Monday, July 11, 2011

Roosevelt vs. Harris

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt
26th President of the United States
Served: 1901-1909
Ages during term: 42-50

PROS: Pretty damn hard to kill — Many of the presidents we've dealt with in this blog have been shot at, either in a wartime situation, or because someone with a grudge (or a case of the crazies) decided they wanted to assassin down the avenue, as it were. Roosevelt, however, really takes the cake in this respect. What do we mean? Well, we mean to talk about a little trip Roosevelt took to Milwaukee in 1912.

At that time, the Republican party had been split between traditionalists and progressives. Roosevelt, representing the Progressive side of the spectrum, had gotten so fed up with the stodgy ol' traditionalists, that he formed his own party, nicknamed the Bull Moose party, in order to go after an unprecedented third term as president. This move (the going for a third term, not forming his own party) had more than a few observers reaching for their smelling salts, as it had been generally held until that point that presidents should serve no more than two turns. Among the disturbed was John Flammang Schrank, who later claimed that the ghost of William McKinley himself appeared to him in a dream, urging him to assassinate Roosevelt.
Sadly, McKinley did not show up on a flaming pie.
Schrank got his chance on October 14. As Roosevelt prepared to deliver a speech, Schrank fired a single shot right into Roosevelt's chest. This is where it gets awesome. The bullet traveled through Roosevelt's speech, which just so happened to be a 50-page doozy that had been folded to fit inside Roosvelt's jacket. Once the bullet plowed through that, it dinged off of Roosevelt's eyeglass case, before finally lodging itself in the chest of its intended victim. Which leads to the best part:

Roosevelt shrugged it off.

As an avid hunter and as someone with a pretty good working knowledge of anatomy, Roosevelt knew one thing: he was not coughing up blood. This meant that the bullet had not punctured his lung, and thus he was in little immediate danger. Roosevelt thus shrugged off suggestions that he haul ass to a hospital, and instead stayed on to deliver his speech anyway. He didn't quite make it through the full 50-page text, but still. He told the assembled crowd what had happened, noting "it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose." Only after he had finished his address did he seek medical attention. Then it turned out that the bullet's location made it difficult to move without endangering Roosevelt's life. So, they left it there.
Because hey, what's the worst that could happen?
The important thing is: Roosevelt was right. It did take more than "that" to kill a Bull Moose. It's hard to see Harris even coming close to the level of "that," so Roosevelt should be safe in this round.

Amateur soldier, professional badass — Outside of the newspapers that got the whole thing started in the first place, probably no one in America was a happy to see the Spanish-American war break out in 1898 than was Theodore Roosevelt. When the war first broke out, Roosevelt was serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and had been quoted as saying "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one."

Roosevelt had spent the weeks leading up to the official declaration of war rapidly whipping America's Navy into shape, but once War was actually declared, he resigned from his post and turned his attention to another small hole in the American war plan-- the Army. As it turned out, one of the chief reasons people like say, President McKinley were opposed to war was because America's army wasn't entirely locked-and-loaded. Seeing this, Roosevelt said "to hell with it," and raised his own brigade of volunteers, pulling from western cowboys to Ivy League-educated classmates, Roosevelt's brigade became known as the Rough Riders.
Roosevelt's Rough Riders, along with soldiers from the 10th U.S. Cavalry, a unit otherwise known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
The Rough Riders, along with a few actual Army units, took place in one of the war's pivotal battles, The Battle of San Juan Hill. This particular battle was a relatively long and bloody affair, with soldiers on both sides falling not only to enemy bullets, but to heatstroke. Roosevelt was a relentless presence during the battle (it didn't hurt that he was one of the few in his brigade who wound up with a horse), eventually leading his troops on a spontaneous charge that helped American troops seize the hill in question (okay, technically it was the hill next door. Whatever.)

