In honor of the President’s Day Holiday weekend Balladeer’s Blog will present some of my quick takes on each of the 44 men who have stayed one step ahead of the law while occupying the office.
1. GEORGE WASHINGTON – Motto – “Screw taking a salary as a General, just bill ’em outrageously for your expenses!” *** Nickname: The First Lady of Broadway *** Pro: Established the precedent of stepping down after 2 terms max. Con: Owned other human beings.
2. JOHN ADAMS – Motto – ” A day without alienating someone is like a day without sunshine.” *** Nickname: Boom-Boom *** Pro: Was almost fanatically honest. Con: Alienated nearly everyone except his wife Abigail.
3. THOMAS JEFFERSON – Motto: ” What’s with that painting where I look like Bea Arthur?” *** Nickname: The Pompous Hypocrite *** Pro: Never vetoed a single bill, deferring to the will of the people’s representatives. Con: Owned other human beings.
4. JAMES MADISON – Motto: “That’s me on the five thousand dollar bill, babe!” *** Nickname: Dolly Madison’s Husband *** Pro: Effectively handled the War of 1812 and other messes resulting from Jefferson’s bizarre policies. Con: See Washington and Jefferson.
5. JAMES MONROE – Motto: “I’m sick of hearing about how John Quincy Adams was the real author of The Monroe Doctrine” *** Nickname: The Furnituregate Mastermind *** Pro: Bought Florida from Spain, ensuring America would have a long, phallic peninsula dangling off our mainland. Con: Got elected president despite being a slave-owner from Virginia … hey, wait a minute!
6. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS – Motto: “No slaves, no tact, no problem!” *** Nickname: Mr Television *** Pro: Was another rare example of an honest elected figure. Con: Was just as adept as his father at alienating everyone around him.
7. ANDREW JACKSON – Motto: ” Loathing the British and Native Americans since the Revolutionary War!” *** Nickname: Tricky Dick *** Pro: Firmly kept the southern states in line during the Nullification Crisis. Con: Owned other human beings and was the first president to veto bills just because he didn’t like them and not based on their constitutionality. This ugly tradition has continued ever since.
8. MARTIN VAN BUREN – Motto: ” Riding my association with Andrew Jackson right into the Oval Office” *** Nickname: Martin Van Ruin (Seriously. This was a rare case where a real nickname was funny enough that no change was needed) *** Pro: Single-handedly added the expression “O.K.” to the national lexicon. Con: Had one seriously Bad Hair Day for his presidential portrait.
9. WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON – Motto: ” Never overstay your welcome.” *** Nickname: Bushitler *** Pro: Tried to establish a tradition of presidents dying barely a month into their term. Con: Delivered a two hour long inaugural address during an actual blizzard.
10. JOHN TYLER – Motto: “Because Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too made for one kick- ass campaign slogan!” *** Nickname: His Accidency (Again, funny enough to just go with it) *** Pro: Fought Congressional attempts at usurpation to establish the precedent that a Vice President becomes a full president with all a president’s powers on the death of the incumbent President. Con: Owned other human beings and later served in the Confederate States Congress during the Civil War.
11. JAMES K POLK – Motto: “You can’t spell polka without Polk!” *** Nickname: Pimpin’ Polk *** Pro: Kept his campaign promise to only serve one term since one of the issues he ran on was trying to limit presidents to just one term apiece. Con: His association with Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson prompted his supporters to try to get people to call him by the awkward nickname “Young Hickory”. I’m serious.
12. ZACHARY TAYLOR: Motto: “The Compromise of 1850 will pass only over my dead body!” *** Nickname: The Wall- Eyed Whig *** Pro: Got tough with the ever- disgruntled southern states by threatening to veto the Compromise of 1850 (which he felt yielded too much to the Democrats’ demands to extend slavery) and warning them that if they seceded he would personally lead the army against them and hang any rebels he came across. *** Con: Died from what some people consider a suspicious stomach ailment right before he could veto the Compromise of 1850.
