Monday, June 13, 2011

Adams vs. Pierce

John Quincy Adams
6th President of the United States
Served: 1825-1829
Age during term: 57-61

PROS: Dude's been around — JQ Adams is one of those presidents whose string of accomplishments prior to becoming president (and even after becoming president), make you go, "Really? Goddamn!" You know how Wikipedia articles on famous people include sidebars listing all of the prominent things they did, with the dates, and the predecessors and successors and so forth? Adams' sidebar just goes on and on and on.
"Ladies, that's not the only thing that goes on and on."
What all did Adams get up to? Well... He served as Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador to Prussia, came back to America, was appointed Senator from Massachusetts, then left again to become Ambassador to Russia, then Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He then returned to become Secretary of State under the Monroe Administration (where he helped the U.S. take Florida and also drafted something that would eventually be known as the Monroe Doctrine). Then, he decided to ditch amateur hour, and became president. And once his presidency was up, he still wasn't done. He returned to politics as a Massachusetts congressman, where he served for nearly ten terms. And while he was in Congress, he managed to successfully argue a little case before the United States Supreme Court.
Although, let's be honest: the only reason you've heard of said case is because they made a movie out of it.
John Quincy Adams. Getting stuff done. And with all that experience, you'd best believe he probably picked up a little something about winning a fight to the death.

Prognosticator — Adams' breadth of experience often led to his making a prediction or two. How did those predictions pan out? Well... as Secretary of State, Adams watched from afar as Greece led a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire. As it involved the birthplace of democracy (an experiment that America had recently decided to renew), there was some interest in getting the young nation involved. Adams opposed such intervention, and nothing much came of it. However, Adams did predict that the war would mark the beginning of an extended conflict between Islam and the West.

He predicted this in 1821, by the way.

Adams also predicted that the question of states' rights slavery would eventually lead to the dissolution of the Union (check), that slavery itself would be abolished by presidential fiat (partial check), and that an independent South would be torn apart by massive slave rebellions (erm...). That's a pretty good track record. Not perfect, but pretty good. Being able to read the Long Game could prove an invaluable skill in the Arena.

CONS: Tactically unsound — John Quincy Adams was a man of principles, and he stood by those principles no matter what. Which is nice, I guess... except that the "what" in this case meant that his presidency amounted to... well, pretty much squat.

To explain: Adams' run for president came in 1824. The initial party system that had dominated American politics (originally titled the First Party System) had collapsed, leading to a bit of a free-for-all. When the dust settled, the main candidates were Adams, a couple of other guys no one cared about, and a rather popular ex-general from Tennessee, named Andrew Jackson. Jackson ended up winning the popular vote and gaining a plurality of the electoral college votes, though he did not have enough electoral votes to win the thing outright, so the vote went to the House of Representatives in a three-way runoff of sorts (Jackson and Adams were joined in the runoff by William H. Crawford, who had finished third despite suffering a stroke in the middle of the campaign, and thus dropping out). Now, remember when I basically decided not to talk about the other candidates in the race? Well, one of those candidates was Henry Clay, who was then... the Speaker of the House.

Long story short, Clay really, really didn't like Jackson, and liked Adams' policies enough that he threw his support behind Adams. This gave Adams the presidency, but there was one little problem: no one liked him. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but for someone who had essentially served as a lifelong diplomat, Adams was strikingly undiplomatic in person, was unable to drum up public support for any of his policies, and refused to play any political games, because again: to do so would go against his personal code. This last point was a big problem, as Adams refused to replace any of the still-pissed-off Jackson supporters who were dotting the Federal government.
There were some... harsh feelings, still.
The end result was that Adams came into office with a lot of great ideas, but ended up accomplishing jack-squat, especially after the midterm elections, when he lost what little congressional support he had previously enjoyed. He essentially spent the last two years of his term as a lame duck, then got annihilated in the 1828 election. All because he couldn't play the game. If he refuses to bend in the Arena, it's not going to go well for him.

Politically Flighty — Non breaking news: The political landscape of the United States has gone through a few upheavals from the nation's inception to the present day. While today it's rather rare for major political figures to switch parties, it used to be a little more commonplace. Still, that's no excuse for John Quincy Adams. Adams started out as a Federalist, but when the First Party System (remember that?) started to crumble, JQA bolted for the Democratic-Republican party.

