Lindsey Graham is not a fat cat.
He’s not a tall cat, er, man, either.
According to a Monday email response from his spokesman, Kevin Bishop, Graham’s height is 5 feet, 7½ inches.
So when Graham announced his presidential candidacy on Monday in his wonderful little hometown of Central (my community of residence while attending Clemson), his shortness made him an even longer shot.
After all, we haven’t had a president that short — or shorter — since 5-7 William McKinley from 1897-1901.
And even if Graham, like all of our last five presidents, was at least 5-11½, he’d still have to overcome these shortcomings, in no particular order, on the campaign trail:
The only president from South Carolina has been Andrew Jackson, who stood 6-1. And that was a long time ago (1829-37). Plus, though Jackson was born in Lancaster County, very near the North Carolina border, for all practical political purposes he was a Tennessean. He even threatened military action against this, his native state, over the 1832-33 nullification crisis.
The last South Carolina native to make a serious presidential run was John Edwards in 2004 and 2008. And though he was born in Seneca and played freshman football at Clemson, he graduated from N.C. State, was elected to the U.S. Senate from the Tar Heel State and grossly betrayed his cancer-stricken wife, giving politicians from the Carolinas a bad name in the lowdown process.
The last lifelong South Carolinian to seriously pursue the presidency was Fritz Hollings in 1984, when Phil Donahue, host of a Democratic debate in New Hampshire, had trouble understanding our then-junior senator’s heavy Charleston brogue. At least Hollings hadn’t started relentlessly pushing the Value Added Tax way back then. Or had he?
Our current senior senator has been derisively dubbed “Lindsey Grahamnesty” by Rush Limbaugh and “Sancho Panza to [John] McCain’s Don Quixote” by George Will.
Then again, Limbaugh, Will and others have called Barack Obama much worse — and he’s won the presidency twice.
And Graham’s won four U.S. House and three S.C. Senate races while earning a reputation for being smart, well-informed, convincing and politically courageous (see editorial on Page A12).
OK, so he’s too quick to assign world-cop duties beyond our reach.
OK, so he’s too willing to tolerate overreaching domestic spying in the name of reducing the terror threat.
Hey, nobody’s perfect.
And from my lucky perspective of having heard plenty of candidates pitch their views — and themselves — to our editorial board, Graham remains the most impressive of the bunch.
He’s also that too-rare example of a politician who means what he says, says what he means and sounds reasonable — and meaningful — when he says it.
1) Name the tallest president.
2) Name the shortest president.
3) Name the only vice president from South Carolina and the fine home he had near Central.
4) Name the last South Carolinian to win electoral votes for the presidency.
5) If Graham wins the White House, he’ll be the second lifelong (so far) bachelor to become president. Name the first.
6) Name the only presidents to get married while president.
7) Name the only divorced president.
1) Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) was nearly 6-4 — not counting the high top hat he often wore.
2) James Madison (1809-17) was a mere 5-4.
3) John C. Calhoun, who was vice president from 1825-32 under Presidents John Quincy Adams and Jackson before resigning over the nullification nonsense, had an Upstate plantation called Fort Hill. Calhoun’s son-in-law Thomas Clemson eventually inherited the property and bequeathed it to the state for a land-grant college that was named for him. The well-preserved antebellum house still stands on campus.
4) Strom Thurmond, running on the segregationist States’ Rights Democratic ticket, won 39 electoral votes in the 1948 presidential election by carrying South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi — and picking up another electoral vote from Tennessee, where Harry Truman won the popular vote.
5) James Buchanan (1857-61) was the only president who never married (so far). But he was 6 feet tall.
6) John Tyler (1841-45), Grover Cleveland (1885-89, 1893-97) and Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) were the only presidents to marry while president. Cleveland was the only one to get married in the White House.
7) Ronald Reagan was married to Jane Wyman from 1940 until their divorce in 1949. Reagan was then married to Nancy Davis Reagan from 1952 until his death in 2004.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.