Monday, February 7, 2011

Eisenhower vs. Atchison

Dwight D. Eisenhower

34th President of the United States
Served: 1953-1961
Age During Term: 62-70
PROS: He stopped the freaking Nazis. Shouldn't that be enough for you? No? Well, how about...

ToughnessEisenhower's military career started in 1911, when he enrolled in West Point. After failing to make the baseball team, he walked onto the academy's football team. Keep in mind this was a full 5 years after Teddy Roosevelt bullied the sport into accepting the forward pass as a way to prevent people from dying while playing. Eisenhower became one of the cadets' stars, managing to tackle Jim Thorpe in a 1912 contest. And you know the deal about Thorpe...

Tactics and TactFollowing his graduation from West Point, Eisenhower kicked around the Army a little bit, studying military history and tactics wherever he could. He eventually wound up discussing tank warfare tactics with none other than George S. Patton. Their ideas would initially find little purchase with the upper echelons of the Army, but would become crucial during that little dust-up called the Second World War. And about WWII... He started the war as part of the team drawing up the official Allied Battle Plan for both the European and Pacific theatres. Before long, he was leading that unit. This turned out to be the template for him throughout the entire war: show up somewhere, wind up in charge. He let this wave ride him all the way up the chain until he was basically running the entire Allied show in Europe. No small feat, considering the amount of people he had to finesse, all while preparing for and executing the largest amphibious invasion in history. Bottom line: Ike got shit done.

Cons: Age?It would be hard for most people to win a fight to the death at 62 years old, although it should be pointed out that such age is hardly uncommon in this tournament. Still, his opponent has 20 years on him, so Ike is going to need to tread carefully.

Lack of combat experienceThough his career began around the same time as World War I, Eisenhower was never deployed in that particular scrap. Since shooting engagements were few and far between in the mid-war period, Eisenhower ended up leading the Army despite having precisely no combat experience. That lack of experience clearly didn't hurt then — might it hurt in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™?

Also — how do you get from "Dwight" to "Ike"? Can someone explain this?

David Rice Atchison

"President of the United States for One Day"
Served: March 4, 1849
Age during term: 41

HttCttD NOTE: As James K. Polk's term ended on March 4, 1849, Zachary Taylor was scheduled to take office that day. However, since that was a Sunday, Taylor refused to hold the inauguration on that day. Since Taylor and his vice president, Millard Fillmore, did not take the oath, it is believed by some that the President pro tempore of the United States Senate would have been considered president until Taylor took the oath. And that was David Rice Atchison.

PROS: Youthful and stress-free — Atchison may be the youngest one in the pool.

Also, you know how they say one four-year term ages a president 10 years? Atchison didn't serve four years. He "served" one day. Maybe, in keeping with that logic, it could be argued that he aged 2 1/2 days on that day. However, he later told a St. Louis newspaper that he spent much of the day catching up on sleep. Doesn't sound like much of a stressful term in office.

Post-"presidential" badassery — Most post-presidential careers involve retiring quietly. Atchison's retirement wasn't all that quiet. He killed people after his "term."

When Kansas was to be admitted into the Union and the question of it being a slave or a free-soil state would be put up to the voters, Atchison recruited an armed mob known as the "Border Ruffians." Their mission statement was quite clear: "to kill every God-damned abolitionist in the district." When the state legislation was up for its first election, the ruffians seized control of polling places and cast fraudulent votes for pro-slavery candidates.

He also served as a general in the Missouri State Guard when the Civil War broke out.

CONS: No back-up, weapons or motivation — We're yet to see how Atchison handles fighting when he's not surrounded by an angry, armed mob. Also, he only seems interested in fighting to keep slaves. Maybe he can psych himself into believing that his opponents in the arena are abolitionists.

Disqualification? — A lot of people don't consider Atchison to have served as president for one day. Himself included.

This was back in the day when the president, vice president and members of Congress took office on the same day. So, while Taylor and Fillmore didn't take the oath, neither did Atchison as the President pro tempore of the United States Senate of the 31st Congress.

So did we have no government? Just plain ol' anarchy for 24 hours?

No. Even though Taylor didn't take the oath that Sunday, he became president. Had Taylor or Fillmore been incapacitated that day, then, yes, Atchison would have become president. That's not the case here.

So, how did he get into the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™?

I don't know. Look at his tombstone.

Though, there's no presidential seal.

The Fight
Doug: Granted, Eisenhower was a brilliant military mind. Having him as general during World War II was like playing Risk where your dice only roll fives and sixes. However, as was already pointed out, his history of hand-to-hand combat is lacking.

You also forgot to mention Eisenhower's health issues. He suffered a heart attack in 1955 which led to a few other problems, including a stroke in 1957. Even if he's fighting at the beginning of his term, Ike doesn't seem to have much of a fight in him.

Tony: Okay, here's my thing on Atchison: he never considered himself a "real" president. Wouldn't it stand to reason that, upon being thrown into a death match for presidents, he would get a little huffy? Maybe start pouting a bit? I think Eisenhower seizes on that weakness and steamrolls him.

