Presidential Dinner Party
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Rules- Write up a guest list for a dinner party you will throw in the near future.This is no ordinary dinner party for you get the privilege of inviting five Presidents alive or dead. (They will not be dead upon arrival; they come back to life so just avoid over thinking this or any other unfortunate implications)
The choices should reflect the Presidents that you would like to interact with in person. Also take into account how your choices will interact with each other (probably would not be good to invite Woodrow Wilson to a party with President Obama). An explanation of your choices is not really required but is likely be the most entertaining part about this topic. Please be mature enough to avoid what some call political discussion (or what I call bickering).
1. Theodore Roosevelt
2. John Adams
3. Andrew Jackson
5. William Howard Taft
Theodore Roosevelt is an obvious choice for being quite the entertainer and may have had the most interesting personality of the Presidents. John Adams I would invite if only to see how he and Theodore Roosevelt interact. They both seemed to me quite similar. The most striking similarity was their devotion to public work throughout their lives. It is no surprise that Theodore admired John Adams particularly for his stances on the navy. As a side note it may seem odd to have John Adams but not to have invited Thomas Jefferson. I would have done so but the urge to invite Theodore Roosevelt was stronger and seeing how Theodore wouldn’t even utter his name it may not be wise to have them both. Of course this is probably the best course anyways for I doubt that Jefferson’s admiration for a rural utopian society would resonate well with a visit to our modern world. This is probably true for different reasons for many Presidents so don’t put much consideration ion this with your choices (part of the unfortunate implications I mentioned).
I have not read yet about Theodore Roosevelt’s life after his second term as President so hopefully he and William Howard Taft reconciled after the election of 1912. I am assuming this because I know that William Howard Taft would ball his eyes out over Theodore Roosevelt’s tombstone. I wanted at least two Presidents who were contemporaries. I know very little I know of 20th century Presidents and if I invited John Quincy Adams he and John Adams would very likely ignore everyone else but each other. William Howard Taft would add the interesting perspective of being the only man to hold the two most powerful positions in the US government. It always amazed me how selfless he could be. Imagine turning down your dream job multiple times out of duty.
FDR I would invite purely because I believe he received one of the greatest travesties of fate to befall a President. Serving longer than any other in what most consider the most stressful job on earth (so far the only President I have read of who thoroughly enjoyed the job was Theodore Roosevelt) during two of the worst situations in United States History only to die on the eve of victory. I would hope this is more than even his political enemies can view as tolerable. It would be nice to show him that things ended well in the end.
Andrew Jackson may be the only President with a personality that could stack up to Theodore Roosevelt’s. I would particularly want to hear first and how he nearly bludgeoned his would be assassinator with a cane to death after both the assassins’ pistols had misfired. Perhaps having two such massive personalities would be a mistake but it would be worth the risk of the space-time continuum altering personality clash that could occur. Out of all the Presidents you could not select a more bad ass pair excluding George Washington from the options.
1. John Quincy Adams
2. Barak Hussein Obama
3. Herbert Clark Hoover
4. William Henry Harrison
5. Chester Alan Arthur
JQA is my first choice because I have always enjoyed supremely confident, opinionated and somewhat grumpy people as I always like to listen for the really good bits that will be "in there somewhere". I am also impressed by the Presidents who have given great service to their country on both sides of their presidencies. JQA, at least in my reading, was one of the busiest men in that respect. I would want him to talk about his time as a fourteen year old private secretary to Francis Dana the appointed Minister to Russia, about his fight against the "Gag" rule on the House discussions on slavery, about his "Amistad" defense and about his lead on the fight for acceptance of James Smithson's endowment and the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution.
I would want to invite Barak Obama (It would be nice to have Michelle too) for his innate intelligence and quick witted repartee. I would want to hear about his work with the poor of Chicago and I would want to have him tell us about how he chose his cabinet. I can see him enjoying JQA too.
I was impressed with Herbert Hoover's work either side of his presidency. He would be asked to expand on the work he did during WW1 on the repatriation of stranded US citizens, the relief of efforts on behalf of Belgium and Northern France and his directorship of the Relief and Reconstruction of Europe program. He did it all over again after WW2 as chairman of committees for the relief of countries such as Poland, Finland and Belgium. He even did much work on recommending relief for Germany itself. I would want to hear his thoughts on the "Berlin Airlift".
