Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Which president wins the winner-takes-all knife fight?

If all the US presidents were dumped in a coliseum and armed only with a knife who would win the grand battle royale?

An ambitious blogger attempts to answer the question here.

Though there is quite a lot to like about his reply, the guy makes a few mistakes. 

First, he wildly underestimates Jimmy Carter. Carter grew up on a farm, in the rural South, during the depression. After graduating near the top of his Annapolis class, Carter served on submarines. He could certainly handle himself physically.

Second, the Gerald Ford he writes about is the clumsy oaf depicted on Saturday Night Live, not the guy who served with distinction in the military and was offered professional contracts by the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

Third, for reasons never explained, he believes that gangly, rail thin Abraham Lincoln was a world-class bad ass.

Fourth, its never clear if he is talking about the presidents as if they were in the prime of their lives, or the primes of their presidency. Also, he neglects factors like racism (would the early presidents gang-up on Obama?) modern nutrition and medicine, and historical order (John Adams wouldn't know to avoid tangling with psycho-killer Andrew Jackson, but the presidents who came after him would certainly keep their distance.)

In any event, here are my selections:

If we assume the combatants are in their prime my final four are Washington, Jackson, Harrison, and Carter. I'm willing to concede that the toughest of the Civil War era soldiers (I don't know who gets that honor) might edge out Carter who, as noted above, grew up in a tough place, during a rough time, and excelled at a gruelingly difficult military academy. Harrison and Jackson, both vicious Indian fighters who went to war when most of the fighting was done hand-to-hand are the favorites. Jackson gets the edge, because he was also slightly crazy.

If we assume the combatants are in the shape they were in during their presidencies my final four are: Teddy Roosevelt, George W. Bush, Barak Obama and James K. Polk. The calculation here is pretty simple: Youth wins. (Kennedy isn't on the list because he was very sick during his presidency, and propped up by pain killers and other drugs) Bush and Roosevelt grew up pampered weaklings, and Obama's childhood wasn't much rougher. Also, Obama wasted his youth with books and drugs, while Bush was a drunk until age 40.  So I give the edge to Polk who grew up on a farm in the 19th century and was tough enough to survive kidney-stone surgery using only a bottle of bourbon for anesthetic. I base this on the belief that Teddy was a fraud, who wasn't much of a fighter, unless the sport was boxing and his opponent was a fellow dandy. If that's wrong, Teddy wins the contest.


Redleg613 said...

Actually, he was right about Lincoln. In his younger days he had a rep as a pretty good rough-and-tumble fighter. He also saw combat in the Blackhawk.War. First place, of course, would have to be Jackson, the only President who actually fought duels. My top five would be filled out with Roosevelt (Teddy), Harrison and Grant. Note that all five had personal combat experience. Being big and strong isn't the critical factor, combat mindset and experience beats big and strong any day. Carter? Surely, you can't be serious (go ahead, make the obvious rejoinder). Carter was the most inept man ever to be elected President. I'm sure he would be equally inept at physical combat.

Redleg613 said...

Your right, I forgot about Washington. He was reputed to be the strongest man in the Continental Army.

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