Sunday, November 27, 2005

RETARDO's Skeptic's Guide To American Presidents (II)

The next eleven, because you asked for it.

Zachary Taylor: "Old Rough and Ready" wasn't so ready to serve a full term: he promptly died after a couple years. Don't laugh. You'd be ready to die too, after spending that much time in Texas. And take a look at his face in some of the pictures: the poor guy was a slob and looked at least 40 years older than his age.

Millard Fillmore: Hmmm, I don't remember much except that he was another accidental President, and did some good work helping the compromisers to mend sectionalism. At least, I think so. Two things unfortunately named for him: the awful wingnut cartoon, and the fictional high school where Dr. Johnny Fever taught young Republicans and huge nerds on Tuesday nights in the late 80s on ABC. Ugh. Fillmore was also one of those one-in-a-bazillion people who actually worked their way to the top, semi-honestly, from nothing -- yes, an example of the Horatio Alger story that wingnuts constantly push as what is bound to happen ("anyone can do it!") to plucky hard-working people who refuse welfare and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Franklin Pierce: Drunken. Enlisted pretty much to further his career. Served in the Mexican War, albeit incompetently. Dim and uninspired, but at least had good taste in friends (Nathaniel Hawthorne, who said that Pierce was "deep, deep, deep" when in reality he was mud puddle-shallow). Pandered to the South as President. Must be forgiven for his drunken remoteness due to the fact that, well, you'd be pretty broken up too if you and your wife had seen your child die before your eyes in a horrible trainwreck.

James Buchanan: Actually a fine diplomat. Unfortunately, he resolved as President to devote all his diplomacy to the South. Never married; his niece functioned as White House hostess. White House became a shithole during his tenure, which he compensated for by building the finest of barns, of brick (!) where the DC mall is now located. Weird posture, as if he always had a crick in his neck. Possibly it was scoliosis. Or maybe it was just too many attempts at autofellatio.

Abraham Lincoln:Probably syphilitic. Possibly bisexual. Like Jefferson, hostile to religion. A prose master. Didn't give a shit about philosophy, only about politics. Nakedly ambitious, even for a President. Contrary to conventional wisdom, was never an abolitionist, even though he did finally do the noble, but legally difficult, deed. Rather, he was a Unionist. Started the unfortunate trend of bearded Presidents, which culminated in the election of President ZZ Top in 1882. Continued and greatly expanded the execrable tradition of suspending civil liberties as a "necessity;" and in contributing to the precedent of "if the President does it, it's legal," Lincoln's actions served Nixon and serves Bush very well indeed. Employed some truly awful people, from the technocratic, waffling fucktard General McClellan, to the ridiculously scoundrelish Dan Sickles, who was essentially a 19th Century version of G. Gordon Liddy. Suspended habeas corpus; his Attorney General actually experienced a near-sexual glee at jailing newspaper editors. Figuratively shredded the constitution with such alacrity that in a fit of exasperation the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court actually threw a copy of the document at Lincoln's head. Wanted to colonise blacks to Central America, proving that he just didn't get the issue. Lincoln gave the first important jobs (and oh, how they got great training!) to butchers like Sheridan and Sherman who later presided over the full-tilt genocide of the Sioux. Union saved, in the end he wanted reconciliation with the South, not retribution. When played by "Rex Hamilton", he actually fired back at John Wilkes Booth. Often cracked jokes and was famed for his "funny stories", yet for us is a sad and tragic figure, Shakespearean even; his wife was insane, two of their sons died very young.

Andrew Johnson: How's this: Gave his innaugural VP address stinking -- and I mean blind, hiccuping, sloshing -- drunk. It was all downhill from there. Couldn't get along with anyone, but he gets a bad rap for taking on the Radical Republicans in Congress, who wanted, contra Lincoln, to be as vindictive as possible to the South. In return for following -- or trying to follow -- Lincoln's basic plan, Johnson was impeached.