I don't particularly find Generals to be people I want to spend time with. I am not enamored with war or war-mongering and I figure them to be a little light on innate intelligence. I'm not comfortable with the idea of killing people for a living. But JQA saw something of value in him and appointed him the first minister to Colombia, an action in support of the Monroe Doctrine. The trip, his time in country and the return were pretty much a debacle. In fact President Andrew Jackson had recalled him some four months after he had left to take his post. I want to hear about that and I think it would be really interesting to see how he would stack up against Presidents Obama and Hoover as a participant in discussions around the table.
Finally, I would like to have President Arthur, a very handsome man, at the table to talk about his thought processes that took him from the sinecure of Collector of the Port of New York and his suspension from that position by President Hayes, to his support for and signing of the Civil Service Reform Act. It seems to me that his thoughts on that subject would show us a man who had a great deal of political courage. That courage also gave rise to the Widows of Presidents Pension Act. I think both those acts ushered in a sea change in how life in America was improved and prepared for the turbulent 20th Century.
I can't imagine many USPC readers will agree with my list but it's how my invitations would be assigned for the five President dinner chez moi.
This week the five are
1. George Washington
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. Theodore Roosevelt
4. Calvin Coolidge
5. Ronald Reagan
My reasons for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln may be fairly obvious and so I won't go into great detail. I don't know if Theodore Roosevelt was a great President, but I do think he at least was a goed one and he was just an incredibly interesting person. While Calvin Coolidge was known as silent Cal, I think he was one of those underestimated Presidents and Ronald Reagan is just one of my favorites.
#2. My understanding is that Theodore Roosevelt did not particularly like FDR and he could be somewhat ruff on those he did not like. Of course there is no guarnatee that he would like George, Abrahame Calvin or Ronald either.
My "What were you thinking?" guests would be...
Thomas Jefferson - what was he thinking when he went after Aaron Burr?
James Madison - when he got involved with the British and the war of 1812
John Tyler - when he joined the confederacy
James Buchanan - when he did nothing to try to prevent the Civil War
Theodore Roosevelt -- when he ran against Taft in 1908
The "How did you manage to do that?" guests would be...
FDR - how did you manage to come up with all the ideas to bring the nation out of the depression and was that harder than bringing the nation through War?
Abraham Lincoln - How did you manage to put up with the incompetent generals for so long?
James Polk - how did you manage to get the congress to listen to your plans/agenda when you had already stated that you were a 1 term president?
Millard Fillmore - how did you manage to improve the banking of the day which appeared to be fairness oriented and yet help pass the Compromise of 1850?
William Howard Taft - How did he manage to hold both the Presidency and Chief Justice - which did he feel was the more powerful position?
I guess that the "what were you thinking" group is my attempt to understand their apparent incompetence in certain areas while the "How did you manage to do that? group is more awe inspired.
Sorry it took me so long to decide but two parties are what our democracy is based on, right?
I like your thinking, Cheli. My "What were you thinking" candidates would be:
1. Ronald Reagan - for severely diluting the laws for dealing with mentally ill people (in California at least - don't know enough yet about the national picture in that respect).
2. U. S. Grant - for continually cheating, and allowing others to cheat, his native population in favor of the westward advancing greed of his white population.
3. John Adams - for believing that the Alien and Sedition Acts were good policy.
4. Calvin Coolidge - for being Republican in every way except that of supporting the country's veterans by vetoing so many bills that were drafted in their support.
and, 5. Warren Harding - for allowing himself to be nominated when he knew deep down that he wasn't really up to the task.
Please note that I left out any desire to discuss "presidential peccadilloes", of which it appears there have been a large number since 1801, and any desire to discover if there are any original thoughts inside Bush II.
John Adams-such a patriot and such a wise man. I want to discuss with him priorities and freedom.
Herbert Hoover-would want to know how he became a self made millionaire and hear him confirm what I think are sound economic principles
Harry Truman-want to get the skinny on General MacArthur and also what led him to the decision to drop the bomb.
JFK-want to talk about Fidel
George W-I've had lunch with him at the Press Club before with 2 dozen others. His voice is calming and mesmerizing. He's a great listener and has a lot to say. He's such a gentleman.