Monday, February 21, 2011

A former U.S. President is today's guest blogger


Hello. In honor of President’s Day, one of Ken’s favorite holidays, he asked me to be a guest blogger. Of course I said yes. Not like I was busy. I haven’t done anything for 125 years.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Chester A. Arthur. I was the 21st President of the United States. No, seriously. I was. Go to Wikipedia, look it up yourself.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t remember. You’re not alone. I’m pretty much the forgotten President. This day is always bittersweet for me. On the one hand it’s nice to be honored; on the other I’m the only President who always has to show proof.

Most Presidents have libraries, even that slimeball Nixon for crissakes. I have a book kiosk. I can’t even give you the location. It moves around. Last I heard it was in the Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse right by the D & D Kitchen and Bath. Swing by the next time you need dish towels.

Okay, I’ll admit, I kind of backed into the job. President Garfield was assassinated. There was a three-day gap in the transfer of power because news traveled slower in those days and no one seemed to remember who the Vice-President was. I was getting my muttonchops trimmed when the Secretary-of-State came and got me. You can imagine my surprise. I think I had been to the White House maybe twice. I raced over there and hit another snag. In my haste I had left my ID at home and the guards wouldn’t let me in. Garfield’s wife had to come to the gate to get me. She was one pissed grieving widow, I’ll tell ya that.

Then, to make matters worse I learned that Garfield had been shot on July 2nd and didn’t die until September 19th. What the hell?! You’d think somebody would have given me the heads-up on this.

There’s usually a honeymoon period when a President first takes office. Not for me. Publisher Alexander K. McClure wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted.” Gee thanks. You steal a few papers off peoples’ lawns and they crucify you. In fairness, he later said: “and no one ever retired... more generally respected." So I’m kind of the reverse of Nixon. Still, have you seen trailers for FROST-ARTHUR? What the hell do I have to do?

Half of my cabinet quit right away. Fine. Go find another cabinet. Like Garfield was such a prince. I will say it took longer to assemble my own cabinet than I had expected. There were a number of people I called to offer positions who said, “Refresh my memory. You are who again…?”

I did make great strides in Civil Service reform. And I kept us out of Viet Nam. That’s who I am. Or was.

I tried to run for re-election but the party decided to go with someone more well known.

Still, for a few short years I was the Commander-In-Chief. I still have some of the stationery. My portrait hangs alongside all the biggies. And so, on this sacred President’s Day I ask you to take a minute, write down my name, and remember that not everyone can get monuments, busts carved into mountains, or ten million Twitter followers, but we too led this great nation of ours and unlike some people, didn’t fuck it up.

Thank you, President Arthur. He used to have a Facebook page but nobody would befriend him. 

30 comments:

Tom Quigley said...

Chester A. Arthur said...

"I’m the only President who always has to show proof."

People kept asking to see his birth certificate...

Blaze said...

Actually, he's one of the few of your Presidents that I can name, because I'm a perennial fan of "Die Hard 3".

John said...

Hey, they closed the Borders in the Carousel Mall. Syracuse needs something sort of book-story-like place in there so Chet's stuff will have to do.

Anyway, he still had a better time of it in the White House than William Henry Harrison, who was to presidential longevity what Pope John Paul I was to papal terms.

iain said...

The writers actually worked a Chester A. Arthur joke into an episode of "How I Met Your Mother,"
so at least ol' Chet will live on in perpetual syndication.

wv: unteeki: unronde's twin brother.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Really, President Arthur? Garfield jokes? Too soon.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

We are the adequate, forgettable
O-cassionally regrettable
Caretaker Presidents of the U... S.... AAAAA!

Though in fairness, those 'chops may be the finest facial coiffe of any president we ever had.

LA Nuts book said...

On facebook,...

"Presidency of Chester A. Arthur" has 11 likes.

"Chester Arthur" has 2 likes.

"Dick Cheney" has THREE pages, the biggest of which has 1,264 likes.

"Charles Manson" has no less than 17 pages with thousands of likes.

"Sex and the City 2" has 2,065,141 likes.

"Nickelback" has 6,797,649 likes.

There's no end to the injustice.

Joe Dungan

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tippy Canoe said...

Chester A. Arthur may have been born in Canada. His parents emigrated to the U.S. and his birthplace was listed as Fairfield, Vermont, about 15 miles south of Canadian soil. If so, he would be our only non-native President until President Schwarzenegger takes the oath.

