Monday, October 10, 2011

Reagan vs. Van Buren

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

Arena Experience: Reagan faced Rutherford B. Hayes in the first round, and squeaked by with 54.9% of the vote.

Pros: Reagan's a legitimate tough guy (his Secret Service code name was "Rawhide"!), which helped him become the first President to survive an assassination attempt (well, an attempt in which he was actually shot). He knows how to hang in and battle through adversity, and if all else fails, he can probably act his way to a victory, somehow.

Cons: On the other hand, Reagan's kinda old, meaning that lots of the talk of his toughness comes with the qualifier "...for his age." He's also shown a certain single-mindedness in his thinking, which historically has gotten him into trouble.

Martin Van Buren
8th President of the United States
Served: 1837-1841
Ages in Office: 54-58

Arena Experience: Van Buren defeated 31st century president Nixon's Head from the Futurama universe with 61.9% of the vote in the First Round. Nixon's head was given help from the headless body of Spiro Agnew. Don't ask us how that works.

PROS: According to Kramer from Seinfeld, a street gang that terrorizes New York is named after Van Buren and is apparently "as mean as" the man himself. Van Buren was dead for 135 years when this episode aired, yet he was still able to instill a fear in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers. While he was living, the weird looking little muttonchopped man with a thick Dutch accent still managed to win over voters. A lot of this has to do with the fact that he won his way into Andrew Jackson's inner-sanctum. No doubt, it was a matter of moments after being crowned the victor in the First Round was he cooking up a scheme to secure another win.

CONS: He was actually the opposite of Andrew Jackson, which is why Jackson sought Van Buren as a running mate in 1832. Jackson's bluster was balanced by Van Buren's political eggheadery. When taking office in 1837, Van Buren pulled a 180 on Jackson's policies and called for peace where ever he could. Instead of annexing Texas, Van thought it would be better to ease tensions among the states. When a border dispute erupted with Britain, Marty solved things without a single bullet being fired. Impressive, admirable even. Is this a good background for someone entering the Arena?

The Fight
Tony: Here's the story about Ronald Reagan-- he's a tough old man who's seen it all, who's faced down death and Communism, and come out smiling on the other side. Is his age a problem? Well, it wasn't when he faced off against Hayes, so I don't think he's going to be fazed by the Dutch aberration that is Martin Van Buren. After all, Van Buren's rise is mostly due to luck-- he lucked into riding Jackson's coattails, and then he got lucky when his first round opponent was a disembodied head from the future (well, and Agnew, but whatever). Now, Van Buren has drawn Reagan. Luck time… is over. 

Doug: Okay, I'll let you incorrectly give Reagan credit for destroying Communism for now. Age wasn't a problem when he faced off against Hayes? He won in the end, yes, but with less than 55%. Even you said in this very post that he "squeaked by." Who's to say he's going to have an easy fight this time around?
Though, our voters do like to skew old.
Van Buren's rise was mostly due to scheming and planning. He made sure that he never fell out of Jackson's favor, and he didn't. He made a plan and he stuck with it and years later, he was president. He was probably cooking up a scheme on a 2nd Round win since the moment he was crowned as the victor over Nixon's Head.

Tony: Oh, what, like something else took down Communism? The Pope, maybe? Or the simple weight of a doomed economic model crushing the apparatus that gave that model power? Please. If you want to blow up Communism, look no farther than Reagan, baby!

As for this age question, look, if the voters say its not a problem, then its not a problem. And by having Reagan triumph over Hayes, I'm fairly certain they said it's not a problem. Anyway, Van Buren is/was the same age(s) as Hayes during their respective presidencies, so the age factor is, again, moot. Meanwhile, let's talk reach. Van Buren stood at a puny 5' 6". Reagan, on the other hand, wades in at 6' 1". That's a considerable advantage for the Gipper.

And as for scheming-- you know who else was a fan of scheming? Why none other than Ronald Reagan! He spent a long time scheming his way towards the presidency, after all, even scheming against members of his own party! Dude knows how to put a plan together. You add it all up, and Van Buren has zero advantages in this fight.

Doug: Right. Communism is dead and it's all Reagan's doing. All he had to do was tell Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Today, you can't find Communism anywhere. Except for 90 miles south of Key West. And the most populated country in the world, to whom we owe over $1 trillion. And a bunch of other places. Oh and Vladimir Putin has started talking about forming a Eurasian Union, which I'm sure won't be a Soviet Union II or anything.

Reagan's got reach, but The Little Magician is spry. Luke Skywalker was at a severe height disadvantage in the rancor pit in Return of the Jedi.
Props to Van Buren if he tries to prop Reagan's jaw open with a bone.