13. MILLARD FILLMORE – Motto: “Don’t worry – not even his own family remembered he had ever been President!” *** Nickname: The M.F. in the White House *** Pro: Opened up trade with Japan Con: Went right ahead and signed the Compromise of 1850 after succeeding to the presidency upon Zachary Taylor’s untimely death. (I wonder what Abraham Zapruder’s ancestors were doing back then. I’m kidding!)
14. FRANKLIN PIERCE – Motto: “My wife Jane was every bit as crazy as Mary Lincoln!” *** Nickname: Old What’s His Name *** Pro: Was the first president to have a Christmas Tree in the White House. Con: Tried to convince the northern and southern states to forget their differences and stand united against the threat of creeping Mormonism.
15. JAMES BUCHANAN – Motto: ” A president every bit as lousy as Barack Obama and George W Bush!” *** Nickname: The Man Who Lost Half The Country *** Pro: Gave his name to the fictional high school on Welcome Back, Kotter. Con: More states seceded from the Union under him than under any other president.
16. ABRAHAM LINCOLN – Motto: “The guy who put the ‘man’ in Great Emancipator!” *** Nickname: Honest Injun *** Pro: Guided the country through the Civil War and ensured that slavery would no longer be legal in the restored Union. Con: His career as an aspiring theater critic was cut viciously short.
17. ANDREW JOHNSON – Motto: “Impeach THIS, you bastards!” *** Nickname: J-Lo *** Pro: His principled stand against a legislative branch that was overstepping its authority preserved the important defense mechanism of checks and balances in the separation of powers. Con: May well have been drunk off his ass during his speech at Lincoln’s 2nd inauguration.
18. ULYSSES S GRANT – Motto: ” Setting a standard of sleaze and corruption that would inspire the Harding and Obama administrations.” *** Nickname: Gary “U.S.” Bonds *** Pro: May have been simply too naive to realize what his appointees were up to. Con: Let his cronies run the country like a Mafia bust- out operation.
19. RUTHERFORD B HAYES – Motto: “When you’re fraudulently elected president you should show the good grace to step down after just one term.” *** Nickname: Old 8 to 7 (Again, the real nickname is funny enough to stand on its own) *** Pro: Was the first president to hold the White House Easter Egg roll. Con: Samuel J Tilden in all likelihood really won the disputed election of 1876 so Hayes should never have been in the White House at all.
20. JAMES GARFIELD – Motto: “What $5,000 bribe from those street- paving people?” *** Nickname: Ol’ Blue Eyes *** Pro: Was the first ambidextrous president and could speak both Greek and Latin. Con: Was assassinated by Charles Guiteau because Garfield refused to name him the American consul in Paris. I’m serious.
21. CHESTER A ARTHUR – Motto: “Sometimes a sleazy, graft- grabbing politician turns out to have a heart of gold.” *** Nickname: Chester the Molestor (I’m kidding!) *** Pro: Defied his corrupt patron Senator Roscoe Conkling and ran a mostly honest administration, even helping along Civil Service reform to drive party hacks out of many government positions. Con: May have put the moves on the British ambassador’s 19 year old daughter Victoria in a celebrated incident.
22. GROVER CLEVELAND – Motto: “The answer to the trivia question ‘Who was the only 2- term U.S. president to serve those terms non- consecutively?” *** Nickname: The Round Mound of Rebound *** Pro: Dared public disapproval by marrying his 21 year old ward Frances Folsom while serving as president. Con: This Democratic president actually said “Though the people should support the government the government should never support the people.” You’re all heart, Grover.
23. BENJAMIN HARRISON – Motto: “What this country needs right now is a man whose grandfather was president barely a month before dying.” *** Nickname: Baby McKee’s Grandfather *** Pro: Was the president who first had the White House wired for electricity. Con: His administration was slightly overshadowed by the press’ obsession with his terminally “cutesy” grandson, Baby McKee.
24. GROVER CLEVELAND, TERM 2 – Motto: “He’s back … deadlier and more powerful than ever before!” *** Nickname: King of the Wild Frontier *** Pro: Was 10 % doughier than in his first term. Con: Came down harder on striking workers than some presidents come down on actual criminal behavior and called Eugene Debs “an enemy of the human race”.
