Monday, April 4, 2011

Reagan vs. Hayes

Ronald Reagan
40th President of the United States
Served: 1981-1989
Age in Office: 69-77

PROS: Relatively tough — As a young man, Reagan was a standout swimmer and football player. Need proof of his bona-fides? Well, his first job was as a lifeguard, where he claimed to have saved 77 lives. Not too bad. He was also the captain of his football team at Eureka College — and need we remind you, this was back in the day when playing football was even more of a slavering insanity than it is today. So yeah, we'd say his sporting background is rather legit.
Then again...
But that was Collegiate Reagan. What about President Reagan? Well, let's talk about a little incident that occurred on March 30, 1981. Reagan had only been president for a couple of months, but that was long enough for a slightly insane John Hinckley Jr. to consider him a prime assassination target. With some "luck," Hinckley got his shot (zing!) as Reagan left a Washington, D.C. hotel. Hinckley fired six shots, missing Reagan entirely... except for one bullet that ricocheted off the presidential limousine and struck the president under the armpit, traveling into his lungs, and missing his heart by an inch. (It's worth noting that one bullet would've hit Reagan if a Secret Service hadn't taken said bullet for him, and that the same agent's actions might have saved Reagan from taking a headshot. So, good job by the Secret Service, clearly).
What I like most about this picture is the guy standing in the background, who is clearly thinking "Holy shit, that guy has an Uzi."
The presidential limo initially started out to the White House, and the agent inside the limo initially thought Reagan hadn't been hit. Then Reagan started coughing up blood. Time for a trip to George Washington University Hospital! Upon arriving, Reagan actually had the strength and fortitude to walk into the emergency room. At 70 years old. After just having been shot. Of course, he promptly collapsed, and the doctors treating him determined he was going into shock. Shock so bad, it would have killed a normal 70-year old. But not Reagan.

Bottom line: Reagan was the first president to survive actually being shot in an assassination attempt. Seems like the Secret Service knew what they were doing when they gave Reagan the code name Rawhide. Because the dude was tough.

Tenacious — Reagan spent his entire presidency battling one thing or another. Whether it was firing all federal air traffic controllers, staring down the Soviet Union, or ignoring the AIDS crisis ordering air strikes against Libya, Reagan showed he was not to be messed with. However, the best example of his tenacity starts in 1982. You see, the first years of the Reagan administration hadn't gone terribly well, and as a result, the Republican Party got whacked in the midterm elections. Pundits everywhere were claiming that the next two years were essentially Lame Duck time for the Gipper.
Surely something like that could never happen aga — oh.
So, how'd that work out? Oh, right. Reagan's popularity swung way back, and he easily won re-election in 1984. Tenacity served him then, and it certainly won't hurt him in the ring.

Acting! — We'd be remiss to not mention Reagan's pre-political claim to fame. Yes, from the '30s to the '50s, Reagan built himself a reputation as a solid, likable actor. Though he never quite made it to the A-list during that period, he generally received strong reviews, especially for his portrayal of George Gipp (aka, "The Gipper") in Knute Rockne: All-American. It was an iconic role, though these days, it seems mostly to exist as a way for smartasses to get a few laughs.
The point is, Reagan was probably a good enough actor to be able to fake a more significant injury than Hayes could actually produce. Just sayin'.

CONS: Age — I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but all of those athletic triumphs we mentioned earlier? Occurred some fifty years prior to Reagan's presidency. That's... that's not great. Now, yes, Reagan was in relatively good shape for his age, but... there's the key phrase: "for his age." Reagan was (and still is) the oldest man ever to be voted into the presidency. It's a tireless job, and it certainly couldn't have been any easier during the Cold War. What we're saying is, Reagan may not last long in the arena.

