited the presidency to two. Richard Nixon (37th president) had a contentious relationship with the media. He also opened trade with China, ended the Vietnam war in utter disaster, and became the only president to resign, following the Watergate scandal. And if you’d like to see Anthony Hopkins portray Nixon for three and a half hours, Oliver Stone’s 1995 biopic is for you.
Ronald Reagan (40th president) dominated the ’80s with two landslide victories and a reemergence of American conservatism, following the kooky ’60s and ’70s. He helped end the cold war and brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 90s gave us two terms of Bill Clinton, a balanced budget, welfare reform, the Bosnian conflict, and a scandal, involving a White House intern.
Brave New World
By the 21st century, we were a different world. George W. Bush (43rd president) led the War on Terror in our post-9/11 age, including two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Barrack Obama (44th president) made history as the first president from Hawaii. He ushered in universal healthcare and other FDR era progressive policies during his two terms. Donald Trump (45th president) followed to universal acclaim and non-controversy. Our current president, Joe Biden continues that streak today.
Before becoming our second president, John Adams defended British soldiers in court, following the Boston Massacre of 1770. He believed that everyone was entitled to legal representation no matter how heated or toxic the political climate was. We could certainly learn from his example.
Noted conspiracy theorist Dwight Eisenhower (34th president) famously warned of the “industrial military complex” upon leaving office. John F. Kennedy (35th president) was assassinated in his third year as president during some of the most tense times in modern American history. And we can’t forget Thomas Jefferson (3rd president). He authored the Declaration of Independence.
What makes a good President? Some might suggest it comes down to accomplishments and a strong legacy. My own candidacy failed to pick up steam in early 2000s. After that, I walked away from politics for good. No one took my petitioning for a National ALF Day seriously. Nonetheless, I’m sick of the Bushes and the Clintons. We should all be. But if you’re willing to put yourself through hell as a president for four to eight years, more power to you.
A good president should put the constitution above all else. And while that’s a naive assessment, it is what they took an oath to do. In addition to ALF Day, I would tack on more federal holidays and three-day weekends. Is it too much to implement some nap time into our daily routines as well? No wonder I’ll never be president.