Ages in office: 62-65
PROS: Surprisingly athletic — So, Ford had a helluva football career at the University of Michigan. And mind you, this was back in the day when the Wolverines could actually play football. As was the custom in the 1930s, Ford played both offense and defense, and starred in both. He led Michigan to a pair of undefeated seasons (and national titles) in 1932 and 1933, which is not too shabby, really.
|Also, he looked like this, which is similarly lacking in shab.|
He kept up his coaching while in the Navy during World War II. He spent a year as a Preflight School Instructor, where in addition to teaching subjects such as seamanship, artillery, and first air, he also coached all nine of the athletic programs offered.
Now, you could argue that all of this athletic glory occurred some forty years before Ford ascended to the presidency, and you'd be technically right. However, we would argue that this experience was invaluable, because as it happens, Ford was also...
Hard to kill — We mentioned that Ford served in the Navy in WWII, right? Well, not all of that time was spent stateside in teaching jobs. Ford was eventually assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Monterey, which saw constant action from 1943-44, though she was never touched by enemy fire. What did touch her? Well, there was this typhoon.
|"Typhoon" is just another word for "Oh, f***"|
As President, Ford was similarly untouchable. This proved handy in September of 1975, when Ford came under fire (kinda) twice in the span of three weeks. The first attempt on his life took place on the 5th, when a Charles Manson devotee named Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme pointed a .45 caliber handgun at Ford and tried to pull the trigger. Bad news for Fromme; she was standing right next to a Secret Service agent, who grabbed the gun and managed to mash his finger between the hammer and the pin, preventing the gun from firing. Okay, so it turned out that the gun was loaded, but not chambered, meaning that it wouldn't have fired anyway. Not that the whole event didn't freak people out, a bit.
|Fun fact: at her trial, Fromme threw an apple at the judge's face, knocking his glasses off. Oh, Squeaky Fromme. You're simultaneously the worst, AND the best.|
|"Wait, it would go to who? Aw, crap."|
|You know you've fubared when the guy asking the questions at your debate can't help from pulling a "Seriously?" face.|
2nd President of the United States
Ages in office: 61-65
PROS: Was always fighting something — No matter how unpopular any of his causes were, he had a long history of fighting as hard as possible, no matter what the cost. And you know what? He had a pretty decent record of winning these fights as well.
As a lawyer, he was hired to defend the British soldiers who opened fire and killed five unarmed civilians on the streets of Boston one March evening in 1770. Defending the British in Boston in 1770 was about as popular walking around in a Derek Jeter jersey in Boston today. But he took the job, as unpopular as it was, because you know what? People shouldn’t throw rocks and ice chunks at people with rifles, daring them to shoot back. Because they might shoot back.
Just a few years later, he was one of the first people to suggest that maybe the colonies should declare independence from England. This idea wasn’t met with the greatest of enthusiasm, but he debated tirelessly for it, and he eventually won everyone over.
And then, as president, he stood up to the French in the Quasi War. “Hey, thanks for the aid during our revolution, but that was the Kingdom of France, you guys are the Republic of France. We don’t owe you guys anything. What’s that? You’re going to attack our trading vessels? Okay, we’ll revive our Navy and take care of this.”
Maybe some of his fights were unpopular because they were bad ideas, like the Alien and Sedition Acts, which critics say was just a way to silence critics. As hurtful to his political career as it was, he fought for it.
Dude doesn’t care. He’s up for a fight.
Good at avoiding death — Adams lived to be 90 years old. He actually died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson, which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, which is kind of a crazy coincidence, but besides the point.
Back to the 90 thing, yeah, he lived to 90. Living to see 90 today is a pretty sizable achievement. Imagine doing it in a time when you could hear doctors say, “Oh, you’re sick? Let me cut your arm and bleed the disease out of you.” He died the year before Joseph Lister — the guy who suggested that maybe surgeons should use clean instruments — was even born.
It’s not like he had that much of an easy life, either. The guy was president, and that was a stressful job. Other stressful jobs include “Guy who defended those British soldiers who killed Boston civilians” and “Guy who would have been one of the first sent to the gallows if we hadn’t won the war for independence.” All that stress, yet it didn’t seem to shorten his life any. Or maybe it did, and he was supposed to live to be 130.
The Arena is shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Adams. He’s been through the wringer and got through just fine.
CONS: His Rotundity — In his first year of being vice president, he was insistent upon the idea that the President of the United States be given a more grandiose title. He favored titles like “His Majesty the President.” Members of Congress disagreed. We had just rebelled against a king, why treat our president like a king?
In response, certain members of Congress dubbed Adams “His Rotundity.” I may be reading way into this, but I’m getting two things from this:
1) He was overweight. Not just a little pudgy, but full-fledged overweight. Maybe not Taft-Cleveland-McKinley proportions, but still probably not in good enough shape to fight very well.
