Monday, February 18, 2008

"Most Awesome" is not always "Best"


Since Gwynyth and I are hanging out together for President's Day, it was natural for her to ask me who I felt the "Most Awesome" President was.

I immediately answered "Theodore Roosevelt". No question about it, really.

"What made him a good President?" she continued, completely ruining the possibility of a simple answer.

"Well, he hated corrupt big business and they called him the 'Trust Buster' for breaking up these giant shady deals." Of course, even I find that pretty boring and I'm not an eight-year-old girl.

"He, um, cared about the environment," I was reaching. He did care about the environment. He cared enough to keep a live lion and a bear in the White House.

"He ended some war between Japan and Russia." Lame.

The topic changed over to the real ingredients of chicken nuggets and I was free to contemplate the difference between "Most Awesome" and "Best".

Theodore Roosevelt was an asthmatic kid from a high-income New York City family. Rather than give into his frailty and play D&D in the basement, he took up boxing and became a champion pugilist, in a sense beating the asthma into submission.

He resigned as Secretary of the Navy because the job wasn't violent enough to found the Rough Riders, a group made up of Native Americans, cowboys from his days in the Dakotas, and some of his country club friends from New York. He supported the war with Spain enough to ride horseback to Cuba from Long Island himself.

Everyone knows about the Rough Riders and the Battle of San Juan Hill. Some people even know that when the horses became tired, the Rough Riders dismounted and ran up the hill on foot.

What most people don't know is that Theodore Roosevelt got off his exhausted steed, threw the beast over his shoulder and carried it up the hill by himself. He paused at the top to beat the defenders to death with his own tired horse.

Theodore Roosevelt became President when McKinley was assassinated. When word of the attack reached him, he decided to continue his camping trip rather than head back to town to watch McKinley die, though I understand the decision was a tough one for Roosevelt because both options were so completely manly.

He was elected in 1904 after serving the remainder of McKinley's term, most likely because the American people knew if he was not elected he would spend the rest of his days hunting down those that voted against him like a giant mustached killing machine.

While he was in office, Roosevelt got a letter from a cavalryman which complained about how they were forced to ride 25 miles a day.

Twenty-five miles is a long way on a horse. Rather than fixing the policy though, Roosevelt got on his own horse and rode one hundred miles a day at the age of fifty-one.

His only official act in response was to declare the author of the letter "unworthy of facial hair" which was then branded off him according to the military tradition of the time.

When he campaigned to be re-elected, some guy with a total death wish shot Roosevelt at a rally. After subduing his attacker ("subdue" in this case being "choke to death with his own entrails") Roosevelt delivered his speech with an undressed, oozing bullet hole in his chest. The words of the speech are unimportant. The message was "vote for me, I can't be killed".

This guy strolled around the White House with a gun strapped to his hip! That war between Japan and Russia? Both sides agreed to a truce to avoid having to fight Roosevelt -- By himself! And they awarded him the Nobel Prize for Peace for scaring the crap out of two whole countries!

If he were to run for office today, he'd be elected in a landslide because the only thing even a little more frightening than Theodore Roosevelt is an undead Theodore Roosevelt.

Panama Canal, Regulation of Industry, beginning the Wildlife Preserve program, getting Lincoln put on the penny, inviting the first black man to dine at the White House, creating the slogan for Maxwell House coffee, appointing the first Jewish Cabinet Secretary -- All of it pales in comparison to his willingness, nay eagerness, to do violence on others just because he liked it.

"Best President"? Maybe.

"Most Awesome President?" No freaking doubt.

And chicken nuggets are mostly corn and beaks. And probably lighter fluid.


Joe said...

Who is more awesome ...

Chuck Norris or Teddy Roosevelt?

Garrick said...

I prefer to think of them as the same person basically.
After leaving office, he let his beard grow in and got contacts.

Anonymous said...

hi garrick. i've have actually had relevant comments to add before and it didn't work for some reason, so without actually saying "test comment" and nothing else, here goes ...

(oh, I enabled cookies from

Garrick said...

Cookies rule.