Single-mindedness — Reagan stood for a lot of things. Limited government, raising or lowering taxes, depending on whether you were poor or rich, respectively, folksy genteelness... but there was one crusade that dominated his adult life like none other: the fight against Communism. For example, during the whole McCarthy period? Reagan was actually president of the Screen Actors' Guild. Does that mean he finked out his fellow actors? Of course it does!
"Surely these paranoid actions will never be seen as controversial or foolish!"
Once he made it to the White House, Reagan got in the USSR's face pretty much immediately, and quite a bit of his foreign policy focused on eliminating the spread of any communist influence across the globe. Did it work? Well... depending on your historical perspective (read: political beliefs) Reagan either single-handedly won the Cold War by rapping Gorbachev on the head his with his massive, brass balls, or um, not. Or it could have been the Pope.
It's a complicated enough narrative to work through even before the Catholics get involved.
However, not all of Reagan's anti-communist tactics worked so well. First, he sent arms to anti-communist forces in Afghanistan, a move which has had no negative repercussions against the United States, whatsoever! Also, there was the whole Iran-Contra thing. And what was that? Well, to sum up, members of Reagan's administration, managed to sell arms to Iran, and used the cash to fund anti-communist "Contras" in Nicaragua. This was done, ostensibly, without Reagan's knowledge, which... really? Anyway, this was all very, very illegal. Not only that, but you might recall that Iran was not (and is still not) a big American ally. Annnnd as it turned out, the Contras were... to put it mildly, massive dicks about things like "killing indiscriminately" and "committing heinous atrocities." Add it all up, and you had fourteen indictments to Reagan staffers, with eleven convictions. Oh, and the International Criminal Court found the U.S. guilty of war crimes against Nicaragua.
Strangely, Nicaragua still seems perturbed by the whole thing.
The point, as it relates to our little melee, here, is this: Reagan's one big crusade? Made him do some interminably stupid things. If he brings that level of focus to his match, he might find himself in trouble.

Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President of the United States
Served: 1877-1881
Age in Office: 54-58

PROS: He’s hungry for a fight — When he was in his mid-20s, Hayes became sick with what his doctor thought was tuberculosis. Hayes thought the best medicine for this was a change of climate. He thought a move to the Southwest, where the air is warm and dry, would kick this disease.

Mind you, this was 1847, and that region was embroiled in the Mexican-American War. Perfect, Hayes thought, if he enlisted to fight, he'd get a free ride there. His body will benefit from the climate and he’ll be serving his country. Two birds, one stone; right? At this point, the doctor pointed out that fighting in a war usually isn’t the best medicine for tuberculosis. Instead, Hayes went to New England, which is considerably more humid than the Southwest, but came with a much lower risk of gunfire.

Years later, Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, which essentially began the Civil War. Hayes decided to volunteer for the Union army, even though was 38.

The guy was scrappy! That should serve him well in the ring.

Resilient — Hayes is a cross between a Weeble and the person in that Chumbawumba song. Yes, he wobbles, maybe even at times falling down, but he gets right back up again. You ain’t never gonna keep him down. And he’s part-toy from the 1970s. Wait, this analogy made better sense in my head.

Take for example the fact that he was injured five times — FIVE TIMES — during the Civil War. As soon as he was all healed up, he went back out there and fought until he got hurt again. And this continued until the end of the war. His bravery was even noted by General Ulysses S. Grant.

And it didn’t matter that the Republican Party nominated him for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1864. He did no campaigning, as he refused to leave his post. Despite this, he won anyway and he didn’t serve until after the war had ended.

Then there’s the whole Election of 1876 thing. His opponent, Democrat Samuel Tilden, earned 51% of the popular vote and had 184 electoral votes over Hayes’ 165. The problem? Tilden was one vote shy of being declared winner as there were and additional 20 electoral votes that were disputed. Long story short, guess whose ass sat behind that desk at the Oval Office.

To paraphrase Chumbawumba, "You ain’t never gonna keep him down."

CONS: Wait, five times? — Yeah, he got injured five times. What Hayes lacked in being able to avoid injury, he more than made up for in chutzpah. Still, there’s a lot to be said for someone who is able to avoid injury. It’s kind of hard for me not to imagine him busting into the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™, ready to go, and then hurting himself multiple, yet comical, ways like Nordberg in the Naked Gun movies.

Part of the reason for his many injuries could be because he was past his fighting prime. There’s a reason why army recruiters go to high schools and colleges and not conventions for guys who wear Dockers. It’s because the 18-22 group makes better soldiers than guys in their 40s.

Also, add to the fact that Hayes volunteered with his buddies in the Literary Society of Cincinnati. Was he too busy pretentiously quoting Molière, or whomever pretentious people quoted back then to avoid injury? It seems so.