25. WILLIAM MCKINLEY – Motto: “Whatever Ohio Political Machine Boss Mark Hanna thinks my motto should be.” *** Nickname: McStudly *** Pro: Tried to establish a tradition of campaigning from your own front porch. Con: Got assassinated for an even dumber reason than Garfield. ( If you’re wondering, Leon Czolgosz shot McKinley, then shouted “I am an anarchist! I don’t believe in marriage, I believe in Free Love!” Take THAT, McKinley! )
26. THEODORE ROOSEVELT – Motto: “I love me some me!” *** Nickname: LBJ *** Pro: Once went eleven straight seconds thinking about something besides himself. Con: That whole treatment of the Philippines after the Spanish- American War thing.
27. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT – Motto: “I’d rather be serving as Chief Justice instead!” *** Nickname: The Gangster of Love *** Pro: After being president went on to be a very good Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Con: Was military governor of the Philippines during part of McKinley and Roosevelt’s aforementioned ugly treatment of the inhabitants.
28. WOODROW WILSON – Motto: ” Hey, my League of Nations thing was no more impotent and corrupt than the United Nations has turned out to be!” *** Nickname: Woody Dub *** Pro: Defeated both the incumbent Taft and Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party candidacy in the election of 1912 … Or maybe that should be a Con? Con: Won reelection on the slogan “He kept us out of war” then got us involved in World War One anyway after getting reelected.
29. WARREN G HARDING – Motto: ” You’ll never take me alive, coppers!” *** Nickname: The Ohio Gang’s Lackey *** Pro: Appointed former president Taft as one of the most capable Chief Justices in Supreme Court history. Con: His crooked administration did everything but print counterfeit money in the White House basement and only his untimely death in office prevented the full truth of his cronies’ misdeeds from coming to light.
30. CALVIN COOLIDGE – Motto: “Absolute proof that the less a president does the better!” *** Nickname: The Vermont Sex Machine *** Pro: The full extent of his farewell address was ” Goodbye, I have had a very enjoyable time in Washington.” I’m serious. Con: Thought it was just an amazing coincidence that some of the people scheduled to testify in the investigations of his predecessor’s administration kept committing suicide or dying unexpectedly.
31. HERBERT HOOVER – Motto: “Eternally grateful to Barack Obama for doing a possibly worse job on the economy than I did!” *** Nickname: The Callous Fool *** Pro: Fulfilled a little- known constitutional requirement that the 30th and 31st presidents MUST have alliterative names. Con: Actually once tried to blame the Great Depression on unusual sunspot activity. I’m serious. He claimed that the sunspot activity caused the Dust Bowl and that a domino effect was unleashed from there.
32. FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT – Motto: “I’m handi- capable!” *** Nickname: The Italian Stallion *** Pro: Competently guided the nation through the Great Depression and added a humane element to the practice of governing the nation. Con: Violated the 2 term precedent until in his 4th term they literally pried the presidency from his cold, dead hands.
33. HARRY TRUMAN – Motto: “Get that corpse out of here so I can get to work!” (I’m kidding!) *** Nickname: Dewey’s Bitch *** Pro: Fired the at best senile and at worst demented General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. Con: Brought Boss Tom Pendergast’s attitude that graft is a natural perk of elected office with him to the White House.
34. DWIGHT EISENHOWER – Motto: “FOOORE!” (Remember, the traditional cry as you’re teeing off in golf? Oh, never mind!) *** Nickname: Uncle Milty *** Pro: Knew enough to distrust Richard Nixon long before it became the national pasttime. Con: Was the first president to pronounce nuclear as “nucular”.
35. JOHN F KENNEDY – Motto: “Thank God for television!” *** Nickname: FDR *** Pro: The man was shrewd enough to distrust liberals and conservatives equally. Con: I can’t find out what happened to this guy. Anybody hear anything?
