Monday, February 21, 2011
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.
By Ken Levine at 6:55 AM