February
15th 2010
Presidents’ Day Party and Drink Specials!

Posted under: American history, fluff

UPDATED BELOW

It’s Presidents’ Day!  Everyone, bust out your favorite Presidents’ Day songs and party hats! 

(Just kidding.)  We’re not big on Presidents’ Day around here.  A six-year old of my acquaintance has recently learned that George Washington was a slaveowner, and has enjoyed letting hir friends know, with a disapproving hiss, “he owned slaves!” whenever he has come up in conversation this month.  (Contrary to movement conservatives and right-wing Know Nothings, George Washington gets a hell of a lot of play in elementary school curricula nationwide.)

For those of you who just can’t get enough of the U.S. Presidents, Robert W. Merry had an interesting discussion of presidential rankings and their relationship to the length of presidential service in “The Myth of the One-Term Wonder.”  He writes, “The judgment of history — in the form of presidential rankings yielded up by those periodic polls of heavyweight historians — coincides to a remarkable degree with the contemporaneous judgment of the electorate. With few exceptions, history has not smiled upon one-term presidents. Only one such chief executive has managed with any consistency to get into the historians’ ‘near great’ category.”  The one exception to this rule he finds is James K. Polk–who was undoubtedly effective, but in my opinion, dangerously effective.  (Well, we all know how much those annual surveys of “historians” are worth, don’t we?)

Next, Big Tent Democrat asks of the current President and Congress:  “Is That All There Is?”  Go read the whole thing–but here’s a little flava:

Let’s be clear — Democratic governance is better than GOP governance. But let’s face it, how could it be worse? The question is this – is this as good as it gets? Is this all that the Democratic Party can deliver in terms of progressive governance? If so, then David Broder has won. The choices we have as Americans are between a Center Right government and a Far Right government. This despite the fact that the American electorate is supportive of progressive ideas. Why is this? . . . .

If this is the best we can do at this time. If this is all there is in the progressivism of the Democratic Party, then we are surely sunk. For the path of the Nation is not good. And as in 1932, tranformational progressivism is badly needed. But unlike in 1932, no where is it being offered.

Meanwhile, leave your thoughts, and ideas for Presidents’ Day drink specials, in the comments below.  Here is my contribution:

The Honest Abe (serves 1)

3 oz. Kentucky Bourbon

1 tin cup

Pour bourbon into tin cup, and enjoy. 

I’ll be particularly interested in what you might come up with for the William Henry Harrison, the Millard Fillmore, and the Jimmy Carter.

UPDATE, this afternoon:  Commenter Paul is too shy to blogwhore in my comments–I don’t know why, since no one else seems to be!–but  he’s got a nice post up about President Second Worst that almost–but not quite–made me change my assessment.  (It’s incidental, although a bonus from my perspective, that Mr. Second Worst was also unprepossessing and foul tempered.  His nickname was “His Rotundity!”)  Go read!

25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Presidents’ Day Party and Drink Specials!”

  1. Indyanna on 15 Feb 2010 at 10:33 am #

    We didn’t learn squat about the dude–Polk, I mean– even though I went K-6 to a school named after him, in Southern Connecticut (well, it coulda been Connecticut, if Winthrop, Jr. had had a little more “Polk” in him). I don’t even remember a picture of the guy.

    We probably need a separate category for “fractional” presidents, who served out terms, died early, or helicoptered off amidterm for quiet retirements in places like San Clemente, in California del Norte.

  2. kelly on 15 Feb 2010 at 10:39 am #

    In lieu of drink specials, how about some more songs? I recommend “Remember the Ladies,” “One President at a Time” and “Washington v. Lincoln” from the album “Romance in the Executive Branch”: http://www.beattheindiedrum.com/?p=350

  3. rootlesscosmo on 15 Feb 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Whatever its specific ingredients, I think the Jimmy Carter should be non-alcoholic and annoyingly bland save for a hint of artificial sweetener, but with a complex, lingering after-taste.

  4. Historiann on 15 Feb 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Tab? Tab was big in the 70s before aspartame, when we sweetened our diet drinks with saccharin.

