January 28, 2009

[Edited Excerpt from the Upcoming Article]
People Who Were Around a Lot Later than You Thought

Historical Figure: Herbert Hoover
Peak Moment: 1929-1933, aka “The reason your grandparents stole Sweet N’ Low packets from Denny’s”
Lived Long Enough to See: The Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night”

It’s unfortunate that our greatest Presidents generally never had the chance to bask in their glory. Lincoln and FDR died in office. Washington lived less than three years after leaving office, Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower all less than a decade. Kennedy wasn’t a particularly great President, but damn!, think about how much action he would have gotten in the late 60’s and 70’s? Imagine being freaking JFK during the free love era!

Meanwhile, the opposite holds true, as our most bed-shittingest leaders seem to hold on forever. Martin Van Buren and Millard Fillmore lived more than 20 years, Nixon more than 25. Gerald Ford almost 30 years with Jimmy Carter approaching that. And which President lived the longest after leaving office?

That’s right, Herbert Freaking Hoover, the man synonymous with the Great Depression. Remember the parties trying to quietly include Carter and GW at the national conventions? Well, imagine a speaker who made most delegates remember surviving on twigs and sawdust, a decade so awful that by the end a disease-ridden Lou Gehrig was actually the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. Hoover kept showing up at conventions, with the Republicans repeatedly holding please-take-the-hint farewell ceremonies; in 1960, Hoover joked that "Apparently, my last three good-byes didn't take." Nothing like showcasing Herbert Hoover when you’re running against JFK.

Hoover survived JFK and even lasted until the 1964 convention, though he was too sick to attend; Barry Goldwater mentioned him during his acceptance speech. At the 1968 convention the delegates must have been thinking, “Thank God we never have to deal with that kind of embarrassment again.” Then they nominated Richard Nixon.

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