"Rutherfraud" — Remember how pissed Democrats were after the Election of 2000? They were even more pissed off after 1876. Who could blame them? To this date, Samuel Tilden remains the only presidential candidate to gain the majority of the popular vote and still lose. He was one electoral vote away from winning, but he ultimately lost when a compromise gave the disputed electoral vote in Oregon and all of the votes in Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida to Hayes. What is it with Florida? If they mess up another election, we should kick them out.

The South went solidly Democrat for an entire century. Except for 1876. Seems kinda fishy, is all I'm trying to say.
Hayes somehow ended up almost losing to a Democrat at a time when Democrats were rarely elected to the White House. (From 1861 to 1933, there were two: Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson). Point being, he was pretty much supposed to win, and he technically didn’t, although he later did.

There’s no such thing as a Pyrrhic victory the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. If one loses, there’s no after-the-fact triumph after judges get caught up in technicalities and compromises. There aren’t even any judges. Well, no, I guess the voters are the judges. Again, analogy worked better in my head.

The Fight

Doug: I turn to Frankie Goes To Hollywood's music video "Two Tribes" for my first round of debate. Yes, they had songs other than "Relax."
I've embedded the 6-minute extended version, because I love our readers. (The part I'm referring to starts at about 1:30. I'm telling everyone this because I love our readers.) This video shows then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko fighting, surrounded by spectators (representing nations around the world). I bring this video up because very few presidents have been depicted as taking part in death matches, so I felt it seemed relevant to the blog's subject matter.

Yes, I realize that Frankie Goes to Hollywood intended this video to be an allegory to the Cold War. It ends with both Reagan and Chernenko exhausting themselves while the spectators get pulled into the fray until the world is ultimately destroyed.

My favorite part of this particular clip is in the final seconds, after the music video ends, we see that the VJ clearly — and quite hilariously — missed the point of the video.

The reason why I'm including this into the debate is because I feel that HttCttD shouldn't ignore how Reagan fared in the fight. Franklie, Reagan should have never left Hollywood — which is to say he did not do that well. I guess, in the general scheme of things, the world exploded, so it was a draw. I'll spare you the play-by-play, but the fight itself seems pretty evenly matched. This doesn't say a hell of a lot for Reagan. He was getting banged up by Chernenko, whose health was significantly shitty at this time. How shitty? He was dead by March of '85. And Reagan couldn't finish him?

What's he going to do against a comparatively able-bodied Hayes?

Tony: I'd like to yield the floor for just a moment. Take it away, Karl Marx!

Karl Marx: Thank you. Now, readers, look at your president:

Karl Marx: Now look at me.
Karl Marx: Now back to your president.
Karl Marx: Now back to me.
Karl Marx: Sadly, he isn't me. But he does look like me. And if there's one thing we know about Ronald Reagan, it's that he had a raging blood lust for Communists. If there's another thing we know about Reagan, it's that he occasionally got... a little confused, say, near the end. So, what happens when he gets into a death match against someone who looks a great deal like the very father of communism? One thing's for sure: it won't be pretty.

Tony: Thanks, Karl!

Karl Marx: This post is now DIAMONDS!
POOF (Like the magazine for magicians)

Tony: Indeed. Back to you, Doug.

Doug: I think that Reagan would be able to identify Hayes not as the supposed father of communism, but as a poor person. According to a story The Atlantic published last year that looked at the net worth of the U.S. Presidents, Hayes was worth $3 million (adjusted for inflation). This is most likely more than I could ever dream I'd ever be worth, but compared to other presidents, it's kind of low. (Reagan himself was at $13 million.) If you rank all of the presidents with richest on top, Hayes would be in the lowest-third. The story even names Hayes, lumping him with a few others as having "almost no net worth at all."

Reagan has a hate-on for Communism, but poor people? I wouldn't say he hated poor people. Hating would require some sort of investment of mental energy, and Reagan would never do that for poor people, unless it was to raise their taxes. (Hey, unfeasible missile defense systems worth tens of billions of dollars aren't going to pay for themselves.)

At best, Reagan was ambivalent towards poor people, so I doubt he would have gotten too stirred up at the sight of Hayes. He might have even been blind to them. Who knows? It might explain how homelessness skyrocketed during the '80s. He had no idea, because he couldn't see them. If that's the case, would he be able to even see Hayes? It's hard to beat up someone you can't see. If he can see Hayes, would Reagan want to even touch him?

Maybe I'm being a little rough on the Gipper. I'm sure he touched non-millionaires all the time. Those were probably for photo ops, though. This isn't a photo op, so Reagan might be in trouble.