  5. Indyanna on 15 Feb 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    For the _Harry Truman_ it would probably be “Bourbon and Branch Water,” or *Bourbon and Branch*, a very popular Congressional staple back from when he was coming up in that institution. The branch water part basically just means water, and the term is variously said to mean spring water rather than “icky well water,” water from a small tributary (branch) stream, before it can become polluted, or in one case that I saw, water in which there has been i mmersed “a fresh young branch of Douglas Fir…” On third thought, maybe it refers to the legislative branch? I’ll check in my Jefferson and Montesquieu.

  6. Barb on 15 Feb 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Oh, come on – Carter *has* to be Billy Beer!

  7. digger on 15 Feb 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    No drinkies for me, I’m working on Presidents’ Day (though at home and still in my jammies with the Olympics playing). I ROFL’d at Romance in the Executive Branch… the band is the Wiggly Tendrils.

  8. Paul S. on 15 Feb 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Hmm, thinking about some of the presidents who are commonly considered the worst led me to start a series of posts about the better side of some of the worst presidents …

  9. GayProf on 15 Feb 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    The James Polk Margarita:

    Juice of One Lime
    1 oz Orange Liqueur
    2 oz Tequila that You Stole from Your Neighbor’s House

    Shake well, then beat your neighbor senseless. Enjoy.

    As an aside, some of still enjoy TaB. It’s the queer soda of choice with its lovely pink can. Of course, I am riddled with cancer.

  10. Historiann on 15 Feb 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    A-HAHAHAHAHahaha! Good one, GayProf. Love it.

    I remember that Tab’s big claim was that it had lemon-ish flavor, which was supposed to disguise the saccharin flavor & aftertaste. As for Barb’s suggestion for Billy Beer–never tried it, since I was aged 8-12 when Carter was President, but I well remember the 70s fad among boys my age to collect beer cans. Billy Beer was of course a highly sought-after can, compared to the PBR’s and Michelob’s that were just tossed in the trash. (Even then, we sensed that Carter would be a one-term President).

    My best guess is that Billy Beer was fairly undrinkable. Anyone know from bitter experience?

  11. GayProf on 15 Feb 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Wasn’t Pepsi Light the one with the lemon-ish flavor?

  12. Historiann on 15 Feb 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Ahhh–I’m sure you’re probably right, GayProf. Maybe people added the lemon themselves to disguise the actual flavor of the soda.

    I’m a little nostalgic for the tinny, metallic aftertaste of saccharaine-sweetened soda. (More as a concept than as something I want to drink, that is.)

  13. Historiann on 15 Feb 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    And, p.s. to Paul: see the update above. Just throw your links in the comments–especially if they’re on point the way yours clearly is! (And I never miss a chance to gossip about President Second Worst, do I?)

    Apropos of nothing but the random firing of my synapses, but IMHO there’s a difference between being ineffective (Pierce, Buchanan) and effective although malign (Polk, Bush II, and Jackson.) I suppose I’d rather have ineffective decent than effectively evil–although at some point, the ineffective decency ends up paving the way for effective evil, doesn’t it?

  14. Indyanna on 15 Feb 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    In my only-ever trip to Tiger Stadium in Detroit, in 1999, the last year, I discovered that you could buy a fresh-roasted turkey drumstick!! at the concession stands, which has to be a unique experience. But then they broke it to me that you could NOT wash it down with a Vernors Ale! I almost went ballistic, but it turns out that some soda-bottling barron had bought the club, and you could only get an I don’t know what, Pepsi, I guess, which is not what you want with a drumstick!

    Anybody know if they still sell the same combination at Comerica? Sorry, off-thread, I thought I could get a president in here.

  15. Emily on 15 Feb 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    The Jimmy Carter is definitely Billy Beer, but with a side of roasted peanuts of course.

    The Zachary Taylor

    1 cup unpasteurized milk
    1 cup assorted fruits
    1 oz. vodka (for good measure)

    Hastily blended and more hastily consumed, on a hot day in July.

