John Quincy Adams, a stodgy, colorless man who was the last of the be-stockinged founding-father aristocracy, was replaced by Andrew Jackson, a crude, uncultivated, impetuous frontiersman with an incendiary temper. Jackson had fought in more than 100 duels and killed a man over a gambling debt, and as president, he placed a 1,400-poundblock of cheese in the White House lobby, just for the hell of it.
There are plenty of other examples, the most recent of which may be the most dramatic of all — when the country, after electing the first black president, then decided to give the racist a shot.
Now that the country seems to be sickening of that new guy, the obvious question is: To whom will the pendulum swing? Who is different enough? I am not sure any of the current candidates is. The canny Democratic strategists should dare to think outside the (ballot) box. Here are some possibilities.
1. A puppy! I find nothing in the Constitution prohibiting a nonhuman from running. The general requirement is that no “Person” may run for president if he is not at least 35 and is not a natural-born citizen, but it sets no limits whatsoever on a nonperson. The advantage of a puppy would be that no one would expect any official actions at all from him, which would be vastly better than what people have come to expect of the current occupant of the White House. And dogs are trainable: This chief exec could probably be induced not to attempt to mate with everyone in sight.
2. Tom Hanks, in the role of Mister Rogers. Yes, this also is a little unconventional — a real person elevated to the presidency while playing a fictional character — but that is sort of what we got with Trump, a TV star playing the role of Snidely Whiplash, the nastiest man on Earth. Tom as Mister Rogers would take that paradigm and invert it completely.
3. Maybe even better: Tom Hanks in the role of Forrest Gump. You get a similarly beloved character in the White House, plus this one didn’t dodge the draft and actually knows he is stupid. Bonus: He is also familiar with American history.
4. If the Dems cautiously insist on a real human, elected as himself, they could go with the ticket of Sully Sullenberger and that Philadelphia guy who just caught a baby thrown from a burning building.
5. The “Doors closing” lady from the Washington Metro. She is authoritative but not obnoxious. She scares people, just a little, just the right amount to get their attention. We know she is not messing around and has our best interests in mind, and we obey her. The anti-Trump.
6. Someone without thumbs: No tweeting. Alternatively, Teller: No whining.
7. Pee-wee Herman: The back-and-forth in the debates alone would be worth it: “I know you are, but what am I?” “I’m rubber, you’re glue.” “Poopyhead.” “Doo-doo brain.” “No, you!”
8. Randy Rainbow. The entire presidency would be an elaborate, mean-spirited parody of politics, a rollicking, over-theatrical, hostile exaggeration of all established norms. Okay, maybe that’s too much like the current guy.
Thanks to Matt Brody, ToddG, Tom Logan, Joy Lynn Tipping, Marla Lepore and Jake Neufeld. Email Gene Weingarten at email@example.com. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.
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