My wife and I were discussing Presidents a few days ago after the November election which resulted in a tie. I was mildly amused by the decision of both candidates to alternate weeks leading the country. I failed to see the benefit to such an arrangement while she praised the men for their willingness to reach a compromise beneficial to all politicians.
I told her such an abomination would have never occurred during the reign of my favorite president, Millard Fillmore. She laughed and refused to believe there had ever been a president named Millard Fillmore. She said it was a conspiracy of the Labor Party to subdue and repress the middle class. I used Wikipedia to show her a list of all U.S. Presidents. She reminded me Wikipedia can be edited by any first grader with a Smartphone and a set of Pokeman cards.
I asked her who she thought were the top ten presidents in history. She thought about it and suggested we make a list in secret and then announce our choices on our new YouTube reality show which had in three short weeks amassed a total of 26 subscribers. I agreed.
We retreated to our rooms and I began working on my list. I printed a list of all the presidents to date. I even included David Rice Atchison. The top position was simple. No one came close to topping President Fillmore. I read the list of former presidents and tried to think of the strong points of each one’s administration. I quickly added Washington and Lincoln to my list. James Polk was another obvious choice. I immediately crossed out Hillary and Bill Clinton because I had never read any of their books. I eliminated Martin Van Buren, John Adams and John Quincy Adams because they were mostly bald and I had never voted for a partially bald man (or woman) for president. I took a serious look at Grover Cleveland, but finally decided he had enough hair on top of his head to avoid immediate disqualification.
Theodore Roosevelt made the cut because I like to visit National Parks. Calvin Coolidge was penciled in because of his eloquence as an orator. Thomas Jefferson made the top ten because in the photo on Wikipedia he had a curious smirk. I also chose him because he mentioned he had read 27 of my books. I wonder which two he hadn’t read.
I eliminated most of the recent commanders-in-chief because the verdict is still out on them. Harry Truman was a tough choice, but I crossed him off the list because I heard a rumor he was a Chicago Subs fan. Plus, there are still two members on the Supreme Court who were appointed by good ole Harry. There has been recent speculation both of these lifetime appointees have been dead for years, but no one has the courage to ask them if they are indeed still breathing. I smacked my forehead for not immediately including Richard Milhous Nixon (simply because of his middle name) and Rutherford B. Hayes (for his first name).
I counted the names I had chosen. Fillmore, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Polk, Teddy Roosevelt, Coolidge, Nixon and Hayes. One more lucky man would make the list. I started the process of elimination. Woodrow Wilson was eliminated because I favor Brown University over Princeton. Harding, both Harrisons. No way. Tippicanoe and Tyler, Too was the worst campaign slogan of all time. John Tyler was scratched, as though he ever had a chance. Ha!
I admit I struggled for minutes to add the tenth man to my list. Then I had an epiphany, or the hiccups. I couldn’t tell which. The Seattle SeaHawks are famous for their 12th man. I decided to add three more names to my list. It was my reality show, so I could do as I pleased. As long as those 26 subscribers didn’t object. FDR was added because he was the closest thing to a lifer president we’ve had. Lyndon B. Johnson is the definition of a politician so he was added. One more. I looked at the photos again. I shook my head as I read through the list. No one seemed deserving of the coveted twelfth spot. Finally, one name jumped out at me. Aha! How could I not include the only man who served as our country’s leader without ever being elected to the office. Gerald R. Ford. The only negative thing I could think of was the fact he played football for the University of Michigan. Being a lifelong Notre Dame fan, I decided I could not choose a Wolverine. I quickly added Ronald Reagan because he was born in Illinois and I liked his movies.
My list was complete. I smirked because there was no way my wife could top my list. She would probably choose leaders who married good-looking women or lowered taxes or created extra jobs. No such superficial criteria for me.