Monday, February 20, 2006

The Prezzies™ I - Best President (1900 - 1992)

It’s Presidents’ Day here in the States, when we remember the diverse crew of white guys who’ve clawed their way to the Oval Office over the last two hundred odd years by going to the President’ Day Sales and buying a new barbecue.

What better way to honour their memory than to invoke the spirit of democracy, and have everyone vote on some outrageously slanted and unscientific questions. And so I am proud to introduce The Prezzies™, whereby we subject the forty one US chief executives up until 1992 to the same kind of dispassionate and considered analysis as Celebrity Big Brother.

Anyone who picked up on the 1992 cut-off will have guessed the one ground rule upon which I am sadly forced to insist for the sake of harmony in our little online community: The current President and his immediate predecessor are not eligible for nomination in any category. This is partly because insufficient time has been allowed for posterity to do its work on either of them, but more importantly the temptation to be lazy and stick with cheap-shot topicality would be overwhelming, and that would stifle our undoubted creativity. If we could just stay in our comfort zones, who would ever think to mention how Grover Cleveland started a war to distract attention from one of his sex scandals, or how Ulysses S Grant was accused of shamelessly derailing investigations into his alleged property scams.

Come to think of it, that was actually Clinton both times. But that just proves my point, and I’m sure we all agree that the principle is a sound one.

So let’s start with a real soft-n-easy under-arm pitch: Best President (1900 - 1992). I know it breaks the habit of a lifetime to ask you cynical creatures to think positively for a change, but I’m sure it’ll do you good.

Nominations and reasons in the comments, please – results tomorrow assuming anyone bothers to vote…


Teddy Roosevelt, yesterday. Will he get his due this time, or will his slimy cousin steal the limelight yet again?

24 comments:

HA HA HA said...

clavin coolleidge! i love that guy.

uve all herd what dortthy parkar siad when she heard he was dead right?

'how do they know?'

Ivan the Terrible said...

Well, Dorothy was biased. She made a bet saying she could get this famously taciturn man to say more than two words. She then walked up to him at a White House reception and told him the bet. His reply? "You lose"...

Gorilla Bananas said...

The ape vote goes to Kennedy for inspiring the space programme, sending a chimp into space and bringing him safely back to earth.

Anonymous said...

Well, lemme see--best preznit evah...hm...that's a hard one. I'd vote for FDR, since, objectively speaking, he made America into the world superpower it is now. He was the first to grasp that the retarded leaders of the Western empires were about to slaughter each other while destroying Europe in the process, so he made the best of it. Prodded the American people out of its isolationist apathy, and helped put an end to the old colonial order.

He loses major points in my book, however, for having helped the Russians. That was a huge mistake. But anyway, don't expect any objectivity from me. I grew up under the Commies, so I have a natural aversion to all things Russian (you're excluded, Ivan).

And now for the humorous vote: Jimmy Carter. Because only him could start off as a nice peanut farmer from Georgia and end up as the Great Satan in Tehran.

--Desargues

Anonymous said...

I believe that should be "Only HE could start off..." Apologies.

--Des.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Thanks for the votes, GB, Des. Kennedy and FDR, eh? You guys know how to punch my buttons, right enough :) Jimmy Carter almost makes sense - I mean, you gotta love a guy who was literally attacked by a rabbit. Depends what you're looking for in a President, I suppose...

PI said...

Dear me: I find myself once more agreeing with Des. FDR was the good guy for us in WW2 and he had a gentlemanly air. My husband says
he didn't really like us and sided with Stalin rather than Winnie. I think, possibly through illness, he misjudged the situation and delayed the Yanks entry into Berlin in favour of the Ruskies and a fine mess that turned out to be.
As for Carter: he blotted his copy book when he had the temerity to kiss the Queen Mother on THE LIPS!!!! 'No-one -since my dear late husband has kissed me on the lips.'she said.
How could he????
I don't really know enough about your presidents to make an informed choice but that doesn't stop me.

Anonymous said...

I should have gone with Nixon. I'm reading the 'Prince' these days, and Dick could have made it to third grade at Machiavelli's School for Leaders. Bumbling that break-in into the Waterhouse Hotel was a stupid move, though. You gotta be careful about things like that.

But I don't know jack shit about 'Merikin preznits, so don't count my vote, if you're serious about this thing.

--Desargues

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess I'll stick with Cunning Dick. Here's a reason: the Richard Nixon mask was the best-selling political item among American costumers between 1997 and 2002.

