I am writing this early again, because I am going to be on a plane, or will have just gotten off of a plane, or am sleeping off the final stages of my trip back East to see grandson Jake, with a little side trip to see Alissa, Sam and Riley.
For me, the 4th of July celebration this year was special, in that we didn’t celebrate it. It wasn’t a political statement, it was a choice of staying a couple of extra days and spending almost another $800 on airfare, or flying on the 4th, when everyone else is celebrating and airfares are cheap.
Flying is always a literal pain these days…less leg room, no free food (water and a cookie), and the knowledge that any connection could turn into a nightmare of cancelled flights can turn a short trip into a nightmare, (which has the vibe of current headlines for some people trying to become Americans).
But, it is a great chance to reflect…and take stock of the Presidents we have in TSTO…even if they are all dead, and just retreads from past events.
I’m not going to complain about the lack of a NEW Dead President. And although Gorge HW Bush was actually on the show, and is now in the same place that the rest of the Presidents in our game are (no longer with us, as my Aunt used to say), it is too soon. If the game is still around a year from now, perhaps. But, not this year. Too soon.
However, we do have SIX great representations of Presidents in our game. All with varying values in real life, and all featured with tasks that represent who they were in real life. Kind of a mini-hysterical-history lesson, so to speak.
Going in chronological order…not in the order in which we got them in our games, makes more sense. It’s more accurate, and may explain something about our country. Or not.
George Washington was called the “Father of our Country.” He was the most logical and best choice for the first President of our country, as he had spent the better part of the previous decade, going all over a lot of what was considered “our country,” even before it wasn’t our country. While Franklin and Jefferson were considered far more experienced statesmen, Washington was considered a true leader. Ironically, one of the most important things he did, was to LEAVE the Presidency when he could have been President for life. He knew that being a lifetime ruler made the chances of a dictator or King (the guy we had just revolted against) more likely. There are so many myths about this guy (wooden teeth, the cherry tree bit). But, if you want to spend your time seeing every monument or plaque about George Washington…you could spend your entire life doing so, and not see them all. I just went to “Washington Rock.”
It’s where Washington liked to go to check out British troop movement. Pretty cool. Nice place. I can see why he liked it. Washington. Great Man (and no…we aren’t going to go into the whole “he was a slaveholder bit). We’ll just say that he was late to that party.
Next up was Honest Abe Lincoln (not to be confused with Abe Simpson…who isn’t so much dishonest, as he is confused about his own reality). What can you say about Abe Lincoln, who is known for doing so many great things, but mostly for freeing the slaves, and keeping the United States in one piece (when it wasn’t trying pull itself in half during the Civil War). We can never know what more he could have done, had he not decided to catch a performance at Ford’s Theater. But it is safe to say, that there is no other President who faced more challenges, and brought us all through it, by gathering leaders of several parties, and forcing them to make decisions that were difficult, and not always popular.
One of my favorite books of all time is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s amazing “Team of Rivals,” which (according to WIKI) tells the story of Lincoln and some of the men who served with him in his cabinet from 1861 to 1865. Three of his Cabinet members had previously run against Lincoln in the 1860 election: Attorney General Edward Bates, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Secretary of State William H. Seward. The book focuses on Lincoln’s mostly successful attempts to reconcile conflicting personalities and political factions on the path to abolition and victory in the American Civil War. Kind of makes today’s inoperable, squabble instead of solutions congress look silly. But I digress…
And, who can forget old “Rough-Rider” Teddy Roosevelt who was a real rabble-rouser, and the kind of guy who “just got things done?” He had experience in loads of areas, including being a cowboy, a New York Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, leader of the famous Rough Riders during the Spanish/Cuban war, Governor of New York, Vice President, and finally President. He was known as one of the key leaders of the “Progressive Era” working to break up huge monopolies, advocating for “pure food and drugs,” establishing the National Parks system, and opening the Panama Canal. All this from a guy who as a boy was called “Sickly” and suffered from debilitating asthma. Pretty impressive.
