Political Hay

Past Presidential Punditry

How earlier presidents might have been treated like Mitt Romney.

By 4.18.12

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As it becomes more and more evident that Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee, a strange thing is happening; strange as in outlandish, but not surprising. For the past year or so, the liberal media has been panting for his nomination as if they were in his employ. He couldn't have hired more efficient hit men to belittle his rivals or besmirch their reputations. But, as we have seen many times before, this honeymoon is about to come to an abrupt end when they will turn on him faster than warm mayonnaise.

This of course will be explained away by noting that Romney will be "running to the right" in the general election, and will thus be transformed from a smooth and articulate business executive into a numbskulled, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. And without fail, he will be labeled with the most damning words in the liberal lexicon: incurious and un-nuanced. He will be subjected to various and sundry spelling and geography tests by the same folks who got the vapors over Dan Quayle's "potatoe," yet batted nary an eyelash over Barack Obama's "57 states." Yes, you can bet that the keyboards of these paragons of journalism will be working overtime reworking their Mitt bios.

Which caused me to wonder: what if today's leading lights of liberal punditry were to describe some our first presidents and apply their poison pens thusly? Come to think of it, the following blurbs can probably already be found right in your children's history books.

George Washington: A Southern aristocrat who was born to the purple yet cloaked himself in the same false humility as his namesakes in the Bush family, he was purported to be so honest as to have confessed to chopping down a cherry tree, and so athletic that he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. Yet our sources have revealed that it was his starving slaves who ravaged the tree, while the tossing of currency was an apocryphal example of his noted profligacy.

While he was famous for promoting his own extreme religious views, as a general he launched a unilateral and unprovoked sneak attack against German immigrants sold into military service by their greedy princes, on their holiest day of the year.

Best Attribute: Was said to be a prolific dancer and an able horseman.

Most outrageous quote: "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference -- they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."

John Adams: Was primarily known as the author of the Alien and Sedition Acts; the most nefarious legislation the nation had ever known until surpassed by the even more restrictive Patriot Act of 2001. Was admitted to the bar after graduating Harvard, although there is no record of his having published anything in the Law Review. His most famous case was the acquittal of three soldiers who gunned down an unarmed African American community organizer.

Was also notable for having appointed John Marshall as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who, in the famous case, Marbury v. Madison, somehow decided that the Courts should be able to decide the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress. This decision has, of course, subsequently been disclaimed by more qualified Constitutional experts.

Best Attribute: Although he was self-admittedly "obnoxious and disliked," it was nonetheless rumored that most of his pre-presidential decisions were made by his wife.

Most outrageous quote: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other."

Thomas Jefferson: Best known as the author of the Declaration of Independence through which he established the separation of Church and State. And although he was a notorious enemy of a strong federal government, he nonetheless expanded U.S. power by seizing nearly one million square miles of land that was rightfully the property of Native Americans, via the so-called Louisiana Purchase.

Best Attribute: His record of speaking against slavery while owning hundreds of slaves himself, was greatly mitigated by his marriage to his household slave Sally Hemings, with whom he had six children; subsequently freeing all of them and providing for them in his will.

Most outrageous quote: "But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years?"

Note: All biographical content is the responsibility of the anonymous authors, although any inaccuracies may well be accounted for on next week's New York Times Corrections page.

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About the Author

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut (mailbox@lisafab.com).