The election of 1824 put some serious cracks in said party, with Jackson's supporters eventually splitting off and forming the Democratic party; Adams' group, meanwhile, morphed into the National Republican Party, but after getting smacked down by Jackson, the National Republicans folded up their tent and joined the Whigs. Adams, however, did not join them; instead he took up with the Anti-Mason Party.
More than a little ironic, given the number of Masonic presidents that have been in office.
Would it surprise you to know that the Anti-Mason Party was something of a single-issue party? No? Well, despite bringing some interesting innovations to the political scene (the notion of nominating conventions, for one), the Anti-Mason Party wasn't long for the earth. When this party collapsed, Adams finally joined the Whigs.

See a pattern? That's a lot of jumping on losing bandwagons. Do you want to be on a losing bandwagon headed into a fight to the death? I'm guessing you don't. Adams, on the other hand... looks a bit screwed.

Franklin Pierce
14th President of the United States
Served: 1853-1857
Ages served: 48-52

PROS: Drunk — We’ve had our share of drunk presidents. Maxim says it, so it must be true. Pierce was a bit of a pro in that category. He sank into alcoholism when life dealt him some shit snacks. After losing his first two children, his 11-year-old son was killed in a train accident two months before inauguration. As a result, his wife Jane, who hated life in D.C. to begin with, became very distant.
His children were dead, his marriage was on the rocks and his presidency was less-than-stellar. When he left office, he reportedly said, “There’s nothing left but to get drunk.” That, along with telling haters to hate elsewhere, pretty much summed up his post-presidential life.

Wait, this is a pro?

Of course! I have two words for you: Zui Quan. It’s a concept of traditional martial arts that literally means “drunken fist.”
When a fighter is a little drunk, their movements are a little more fluid, no pun intended. The fighter can even use falling as a way to avoid getting hit or to pin his opponent. The opponent even gets a false sense of security. “Hey, this guy’s drunk and vulnerable. Easy!”

Maybe you’re not into Jackie Chan movies, but consider that if you hit a drunk guy, he won’t really feel it until the next day. Pierce is going to wake up with a hell of a hangover, but the other guy isn’t going to wake up at all.

Stormed Mexico City — Pierce was in his 40s when he volunteered to fight in the Mexican-American War and was eventually appointed to the rank of brigadier general.
He was injured in battle, but he returned the following day. Apparently the pain was so excruciating, he passed out and needed to be carried off of the battlefield. He sat out for a bit, but was back in time to lead his brigade to help capture of Mexico City, ending the war.

Five years later, as an encore, he defeated his commander, Winifield Scott, in the 1852 Presidential Election. So, he’s not scared to get hurt and he’s willing to fight anyone.

CONS: Not good with decisions — Pierce had broad appeal in the 1852 race because he was from New Hampshire (which Northerners liked) but he sympathized with the South (which Southerners liked). However, this doesn’t really translate to a successful presidency.

His biggest flub was the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The act undid the Missouri Compromise of 1850 and reopened up the slavery question for the West. Granted, the Missouri Compromise was just a Band-Aid slapped onto the ugly, gaping wound that was the national mood of the time. It wasn’t a permanent fix, but it cooled tensions a bit. The Kansas-Nebraska Act ripped that Band-Aid off of America’s very hairy leg, poured salt and flecks of glass into the wound and then began mashing the salt-glass mixture deeper into that wound with a dirty stick.

Part of it said that Kansas could become a state, and the voters themselves can decide if they wanted it to become a slave state or a free state. Sounds like a good idea, until you realize that both sides were willing to kill each other so that their side would win the vote, which is exactly what happened.
Pierce was deliberate in seeing his ideas through, even if they were terrible ideas. This didn’t do him any favors in the White House, and it won’t do help him out in the Arena.

Handsome — Pierce was a good-looking president back before having good looks was necessary for being a president. This list I found on the Internet puts Pierce in the Top 5 on the list of sexiest U.S. presidents, so it must be true.
This means most combatants would enter the ring and want to beat on Pierce like Ed Norton’s character beat on Angel Face in Fight Club.
He was too blond, anyway.
If someone has to catch up on their Project Mayhem homework, or just feel like destroying something beautiful on their own time, Pierce is toast.

Toast that used to be very, very handsome.