And, yeah, Eisenhower had health problems, natch. However — you know who else has health problems? All the Nazis Eisenhower killed. Really, I don't think we can overlook this.

I will grant that Atchison may have a higher upside than Eisenhower, in terms of battle and whatnot, but Eisenhower is someone who already knows what he can do. You don't have time to discover yourself in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™.

Doug: I imagine Atchison would be bewildered to learn that he was included in this Oval Office Battle Royale. He may protest the idea and remark at how silly it is (actually, I imagine most of the presidents would find this silly). However, once he found himself in the ring, I can't imagine he'd stand idly by while some 60-something-year-old dude starts swinging at him. Aww, hell no!

Especially once Atchison learns Eisenhower's record with civil rights.
"What? You personally proposed and signed the first Civil Rights Act since 1875? And helped implement racial integration of public schools?"

Atchison would then become blind with fury. Suddenly, he's not in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™, he's in Kansas, circa 1855. And he's not seeing Dwight D. Eisenhower, legitimate former President of the United States. He's picturing some damned abolitionist who wants to make it illegal to own another person as property.

Tony: Yeah, what happened to the last people who tried to bust about nonsense about racial superiority around Eisenhower? MOTHERFUCKING NORMANDY. Seriously, you might as well call Ike a real-life Ark of the Covenant.

Meanwhile, who exactly is going to be whispering Eisenhower's record into Atchison's ear? Did someone in the crowd put heavy money on the one-day wonder? Did they need to make sure he got whipped into a frenzy?

Look, there are some fundamental differences between the two, but I think it comes down to this: Atchison was a regressive. He didn't like change. Especially when that change involved giving up the right to keep others in bondage. Eisenhower, meanwhile, was all about progress and modernity. Aside from the Civil Rights initiatives you referred to, he championed the Interstate Highway system, and helped get a little thing called NASA started.

At the same time, he wasn't afraid to get dirty, as all of this little CIA programs showed. Atchison better watch himself. I mean, I assume he was going to, given the circumstances, but... I'm just saying.

Doug: Okay, maybe it's time we get real about a few things. D-Day was possibly one of the finest military offensives of the 20th century, if not ever. And, yes, it was engineered in part by Eisenhower. But for the most part, people's faces did not melt.

Not Eisenhower's doing

And it should be noted that it wasn't Eisenhower himself who swam on the shores and defeated the Germans single-handedly. No, there were 175,000 Allied troops there.

I suppose we never got into if competitors have an opportunity to learn about their enemies before a fight of if they're roused from bed, get a pillow case thrown over their heads, taken straight to the arena and told to fight the other person. I imagine it's somewhere in the middle. If Atchison doesn't get to learn about Eisenhower's record, then Ike shouldn't be privy to Atchison's abolitionist-killing ways.

Either way, Ike can't hide behind Allied troops or the CIA. It's just him. And he has to stop a pissed off 41-year-old who doesn't know how he ended up in this arena.

Tony: Okay, you've lost me. Next thing I know, you'll be telling me that Ronald Reagan didn't single-handedly defeat Communism! What a silly jest that would be!

To be serious, of course Eisenhower didn't Captain America the Third Reich into dust. His record, though, shows he was someone who could turn any situation to his advantage, and good tactics are usually a good foil for blind frothing rage.

I kind of like the idea of neither combatant knowing who the hell they're dealing with. They only know they must kill. So diabolical!

Eisenhower vs. Atchison


  1. Ike was a boxer, athlete and (according to Wikipedia) even tackled Jim Thorpe. He worked his way up the ranks in the Army while Atchison was "appointed" to the rank of General in the Civil War (screams of Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator whiny entitlement issues) to serve as a glorified recruiter and admitted to spending the majority of his "term" catching up on his sleep...

    Ike goes all "Federal Aid Highway Act on Atchison and rolls right over him.

  2. ...although, truth be told, I should probably have abstained since I went to Eisenhower Middle School.

  3. At a certain point during WWII, Ike had to interupt Patton from his soldier slapping tour to tell him to shut the fuck up and stop being so crazy.........bad ass

    When the Soviets shot down Gary Powers and they accused the US of espionage......Ike was like, impossible. When they were like, no we got him...Ike was like " now what?"......Bad ass

    President for the day, a Sunday no less??

    no contest

  4. I personally think that Atchison called in the angry mob once he found out he was facing Ike, and thus did nothing but won anyway, which pretty much mirrors his presidency.

  5. @jcv: Well, problem is, fights in the Presidential Gladitorial Arena™ are supposed to be mano y mano, not mano y mob...o. So, your boy might be DQd for that.

  6. Gotta say, given Atchinson's reluctance to wake up on the day he was President, I'm not too impressed with his potential ability to kick Eisenhower's ass. Eisenhower of the bad heart vs. a sleeping racist without a mob? Eisenhower can do it.