2) Even well into his 50s, he was subjected to schoolyard-esque teasing. To me, that says that he doesn’t have that long of a history of quashing such childish insults.
|The esteemed senator from South Carolina proposes to launch an exploratory inquiry |
as to why the vice president keeps hitting himself.
He probably wants to lose — Adams always came off as one of those martyr types. He always bemoaned the idea of his role in the American Revolution will be forgotten. He's slightly more popular now because of David McCullough's biography and the HBO miniseries based on it starring the guy who played Pig Vomit in Private Parts.
And I bet that kind of attitude does nothing but further anger his opponent.
Doug: Okay, Adams doesn't have the athletic game, though both of their bodies are tough. Let's remember that though Ford lived to be 93, Adams lived to be 90. The difference here is 180 years of medical improvements, which Adams didn't need to reach 90.
Tony: Sure, Ford and Adams both lived long lives. And sure, modern medical technology probably has something to do with that for Ford. But you shouldn't overlook the luck factor. Seems to me, Adams didn't have people gunning for him his entire life. Like, literally gunning for him, not just talking smack behind his back.
Doug: Ford sounds like he could be outsmarted if he were fighting an intelligent enough person. Luckily, Adams was a Harvard grad and one of the brightest legal minds of his time. These are not the circumstances Adams is used to, but he isn't one to give up a fight just because the deck is stacked against him.
Tony: This is the thing with Adams: he's all brains, no brawn. Ford, meanwhile, is all brawn and... well, let's just say the man was on the Warren Commission and signed off on the Magic Bullet theory. It's the Unstoppable Force versus the Immovable Object!
Doug: Adams knows that Ford should have never become president, thus he has no place in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena. By pardoning Nixon, he made a mockery of the office. Adams is, once again, going to do what he thinks is right. He'll do everything in his power to get rid of Ford.
Tony: Look, it's not like Ford swindled his way into office, or anything. If he had gotten to the presidency straight from the House Minority Leader's position, then you might have an argument for that, as I'm relatively certain that post is not part of the Presidential Line of Succession. But he was confirmed as Vice President before Nixon resigned, so whatcha gonna do?
Doug: True, Adams wasn't much of a physical fighter. But he knows that this is the Arena. He knows that he won't be able to get a win through sound legal arguments. He needs to take some of that fire within and use it, physically. The best way of doing this is to get him angry. And nothing would anger the insufferable elitist more than news of some former model and dumb jock who wasn't even elected by the nation got to be president. You think Adams risked neck by signing the Declaration of Independence so that someone like Gerald Ford would eventually be put in the same category as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?
Tony: I like how it's somehow Ford's fault that he became president. I mean, what the hell was he supposed to do, say "no" when Nixon resigned? Also, you would think that someone harboring so much resentment over how Ford became president would maybe think about that sort of scenario when, I don't know, he was fathering the country. Maybe they should have rigged it so that the moment the presidency was vacated, new elections had to be held! Oh, wait! That's what they do in Britain! And Canada. And other parliamentary systems. Huh. Adams and the other founding fathers eventually figured out that the American system didn't involve bringing the government to a halt every two years. If he can't handle the consequences, that's too damn bad.
Doug: Normally in this case, Adams would calm himself down by writing a letter to his wife, Abigail, and relaxing with a beer. No quill pens to be found. Ditto for ale. His only choice, right now, is to think on his feet for the best way of defeating this bumbling idiot charging him at full steam ahead. Adams will probably start by taking a single step to one side and sticking his foot out by tripping him.
Tony: You admit right off the bat that Adams isn't much of a fighter. So how is he going to win a fight? He's going to trip Ford? Come on. Ford wasn't tripped up by a freaking typhoon-powered storm surge, and he's not going to be tripped up by some irritable law nerd.
Ford, on the other hand, reportedly showed up to his own wedding wearing two different colored shoes. No, he wasn't trying to rock the Punky Brewster look 40-something years early. He was just nervous and his usual absent-minded Ford self.
|He was trying to summon up Punky Power, which was not to be discovered until 1984.|
Tony: Hey, good for Adams for being Mr. Prepared and all, but I don't see how he's going to fit a lifetime of physical and martial training in before getting shoved into the Arena to face Ford. It's going to be more "punches are things that people do, right?" and then he's going to get clobbered.
See, here's the thing: you're noticing that Ford was occasionally absent-minded. Perfectly true. However, his propensity for screwing up grows in proportion to the amount he has to think. How much does he need that ability in a one-on-one death match? Less than anyone thinks, I would guess. It's going to come down to physical ability, and unfortunately for Adams, his opponent? Is built...