Tony: Okay, but seriously, you're playing into my hands at this point. By the time he got to the presidency, Reagan probably hadn't even seen a poor person in quite a while. So what's going to happen when someone who would register in Reagan's mind as a) poor and b) possibly communist starts fighting him? He's going to freak out. And it's not going to be a paltry, fetal position freak out, either. It's gonna be a full on melee of pain. Hayes is gonna be dazed. And then he'll be dead.

Doug: Don't forget, Hayes is a fighter himself. He got shot in the arm and returned to battle as soon as possible. And he wasn't some young, hot shot kid, either. That was a month before his 40th birthday. Granted, Reagan was shot at 70 and was up and around within days, but I'm sure the medical care he got as president in some clean hospital in the 1980s was much better than what Hayes got is some officer in the field of battle in the 1860s.

Tony: Oh, I'm glad Hayes could bounce back after being shot in the arm. You know what's harder to bounce back from? Getting shot in the lung and going into near-terminal shock. But yeah, big ups for Hayes.

No, here's how it's gonna go down. Hayes is going to charge in, all gung-ho. Reagan will go into a blood craze. Next thing Hayes knows, he will have slipped the bounds of Earth, and touched the face of God. Because he'll be dead.

Doug: Please. Hayes is going to lay him out and then it's going to be bedtime for Bonzo. The final exchange will be:
Reagan: I hope you're all Republicans.
Hayes: Today, Mr. President, all combatants in the ring are Republicans.
Soon after that, Hayes would be crowned the winner.

As always, polls close Friday at 9 a.m. Show your extra love and leave us a comment.

Reagan vs. Hayes


  1. Sigh. Well, good for you. However, your posting forces us to issue the following executive order.

    "Whereas "Firsties" postings are among the dregs of the interwebs, and are an abomination unto us, verily where they be found to contain no content or commentary on the post under which they fall, all such firsties shall be cast into a pit of fire, by which we mean they will be deleted. Let this be the law of the land from this day out."

  2. If we are hypothetically bringing these presidents back from the dead for (ironically) a death match, then I have to give the upper hand to RB Hayes. He would find his beloved birthplace demolished and replaced by a BP station, and the fury that would ensue would be placed on old, frail Reagan. Oh, and everyone from Delaware, Ohio is awesome.

  3. I go with Hayes on this one. Here's why: (1) Hayes is younger (54 vs. 69) and (2) Hayes is fighter. Sure he was injured several times, but that was in a war with guns and cannons and such. Here in the Arena, the men will only have fists (of possible fury). Hayes was injured in war, therefore he knows pain. Hayes went back to fight again and again and again, therefore he know how to fight through the pain. Reagan may get a good blow or two, but Hayes will brush it off like snow off a goats back. Hitting Hayes will only make him stronger.

    I will say this: if they were the same age, I might side with Reagan.

  4. My vote is with Hayes, and so far, it looks like he might finally have a majority afterall!!! Well done America! And by the way, much love for the Frankie clip. I expected the Genesis "Land of Confusion" clip given the Muppet love fest last week, so way to keep us guessing.

  5. I see the writing on the wall for The Gipper. No really, as in the Berlin Wall. Yeah, he asked to have it torn down, and that's just what's going to happen. Hayes is going to lay into him like a German in an S&M video. What few people know is that the B. in Rutherford B. Hayes, is for Bad Motherfucker; or at least that's how I'd imagine he'd introduce himself to Samuel L. Jackson. Anyways, Ike votes Hayes.

  6. Has anyone seen the scene from "The Killers" with Reagan and Angie Dickinson??? Anyone who could take down Angie D in such cold ole skool pimp style would have no with Karl Marx....i mean Rutherford B Hayes

    someone embed the Reagan Slap

  7. Reagan single-handedly brought down communist Russia by winning an arm-wrestling match with Gorbachev, took a bullet to the lung and WALKED INTO the mother-F**KIN ER, completed a pass in Super Bowl XXII, and still knows how to keep his pimp-hand strong (

  8. Tina Fey and Leslie Nielson would vote for Reagan. You should too.

  9. Reagan has the majority...RBH has been in this position before and still came out on top. This won't stop Hayes from kicking some Gipper ass. Come tomorrow, it'll be "Mourning in America"