Roosevelt became a wartime hero for his efforts, and was nominated for the Medal of Honor. Good old fashioned politicking nixed that idea initially, though Roosevelt was awarded the medal posthumously in 2001. Still, things went so darn well that when America was later dragged into World War I, Roosevelt, asked the Wilson Administration if he could round up yet another group of volunteers to send to Europe. He was politely turned down, as America had procured itself an actual army by that time. Still, rolling into a war with a group of amateurs, taking on a professional Army, and coming out on top? Takes brass.
Probably more brass than real estate sales, actually.
CONS: Surprisingly unhealthy — I mean, okay, obviously Roosevelt came of age at a time when eating several pounds of butter a week was seen as a sign of robust health, and given that, it's no surprise to hear that Roosevelt would eventually die of a massive heart attack. But Roosevelt was actually something of a sickly youth. He was asthmatic, and frequently took ill as a child. As such, Roosevelt was left with strengthening the only thing he could: his mind.
I mean, seriously. Does this look like a future ass-kicker to anyone?
Roosevelt eventually got so caught up in studies, that he decided he could overcome his physical frailty through willpower alone. He took up boxing and rowing while studying at Harvard, and upong graduating, he underwent a physical examination. The doctors' report was not encouraging; Roosevelt already had heart problems. He was in his twenties. As such, the doctors advised Roosevelt to take a desk job, and to avoid strenuous activity. Obviously, we know how that all turned out. But it's worth mentioning in the sense that Roosevelt was able to build an impressive façade over a foundation made, essentially, of toothpicks. If that façade were to falter in the arena, even just a teeny bit, Roosevelt could be in trouble.

Subject to fits of emoness — Let's admit it: most of the time, it was damn good to be Teddy Roosevelt. Born into wealth, able to achieve greatness in almost everything he did, leading a life of legend... if he were alive today, it's safe to say he'd be one of the most prominent humblebraggarts of our time.

However, it's true that life, every so often, reached out to poke Roosevelt right in the tuckus. The best/worst example? February 14, 1884. Roosevelt's first wife, Alice, had given birth to the couple's only child (also named Alice) a couple days prior, and was now ill with an undiagnosed kidney disease. Meanwhile, in the same house, Roosevelt's mother was suffering from typhoid fever.  The two of them died eleven hours apart on the same day. Here's how Roosevelt chose to commemorate the date in his diary:
"The light has gone out of my life."
We're not one to kick a man when he's down, especially under circumstances like those described, but... man. However, you could say, "hey, he was in the throes of bereavement. Surely he eventually got over the losses, right?" Well... not so much. Roosevelt never mentioned his first wife again, either publicly or privately, and did not mention her in his memoirs. That's... kind of fucked up, really.

Then, there was Roosevelt's reaction to losing his youngest son, Quentin. Quentin served in World War I as a combat pilot, which was not a job with a low mortality rate. Still, when the youngest Roosevelt was shot down and killed behind German lines, Teddy went into a depression that lasted for months, and may have helped hasten his own demise.

So, it's an admitted long-shot, but if Harris can work Roosevelt into some form of depressive fugue, well, that could tip the balance between the two of them in the Arena.

Baxter Harris
Fictional president in Scary Movie 3 (2003) and Scary Movie 4 (2006)
Portrayed by Leslie Nielsen
Age: Nielsen was 77 when Scary Movie 3 premiered

PRO: Ready to fight, eventually — Harris may be a little slow getting out of the gate — more on that later — but once he commits to a cause, he’s does whatever he can to get things done. A key example of this was when he became aware of the possibility that aliens may have been invading the White House.

Aliens had landed on Earth and were wreaking havoc. Baxter decided to go along with a press conference at the White House to show that, despite the problems that the country was facing, things were business as usual. Then it occurred to him that maybe the aliens were going to infiltrate the press conference. That’s when he took matters into his own hands.

Anyone suspected of being an alien got a healthy dose of Baxter’s fists. We’ll get into the downside of this in a moment, but let’s concentrate now on the fact that he was willing to fight people at a press conference in the name of national security, despite the imminent public relations nightmares such actions could cause.

When it came time to dispose of the aliens, Baxter went above and beyond. Anyone in his position would call the massive military complex to take care of the situation. He went to the source of the problem himself. Not only that, he drove himself to the problem site.
President Baxter drives himself.

Most presidents travel in a limo within a motorcade. This shows a commitment to making sure the job gets done. Like they say, if you want something done correctly, do it yourself.

