Monday, April 25, 2011

Coolidge vs. Mansfield

Calvin Coolidge
30th President of the United States
Served 1923-1929
Age during term: 51-56

PROS: Silent... but Deadly — We'll be honest. Calvin Coolidge is not exactly the most renowned president in American history. However, there is one story about ol' Cal that has made the rounds for a long time, and you've probably heard it, somewhere. The gist is, Coolidge was a man of famously few words. One night, at a White House dinner party, Coolidge allegedly found himself seated next to poet/socialite Dorothy Parker. Parker allegedly remarked, "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." Coolidge's alleged reply? "You lose."
After that, Parker was immediately whisked to the hospital, where she was admitted to the SICK BURNS unit.
"So what?" you say, disdainfully. "That won't help him in the arena." How can you be so sure? After all, that time Coolidge spends not talking? Is spent thinking, calculating, strategizing. He's going to find your weakness, and he's going to exploit it.

Ironic side-note: Silent Cal was not only the first President to have a speech broadcast by national radio, but he was also the first president captured on film with sound included.

Self-made Man — Coolidge spent his years before going into politics as a rather successful lawyer, founding his own law firm in 1898, and steadily growing it over the years. Not bad for someone who never spent a day in law school! Yup, you heard that right, Coolidge passed the bar in Massachusetts having never attended law school. Instead, Coolidge apprenticed at a law firm, and built his legal knowledge through a practice known as "reading law," which sounds boring, but apparently produced many a lawyer in the days before attending law school was, you know, required.
Frank Abignale never cared for such requirements. But that's beside the point.
You can't teach the kind of self-confidence that comes with that sort of start. And, you can't deny Coolidge was a success, either. Those factors are going to give him a good mental edge headed into his deathmatch.

CONS: Melancholy — All that stuff about Coolidge being Mr. Confidence-Pants? Well, that only really would count if we're getting a 1923-early 1924 Coolidge in the arena. Otherwise? Tragedy struck the Coolidge family in the summer of '24, when Cal's youngest son, Calvin Jr., developed a blister while playing tennis at the White House. Hey, no big deal, just a blister, right? Right, until young Cal developed sepsis. And died within days.
We don't really have a joke for this, so... kittens!
This occurred right in the middle of the 1924 presidential election campaign, which ended up being a much more subdued affair. Yes, Coolidge won handily (even though parts of his own party split off after the Republican Convention), but he was observed to be severely forlorn and withdrawn afterwards. Coolidge himself later admitted, "when [Cal Jr.] died, the power and glory of the Presidency went with him." Coolidge never really recovered, and declined to run for re-election in 1928. This kinda doesn't seem like someone who could win a fight to the death, you know?

Too lassiez-faire? — Look, the economy tends to go in cycles. The 1990s were boom times. Then, the dot-com bubble burst, September 11 happened, and it was bust times. The pendulum swings back and forth. However, that's not to say that the wrong actions at the wrong times can't make a big difference.
For example, giving Hans Gruber your gun definitely counts as the wrong action at the wrong time.
Even if it's not loaded.
Enter Calvin Coolidge. The entire decade of the 1920s was known as the Roaring Twenties for good reason: it was a boom period. Coolidge's economic philosophies favored small government, low taxes, and little regulation. And hey, why not? Things were good! Those of you with a basic grounding in American history, however, know that by 1929, when Coolidge left office, things were... perhaps a bit shaky. And wouldn't you know, a few months after he left office, the stock market crashed, ushering in a period known as the Great Depression. Coolidge's successor Hebert Hoover was left holding the bag when blame time came around, but... maybe a more involved government could have helped out? Maybe? Just saying.

Julia Mansfield
Fictional President of the United States portrayed by Patty Duke
Served in the ABC sitcom Hail to the Chief (1985)
Age: Duke was 38 when the show aired

PROS: Surrounded by hatred — With the exception of a few people, everyone in Mansfield’s inner-circle is a horrible bigot of some sort. Her husband called the gay Secret Service agent every homophobic slur in the book, including ones I didn’t realize you were able to utter on network television in the '80s.

When her eldest son, a tennis star, was asked about an upcoming match, he dismissively pointed out that his opponent was Bulgarian and all he needed to win was Lysol. What?! I didn't even know that was a thing.
Again... kittens!

I could go on, but it only gets more upsetting from there. Mansfield seems to be one of the few voices of reason in this White House. On the surface, she doesn’t seem the type to resort to racial epithets, but she’s surrounded by people who do — even if they don’t make sense (I didn’t even know there were stereotypes about Bulgarians). Being around that much negative energy angers up the blood, which should serve her well in the Arena.

Pent up energy — Mansfield’s husband can’t perform in the bedroom. She doesn’t know the real reason, but it’s because he feels guilty about cheating on her for years and years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to play the misogynistic “What’s the matter, toots? Not getting enough of the good stuff at home?” or “All a dame really needs is a few minutes with a REAL man,” card. But really, there’s something everyone needs every now and again — regardless of what gender — a release. Especially Mansfield.

Being president is stressful. She narrowly avoided a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, her husband’s running around with KGB spies and the Christian Conservative groups — who also have no problem throwing around the word “faggot” like it’s no big deal — are willing to do anything to get her impeached.

