ASSHOLES OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY

by Matt on July 14, 2009

1a

Franklin Pierce, 14th President, 1853-1857

Though dashingly handsome by the standards of the day (more than one source has called him the only real “Hunk-in-Chief”), Pierce was cursed from the moment he defeated his whale of a rival, Winfield Scott, in the 1852 election. On January 6, 1853, a few months before Inauguration day, Pierce and his family were involved in a train accident near Andover, Massachusetts, one in which the only fatality happened to be Pierce’s beloved son, 11-year-old Benjamin. From that moment on, Pierce spent the remainder of his days drinking, sighing heavily, and being routinely snubbed by his psychotic wife, Jane, who wandered the White House screaming obscenities. Between bouts of ham-fisted drunkenness and blind rage, Pierce summarily ignored the impending slavery crisis and growing clouds of war, dismissing Bleeding Kansas as a “mere trifle” that would somehow work itself out. “Just leave me the fuck out of it,” he is rumored to have grunted. His legacy is further hampered by having appointed full-tilt traitor Jefferson Davis to head the War Department. His Vice President, Jimmy Buchanan’s fabulously tippy-toed lover William Rufus King, had the good sense to drop dead fifteen minutes into the whole stinking mess; though, as was custom, no one bothered to suggest a replacement.

1b

James Buchanan, 15th President, 1857-1861

No wonder the gay lobby has been trying to secure
Lincoln in its rainbow camp these past few years, what with this disaster standing as the one and only homosexual ever to hold the nation’s top job. If you suspect rumor and innuendo to be behind history’s judgment, I suggest a cursory reading of the Buchanan/King letters, most of which read like Penthouse Forum, only with a great deal of “wooing” standing in for golden showers. Still, few doubt the real meaning behind the era’s “Lancaster Steamer.” Besides winking that delightfully wonkish eyeball in the direction of Washington’s most eligible bachelors, “Bucky,” as he was known to the K Street bathhouse elite, spent his torturous four years pretending the nation was continually on the cusp of a new birth of freedom, except, of course, for that pesky slavery thing. From the Dred Scott case to the Panic of 1857, Buchanan was on the wrong side of history in every way that counts, up to and including his failure to wipe the scourge of Mormonism from the fucking globe when he had the means and justification to do so. As stated, James had a wild affair with W.R. King, Pierce’s running mate, who died soon after taking office. According to legend, Buchanan was inconsolable, though he managed to sneak into the VP’s closet from time to time in later years to sniff his topcoat.

1c

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President, 1913-1921

Ignore his landmark first term, complete with more Progressive reforms than even the presumed standard-bearer, Theodore Roosevelt, can claim as his own. From 1915 on, Woody, at heart an old fashioned minister from the humorless, tight-lipped, self-righteous school of messianic ambition, bathed, dined, and slept with every manner of munitions manufacturer, banker, and war monger to ensure the country’s leadership in creating Nazi Germany. In addition to being solely responsible for no fewer than 75 million deaths during the middle part of the 20th century, Wilson used the mandate of a second term to deny civil rights, empower J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI (then in its infancy), jail dissenters, and turn the country over to the merchants of death; a vice-like grip that has, to this day, never relented. Wilson’s ego, perhaps rivaled only by LBJ’s, was so colossal and warped that even after suffering a near-fatal stroke, he refused to resign, spending his final years in bed, curtains drawn, while handing over his duties to his young, sex-obsessed second wife, Edith, whom he married while attending the funeral of his first wife, Ellen. Other than ruining the world and wiping his ass daily with a copy of the Constitution secured from the National Archives, Woody confused Birth of a Nation for a documentary and ordered dozens of black men lynched as a precaution.

1d

Warren G. Harding, 29th President, 1921-1923

Some might think that spending a little over two years drinking, screwing, and holding round-the-clock poker tournaments constitutes a successful presidency, but Harding went and fucked it all up by dying too soon to really embarrass himself. Though surrounding himself with crooks, liars, thieves, and barbarians, Warren himself stood above the din, the first truly dimwitted chief executive who could be excused with plausible deniability. What’s more, he knew it. Whether banging cocktail waitresses and flappers in Oval Office closets, sending hush money to a slew of past and present lovers, or being present while prostitutes were being murdered at wild parties, Harding presided over a delightful mess of an abbreviated term, having the decency to die of a “heart attack” in
San Francisco just two years in. History has made its judgment, but true believers still know he was felled by his hysterical wife, Florence, the real power behind the throne, who saw trouble ahead and couldn’t bear to watch him impeached. Still, despite the scandals and incompetence, Harding damn near stayed off this list for being one of the chosen few to come within a hair of murdering a member of his own cabinet, one Charles Forbes, after choking the bastard for stealing a fortune from the Veterans Bureau. Harding was also known for his matinee idol good looks, upbeat personality, and rumored Negro ancestry, best typified by his garbled syntax.

1e

Andrew Johnson, 17th President, 1865-1869

Illiterate well into adulthood, the first President Johnson also has the distinction of being the only man to send the usually affable Abraham Lincoln into a shit-faced rage after showing up drunk to his own Inauguration as Vice President. Having escaped assassination by being the one guy to draw the coward of the conspiracy, Johnson used his single term to alienate everyone around him, including his own wife, servants, cabinet, and coachman. So irredeemably racist as to give Nathan Bedford Forrest pause, Andy worked tirelessly to veto each and every attempted reform by the Republicans, only to watch his work go up in the flames of the dreaded override. He escaped removal from office by a single vote, and though the charges were trumped up at best, history has proven that he alone warranted impeachment simply for being an asshole. He broke his promise of holding the treasonous South accountable and, despite appearing progressive in the early days, ending up doing more to destroy Reconstruction than the shiftless freedmen who cluttered up Congress with the cries of raped white maidens and clatter of stripped chicken bones. Dumber than a half-empty box of rusty nails, Johnson venerated the farmer beyond all reason, believing the “simple man” to be the nation’s future. As such, he favored states’ rights, white supremacy, and swift defeat of the 14th Amendment. To his credit, he tried to restore his image with a national tour, but quickly gave up and slept away his remaining days; broken, humiliated, and still achingly stupid. He is buried with a copy of the Constitution, presumably to serve as an eternal reminder of what he opposed every waking second of his sad life.

About

Matt is the site’s Longest Serving Critic and chief misanthrope. He divides his time between classics of cinema and the most ridiculous movies he can find on Redbox.
Follow Matt: @mattcale52

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