Monday, February 15, 2010

Four Great Presidents and One Sexy, Sexy Beast of an Awesome President

In honor of Presidents Day* -- a lamer, lukewarm version of the two-days of celebration February used to hold to recognize the birthdays of Presidents Washington (2/22) and Lincoln (2/12) -- in other words, a perfect holiday for our lamer, lukewarm America -- I'll recap the whos and whys of my five personal favorite men to have ever held the highest office in the land.

(In Least to Greatest Order of Favoritude)

5. George Washington:  So beloved was General Washington, his countrymen wanted to make him king; he refused, which is enough reason to rank him highly.  How many other men who have held this office would have done the same?  Hopefully, most; but Washington set the precedent.  He also set the precedent of only serving two terms -- one adhered to by his successors in spirit until FDR's four-term hubris necessitated the legal imperative of the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.  It was a touch of the hand of God that our first president was as gracious and good an example of leadership as ever one could meet in this fallen world.

4. Theodore Roosevelt: There is such a spirit of energy and insouciance about #26 -- that sort of can-do, devil-may-care attitude that surrounded America (and Western Europe) before WWI -- and that makes me like TR in spite of myself.  He facilitated the building of America's canal in Panama -- bringing to fulfillment a trade boon long desired.  He had a high-spirited daughter who nearly drove him bonkers -- that resonates in this household.  He had weird furniture; I'm pretty sure I once saw a photo of his den with a table that had rhinoceros legs -- Sarah Palin approved!  He said "Bully!" a lot.  While I don't like the fact that he expanded federal power in general, I do like some of his conservationist tendencies, like the National Parks.  And he's much better than that wretched, over-blown cousin of his -- the excerable FDR!

3. Ronald Reagan: This will shock you, dear reader, but some people still don't like President Reagan!  I know, I'm stunned as well.  The cure for these poor folks is to go and visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.  You cannot walk the buildings and grounds there and not be moved.  The freestanding chunk of the Berlin Wall ought to be enough to remind you of a time when we were not, as a nation, afraid to assert moral authority and superiority.  I never appreciated him enough when he was prez; I'm making up for it now.

2. Calvin Coolidge: Silent Cal took over after a scandal-ridden Harding died and led with quiet integrity during one of the biggest expansions of the U.S. economy.  Refreshingly reticent for a politician, he made his few words pack a great punch, such as  "I choose not to run for president in 1928."  Did he see what was coming in October 1929?  I think that, had he been in office instead of regrettable Hoover, we'd have been spared the Great Depression and the even more loathsome FDR.

1. Grover Cleveland:  My favorite of all presidents!  This man ought to be the model for every person who aspires to hold the highest office of the land.  He had profound integrity; i.e., he did what was right, not what was politically expedient.  He was fearless, modest, hardworking, honest, understated, clear in thought and pure vision, without ever overreaching his Constitutional powers -- and is largely forgotten today by a thankless country.  The best thing you can do this Presidents Day is to make a donation to fund the Grover Cleveland Library and Museum in Buffalo, NY.

I'll still say it:  Sexy, sexy beast!

*No possessive, right? Just plural? Or, is it plural possessive? That's how Comcast's homepage has it, but I do not trust their writers -- "trading jibes" -- sheesh. My calendar has just the plural, but who knows? So confusing!


Arielle said...

Thanks to your book review of Cleveland's biography, which inspired me to read the biography in question, I also rate him as the best president we've had, for the same reasons. Now there was a man that was a "real" man!

Oh, and I told a friend's dad about that biography, which he read and now holds Cleveland in great esteem, as well!

Justine said...

Arielle -- Thanks for coming by! And I am so glad that my review of long ago inspired you to read the Cleveland bio. Wasn't he the bomb? Let's keep spreading the word about Grover!

Anonymous said...

I feel so sad about my Clevleland ignorance. What was the name of that biography again?


Justine said...

No need to fret, my dear F.S.; Grover is known to too few. Pick up from the library An Honest President by H. Paul Jeffers at your convenience. You will surely enjoy it and find yourself shortly in the pro-Cleveland camp that currently houses me, Arielle, and Arielle's friend's dad. :-)