Monday, June 6, 2011

Obama vs. Johnson

Before we get down to business, we would like to repeat/clarify:

We here at "Hail to the Chief... to the Death" intend that this blog be for entertainment
and wise-ass only purposes. We do not condone, nor do we encourage, violence
against any president: former or current, living or dead, real or fictional.

Barack Obama
44th President of the United States
Serving: 2009-Present
Age in office: 47-49

PROS: Never tell him the odds — As late as 2006, it's fair to say that not many people had heard of Barack Obama. Granted, he had already served in the Illinois state senate, and would win a U.S. Senate seat in November, but nationally, Obama hadn't made much of an impact beyond a keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and an appearance on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" (who got some mileage over the fact that some guy with a goofy name was going into politics).

So, when Obama announced he would be running for president in February of 2007, he didn't rate much attention. After all, the Democratic field was packed with high profile candidates, people like Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. But wouldn't you know it, it turned out a lot of people remembered that speech from 2004, and the Obama campaign went from nowheres-ville, to the front of the pack. A few months later, he had clinched the Democratic nomination, and a few months after that, well... we probably shouldn't have to tell you how this story ends.
Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you're already somewhat conversant with things like "Who won the 2008 presidential election, and thus is president at the current moment"
Obama's not going to be fazed by a tough fight. Dude knows how to tough it out through the grittiest of campaigns.

Athletic Upside — So, when you look at the bulk of U.S. Presidents, you are generally looking at something of an unimpressive lot when it comes to the athletic side of things. Sure, many of them have athletic pasts, but by the time they get to the oval office, those days are long gone. And yes, modern presidents have put at least some effort into public displays of physical fitness (mostly jogging), but we still haven't had a president who's been that fit, have we?
Oh. My.
Turns out Obama is a fairly strong swimmer, jogger, and avid basketball player. Add to that his relative youth, and you have someone whose mere physicality gives him an edge over most of the other combatants in the bracket. That's the sort of edge that should not be overlooked. But is he agile?

Yes. Yes, he is.

CONS: Thinks too much — One of the trademark styles of the Obama administration is that Obama doesn't rush into anything without giving it some serious thought, first. Depending on your politics, this is either an indication of someone who can't make up his damn mind, or it's a refreshing change from... let's just say from previous administrations.
"Hello, Domino's? Is your refrigerator running? Then you'd better let 'im out! Heh heh heh."
Either way you look at it, though, it's got to be a liability in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. In the Arena, you can't lie back and wait for more information to come in, you've got to move and defend yourself before you get pulverized. In short, thinking is only good if you've got time for it. Unless Johnson opens the proceedings by taking a nap, Obama won't have that time.

Lacks the ability to get angry? — One of the other hallmarks of the Obama administration is that the president is one of those guys who seemingly always has his shit together. Well, unless he's visiting the U.K., but still. Obama's just one of those people who always seems perfectly composed.
Pictured: confidence.
That's all well and good, but... one thing we haven't seen from President Obama is anger. Now, we will acknowledge that there may be a racial component to this (surprise!), but we've got to call these things like we see them, and right now we see someone who wouldn't raise his voice if you kicked him in the shins. If you're going to prevail in the Arena, you're going to need to get your blood angried up, at least a little bit.
Okay, that's... that's a start, I guess.
Maybe there's a Jackie Robinson analogy to be made, here. When Robinson first broke into the major leagues, he made an agreement with Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, that no matter how bad the abuse got, no matter what fans or opposing players said, he wouldn't snap. He wouldn't show anger. This was because Rickey knew that in order to break the color line in baseball, Robinson would have to act above and beyond approach. And he did, for three years, until Rickey finally said, "Go get 'em." Robinson proceeded to start cracking skulls across the National league. Not coincidentally, he also won the MVP award that year. So, maybe Obama brings out his angry face if he wins a second term in the white house. Until then, however, you have to worry that he won't quite have the temperament to survive a pitched battle in the Arena.

Andrew Johnson
17th President of the United States
Served: 1865-69
Ages in office: 56-60

PROS: War Democrat did his own thing, which seemed to work for him — Johnson was kind of in the middle of the road on the whole slavery issue. He thought preserving the Union was more important. When Tennessee seceded, he was on the only senator from a seceded state to continue service in Congress. As a result, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson to be the military governor of Tennessee. Johnson did a pretty decent job quashing the Confederacy in that state, and spoke out for black suffrage.

