Parts of this post have appeared previously on Stonekettle Station. In fact, parts of this post appear every year on this date.
So, Presidents Day.
Or is it Presidents’ Day?
I can never remember where to put the apostrophe.
We should call today what it is, Just Another Random Reason To Close the Post Office Day.
Whose dumb idea was this anyway?
No, really, considering the sheer level of contempt most Americans have for their government these days, not to mention specifically and in particular the president, we’re really going to celebrate something called president’s day? Presidents Day? Seriously?
What are the Presidents Day traditions? Do we burn down our garages while deep frying a turkey full of firecrackers? Is there animal sacrifice involved? Do we put up colored lights? Gift wrap fudgesickles? Paint eggs? Shoot guns into the air and light our farts? (that would be my choice, just saying). Should we maybe nail some guy to a cross and poke him with sticks? Burn witches and dress up in costumes based on the latest Spielberg movie? Is there a corned beef and leprechauns involved? Shouldn’t there be some kind of sporting event and a parade in New York? What? I’m a little hazy on what this day is supposed to be about. Does Hallmark even make a card for President’s Day? Would it be like The holiday season? You know, Christmas cards for right thinking true actual Americans, Chanukah cards for the Jews, Generic Festivus Card for the non-believers, money orders for the Scientologists, and like that?
Are there Liberal and Conservative President’s Day cards? If not, somebody is seriously missing out on a lucrative business opportunity.
Like The holidays, do people get pissy if you don’t call it after their particular thing? Xidents Day? Ooooh, I’m so offended! Offended, I tell you! This is the day that we celebrate the magical virgin birth of little baby George Washington who was delivered unto America in a cloud of sparkly Angel wings by Jesus! By God, this day isn’t about celebrating Lincoln. It’s not about Taft. It’s not Grover Cleveland day! It’s Washington! George Reagan Jefferson Washington! Why has [insert generic political object of derision] declared war on little baby George Washington? Why?!
What’s the greeting? Every holiday has a salutation of some kind. Merry Christmas, Kiss Me I’m Irish lets go back to my place and have drunken leprechaun sex, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Easter (or as it’s known around here, Yikes! Zombies!). What’s the salutation for Presidents’ Day?
Presidents Day. How can this be a real holiday?
Folks, think about it, there isn’t a even a pie.
That’s right, all real American holidays worth closing the Post Office for come with pie. Presidents Day? No pie.
I think I’ve made my point here.
Presidents Day, it’s ridiculous.
Now, of course, originally, we celebrated George Washington’s birthday and that was okay. No pie, but okay.
Because, Americans being Americans, they declared their independence from England, told the Crown to shove off, spit on the idea of aristocracy and royalty and the divine right of kings, and made all men equal – and then immediately set about elevating their own set of icons to worship.
Starting with George.
I guess I can dig that. George Washington was the father of the United States, born in Texas, he was a personal friend of Jesus, he threw a hundred dollar bill across the Mississippi, he wrestled a polar bear when he was only three wearing nothing but a coonskin cap and freed the slaves at the Alamo, and then he fought off the Nazis after they bombed Pearl Harbor – or something.
OK, I’m not sure exactly what George did, but he’s Sarah Palin’s hero and that’s good enough for me.
But that wasn’t good enough for everybody else, oh no.
Pretty soon, people wanted the day off for their favorite President too.
So then we had Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. That was fun, people dressed up in stovepipe hats and went to see a play…
But before you knew it, Americans were talking about taking the day off for Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday too.
And then there was Benjamin Franklin’s birthday - he was never the President, but he’s on the money and that confused a lot of people and besides he discovered electricity and Pop Tarts and that ought to be worth a couple days of drinking and tailgating and some kind of bowl game.
Pretty soon folks were talking about taking Grover Cleveland’s wedding anniversary off and going up to Big Bear for a four day weekend.
Then somebody came up with the idea of Vice President’s day, and Speaker of the House Day, and Take Your Press Secretary To Lunch Day, and Spend A Night In The Motel 6 With Your Congressional Page Day.
By the end of the 1960’s, things were totally out of hand – there were so many holidays that the 60’s seemed like one long party. That’s where hippies and venereal disease came from. The 60’s were not, in fact, a cultural revolution, it just seemed that way because everybody had been basically drunk for a decade – which, come to think of it, also explains the hygiene issues.
So around about 1971, Congress sobered up long enough to create Presidents Day.