And now, let his actions speak for my man:

In 1974, Richard Nixon, not noted for his social graces, visited Paris to attend the funeral of French president Georges Pompidou. "This," Nixon remarked during the ceremony, "is a great day for France!"

Similarly, one day during his presidency, Richard Nixon landed in Australia for a state visit. As he stepped from the plane, Nixon made a peace sign (as was his custom) to signify solidarity with his Aussie hosts.
Some time later he was delicately informed that, in Australia, the so-called 'peace sign' (unless the palm is facing out) is the equivalent of an American display of the middle finger.

Also, in Ronald Reagan's first televised budget speech as president, he used a handful of change to illustrate the current value of the dollar.
"It takes an actor to do that," remarked a rival Democrat with grudging admiration. "Carter would have emphasized all the wrong words. Ford would have fumbled and dropped the cash. And Nixon would have pocketed it."


Is that enough credentials for you, Ivan?

--Des.

Ivan the Terrible said...

A compelling case, Des, and I sympathise. I've always liked Nixon. But we must await the will of the silent majority. Any of Earth's five billion odd population who say nothing will be assumed to be natural sympathisers for "Silent Cal" Coolidge...

Ivan the Terrible said...

Good story, Pi. That Carter, eh? Hidden depths and all that. It takes a brave man to kiss a royal of any stripe, after all...

xpanxpunkx said...

I'd have to agree with ha ha ha. Coolidge rarely spoke. We could use more of that in politics these days...

Ivan the Terrible said...

Thanks for the vote, xpankxpunx! Cool - we have a real nail-biter here, folks. Coolidge and FDR neck-and-neck into the home straight, with Jimmy Carter a surprise dark horse coming up on the outside, a hit with all the comedians in the crowd. Who will carry the day? The deciding vote could be yours...

Tony.T said...

I know next to stuff-all about US presidents, so I'll just try to pick one from some favourite films.

Ronny Reagan is excellent in the wonderful The Killers.

And the Parallax View is a fantastic movie based on the Kennedy assassination.

Let's just go with Teddy Roosevelt. I've always liked him since I saw him in The Wind and the Lion. Even if he was played by boring Brian Keith alongside of that awful Candice Bergin.

R. Sherman said...

I like Calvin Coolidge. Didn't do much. Just left us alone.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Good to see Teddy get a look in. But Silent Cal is beginning to pull ahead with just five hours to go...

staghounds said...

Way Coolidge.

What other President in the 20th Century thought and acted as though there were things government should NOT do?

Also when he wore that Indian war bonnet he looked like he hated it.

Second choice Hoover, who refused to accept his salary.

Dr. E. Scientist, phD. said...

Well, Wilson did keep us out of war, but then the Jerries sank the Zimmerman telegram and war was inevitable despite all the hippies marching for peace, love and granola. So I guess really I can't hold it against him, the great pansy, since everything worked out for the best (what with the League of Nations and all).

Hoover wasn't a bad fellow who invented teh vacuum cleaner, hydroelectric power generation and the Great Depression.

Well, truth be told he didn't really invent the Great Depression™, but FDR made damn sure that his name was on the patent.

So it's hard to say really. I suppose if I am forced to choose, I'd have to go with Dewey.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Bzzz - sorry Doc. Have to disqualify you on the procedural nitpick of having chosen a loser. If I let that pass, we'll have hundreds of fanatical Gore groupies dialling in. You know they're out there...

So I'm just going to have to count that as a vote for Truman instead :)

Matt said...

Reagan. Father of modern conservatism. Straight shooter. Told it like it was, especially about the commies. Consistently underestimated by opponents. Really wry sense of humor (remember "The bombing starts in 5 minutes"?). Dems still haven't recovered (and, no, clinton was an abberation, a con artist preying on the sheeple).

Dr. E. Scientist, phD. said...

Truman?!?!? NOOOOOOOOO!

I shall never trust the Chicago Tribune again...

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Matt - Sorry you missed the deadline, but a solid choice, I must say.

And Doc - I told you not to trust the liberal media. Fox News woulda called it right, I'll bet...

Aunty Marianne said...

FDR. I saw his room in Livadia Palace at Yalta. It was right next to the negotiating table because he was so weak. Whatever you may say about his decisions, the man was DYING in horrible pain and he was still trying to broker a permanent world peace. No wonder he might have dropped a couple of balls.

I put my hands on the back of his chair at the negotiating table, and felt his strength, and cried.

Matt said...

Bummer. There was a deadline? I look at it this way - at least I found your site ...