Friday, May 16, 2008

Humor and the Presidency

Down through our history, presidents have provided a cornucopia of chuckles for a hard-pressed electorate. Martin Van Buren was a fop. Andrew Jackson threatened to hang people who got on his nerves. Franklin Pierce took a daily nude swim in the Potomac, and is the only sitting president who ever ran someone over with a horse. Andrew Johnson was a boozehound, Warren Harding a lush, Zachary Taylor bust a gut and died after gorging himself on milk, cherries and pickles on July Fourth. Chester Arthur was a clown, William Taft a porker, and Teddy Roosevelt wore farcical hats. Harry Truman threatened to beat up music critics, Gerald Ford fell down stairs, LBJ liked to dangle beagles by the ears, and Richard ("I'm Not a Crook") Nixon was a laugh a minute. Ronald Reagan would say inappropriate things in inappropriate settings, George H.W. Bush didn't know what a supermarket scanner was, George W. Bush projects the Alfred E. Newman look, and Jimmy Carter got attacked by a killer rabbit. As for Bill Clinton . . . well, we all know about Bill Clinton.

Read the rest of Joe Queenan on what journalists look for in a president.

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