As a way of broadening their base, Republicans joined forces with the War Democrats to form the National Union Party in 1864. Lincoln ditched his Northern Republican vice president from the first term and picked War Democrat Johnson as his running mate.

While Lincoln spoke about being lenient on the rebellion, Johnson talked about hanging traitors like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which the Radical Republicans LOVED. The Lincoln-Johnson ticket won in 1864 and a month after becoming vice president, Johnson became president following Lincoln’s assassination.

It should be noted that the night John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, there was a conspiracy to off Johnson, Secretary of State William Seward and lieutenant general Ulysses S. Grant as well. Seward was attacked at him home, but survived a stabbing. Grant decided not to go to the theater with Lincoln, so he was safe. George Atzerodt, the guy who was supposed to kill Johnson, lost his nerve. Probably because Johnson was mean looking.

"Hey you conspirators, get off my lawn!"
Just by being him, Johnson fell into the presidency.

No one took him down — Okay, so the actual presidency didn’t quite come up Milhouse for Johnson. If Johnson were a cop in a movie, there would be a few scenes where the chief (in this case, Congress) calls him into his office to have the “one more stunt like that, Johnson, and I’ll have your badge and gun so quickly, your goddamn head’ll spin “ talk.
"You're a loose cannon, Johnson!"
To this day, Johnson is considered to be one of the worst presidents in our history. Granted, Lincoln was a tough act to follow, but Johnson kind of screwed the pooch on his own on this one. We’ll get to all of that a little later, but let’s just say he pissed off the Republican Party which led to two impeachment attempts.

The first attempt came in 1867 and failed. The following year, when Johnson violated the recently enacted Tenure of Office Act, Congress saw this as another opportunity to impeach Johnson. This time there was enough support to impeach him, but the Senate failed to convict him by one vote. If it’s any consolation to Johnson, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually found the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional nearly 60 years later.

Point being, Johnson’s up for a tough fight, and he’ll end up on top.

CONS: All bark, no bite on Confederacy — I hope that the irony of a Confederate sympathizer assassinating the president, making way for another president who used talk about hanging traitors wasn’t lost on any members of the conspiracy. Especially to Atzerodt, who chickened out and spent that night getting drunk.
"Shit, I guess I hadn't thought of that."
The truth of the matter is that when Johnson made it to the White House, he had softened all of that talk. He allowed Southern states to hold elections, which led to former Confederate leaders being elected into Congress. One of his last acts in the White House was to grant unconditional amnesty to all Confederates.

He even halted talk on allowing blacks to vote. He also vetoed the first Civil Rights act, on grounds that approving such major legislation when almost one-third of the country was without Congressional representation seemed like a dick move.

Okay, maybe he did this for the good of healing the wounds of the secession and the Civil War. After all, preserving the Union had always been his top priority. He never gave up on that, even if it meant having the Republicans turn on him, getting impeached and being remembered for being a shitty president.

Still though, for the purposes of this blog, he could have helped himself by having a higher body count.

Not much of a fighter — Even before his presidency, he didn’t have a body count. He was elected as alderman at the age of 20 and mayor of Greeneville, Tenn., four years later. Which is an impressive beginning of a life in politics.

But again, for the purposes of this blog, couldn’t have more taken after another 19th century Tennessee Democrat named Andrew?
I'm sorry Mr. Jackson.
You're not up yet.
The Fight
Doug: How long did it take you to find that picture of Obama looking angryish? Did you have to use the word "angry" in the search? You know what you need to do to find a picture of Johnson looking pissed off? Just Google "Andrew Johnson." He has two looks: mean and younger/slightly less mean.
"No, I'm serious. Get off my lawn."
Granted, photography was different back then. People posed and were required to sit still for a few seconds. There were no candid shots and this was well before the era of "Say Cheese." Still, other presidents didn't look this mean. This leads me to believe that Johnson was just a mean dude.

No, maybe he didn't storm San Juan Hill, but he's got some "cranky bastard" in him and I'm sure he's not afraid to use it.

