Monday, April 24, 2017

Bully Pulpit

A very short quiz about US presidents, assassinations, and the presidential response that set an unobtainable bar for all other political badassery.

How many US presidents have been assassinated?

I'm tempted to say most High School educated Americans can identify Abraham Lincoln, assassinated in 1865 and John F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1963. 

However, post implosion of my world view I'm reluctant to rely on any of my assumptions. 

Nearly all men can stand adversity,
but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
- Abraham Lincoln 

If you identified Lincoln and Kennedy, give yourself 2 points and a cursory nod to your history teacher.

James A. Garfield, assassinated in 1881 (four months into his term) and William McKinley, assassinated in 1901 are the other two US presidents killed in office.

That's all a man can hope for during his lifetime - to set an example -
and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history.
- William McKinley

I never remember McKinley as the fourth so if you got all of the four, give yourself 26 points but remove 12 for being pretentious.

How many times have US presidents been shot at but not hit? 

There are always going to be people who want to be president,
and some days I’d like to give it to them.
– Bill Clinton

Andrew Jackson was shot at in 1835 but the gun misfired. The would be assassin was deemed insane and institutionalized.

Abraham Lincoln was shot at in 1864. He was on horseback when his hat flew of his head and was found with a bullet hole. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was shot at in 1933. Five shots missed Roosevelt but killed the Mayor of Chicago and wounded four others. 

If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises...
I have not subscribed to any partisan platform.
I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman — my dear wife — as I begin this very difficult job.
- Gerald Ford 

Gerald Ford was shot at in 1975, twice. 
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, part of the Manson family, attempted to shoot Ford when he reached out to shake her had. The pistol misfired. Seventeen days later there was another attempt when a bystander grabbed the shooter's arm forcing the bullet off target.

Clinton was shot at in 1994, sort of. 
Assuming Clinton was in a group of men outside the White House, a potential assassin fired 29 shots from outside a White House fence. Three tourist tackled the shooter. 

Give yourself 100 points for each incident you knew and if you were a bystander engaged in thwarting a presidential assassination attempt, then move yourself immediately into the badassery category. 

The Secret Service White House detail, 
monthly qualification tests in 1968

How many US presidents have survived being shot in an assassination attempt?

Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981 a few months after his inauguration.  John Hinkley Jr. planned the assassination in an attempt to impress actress Jody Foster. White House Press Secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head and paralyzed. The Brady Bill requiring background checks before purchasing a firearm was signed into law in 1993.

Less than a year earlier, Hinkley also planned an attempt on Jimmy Carter. Hinkley flew to Nashville where Carter was visiting, but Hinkley was arrested when weapons were found in his suitcase. He was released on $62.50 bail which was forfeited when he failed to return in October for his court date.

Honey, I forgot to duck.
Reagan to Nancy

Reagan had several quips in response to being shot, placing him as runner up to the political badass winner.

Please tell me you're Republicans. - To the George Washington Hospital surgeons prior to operating 

Send me to L.A., where I can see the air I'm breathing. - 
A note written in the recovery room. 

If I had this much attention in Hollywood, I'd have stayed there. - 

Another note written to hospital staff while in observation.

You mean this may happen several more times? -  
Responding to a nurse who told him to keep up the good work.

What makes you think I'd be happy about that? - When told by his Aide not to worry because the government was running normally. 

Give yourself 25 points each if you listed Reagan, Hinkley, Jodie Foster, The Brady Bill or any post-shooting, Reagan witticism

The Secret Service White House detail,
monthly qualification tests in 1968

The other president hit by a bullet but not killed, is the presidential badass we're looking for. 

If you already know, with or without the Bully Pulpit reference, give yourself as many points as you feel appropriate. 

I have always been fond of the West African proverb
Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.
- Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest in 1912 . . . and insisted on delivering his scheduled speech before going to the hospital.

Roosevelt, who became president after McKinley's assassination, was shot outside the hotel where he was scheduled to speak. The shooter was apprehended by the crowd and Teddy called out, "Don’t hurt him." The shooter was a 36-year-old paranoid schizophrenic and was confined for life in a state asylum.

Initial portion of his speech: 
Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot.

He unbuttoned his vest displaying the blood on his shirt.

It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.

Then he held up his fifty page speech.

Fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is . . . where the bullet went through.

Teddy Roosevelt's eyeglass case and bullet hole.

The bullet had been slowed by a steel-reinforced eyeglass case and his lengthy speech which was folded into his jacket pocket.
After completing the speech, Roosevelt was taken to the hospital where it was determined that the bullet lodged against his ribs.

At the time of the speech Roosevelt had already severed as a two termed president and was campaigning to return to the Presidency.

In spite of his Bully Pulpit (a term Roosevelt created to describe a conspicuous position that provides an opportunity to reach large numbers of people) he was defeated.

He did, however, pull enough votes away from Taft, the incumbent, that Woodrow Wilson was elected. 

A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
- Theodore Roosevelt

The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking
most often in the loudest voice.
- Theodore Roosevelt

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