    Too soon?

  16. Paul S. on 15 Feb 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Historiann -thank you very much! The actual reason that I didn’t post a link in the comments is that I always forget the correct code for making a link within a comment (embarrassing though it is to admit).

  17. feMOMhist on 15 Feb 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    I just got one of those presidential polls in the mail recently. What historian actually takes the time to fill them out? Has anyone here?

    On the other hand, one of the most entertaining AHA panels I have seen in recent was on them.

  18. truffula on 15 Feb 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    I gave a seminar today in another department on campus, computer science, so I sprinkled pictures of presidents through my slides. I warned them I would but they didn’t believe me. The pictures were paired thematically with the slides until I ran out of presidents who were useful in that way so I switched to thematic links between successive slides.

    The sequence went: Eisenhower, Lincoln, Jefferson, Hayes, FDR, a young Eleanor R., Jacqueline K., LBJ, Mary Todd Lincoln, Betty Ford (one of the two first ladies who admits to being feminist), Hilary (the other), Sojourner Truth (you see where this is going), and finally, having run completely off the rails, Mary Wollstonecraft. Margaret Fuller might have been a better choice for the end but I thought maybe some of my audience would recognize Wollstonecraft. I was wrong on that account.

    As for a beverage, FDR’s platform included a plank about repealing Prohibition so I’ll have whatever he’s having. 3.2 beer?

  19. Horace on 15 Feb 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    The Tippecanoe Cooler:

    1 part grain alcohol
    1 part water

    Fill glass with ice, leave in freezer for 2 hours.
    Remove from freezer and let sit 32 days
    Dump out contents and make yourself a Tyler.

  20. Susan on 15 Feb 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    The Warren G. Harding “TeaPot Dome”
    2 oz. bathtub gin
    1 oz tea

    Best served by the corrupt cops. [My grandfather was a lawyer for a police union in the 1920s, and my grandmother recounted the Union dinner where the booze was served….)

    As for Tab, at some point in my life, I’m ashamed to admit to drinking Rum & Tab, as a “diet” drink! But we’re all young and silly once, right?

  21. Sic Semper Tyrannis on 15 Feb 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Washington sure did own slaves. Yet, we would have no country today without him.

  22. Historiann on 15 Feb 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Well, “Sic Semper Tyrannis”–it sounds like you have a less well developed sense of morality than most 6-year olds? (Interesting nom de blog, BTW–I guess Lincoln is pretty far down on your list of top U.S. Presidents?) Just so you know, most of us around here don’t hold with the Great Man theory of history. I’m pretty sure there would have been a U.S.A. without Washington, although I have to admit that he was personally quite exemplary during the Rev. Personal loyalty to Washington was what held the Continental Army together in those dark years of the late 1770s and early 1780s.

    Your drink ideas all cracked me up! I esp. love the Taylor and the Tippecanoe Cooler, but Susan’s Warren Harding drink sounds pretty awesome, too. (Can we substitute Bombay Sapphire for the bathtub gin, please?) Let me know if any of you give those a try–if you live to tell the tale!

    Finally, FeMOMhist: we don’t answer surveys around here. (We’re not nearly important enough to be sent those surveys.) It’s much more fun to make fun of the answers others supply!

  23. Susan on 15 Feb 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Historiann, I’d take the Bombay Sapphire, with tonic, but I think the bathtub stuff is more historically accurate.

  24. Sic Semper Tyrannis on 15 Feb 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    My point was that Washington learned well from General Braddock’s defeat at Duquesne. His understanding of British weaknesses from the French and Indian War were later applied in the Revolutionary War. He understood, like no other commander (save Benedict Arnold) how to defeat the English. Fred Anderson makes the most compelling argument for this-see “Crucible of War.”

    BTW,

    Sic Semper Tyrannis was a popular slogan long before Lincoln was killed. It originally appeared on the seal of Virginia.

  25. Historiann on 16 Feb 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Sic Semper–thanks for coming back, and for your further explanation. I’m a big fan of Anderson’s work.