You know, I'm tired of celebrating lame, crappy, and boring presidents. In fact, I have been kind of dreading coming up with this post all weekend. Oh, My Stars and Garters is not supposed to be about dread; quite the contrary!
So let's take a break this year. This year, I invite you to listen to this recording of LBJ ordering pants from the Haggar company. If you haven't heard this yet, you are in for a treat--I never get sick of it.
St. Murse shook his virtual fist at Zachary Taylor in a comment on last year's Presidents' Day post, so I thought that would be a good starting point for this year's celebration. But what I found was a mixed bag: "Old Rough and Ready" was a blunt, near-illiterate mess who owned slaves and would not commit to many of the issues of the day.
Still, even though he himself owned slaves, he held a moderate stance on the issue, and his handling of the statehood petitions for California and New Mexico caused those states to be admitted to the union as non-slaveholding states.
My extremely shallow research on the matter seems indicates that Taylor's maneuverings were more a politically practical attempt to avoid exacerbating tensions between the North and South than some great moral stance, but still, he did it, and he also showed military skill and great bravery in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War (the arrogance and evil inherent in the pursuit of Manifest Destiny notwithstanding).
Oh, hell. Perhaps after eight Presidents' Days I am running out of truly crappy presidents--well, there's still Nixon and a few others, I'm sure--or maybe in my advancing age I am less prone to see things in black and white.
It would have been tricky in any case to preside over a country recently reunited after a bitter civil war, but Andrew Johnson did not exactly do a stellar job. Widely regarded as a decent and well-intentioned fellow, he nevertheless granted blanket amnesty to Confederates during a Congressional recess, vetoed legislation that would have granted rights and support to former slaves, and became the first U.S. president to be impeached after he replaced his secretary of war without Congressional approval, intentionally violating a law specifically enacted to protect the sitting secretary.
Wait! What's going on here? There's no room for nuance on Presidents' Day! Enough with the historical background--it's time to congratulate Andrew Johnson for being the seventh president in our series of lame, crappy, or boring presidents!
Whoops, I almost missed this year! So forthepastfiveyears I've honored one of America's crappy, lame, or boring presidents, and for five years I've been avoiding the most obvious one. But I'm tired and I'm running out of Presidents' Day here, and so...oh, hell, there's no point in even saying anything about him, is there?
On a completely unrelated note, I found this article fascinating. Happy Presidents' Day, everyone!
A victim of bad timing as well as a woefully ineffectual crisis manager, Herbert Hoover is pretty much synonymous with the Great Depression.
Not-very-interesting facts about him: He was a Quaker; he publicly supported Prohibition in the name of political expediency while secretly enjoying a drink or six hundred himself; Calvin Coolidge gave him the derisive nickname of "Wonder Boy" when he served as Coolidge's secretary of commerce.
Sucks to have been you, Mr. Hoover! But please take posthumous solace in the knowledge that you're number five in our series of lame, crappy, or boring presidents.
What kind of craphead barely gets elected, advocates not only the continuation but the expansion of slavery, loses the Democratic party's nomination for reelection, aligns himself with the Confederacy, and finally dies of cirrhosis of the liver*?
*Although to his credit, according to Wikipedia, he supposedly said, "There's nothing left to do but get drunk," after he lost the nomination. Also, many websites report he was arrested for running over an old woman with his horse. We here at Oh, My Stars and Garters! salute that kind of behavior. Happy Presidents' Day, sir! Happy, happy Presidents' Day.
Single and singularly jowly, James Buchanan served as president from 1857 to 1861. He distinguished himself by basically sitting on his ass for four years, hoping the growing North-South rift would go away on its own.
He also advocated the admission of Kansas as a slave state, when history tells us both that slavery is wrong and that Kansas should never have been admitted into the union but instead neatly excised from our land mass and cast into the ocean, wheatfields and all.
Here's to you, James Buchanan, our third in a series of lame, crappy, or boring presidents!