Mansfield needs a release and if her husband isn’t going to give it to her, she’s going to punch a wall... or someone’s face.
... or she could go the Andy Bernard route and punch a hole in a wall of the Oval Office.
CONS: Voice of reason — Even when things were at their toughest, Mansfield kept a level head. She didn’t do anything too impulsive and she tried to use reasoning whenever she could. It served her well in the White House.

This is not the White House. This is the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. There’s no time for reasoning. Leave your level-headed demeanor at the door, because it won’t do you any good here.

Oliver Mansfield is still sleeping around
— After the First “Gentleman” confesses to his wife about all of the cheating, he has a near-death experience (he’s shot by a character played by the same guy who played the dead guy from the Weekend at Bernie’s movies... long story). After coming out of the coma, he really promises to turn over a new leaf.

Then he boinks his mistress a few more times.
You know how pirate fetishists are.

Aside from a comical slap, Mansfield’s husband goes on largely unscathed. If she can’t work up enough ire to wallop her cheating husband, how can she get anywhere in the name of blood sport?

The Fight
Doug: All of that silent time thinking, calculating and strategizing and he couldn't see that his economic policies were (maybe) leading to The Great Depression coming? Yeech! I'd hate to think about what ideas he cooks up when he's to enter the ring.

Truth of the matter is that Mansfield is married to a loudmouth and she filled her top Cabinet posts to other loudmouths. Mansfield feels at home around loudmouths. I'm not exactly sure why, but hey, who am I to judge? Silent Cal's, well, silence is going to put Mansfield ill at ease. No one, including her, knows how she'll act in that situation.

Tony: Yeah, but here's the thing: Mansfield has a lot of problems, right? Not necessarily her, but here administration at large. What does she do? Nothing, really. Ooh, she slaps her husband! Please. Any good combatant would have gotten a crotch shot in at that point. I think Coolidge can do better than that. At the very least, dude's capable of drawing blood.

Doug: Coolidge can do better than that? Coolidge did nothing.

That's what "laissez-faire" means. When Cal Jr. died, did he beat his other son for letting him play tennis without socks? Did he start funding medical technology to help cure sepsis so that other people don't suffer the same loss? Did he make his son the poster child for preventing blood poisoning?

No, no and no. He did nothing. I'm not critiquing the guy for becoming sad and withdrawn when he lost his 16-year-old son. But we should expect nothing less from Mr. Laissez-Faire. So, I'm not really sure what he'd do in the arena, if anything.

Tony: Coolidge knew better than to try and switch horses in mid-stream. As long as the American economy was humming smoothly along, why upset the apple cart? No, Coolidge got on the trolley and rode it to greater financial success. I don't see why you'd penalize him for that. Look, maybe his Presidency didn't have any big crises to rise to, but was that the only executive job he ever held? Certainly not! What of his time as Governor of Massachusetts? What of the Boston Police Strike? Did Coolidge do nothing when 75% of Boston's police force walked off the job? Certainly not! He called in the national guard and proceeded to fire all the striking workers! Boom! Results! When the time came for action, he took action. And nothing says "action" like "President Coolidge, you must kill this woman, or she will kill you." Q.E.D.

Doug: I'd have to say, I know I'm supposed to be arguing that Mansfield would kick Coolidge's ass, but I honestly don't see it. Luckily for my side of the debate, I don't see Coolidge bringing the beatdown to Mansfield, either.

To be honest, this will probably be a very long, drawn out fight. Probably boring, too. It could last years and it may not end until one of them dies of old age. Since Coolidge was older as president and died at 60 (less than four years after leaving office), it would make sense that he would die first.

Let's just hope that when his death is announced in the ring, Dorothy Parker will be around to quip, "How can you tell?"

Tony: Eh, I dunno, I think Coolidge eventually gets fed up and starts getting sneaky. Like, he'd say something like, "look, your husband is philandering, again!" And when Mansfield turns around, he would take out her knees. Which is kind of hard to do from behind, but, whatever.
I do agree with you: not the most dynamic fight in the bracket. But hey, those matchups just help you appreciate the gems all the more, right?


  1. While I'm not too familiar with President Mansfield's work, I do know a little something about the rage of a woman scorned. (Just mention the name Kay Summersby to Mamie, and she goes ape shit.) History proves that women who have been cheated on take on a whole new persona once the truth is revealed. All Silent Cal has to do is even mime manly, and Mansfield's inner man-hater comes out. (And yes, Silent Cal is a freaking mime, or as I used to call him, "A Mimey bastard.") Coolidge can totally start hitting on her, in the literal or sexual sense, and Mansfield will get all Lorena Bobbitt on his ass, or more specifically, his Warren G. Hard-on.

  2. While we all enjoy stereotypes (they are faster, after all) President Mansfield does not show any of the signs of being "a woman scorned". She seems to be channeling Eleanor Roosevelt than Lorena Bobbit- which, hey, we only got a few episodes of Hail to the Chief, so maybe President Mansfield did have a lesbian lover that we never got to meet. In that case, she's happy and doesn't have the need to go apeshit when she sees a man walking around acting... manly? And Silent Cal, well, you've got his devestating power to destroy anything he wants simply by doing... nothing. NOTHING Whether or not President Mansfield has a secret outlet for her frustrations, faced with the Cal's superhuman powers of NOTHING, she's toast.

  3. This feels like a fight between a house cat and a pillow. I'm not sure anything will happen until one collapses on the other suffocating them. The real winner here is Truman, who will crush either this fall.