The Fight
Tony: Listen. As you well know, I'm all for a good bout of drunkenness. Hell, it's about the only state in which you and I can stand one another. However, you can't tell me that being bombed would be a good state to be in, Arena-wise. Yes, yes, you've got your Zui Quan to point to. Except for one thing: practitioners of Zui Quan only act drunk. They don't actually get drunk to fight.

Think about it. When have you ever seen a successful drunken fight? If people could fight well drunk, wouldn't you see boxers slugging down booze before stepping into the ring? Sadly, booze makes for bad fighting. This is sad, because drunken boxing would probably be fun to watch.

But I digress: the only way Pierce is turning his addiction into a plus is if he somehow comes up with a way to make something spark inside the arena, thus to set his 90-proof breath aflame.

Doug: Fire-breathing Pierce? Awesome! It's also fun to imagine watching actual drunken boxing. Though I would think that, like a Gallagher show, things would get messy in the first few rows. You'd definitely need to bring a tarp.

Tony: Well, I'm glad we've figured out what our next project will be after this blog wraps up.

Doug: If the Zui Quan argument isn't winning you over, look at Vodka Drunkenski from the Punch-Out!! series. 
These games were created years before the term "politically correct" was uttered. Drunkenski was a Russian guy who drank vodka like he was created only to be a stereotype. When the Punch-Out!! series went to the NES, Drunkenski's name was changed to Soda Popinski because, well, do I really need to explain why? Even though he was a supposed soda freak, it was clear that they just switched the alcohol for soda as if they both had the same effects on his body. So, even though he drank soda all day, we know that he was actually a boozer.

You know what? Soda Popinski was difficult to beat. I remember as I was trying to get through the game the first time, Popinski gave me a really hard time. Now, I can beat him no problem, but that's after years of practice. Adams doesn't have that luxury. He's got to get it right the first time, and I don't think he can do it.


Pierce won't get full-blown drunk, just drunk enough to get loose for the fight. An experienced drinker like him would know how to get the proper level of drunk to prepare for the fight.

Tony: So, your argument has moved from a real style of martial arts to... a video game? Really? I mean, let's be clear: Punch Out clearly belongs in the cannon of classic video games, but your premise that the game has any bearing on this fight between two dead presidents has some serious holes.

Doug: I'm not moving from the Zui Quan argument to the Popinski argument. I'm adding it to the argument. And I see nothing wrong with that. I've brought up a real-life use of drunken boxing and I've brought up a fictional instance of drunken boxing. This is a fictional fight between real-life people. I see nothing wrong with this argument, and it's up to the voters to decide if it holds water.
... or vodka.

Tony: No, see, you can't add to your Zui Quan argument because there simply is no argument, there. You can't call it a "real-life use of drunken boxing" because they are not actually drunk when said boxing takes place. As for your "fictional" reference, I'm going to say that mayyyyyyybe it doesn't have a great deal of bearing on what is clearly a very realistic scenario: two long-dead presidents fighting to the death in a barren arena.

Was Soda Popinski a difficult character to face because he was drunk (or "drunk," depending on your level of PC), or because he was five times the size of plucky ol' Little Mac? While Adams is a bit older than Pierce, Pierce isn't five times larger than Adams, so I think the physicality is a wash.

Doug: I can't tell you why Popinski gave me such a problem. I don't think size was an issue. He's about the same size as Bald Bull, Piston Honda and Super Macho Man, and I wasn't stuck on them for as long. Mr. Sandman, on the other hand, would be a different story. Was it the alcohol that helped him? Who knows? It could be. Maybe it's a package deal.

Speaking of package deal, in addition to this factor, Pierce was a military man. He was in his 40s when he decided to volunteer, and he was injured while in battle. He kept going until he passed out from the pain. He's a fearless, drunk fighter who won't give up until his body literally gives out.

Adams is ineffective and flighty. I'm not sure how that translates to a good fighter.

Tony: Oh, Pierce keeps going until he passes out, does he? Boy, that doesn't sound at all like a potentially debilitating strategy. You mean, all Adams has to do is show up? Yeah, I think he's going to do just fine.

If a lifetime of PSAs has taught me anything, it's that buzzed fighting is drunk fighting. Pierce may think he can get himself to an appropriate level of drunkenness to be an effective fighter, then he's going to take a swing at Adams, trip over his own feet, and eat the deck. Whereupon Adams will drop the people's elbow on Pierce's kidneys. It'll all be downhill for Pierce after that.

