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.

Mass Lunacy

I had the same initial reaction as Prof Crispy to the public displays of emotion in North Korea following the death of Little Elvis.  I thought they had to be fake—especially those of the news readers, who were apparently so choked up that they couldn’t even make the announcement—all part of an elaborate charade meant to assure the official minders that everyone is still firmly on-board with the regime.  Or, if by some chance these people actually were crying, it had to be the result of years and decades of brainwashing on a massive scale.  Either way, it was an inkling of how much it must suck to live in a place where the head of state is regarded with such reverence.  Then it occurred to me that here in America, a country supposedly founded on opposition to rule by powerful figureheads, we’re not too far behind.  Almost fifty years out, and people are still nostalgic for Came-a-lot, and look at all the pomp and bullshit that went along with the death of Saint Ronnie a few years ago.  I thought they were never going to put that fucker in the ground.  And, for a more recent example, of course, there’s always this.