I'm waiting at the bank while closing down a safe deposit box, when I overhear a bit of conversation between fellow bank patrons: "Reagan was the greatest president in living memory! Other presidents have not had as great a direct positive impact on your life, have they?"
And while I'm thinking, to date, more than 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians and nearly 1,000 dead coalition military personnel might argue George W.'s direct personal impact on their lives was somewhat larger than Reagan's, I had the sudden, bizarre thought: From where I sit, as of right now Reagan really did have the most direct positive personal impact on my life! You know... assuming the meaning of "direct impact" is something like "close enough to catch an infection." It works out like this:
- George W. Bush
- Not good. His motorcade has twice snarled Seattle traffic while I was trying to get from Point A to Point B. (Dick Cheney gets one point taken away here as well, for snarling up Bellevue recently.) I've decided not to hold being roughed up by airport security or having prescriptions stolen by customs officers against their administration... tempting as it is. So. Score:
- Al Gore
- Snarled up Bellevue traffic during his campaign on one occasion when I was trying to get from Point A to Point B. Since he didn't take office despite receiving the majority of the votes, he doesn't lose a full point. Score:
- William Jefferson Clinton(*)
- A remarkable record: during eight years in office, no personal appearance in Seattle or other locales personally inconvenienced me. Best I can remember is a friend having shaken his hand and been impressed with his presence. (I think the quote was something along the lines of "I think I understand why he appeals to women voters!") Still, he inherits half of Al Gore's point, above, since Gore was his VP at the time. Score:
- George H.W. Bush
- Another remarkable record: four years in office, eight years as vice president, and I don't think the man caused me to be late for a meal, get caught in traffic, or made the price of guitar strings rise astronomically. Although one of his comments on the radio almost did make me swerve into oncoming traffic because I was laughing. (It was "I'm president of the United States, and I'm not going to eat anymore broccoli!") That same year, I saw Elvis driving a pickup truck. No kidding. Score:
- Ronald W. Reagan
- Astonishing. Not only did Reagan largely stay out of my way while president and while governor of California, the one time he did come to Nevada as president, I got the afternoon off from high school. That's real youth empowermentand much better than a bomb threat (which were usually only good for missing a single class). Thinking about it in these terms, I'm shocked I'm not a registered Reagan Republican. Score:
- James Earl Carter
- Re-instituted mandatory Selective Service registration in 1980. (Bastard.) In my mind, this has scuttled every possible donation to Habitat for Humanity I might have made. Since I didn't actually get drafted, Score:
- Gerald Ford
- Never met him. Don't think he came within 200 miles of me. Score: 0
- Richard Nixon
- Traumatic. Special televised reports on the Watergate hearings pre-empted Sesame Streetoh the humanity! I still don't know what comes after the number four. Score:
The winner, at +2, is Ronald Wilson Reagan!
(*)Clinton is going to be in Issaquah this Wednesday signing copies of My Life at Costco. Yes. Costco. Snerk. (And, no, I'm not making that title an Amazon link: you want to support the Wal-Mart of the Internet, you make your own friggin' link!) Although I don't anticipate any problems, this could dramatically lower his score should I develop an urgent need for a five-gallon tub of mayonnaise or a ten-foot tall windmill palm tree.
Hey, what's life without fine print?