The Billings Outpost

Post-election, a compendium of presidential quirks

Sour grapes. Many Americans were surprised by President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney. A billboard on New York’s Manhattan Island lamented: “Romney couldn’t even beat Obama.”

Sorry, but the message sparks no sympathy from us knee jerk liberals. Back in 2000, our man Albert Gore Jr. couldn’t win with a plurality. Gore outpolled George W. Bush 50,999,897 to 50,456,002 in 2000. Bush 43 did better in the Supreme Court, where he won 5 to 4. Gore flunked out of the Electoral College, outdistanced by Bush 271 to 266.

Neither Romney nor Obama was the biggest man to ever win the nation’s top job. That title goes to President William Howard Taft. Taft squashed the scale at 300 pounds. His moustache weighed eight pounds, three ounces. Taft was succeeded by Woodrow Wilson. Wilson wasn’t half the man Taft was.

Grover Cleveland was twice the man Taft was - in his own way. Cleveland is remembered as the 22nd and 24th presidents of the United States.

He ran and won. Ran and lost. Ran again and won again. Because his terms were not consecutive, each was added to the count.

James Madison, our fourth president, was a hobbit. Madison was 5 foot 4 and weighed 100 pounds. His mentor, Thomas Jefferson, used to carry Madison around in his jacket pocket. Folks called him “Jamey.” He hated the nickname.

William Henry Harrison barely served as president. Tyler was never elected president. He was the first vice president to succeed to the presidency upon the death of his predecessor, in this case, William H. Harrison. Mean boys in Congress called him “His Accidency.”

He probably would not have been elected given a chance. He looked a lot like Ichabod Crane (Disney’s version). Who wants to vote for Ichabod Crane?

Two of Tyler’s grandchildren are alive today. Men in the Tyler family were known to sire children late. John fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler in 1853, at age 63. At the age of 71, Lyon Gardiner Tyler fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. in 1924 and four years later at age 75, Harrison Ruffin Tyler. Both men are still alive.

James K. Polk was the first president to be called a “dark horse.” His fishing buddies called him “Jimbo” and his mom called him “My little Jimmie Whimmie.” Scholars have ranked him favorably on the list of greatest presidents for his ability to set an agenda and achieve all of it.

On the other hand, Polk has been called the “least known consequential president” of the United States. Sounds like pundits today. Polk courted war with Great Britain before fighting a real war with Mexico. He promised to annex Texas.

Millard Fillmore, the 13th president, was the last Whig to hold the job. Fillmore had more than his share of trouble. Southerners clamored for him to create several slave states in the Southwest territory recently taken from Mexico.

The French tried to take Hawaii. The Brits made a play for Cuba. After leaving the White House, Fillmore became a Know-Nothing and later a Unitarian.

Q: What did the following men have in common: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison?

A: All were British citizens. All were born in British colonies before said colonies declared their Independence.

The great tribe of “Birthers” (those who swore Barack Obama was not American) may be tickled to learn that Obama also qualifies as a British-born American President.

Obama’s father was a native of Kenya, which was a British colony at the time of his birth. Barack Obama Sr. could claim both British and Kenyan citizenship. Descent from a British father made the future president a Brit as well as a Kenyan.

Kenya became independent in 1963. Its new Constitution outlawed dual citizenship for adults. Barack Obama Sr.’s citizenship reverted to Kenyan. Barack Junior, the future president of the United States, lost his Kenyan citizenship in 1984 upon turning 23. Kenya’s Constitution prohibits dual citizenship for adults (those 23 or older).

Chester A. Arthur also started life as a British citizen. His father was born in Ireland and moved to Canada before his son’s birth. The future president Arthur was born in New York 14 years before his father became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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