He even saved the day. It turned out the aliens weren’t the issue, it was the spirit of a dead girl that was causing the problems (Don’t ask. It wasn’t not a very good movie.) Well, he ultimately took care of the problem, all the while, uttering a classic Leslie Nielsen catchphrase.
No, literally. He swung the door open and said, "I just want to say 'Good Luck, we're all counting on you.'"

Might be an alien — When the aliens explained that they urinate through their index fingers, Harris revealed that he does the same.
Why isn't he getting cited for public urination.

This implies that he’s an alien. With that, we would assume that he is an advanced being who is not only able to travel to our planet, but is also able to take the human form and assimilate into our culture to a degree where he would be elected leader of a world superpower.

To me, this is nothing short of horrifying. If he’s able to do all of this, I’m really frightened at what he can achieve in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena. This could get ugly.

CONS: He’s senile — There’s a bit of an overlap between the people who brought you the Hot Shots! movies and the last two Scary Movie movies. Apparently, one of the continuing themes here is “old senile presidents.” I don’t know. I guess that’s funny?

Getting back to that press conference where he thought the White House was being invaded; the White House was not being invaded. And no sane person would have thought so, either. Among the people who he personally beat up during that scare was a man with one of those tracheotomy voice boxes and a little girl with head gear.
He addressed the United Nations, and didn’t realize he was completely naked.

Let’s get back to my comment about him being a little slow getting out of the gate. Baxter was making an appearance at an elementary school classroom that was reading My Pet Duck when he was told about another invasion on the U.S. Instead of swinging into action, he decided hearing how the story ended was more important than the safety of American lives.
Wait, this looks familiar.

I just hope, for his sake, that he doesn’t get distracted while he’s in the ring.

Also, when he defeated that evil little girl intent on killing people, that was a complete accident. He just happened to be at the right place at the right time. He opened the door, pushing the girl into a well and to her death, without even realizing what he had done. He can’t depend that such dumb luck forever.

Resentment — I am a fan of Nielsen’s work with spoofs. That being said, he made a lot of crap.
Leslie Nielsen in a Mel Brooks movie? What could possibly go wrong?
When I learned that he played the president in the last two movies in the Scary Movie franchise, I groaned. I groaned because I knew this meant that I would most likely need watch these movies. I had seen the first Scary Movie, and thought it was okay. My interest in those movies ended there.

After watching these movies, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was right for avoiding these movies. They’re ridiculously stupid and not even in a way that’s semi-enjoyable. It’s just series of overdone spoofs of movies and other pop cultural references that no one will remember in 10 years. And to be honest, I’m a little resentful at Baxter Harris for being the reason I had to sit through these movies. I kind of want to hit him.
It's funny because... wait, no it's not.
Anyone entering the ring to see Harris on the other end would probably become so blind with anger over the mere existence of these movies that Harris wouldn’t stand a chance. If his opponent studied up on Harris by watching the movies like I did, it’s over. By the time the credits roll at the end of Scary Movie 3, Harris’ image would spark a Pavlovian response to punch a wall. Then this ball of fury would sit down and watch Scary Movie 4.

The Fight

Tony: Do we really have to do this? I mean, really? This is Teddy Freaking Roosevelt we're talking about here. He was such a badass, he invented his own quote about being a bad ass ("speak softly and carry a big stick," for those of you keeping score at home). He's going to demolish Harris like the latter is a steak, and Roosevelt is a boxer gaining pounds to move up a weight class. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

Doug: Oh, I'm sorry. Is the electoral process you helped to create too much of a burden for you? Do you think Harris should not get a fair chance just because you think Roosevelt will be able to roll over him? Are you saying that there are some fights that the voters should have a say in and some are we should just skip? Talk like that will give us a one-way ticket to Commie Town. If not Commie Town, then definitely Totalitariansburg. Sad, considering this is a blog about presidents.

Say what you will about Baxter, he lived to see his 61st birthday.

Tony: Whoa, now. Who, exactly, is saying we should disenfranchise the voters? I think it's telling that you managed to pull this accusation out of the air. No, I was referring to the whole debate aspect. I mean, it's Teddy Roosevelt! He's going to annihilate Harris, drag Harris' carcass to the Smithsonian, and have it mounted. And then they're going to open an exhibit called "Damn fools who tried to step to T.R."