Now imagine the rancor is smaller and much, much older. And yes, we should look at the age issue. Let me remind you that a slight majority thought age wasn't enough of an issue. Who knows what the story is this time around?

Tony: Oh, right. China's so very Communist. Which explains why American companies are flocking there in droves. As for the Eurasian Union… okay, that's trouble. But is it Communist trouble, or good old-fashioned dictatorship trouble? I'd attempt to answer this question, but I don't hold any graduate degrees, so never mind.

Now, first of all, I think we can all agree it's a bit ridiculous for you to compare Martin Van Buren to Luke Skywalker. But, okay, let's look at the rancor pit situation. You know who was also at a severe height disadvantage there? The dancer who was plunged in there prior to Luke. How did that work out? Obviously, Luke had the Force in his back pocket, which is good, because otherwise, he would have been toast. Now, let's apply this logic to the Van Buren/Reagan fight. Can Van Buren manipulate the Force? No. Also, is his opponent as lumbering and stupid as the rancor? I'm thinking not. So, yes, I think Reagan's physical advantages are going to remain important, thank you very much.

Doug: I think comparing Van Buren to Luke Skywalker is no more ridiculous than claiming that Reagan ended Communism.

The difference between Van Buren and the green slave dancer is that the green slave dancer is prone to panicking. Well, that's one difference, another difference is that the Van Buren presidency wasn't marked with any nip slips.

Tony: ...that we know of.

Doug: If Van Buren had fallen into that pit, he would have plotted his way out of that place. Maybe Van Buren doesn't have the Force, like Skywalker does, but he certainly has something. He's the kind of person Andrew Jackson cleans off his boots with a stick, but he freakin' made him his running mate and gave him his personal seal of approval for in the 1836 election. It's not lifting an X-wing out of a Dagobah swamp, but that's pretty freakin' impressive.

Reagan's power comes in the form of ignoring AIDS and causing our debt to skyrocket. Plus, he got his ass beat by a decrepit Konstantin Chernenko in a Frankie Goes to Hollywood music video. Do you think the founder of the Van Buren Boys, the meanest street gang in New York, is going to be beat by that guy?
George is getting upset.
And then he's getting beaten, Van Buren-style.

Tony: Really? Because one involves historical fact, whereas the other involves midichlorians. Midichlorians, Doug.

The only thing Van Buren has when he falls into the rancor pit is a life span of approximately 90 seconds. 

And I'll have you know that this is at least the second time you've tried to bolster an argument by citing Frankie goes to Hollywood. Which means I'm going to have to suggest that you… relax.

Doug: Reagan had as much to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union as midichlorians did.
"Hold still. I need to test your ability to topple governments."

What happened was that the Soviet Union finally got a progressive thinker who took a look around and said, "Holy shit, this system is messed up. Also, we should start giving our people more freedom." And once the people got more freedom, they spoke up and said, "Holy shit, this system is messed up," and eventually, the government toppled. Reagan just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get the credit. That's called luck.
In all fairness, it's easier to just know Gorbachev as "that guy with the thing on his head"
and handing all the credit to Reagan than it is to actually read up on what actually happened.
Van Buren doesn't need a high midichlorian count to break Reagan's luck streak. Reagan's going to exhaust all of his resources developing a way to defend himself against Van Buren despite the fact that he knows it will never work. You know, kind of like the Star Wars missile defense program.

The Chief: Why don't we throw this to the voters before this gets any more ridiculous? Readers: you know what to do. Vote, comment, and we'll see what's what on Friday.

Reagan vs. Van Buren


  1. Here's the breakdown:

    If they fight at the end of their terms, its a 58 year old vs. a 77 year old. There are very few cases where a 77 year old could win.

    Also, Van Buren's extreme muttonchops provide padding verses attacks.

    Finally, the Gipper may well forget why he is in the ring, and start reciting lines from Bedtime for Bonzo.

    Too Old, too forgetful, too shaven.

    The Dutch Wonder, by far.

  2. Reagan survived being shot which in my opinion means he's strong. I also think a 77 year old in 1988 is stronger than a 58 year old in 1841. Being 58 years old then is like 77 twenty years ago so that fight might be even. However Ronnie got into a lot if fisticuffs in his western days and that might be good enough to land him a win.

  3. Ronald Reagan's Jelly BeansOctober 10, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Yeah hes old but he can beat the pantelooons off that jive turkey! Get smart people!

  4. Teacher/Mother/Secret LoverOctober 11, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    If Seinfeld is wrong, I don't wanna be right.