Tony: See, but as angry as Andrew Johnson ever was, where did that get him? Nowhere! Well, I mean, granted he managed to leverage said meanness into the presidency, after a fashion. I'll give him that. But after that? He was about as mean as a tired kitten. "Confederacy? Oh, yeah, I'll get right on that... purrrrrrr..."

So he looks mean. So what? You know who else looks mean all the time? Or at the very least, frequently? This guy named John McCain.
Someone's just cranky we didn't take the opportunity to use a sleeping kitten picture.
Johnson pulls his mean ol' man look in the Arena, and Obama's going to get all kinds of flashbacks to the 2008 campaign. You remember how the vitriol got mayyyyybe a tad bit out of hand late in the campaign? I think Barack Obama remembers that. And I think he's going to beat Johnson like a drum.
Doug: Johnson unites people. He united some Democrats with Republicans to help the National Union Party ticket win. Granted, that was mostly Lincoln, but Johnson gets some credit there. He wanted to get Reconstruction going so that the nation could heal from the wounds of the Civil War. And nearly a century later, he has united historians in believing that he was one of the worst presidents our nation has seen.

Point being, he has a reputation of not wanting people to fight. I'm sure Obama knows this, he knows his stuff. Johnson could probably start off with trying to talk things out with Obama. Maybe there's a way around the barbaric rules of the Arena. "Hey Barack, let's settle this over a beer." Obama likes this idea. 
Whenever a professor and a police officer get in a tizzy, Obama is there with a beer.
But Obama has no idea that Johnson is referring to his fists: Anheuser and Busch.
Tony: I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of "not wanting people to fight" somehow being a winning strategy in an actual fight. Meanwhile, let's check out Barack Obama's bonafides, shall we? Dude cut his political teeth in a place called Chicago, which is not exactly known for being easy-going, politically. Then, he got into office, started lobbing missiles at Libya, and then there was a that whole thing about sending in a team of soldiers to straight up wreck Osama Bin Laden's shit. Barack Obama knows how to dance, is my point. He's got the strength to turn back Johnson's attacks, the stamina to outlast him, and the smarts to outthink him. This isn't going to be close.
Doug: Getting rid of Johnson is no easy task. Just ask the 40th Congress of the United States. They tried, twice, and they couldn't get it done. Johnson's very difficult to get rid of. I mean, I guess they eventually got rid of Johnson, because he wasn't able to get the Democratic Party's nomination in 1868, but that's because he was a terrible president.
Also, because no one could stop the unstoppable force that was Horatio Seymour.
Except for maybe a wildly popular Civil War general.
Even though he knew he was unpopular and anyone could have told him that he didn't have a chance, he ran anyway. He doesn't give up. I don't think the guy knows how to give up.
Tony: I'm not really impressed that Johnson was able to survive being impeached by Congress. Maybe if Congress actually had a track record for getting things done, you know?
Zing! Eat it, Congress.
I just don't see what his strategy is gonna be, here. So far, according to you, it's been scowling, trickery, and just sort of hanging around. Those aren't actual tactics. Meanwhile, Obama's plan is clear-- seek weakness, and destroy. And you know who's just a walking pile of ineffectively, nay, weakness? Andrew Johnson.

Obama vs. Johnson


  1. I've played basketball with Obama and if his right hook is as good as his hook shot, Johnson will have some "Reconstruction areas" on his face... if you smell what Barack is cookin' (cue The Rock's theme song)

  2. Barack Obama will win because he's a bad ass. He took down Trump, the "birther" movement, and bin Laden in the same weekend. Plus, he has to tame the wild, sexy beast that is Michelle Obama. Have you seen her arms? So you know Barack must be packing some guns of his own. (Oh, and give Eric comment of the week. It won't get any better than that, Jabroni)

  3. I was puzzling over that comment for a while, and then I realized "I've played basketball with Obama" probably means "I unlocked Obama in NBA Jam."

    Killer comment, though. No doubt.

  4. William Howard TaftJune 8, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    B.Obama is the easy choice just for the pure fact that A.Johnson is all bark and no bite, just like our current president...oh wait..well at least B.Obama is an athlete.

  5. Looking at the results thus far this week, it has become apparent to me that Hail to the the Death! has a slight liberal bias. That being said, I still go for Obama. Johnson's more of housekeeper than a fighter. #AccordingtoPalin Andrew Johnson opened a chain of hotels and restaraunts. Not exactly bad ass street credntials.