36. LYNDON JOHNSON – Motto: “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many lies did you tell today?” *** Nickname: Lucky Lindy/ The Eagle of the USA (interchangeable) *** Pro: His handling of domestic issues has been sadly underappreciated. Con: Once claimed that “Vietnam is like the Alamo” even though Vietnam was crawling with more people from Texas than the Alamo ever was. (Thank you! I’m here all week!)
37. RICHARD NIXON – Motto: “You b******s stop that f*****g s**t about my c***-sucking administration and those m***********g b*****t lies about those c***s at the f*****g Watergate Building!” *** Nickname: The Unindicted Co-Conspirator In Chief *** Pro: Helped prolong comedian Rich Little’s career by a full decade at least. Con: Was so emotionally unstable and insecure that he might have become a crazed loner/ serial killer type if he hadn’t gone into politics.
38. GERALD FORD – Motto: “Huh?” *** Nickname: The Black Moses of Soul *** Pro: Provided much- needed comic relief to the country following the Nixon scandals. Con: Lost to Jimmy Carter … JIMMY CARTER!
39. JIMMY CARTER – Motto: “What Grant and Harding were to corruption Jimmy Carter was to incompetence.” *** Nickname: The Global Village Idiot or The Once and Future National Embarrassment, take your pick. Sure, it’s kind of unwieldy but it captures Jimmy perfectly! *** Pro: His every action went so hilariously wrong his term played like one long “Don’t let this happen to you” lesson for future presidents. Con: Never met a dictator whose butt he didn’t immediately kiss, while implying other countries could learn a lot from said dictators.
40. RONALD REAGAN – Motto: “A clueless figurehead who incessantly spouted mindless right- wing dogma.” *** Nickname: The Boil On History’s Buttocks *** Pro: Once starred in films with Errol Flynn. Con: Was the very embodiment of the “Greed is good” 1980’s.
41. GEORGE H.W. BUSH – Motto: ” If not for Ronald Reagan I’d never have been elected!” *** Nickname: Ike *** Pro: Unlike his predecessor, he actually knew what decade it was. *** Con: His every word and deed was more annoying than fingernails on a chalkboard.
42. BILL CLINTON – Motto: “Don’t resign like that pussy Nixon did! Make ’em DRAG you out if they can!” *** Nickname: Old Trailer Park Trash *** Pro: Actually displayed some fundamental administrative competence. Con: Used the institution of the presidency as a get-rich- quick scheme.
43. GEORGE W. BUSH – Motto: ” Criticism of my speaking abilities is like ducks off my back … or water we’ve all passed under the bridge, or something.” *** Nickname: The Sage of Walden Pond *** Pro: When I think of one I’ll get back to you. Con: Completely squandered the general good will that many nations were willing to extend to the United States after the 9-11 attacks.
*** BARACK OBAMA IS OFFICIALLY THE WORST U.S. PRESIDENT EVER ***
44. BARACK OBAMA – Motto: “A clueless figurehead who incessantly spouts mindless left- wing dogma!” *** Nickname: A tie between “The Condescender-In- Chief” and “The Tabula Rasa On Which The Sixties Generation Writes Their Presidential Fantasies” *** Pro: He and his hopelessly embittered wife have made as many stupid remarks as George W Bush ever did and they’re all immortalized on Youtube! Con: Simple- mindedly insists on viewing the 21st century strictly in terms of the issues and conflicts of the 1960’s because he has no ideas of his own.
Well, there you go! Now liberal zombies can accuse me of being a conservative and conservative zombies can accuse me of being a liberal! What a strange thing the American political scene has become thanks to uncompromising partisan zealots. Anyway, enjoy this holiday dedicated to a long line of people who abused the public trust while feathering their own nests and lecturing their constituents about living up to a moral and ethical code they themselves constantly violated.
FOR A SIMILAR IRREVERENT LOOK AT AMERICA’S VICE-PRESIDENTS CLICK HERE.
AND FOR MORE OF MY TAKES ON MINDLESS LIBERALS AND MINDLESS CONSERVATIVES CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/liberals-and-conservatives/
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.