Sunday, February 17, 2013

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


Hello. In honor of President’s Weekend, 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 Weekend 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. 

23 comments:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Excellent. Thank you.

wg

RockGolf said...

Chesty: Take some comfort in the fact that you are not America's most obscure Commander-in-Chief.
Sporcle.com has a US Presidents quiz that's been taken nearly 5,000,000 times, and you're ahead of Rutherford B. Hayes. You're remembered by 56.5% of people taking the test, but Hayes is only remembered by 55.2%.

Barry Traylor said...

Gee Whiz Chester, you think you have it tough. I live in the town where James Buchanan lived 15th president and the poor guy always lands at the bottom of the list of good presidents. And just to make matters worse just because the poor guy never married people keep hinting he was gay.

Mike McCann said...

He ties with Taft for best Presidential facial hair ever.

Pacwest Wholesale said...

Chester A. Arthur was not forgotten by the usual gang of idiots writing MAD MAGAZINE in the '50's. Those subversives did a better job exposing us to forgotten politicians than our 2nd grade teachers. You could say my entire supplemental education came from MAD, PLAYBOY and Carl Barks.

Cap'n Bob said...

You mean more people remember Zachary Taylor? Hard to imagine.

And you could do a lot worse than have MAD, PLAYBOY, and Carl Barks provide your education.

Roger Owen Green said...

The 2012 Chester A. Arthur Presidential Dollar was released after a lengthy delay. It was the first Presidential coin not minted for circulation and struck only in very limited quantities for collectors only. Even Garfield got more respect.

John said...

Ken, I think the Carousel Mall lost its last book when Borders filed for bankruptcy. But Chet is the only U.S. president whose initials are the same as a Hollywood Talent Agency.

Rich said...

Chester -- Take solace knowing that you moved up one notch in the Presidential standings when George W. Bush transitioned to his present job, street-corner sign-spinner for Papa John's Pizza.

Brian Smith said...

Years ago, when Jeff MacNelly was still with us and doing the comic strip "Shoe," a Sunday strip featured Skyler answering the test question, "Who was Chester A. Arthur?" Skyler concocted an enormous alternate history of Arthur as one of the great baseball players of the 20th century, culminating with a punchline like "If you're going to bluff, bluff big," but the only thing from that strip I ever remember with absolute certainty is Skyler's nickname for Arthur, which I associate with the man to this day:

Chester A. "Chet the Jet" Arthur.

Lumpy said...

Chester, the reason for your lack of respect goes back to your failure to produce a valid birth certificate. Some still suspect you were born in Canada.

Ken Levin said...

Wonderful article by President Arthur. Where did you find him. I understand that the reality series "Where are they now" has been looking to do a series on past presidents but they haven't been able to "dig" many of them up. And when they do, they don't say much. Must be a club thing.

Johnny Walker said...

Ha! I didn't expect that! Very different for Ken.

Very enjoyable, not to mention educational, reading! :)

Ed from SFV said...

CAA was the prez during the time depicted in the great TV show The Wild, Wild, West. I always enjoyed the lead, James West, referencing CAA. Remarkably, CAA was treated with respect and said to have made wise decisions regarding whatever was going on in the show.

Not sure how CAA would have felt about knocking a battery off of Robert Conrad's shoulder.

Mac said...

Thank you Chester. And never mind - you had an interesting life and at least you were a nobody who was President. Trust me, it's much tougher being a regular issue nobody; there a surplus of us around.

Breadbaker said...

1829! In the midst of an ever-deepening sense of Prosperity, Chester Alan Arthur climbed to the top of his bedroom wall, thrust his defiance at the Javanese, and shouted, "Give me them, or I'm going over there!"

Sara Leigh said...

Chet may not have been on the 'A-list,' but he did give us 'Bea.'

XJill said...

President Arthur, I hope you'll be happy in knowing you were featured in the action classic "Die Hard With a Vengeance" when McClane must solve the riddle "what is 21 of 42" and for that I will never forget you. Pop culture is still looking out for you, Chet.

Carolyn said...

Lumpy, I saw that piece, too.

http://tinyurl.com/aj4fsno

Don K. said...

Nice to see Ken Levine could dig you up, so to speak, Mr. President. In the book Plain Speaking by Merle Miller, Harry Truman said you kept a whore in the White House. This would be on page 333 of my paperback edition printed in 1985. What say you to that?

Question Mark said...

Oh, we are the mediocre presidents...
You won't find our pictures on dollars or on cents....

alvin alcibiades said...

You realise that an interesting life is not a good thing, right? There's an old Chinese curse that goes, "may you live in interesting times."

Interesting times, historically speaking, are times of war, plagues, disasters, and so on. You really want to live an uninteresting life in quiet, uninteresting times.

David said...

Hello, my name is David and I have a Question, does anybody
know if its true that Pres. Arthur kept a whore in the white house. the reason I
ask is that in a 1975 Play
called give em hell harry
it was said by James whitmore
playing harry truman. your
story was good thank you.