I'm sure Baxter was glad to live to his 61st birthday. Meanwhile, I'm sure Roosevelt was glad he didn't live to see any of the Scary Movie, um, movies.

Doug: You said "Do we really have to do this?" I don't know if you meant give both combatants a fair vote or give both combatants a fair debate, either way, it sounds like someone's being disenfranchised.

Had Teddy seen Baxter as president in the Scary Movie... s, he'd see that, when motivated, Baxter can get shit done as well. I bring up the age thing again only to point out that Roosevelt 40 when he stormed San Juan Hill — or the adjacent hill with probably a less interesting name. Baxter was probably about twice the age when he prepared the nation for an alien nation. He wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, either. If he thought you were an alien, you got put down.

Tony: I'll admit there was uncertainty involved, but I think it's telling that your mind immediately jumped to the worst of all possible scenarios. Why is that, hmm?

Yes, Roosevelt was 40 when he and his Rough Riders took San Juan/Kettle Hill (which, I dunno which hill name is better). Of course, in the conversion of turn of the 20th century ages to turn of the 21st century ages, 40 probably equals 80. Which makes the feat all the more impressive, I'd say. And okay, sure, Harris was all about taking matters into his own hands, with the slight problem that he did a terrible job at it. When Teddy Roosevelt took matters into his own hands, wars were won. Harris? He just loses his clothes in front of the United Nations. Edge: Roosevelt.

Doug: How else do I take "Do we really have to do this?" To me, those are the words of someone who really could not be bothered. Best case scenario, you're just too lazy to go through the whole process. I didn't mean to outright imply that you're intending to give someone the shaft, but the end result is quite the same. Either you want to take the week off because you feel you deserve a vacation and why not this week because "This is Teddy Freaking Roosevelt," or you just thing that not everyone deserves a fair shake, you were asking if "we really have to do this." Sorry if by quoting you, you took that to mean that I would jump "to the worst of all possible scenarios."

If you are claiming that 80 is the new 40, then I'm sorry, I'm going to have to blow the bullshit whistle. I mean, I hate it when people say things like "30 is the new 20," but for the sake of this debate, it seems like you're saying that 80 is the new 40. Medical technology has made some amazing advancements in the past century, but 80 is not the new 40. 80 is the new mid-60s or so, maybe.

And it doesn't matter how Baxter got the job done. If he accidentally wins, isn't that still a win? Yes, of course it's still a win. Hell, the crowd would love to see some hapless octogenarian putting up a good fight, almost getting beat and then clinching the victory in some unexpected and unintentional way. It should be a great fight.


  1. I'm with Tony here- did you really have to do this? TR in a leisurely stroll. #OneTicketToCommieTownplease

  2. Now THAT is what I call vindication!

    *runs around the room with a lit sparkler in each hand, sets off smoke detectors*

  3. William Howard TaftJuly 12, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    If T.Roosevelt doesn't win this match, that would mean the rapture actually did happen, Hitler never killed any Jews and that T.Woods is still the #1 golfer in the world.

  4. I actually feel bad for Doug on this one. He's got the thankless job of defending a sure loser. I'm sure he now feels what Saddam's lawyer felt or what the famed "snowball's chance" feels hell.

  5. Somehow, I don't think he'll be as upset about this as he was for being on the losing end of the Marshall/FDR upset.

  6. Thank you, Eric.
    I'm glad SOMEONE appreciates how I suffer for my art.

  7. I still want to know if the two authors are keeping track of their own personal records... I would look it up but I'm too lazy.

  8. My guess would be Tony is winning. We'll probably do a wrap-up at the end of the 1st Round.

  9. I seriously was excited to see 8 comments on this blog when I got to the end of the post, but all ya'll seriously let me down. Having a conversation in the comment section? Sure--hey Doug, get me some wine, okay?

    Teddy is going to be seriously pissed when Harris pisses on him, and he's going to whisper sweet nothings into Harris's ear before beating him to death with whatever big stick might be handy. And yes, by "stick" I might mean his big cock and his brass balls.

    Now where is that wine?