Weirdest current Presidential fact: John Tyler, born in 1790, has two living grandsons.

Michael said...

Tippy Canoe, John Tyler was our most prolific president--15 kids, including with a second wife less than half his age. Bill Clinton dreams of being this guy.

Mental Lint said...

There's a Chester Arthur statue at the north end of Madison Square Park in NYC. Which puts him permanently at the end of the line for Shake Shack.

Anonymous said...

And the answer for the bonus point is...Charles J. Guiteau.

Hated history, but loved the musical "Assassins"

Charles H. Bryan said...

Dear President Arthur,

Some presidents have it worse.

Once upon a time, I taught U.S. History to high school students. On the first day of class I would tell them "I promise, other than right now, to never mention Millard Fillmore."

I joyfully kept that promise.

I don't recall spending much time speaking about you, either. I'd apologize, but I thought students should learn about influential Americans of the era -- a list from which you were squeezed out by Joseph Glidden, the inventor of barbed wire.

No, seriously.

Yours,

Charles H. Bryan

Anonymous said...

I attended Chester A. Arthur Elementary school in Cedar Rapids, IA. So, he's BIG in Iowa.

Janet T said...

I can’t seem to get over my hatred of Martin van Buren- it dates back to helping my son with a 3rd grade report, years ago.

rob! said...

While I wasn't there at the time of course, I remember Chester Arthur was President, thanks to my Superman Salutes the Bicentennialcomic book.

Breadbaker said...

From the Firesign Theater's "How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?" (historical accuracy neither claimed nor attempted):


JOE: 1829! In the midst of an ever-deepening sense of Prosperity, Chester Allen Arthur climbed to the top of his bedroom wall, thrust his defiance at the Javanese, and shouted
ARTHUR [badly recorded]: Give me Them, or I'm going Over There!

Gary said...

After retiring, he changed his name and became the lead character in one of TV' earliest sit-coms: Chester A. Riley. What a revoltin' development this is.

Pres. Tyler has living grandkids? I'm almost curious enough to look it up, but not quite yet.

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget...James Buchanan, too.
Who?
From Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Oh, was he AIM-ish, being from
Lan- CASTER?

Cap'n Bob said...

Not to brag, but I can name all the presidents.

I just completed 32 years in the civil service. Is that's the improved version, I'd hate to see the old one. It's the most egregious Old Boy Club extant, and like a pond the scum rises to the top. On the other hand, if it weren't such a mess I might not have lasted that long.

l.a.guy said...

Maybe next year Gerald Ford can do the honors.

RCP said...

Chester is at least one of the funniest presidents we've had.

Mac said...

Life is cruel. You get to be the friggin' President and your legacy is a punchline.
To echo Cap'n Bob, there are many days I'm glad I work in an industry full of clowns and bullshitters, otherwise I'd have been sussed out long ago.

Kirk Jusko said...

I was watching an old Match Game one night on the Game Show network. The question was Blank Arthur. Richard Dawson came up with King Arthur. Then it was Charles Nelson Reilly's turn. He said President Arthur. Brett Somers balked at that, complaining there was no such person. It didn't help Reilly any that he couldn't remember the "Chester A" part.

Ian. said...

I'm sorry to say that this is the best post I've read on this blog, since it was written by a guest.

On the other hand, it clenches this blog's position as Best Blog Ever, so...double edged sword.

Tough luck, Levine.

Noah 'Freekin' Webster said...

So sad when folks pretend to know the English language, but don't. It's CLINCHES!

jbryant said...

When I was a kid I was obsessed with the Presidents. I always liked Chester A. Arthur because he reminded me of Captain Kangaroo.

Jay Stern said...

Chester A. Arthur fact: as a young lawyer, he worked on the case that desegregated the NYC public transit system. Also, the Unemployed Philosophers Guild sells a Chester A. Arthur finger puppet! Although it comes in a set with 3 other forgotten presidents... http://www.philosophersguild.com/index.lasso?page_mode=Product_Detail&item=0620

kaleberg7 said...

He's the only American president with three first names.

P.S. His old apartment building is not far from the Shake Shack. There's a plaque in the lobby. That's where he was sworn in.

Chester Arthur said...

I was just googling myself and stumbled upon this. Although I'm a bit disappointed in your levity of tone, I suppose there's no such thing as bad press...