U.S. Grant: Breathtakingly corrupt. Grant's fans insist he didn't know what was going on, which is a grave insult to a very intelligent but bitter man who always knew exactly what as going on. In Gertrude Stein's appraisal, our nation's finest prose stylist. First Lady Julia Dent Grant had as crossed eyes as you could imagine. Eventually ruined by a speculator friend of his son's, which was karmic justice for his and his administration's involvement in Jim Fisk's and Jay Gould's scheming to corner the gold market, which ruined many people. And karma was something Grant definitely understood. Also wished to colonise blacks; in his case, to Santo Domingo in the Carribbean. As President, knowingly allowed the enhanced genocide policy of the American Army under Kill 'Em All Sherman and "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" Sheridan. A great general and an incredibly intelligent man but also the worst, as in the most corrupt, President of his century. Why? Bitterness. After journeying to England and seeing what Her Majesty had bestowed on Albion's saviors (estates, titles, fabulous riches), Grant, who never had much money, was envious of the Wellingtons, et al, and incensed that the American Republic didnt reward its savior in the same way. Thus the anything goes policies his administration tailor-made for crooks, and his close personal proximity to those crooks. Grant's relations with Gould (possibly the most repellant plutocrat of the 19th century) and Fisk make Bush's with Ken Lay look remote and on the level.

Rutherford B. Hayes: Or, as his friends called him, "Ratherfraud." Beneficiary of the stolen election of 1876. Dull-witted and bovine, had really nothing going for him except that he personally could pass the smell test, which, after Grant, was really saying something. But then what good's a smell test when you steal the election, anyhow. His opponent, Samuel Tilden, ran on a reform platform: one can see how democracy had to be thwarted to stop that. Like many beneficiaries of stolen elections, he promised to be a healer. And he was if "healing" means pretty much allowing the corruption that had become institutionalised in the government and the Republican Party to go on as it was. His wife, Lemonade Lucy, was a typically wingnutty teetotaler.

James A. Garfield: Some Republicans by Garfield's time had come to the conclusion that reform was needed; such Repugs were opposed by fans of the status quo, called "Stalwarts". Garfield and many others played to each side. Garfield himself had been in on the Credit Mobilier scandal, so he was very much of the wink-nudge Gimme A Kickback side, but he'd also somehow convinced at least one person that he was a reformer. That one person, named Charles Guiteau, mananged to shoot Garfield in the small of the back (perhaps aiming for the ass?). Garfield soon died. Garfield was considered good-looking for some reason, and was very intelligent: it was said that he could write with one hand in latin while the other wrote greek. Can you imagine? Well, no, you can't, because you're used to mouth-breathing dullards like W, or cornball dipshits like Reagan.

Chester Alan Arthur: A dandy, a ladies' man, an establishment Dude who flashed the bling-bling and frequented the plutocrat/kleptocrat clubs filled with cigar smoke and the smell of brandy. Arthur was a made man in the mafia of a Republican Party that ruled at the time. Yet as another accidental President, actually discovered principles upon getting the highest office. Pushed through some reforms, mostly watered-down but a definite improvement. An underrated President. Could have been, and "should" have been, far worse.

Grover Cleveland: Our first tubby President: his jowls easily passing Ted Kennedy territory into the elevated realm of the Gamorrean Guards. Was honest by the day's standard, which means that when he stole your wallet, he might have only taken the cash while leaving you your credit cards. Fathered a bastard in his early partying years while in Victorian Buffalo's Studio 54 district, for which he was given much grief. Bachelor, later married while President. Was a Democrat, but also a proto-wingnut, which explains his appeal at the time. Campaigned for Free Trade, advocated the "liberation" of Hawaii, a regime change of the tyrant Queen's rule in favor of the dour missionaries and utterly vile sugar barons that desired "freedom". Happily got his way. The fat bastard.

And that's it. Next eleven at request. By the way, the same caveats apply to this post as to the other: I didnt look up anything, all this is off the top of my head, and if I made any mistakes they are absolutely your fault.