Next up was another Republican (yes, all of the previous on the list were Republicans of a different flavor), Dwight Eisenhower. Known primarily as the “leader of the Western Forces” in WWII, Ike (his nickname was Ike), is perhaps best remembered for being an avid golfer (who didn’t golf even 1/4 as much as our current President) and someone who warned us about the dangers of letting our country be shaped and ruined by “The Industrial Military Complex.” Basically, he was a soldier who disliked war…and could see the dangers of basing an economy on making machines and tools of war, for the fear that we had to use them.
This is heady stuff…and today, people seem more inclined to argue about who played the most golf while in office. This is a pretty funny site, dedicated to breaking down Presidential Golf. For the record, Obama played a healthy 333 rounds over his 8 years as President, which is far less than Eisenhower who played more than 800 rounds in two terms. But Woodrow Wilson is WAY out front on the Golf Leaderboard (at least for now) with 1,200 rounds over his two terms (average of 150 rounds a year). So…while it seems that Trump plays a ton of golf, as of today, he has played just under 200 rounds…in two years. So, way more than any other modern President, but way fewer than Wilson.
Nixon. What can you say about Nixon that hasn’t been said? He opened up trade with China…and well…did a whole lot of other stuff that has made him one of the most disliked Presidents in history. He got us out of Vietnam, after illegally keeping us in it…and then got himself into trouble while getting re-elected (which is why we have the Watergate in our games). He wasn’t a golfer…but he was an avid bowler. People thought he was the first to have a bowling ally in the White House. He wasn’t. That was Truman. But, he was said to be a great bowler. The good thing about bowling, is that it is very hard to cheat at bowling. You count how many pins you knock down…and everyone can see the results. Of all of the Republicans listed above, Nixon was part of the “new kind” which isn’t very much like the “old kind,” and a LOT different than the newest brand. But, I digress…
Finally, we come to Reagan. He was an actor for most, if not all of his life. He delivered lines well, and had a great speech writing team to help. He has a checkered administration which held the 2nd worst record for the most indictments in the modern era (Nixon had 76, Reagan 26), but doesn’t come close to the worst…which goes to guys like Buchanan, Harding, Andrew Jackson, and Grant, during the “good old days” of “Government as a form of personal financial reward). I have never been a fan…as his deregulation policies have haunted the country since. But, I digress.
The most important part of all of this, is that if we are to ever get anything done, we need to be able to look back and realize that those who did the most, did so by working with people with whom they may not always agree.
And to that point…
Three years ago, a “peace treaty” was struck between two warring TSTO factions. While it is true that she and I do not always agree, and certainly not on politics, we DO agree on the value of family, friends, and learning to appreciate what is important in life. I treasure every minute since that day. So much has happened…including watching Riley-roo go from being an infant at our first meeting (one of the primary reasons that Alissa and I bonded again) and who she is today…. someone who gets “Mr. Pat’s” weird humor.
After lunch…she got ice cream with sprinkles…or Jimmies if you prefer. And in fact, Alissa and Andrew her husband don’t agree on this finer point. Alissa calls them Sprinkles….Andrew calls them Jimmies. So, in the interest of “working across the aisle” I told Riley that her ice cream toppings were almost ALL Sprinkles…but there are a handful of rogue”James” that might pop out of her mouth and onto her shirt! She spent the rest of the meal, having me check her mouth for James. Hilarious!
Differing Political Views? Pfffftttt…. Who cares when there are James to hunt?
Time to CELEBRATE the future generation…
And of course…the NEW 4th of July Tradition...Chasing Grandpa with the Light Saber that his big brother got at the Patriots game! (apparently nothings says American Baseball like a light saber with the team logo on it).
And finally…. our last breakfast with Jake before getting on the plane. This little guy re-energized his old grandpa with his ever-present smile, his open and friendly personality (he always gathers a crowd where ever he goes), and his big hugs.
The Tee Shirt Says, “I try to be good, but I take after grandpa” Perfect.
And finally…Jake may also end up golfing…and with this kind of determination, he too could end up as a President in TSTO someday….right?
The lessons we can learn from a bunch of Dead Presidents…
1. You can never play too much golf.
2. Life Currency is taken…not earned.
3. The Good, The Bad, and the Marginal may all end up as TSTO characters.
4. Be nice to one another…you never know when you may need to work together.