Technically, it’s supposed to be Washington’s Birthday but saying that out loud started the whole “what about my president!” thing all over again. So we just call it Presidents Day. Or President’s Day. Or maybe Presidents’ Day – nobody is really sure what to do about that stupid apostrophe.
The problem with “Presidents Day” is that it is supposed to be a day we all take off and ruminate on the greatness of our leaders here in the US. And sure, that sounds terrific in principle, but in reality there were some real duds in the ol’ Presidential line up.
Take Marty Van Buren:
Give this guy a red rubber nose and we’re talking Bozo the Clown here. And that’s how a lot of people felt about him. In the 1830’s there was basically no federal banking regulation and Wall Street just sort of did whatever it pleased – including handing out huge loans to people who couldn’t pay them back, ever. A massive financial crisis resulted. Marty was a rich elitist and liked to live the highlife, you can imagine what the average voter thought of him by the end of his first term.
Fortunately, thanks to Congress and modern laws, nothing like that can happen these days.
Or how about John Tyler:
Tyler ended up in the White House by default. President William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech in history – in the pouring rain, in freezing temperatures, without a coat or a hat. As a result he had the shortest presidency of all time when he died from pneumonia less than a month later.
Hey, I’m all about term limits, but that seems a little extreme.
John Tyler, who was Harrison’s Vice President, was sworn in as the booby prize. Tyler was so widely despised that he is often confused for George W. Bush by historians. His entire cabinet resigned in protest of his policies. The House tried to impeach him and he was actually thrown unceremoniously out of his own party. After he was eventually evicted from the Oval Office, he joined the Confederacy and died during the Civil War as a Representative of the CSA House.
Personally, I think the guy missed his calling, he could have made a killing as the “before” picture for any number of laxative manufacturers.
And do we really want to celebrate James Buchanan?
It’s creepy uncle Fester!
What? Nobody owned a comb back in the 1800’s?
Buchanan, besides being the inspiration for Donald Trump’s hair stylist, basically caused the Civil War.
No doubt they’ll be raising a few glasses in his memory down South today.
How about Rutherford B. Hayes?
The only President with a more sissified first name than Millard Fillmore (seriously, Millard? Were his parents just trying to get him beat up every single day of his life?).
Hayes lost the popular vote, but won the Presidency in court – thank God that kind of shit doesn’t go on any more.
His inauguration was actually held in secret, for fear that he’d be assassinated if he appeared in public for his swearing in. You know, I’m not a superstitious man, but I’d consider that a somewhat less than auspicious start to any administration.
Wait, it gets better, his wife was known as Lemonade Lucy because she banned alcohol from the White House – funny, but you’d think she’d drink pretty much continuously if she had to sleep with this guy. C’mon, Lucy, give The Beard some sugar!
Then there’s Warren Harding:
Widely regarded as “The Lost Munster,” Harding is considered by most American historians as probably the only US president who can’t look at George W. Bush and say, “Well, at least I didn’t suck as much as that guy.”
He was easily corrupted, a serial adulterer, an astoundingly horrible leader, and a worse public speaker – in fact, this guy was so bad at talking out loud, that he made Dan Quayle look like the president of Toastmasters.
Also, he was the guy behind the Teapot Dome scandal.
He died in office and the only reason anybody even noticed was because things started getting better.
How about this guy?
I’m going to be honest with you here, I think William Jefferson Clinton is the perfect role model for an American holiday.
Frankly I don’t think it gets any more American than this guy. Left, Right, independent, c’mon there isn’t a male in all of America that doesn’t secretly fantasize about getting a hummer from an amply cushioned cute intern in the Oval Office. I mean if you’re not getting free gratuitous sex, what’s the point of being President in the first place? It’s not like there’s pie.
Now, it is true that I hate Bill Clinton. It’s personal. He’s the guy who caused my conservative 80 year old mother to use the word “blowjob” in a sentence, at dinner. Folks, that’ll put you off sex, and dinner, for a while. Thanks, Bill.
But really, what better way to celebrate President’s day than we watch the game, we eat junk food and swap stories of our sexual conquests that may or may not be true. And later on we’ll have a cigar and not have sex with that woman (wink wink). Twice.
Now that’s a holiday tradition most Americans could get behind (or in front of, depending on your fancy, but I digress). That’s a damned holiday.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stuff the turkey with firecrackers before putting it in the deep fryer.
Happy George Washington’s Birthday, folks.