None of the Above

I noticed yesterday that people were “celebrating” “President’s Day” by naming their favorite president or creating lists of “the best” presidents.  (If this is a typical thing I’ve honestly never noticed it before.)  My wife’s aunt asked my nine-year-old daughter who her favorite president was, and of course my daughter said “Barack Obama” because she doesn’t know any other presidents.  I can’t imagine the criteria used by adults were much better though.  I mean, what is the average person (someone who hasn’t actually studied history, that is) basing her opinion on?  Given the laughably simplistic hagiographies we get from the media and our K-12 indoctrination facilities, I’d have to say: not much.  George Washington beat the British and chopped down some cherry trees.  Abe Lincoln freed the slaves, and he was honest.  Ronnie Reagan told the guy with the stain on his head to tear down that wall and he liked jelly beans.  Slick Willy really seemed to care.  It reminds me of the scene in Back to School where the lit prof asks Thornton Mellon to tell her about the The Great Gatsby, and Thornton says, “He was…uh…great!”

So who’s my favorite president?  The one who died a few months after taking office (I never said I studied history) because he wasn’t in the job long enough to do any damage.


Go to faraway place, lose limb, be used by large automaker to sell cars

My favorite ad (meaning the one that jumped out as the most shameless piece of manipulative shit) that ran during the Commercial Bowl the other day was the one that tried to pass itself off as a “tribute” to our heroic heroes in uniform (whose sacrifice makes all of this endless whoring possible, no doubt) before revealing itself at the last moment as a sales pitch for Jeep.  The ad itself consisted of a video collage of picturesque small towns, rosy-cheeked marines in their dress uniforms, and rippling flags, underscored by maudlin music and a voice-over spouting all the usual platitudes about the military.  I love cynical appeals to the patriotism of the ignorant as a sales ploy.  It makes me proud to be an American.  Next time I think they should go whole hog, though.  I want to see smoking Humvees, triple amputees, and body bags, with the message: Buy a Jeep.  You don’t want these lives to have been ruined for nothing, do you?