I think I might take a nosedive into the Mississippi
River — or at least take a nerve pill. I wasn't really 100 percent exactly
sure what Presidents' Day (which it is today, as I write this) really means or how to celebrate
it (like I would celebrate a holiday in the first place). It just seems to have changed over the years, and I've never kept up. When
I was a kid, I think Abraham Lincoln's birthday was a holiday and George Washington's birthday was a holiday, but I couldn't really remember. So I looked it up. As best I can tell, it is still a celebration of George Washington's birthday, although it doesn't necessarily fall on the date of his birth, and it is a celebration of Lincoln's birthday as well, but now it is sort of a celebration of all of the United States presidents' birthdays?
I'm still confused. But at least I know that no bills will come in the mail today and I don't have to push the garbage can out to the sidewalk. But that's not the reason I need a nerve pill. There are hundreds of reasons for that, but at the moment the immediate need is because I just learned the man who was president of the United States when I was born, Dwight Eisenhower, was born in 1890. That's more than a century ago by my calculations. I can't remember him being president and I can't remember much of what I learned in history class when I was in school, but I was certainly surprised to learn that the man who was president at my birth was born in the 1800s. And yes, I know there are people out there older than I am who might be shaking their heads and thinking that I am whining for no reason because they were adults when Eisenhower was president, but that doesn't make me feel any younger.
I do remember the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated and that I was in the front yard making mud pies when my mother came screaming out the front door for us all to come inside. But John F. Kennedy seems modern to me, maybe because my mom always tried to emulate his wife in dress and style. Still, I don't remember anything about Eisenhower. But then again, until I started checking on all this, I had no recollection of the country ever having a president named Chester Arthur. Who remembers Chester Arthur? Ironically, like Barack Obama, he had to take the oath of the presidency twice in two days because of some mishap. And word has it that he was actually born in Canada but moved as a child to Vermont, which, if true, means that he wasn't a bona fide American-born citizen.
And even then, immigration was a big deal. According to the history books, his administration enacted the first general federal immigration law, approving a measure in 1882 excluding "paupers, criminals, and lunatics." Oh, if only he were around today to see who's been running the White House for the last eight years, he would wonder why in the world his law didn't stick.
Which brings me to the thought that if Presidents' Day is a day to celebrate all of the presidents, where is George W. Bush? Dick Cheney has been as vile and horrid and evil in his short time out of office as he was while he was in there, but has anyone seen or heard from George? Maybe I have just been so relieved not to have to see or hear him on a regular basis that I haven't felt the need to keep up with him, but he seems to have gone, well, away. I suppose he could be on that ranch or he could be hiding out playing Go Fish with his buddies at that house he and Laura bought in Dallas. But while Cheney has been running around spouting off his crap about how Obama is going to get us all killed before he's been in office for a month, George seems to be keeping a low profile. And you know? I think I might have respect for him, if that's the case. Not a lot, but at least a tiny bit. I know he's having trouble getting anyone to give him money to build his presidential library and that could be why he's being so quiet. Or maybe he is just lying low to keep the word "impeachment" out of the headlines as much as he can. But now, knowing that Eisenhower was born in the 1800s (and feeling really old knowing that) is making me need a nerve pill a lot more than anything George W. Bush is doing. It's a pretty awesome change of pace.