Doug: You're comparing buzzed/drunken fighting to buzzed/drunken driving? How is fighting like operating a complex piece of machinery while following traffic laws? It's a fight. No machinery, no rules. Completely different.

Tony: You know why they say "buzzed driving is like drunk driving," though? I mean aside from the fact that "they" are killjoys. It's because once you get buzzed, your reflexes immediately start going to shit. And let's be clear: Pierce may think he's going to be able to ramp up to an appropriate level, but someone as alcoholic as he is going to have absolutely no idea when to stop in order to maintain a "proper" fighting buzz. He's going to shoot WAY over the line, and will spend his time in the arena being battered mercilessly.

Doug: While you argue semantics and put all of your eggs in the "Pierce is going to get too drunk to fight" basket, you haven't uttered a word about what Adams has going for him and what makes him a decent fighter. So far, all we've got is the fact that he was diplomat for many years in many countries, but people still thought to be an unpopular dick, and the fact that he's pretty good at predicting the political future.

The tenacious brigadier general — who has more fighting experience — will know not to overdo it before a fight to the death. When he enters the ring, Pierce will paraphrase Mr. Popinski, "After you lose, we'll drink to your health! Ha, ha, ha!"

Wise words, from an 8-bit stereotype.
The bottle says "POP," but I'm willing to bet all of my W.V.B.A. titles that there's booze in there.

Adams vs. Pierce


  1. This is indeed a difficult decision, but I believe Adams has the upper hand. Someone said Pierce was "an experienced drinker". In my opinion there is no such thing. You either drink and get drunk, or you don't. So Pierce is an experienced Drunk. And when you're drunk, you're slowed down and numb, your reflexes dulled. I think Adam's will have to punch a lot more than he would if he were battling a sober president, since Pierce's drunken state probably diffuses a lot of the pinch from a blow to the face, but in the end, I believe Adams will be triumphant.

  2. I'm choosing Franklin Pierce because the Adams family are NOT fighters. They're politicos, politi-hoes is more like it. Pierce may be a drunk, but I recall a guy by the name of US Grant who also had jones'n for the sauce, and did he not kick ass? Yeah, I thought so. Pierce was a decent looking dude, no homo. (FYI: I deserved better than 19th, but suck on THAT Truman!!) That just means he had to be tough enough when other drunks came to hit on his ladies. Anyone who thinks JQA come out on top is as morally "corrupt" as the "bargain" that landed JQA here in the first place. ZING!

  3. Dwight34 has a point, I can never think of JQA without thinking of this event:

    Also, haven't you read AJ's biography, American Lion? JQA's favorite pastime was gossiping, and I'm not sure how that's going to help him in the arena against a combat-hardened sexbomb with literally nothing left to lose. His kids are dead, his wife's trapped in depression/indifference and his liver was probably completely pickled by the end of his presidency. Pierce might as well lay it all on the line and kick some ass.

  4. Indeed, the Adams family are not fighters....nor their heirs and similarly lacking in kickassedness, the Addams Family.

    This is beside the point, however. The real point is that in the entire debate, the Adams camp had no ammunition as to why Quincy (which is an unfortunately pansy middle name that does not inspire fear) would win in a fight. The entire debate was about Pierce, and whether or not drunk/buzzed fighting would be problematic. Let me teach you, as a newly minted PhD who studies substance use, about "alcohol myopia" which is a fancy term for only being able to focus on things right in front of you when drinking. Adams is hampered by sobriety and all that pesky thinking involved. Pierce is focused on what is in front of him: pummeling pansy Quincy to the ground. And then breathing on him, which with all the booze in his system, he could also light on fire and scorch Quincy's pansy hair off.

  5. Everybody has good points. And as I said earlier this is no easy decision. Perhaps pierce would be a better fighter since he was a drunkard and had nothing to lose. However history shows that he did nothing while he was in office. The only man to do less was the fool who followed him, Buchanan. If a man with nothing to lose would sit back and let the entire county go down the drain I feel he doesn't really give a shit and is probably welcoming the beating from Quinny. That was a typo but I like it anyway. Its a tough decision. I still think adams was a better president and deserving of winning.