PEPER COLUMN: Here's a brief primer on the presidents
It's been a few weeks since the Palmetto State was bombarded by candidates and their ads. They've moved to other regions now with their photo ops, town meetings, bus tours and debates. Presidential elections are held every four years, but it seems the next election cycle begins about 30 days after the latest commander-in-chief takes office. Since it's Presidents Day, let's examine some of the people who have been there and done that. Pay attention and the next time you watch Jeopardy, you might dominate the category.
Hail to the Chief
William Henry Harrison shortest period in office. He died of pneumonia one month after taking the oath.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt longest to serve. He died shortly into his fourth term. The law was changed allowing just two terms soon thereafter.
JFK youngest elected to office at 43.
Ronald Reagan oldest elected at 69.
Four presidents assassinated in office Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.
But did you know?
The previous facts are generally well-known, but the following bits of information while factual are somewhat less frequently discussed.
John Tyler had the most children, 15.
John Q. Adams first president to be photographed.
William Taft gained 50 pounds his first year in office.
James Buchanan the only bachelor.
Andrew Jackson only president ever in a duel. (Obviously never debated Newt.)
Chester Arthur wore sideburns down to his lapels.
My fellow Americans
The founding fathers specifically did not want us to have a king. The idea was that we, the people, would elect a civilian to lead us. It's become a bit of a circus, hasn't it? Some have even compared it to choosing American Idol.
We all want someone we can trust. We prefer the president be smart, but not a smart aleck. The ideal person should look 'presidential,' but not too slick. Usually, we love those who are good speakers, but criticisms arise if the president is too perfect with the teleprompter. Religion once mattered, but concerns mount if the word 'devout' is attached.
The road to the White House is paved with curves and contradictions. The ideal candidate can't possibly be out there, right? We'd prefer someone reasonable, but not robotic. Smile sometimes, but don't act goofy. Wear this tie it portrays strength. Don't wear that outfit it conveys weakness.
Forget where he stands on the issues, can he present his policies in tightly composed eight- to 10-second sound bites?
At times, we get what we deserve. We've created a system that feeds on itself and devours everything that gets in the way.
Twenty seconds after one person is elected, committees and focus groups are assembled to make sure anybody but 'that' body is re-elected.
Through it all, though, our system is still better than anything else out there. It would make it all a little more digestible if more than 35 percent of the people who are eligible to vote did. Would our candidates be better? You could argue that at least the people we elect are selected by informed voters who care enough to participate in the process. Really? That's your best answer?
Alex I'll take presidents with long sideburns for $500.
I'm just sayin'