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A few interesting notes about the Club of 43
Just this week, as we were putting up our Presidents' Day tree and stringing our multi-colored lights on the porch to honor the men who have led our country, the thought occurred to me that not everyone pays much attention to this holiday.

About that time, I popped the head off my dapper Chester A. Arthur ornament and almost tripped over our Warren G. Harding action figure, complete with mistress and Teapot Dome playset.

It seems that today's media and political demagogues, along with historical revisionists, have so maligned the Presidents and the office, we've lost sight of the facts.

For example, when the subjects of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson come up, you're more likely to hear one referred to as a slaveholder, or and the other as more well known for allegedly having an affair with a slave. The stuff about being Founding Fathers, leading a successful military campaign against staggering odds or writing a paper called the Declaration of Independence seems to have been pushed to page 2.

But, at least for this week, the Soapbox is here to focus on the positive.

So, in the knowledge that many of you will be attending Presidents' Day parties or having private family gatherings at home, we want to make you — our already highly intelligent readers — the life of the party.

Therefore, we will be providing facts on some of our favorite and least favorite members of the Club of 43, so you can win friends and impress people:

·George Washington — Washington was the only President to be elected unanimously, and in perhaps his most admirable move, was not a member of a political party (why do they call them "parties" when they really aren't much fun?). History has underestimated his prescience, as he refused to run for a third term — which he surely would have been elected to — and urged the country to avoid political parties and involvement in foreign wars and the domestic affairs of other nations.

While Washington was in charge, the government offices moved from New York to Philadelphia and plans were made for relocation to the District of Columbia.

· John Adams — He was the first cranky old man elected President, and the first to live in the White House. In a little known fact, he and his family actually got lost in the woods on their way to Washington.

Among Adams' accomplishments were his key contributions to the Constitution and the establishment of the Department of the Navy.

·Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson, I have to admit, is one of my very favorite Presidents. It was a real treat a couple of years ago to visit his home in Charlottesville, Va. This column is not long enough to begin to list his accomplishments, but it should tell you something that the epitaph on his headstone makes no mention of his being the 3rd President of the United States. It is also interesting that both he and Adams died on the Fourth of July in 1826.

·John Quincy Adams — With his dad, another of of my not favorites, although he comes with a great story.

The first American female journalist, Anne Royall, tried many times to interview Adams, but he refused. Royall then found out that the President liked to swim nude in the Potomac River at 5 a.m. each day ... so, one day she went out to his spot and sat on his clothes until he agreed to talk to her. He was also the first President to be photographed.

·Andrew Jackson — Jackson is one of my favorites on several levels, but my all time favorite revolves around his being the first President to survive an assassination attempt ... and the only chief executive to then run his would be attacker down and beat the every living *&^5 out of him.

·James K. Polk — One of the North Carolina Presidents. Polk has been pretty much overlooked in the course of talking about accomplishments by elected officials.

Perhaps this is because he is one of the few politicians who did what he said he was going to do, and then quit. He promised to establish a firm Northern border with Canada, set the southern border with Mexico at the Rio Grande and acquire what is now the American Southwest. While he was in office, tariffs were lowered, the Treasury was reorganized, the Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institution were established.

·Rutherford Hayes — People who thought the Bush-Gore mess in Florida in 2000 was awful need only to look back at Hayes' victory in 1876 for something far worse.

Some states turned in two sets of electoral votes, and Samuel Tilden had won the popular vote. Tilden only needed to win one of the disputed votes; however, a "special" Congressional commission ended up trading the White House for the end of Reconstruction in the South — which, ironically, probably would have ended almost a decade earlier had Abraham Lincoln not been killed.

·Theodore Roosevelt — Teddy would have to be considered another of my top favorites, if for no other reason than he was shot just before giving a speech once, and refused medical treatment until he was done (he was campaigning at the time, not actually President).

Roosevelt was a war hero, busted up the monopolistic trusts of the early 20th century, established national parks, was instrumental in getting the Pure Food and Drug Act passed and helped end the Russo-Japanese War without getting U.S. troops involved.

·Woodrow Wilson — Not a favorite by a longshot, but interestingly enough, maybe a bit of foreshadowing of Hillary Clinton here. Wilson had a stroke in office and it is widely believed his wife basically served as President ... a joke frequently made during another non-favorite's term about 75 years later — Bill Clinton.

·Herbert Hoover — A not very good President who spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it ... think Jimmy Carter.

·Franklin Roosevelt — Maybe the President who gets the most good ink — and for good reason, as he was certainly the right man for the jobs of getting the U.S. through the Depression and World War II. However, one of the most interesting things that happened during FDR's reign was his attempt to double the number of Supreme Court Justices because of the trouble the Supreme Court caused him.

·Dwight Eisenhower — In my Top 5 with Washington, Jefferson, TR and Reagan.

He helped end WWII as the brilliant Supreme Commander. He helped end the Korean War and get my dad home from that forsaken place. He approved the formation of the Civil Rights Commission.

Things went downhill after his Presidency after we had the Cuban Missile Crisis and the later scandals of JFK, the debacle of LBJ and no explanation is needed for Nixon. Ford was too nice of a guy and did himself in by pardoning Nixon. Carter proved incompetent.

Reagan was a great one who was made fun of by the media, until most of what he said and did turned out to be right on the money by the time he died. Bush I could have been great and blew it, and it appears Bush II is following the same path. Clinton will hardly be remembered in history — except for lots of scandalous footnotes.

And next year, we get to add Number 44.

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Members Opinions:
February 14, 2007 at 12:00am
OH! If I had known that that's what the multi-colored lights on the porch were, then I could have turned on my "classy" white lights in celebration too! Happy Presidents' Day!



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