It’s Inauguration Day.
Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that my favorite president of all time was William Henry Harrison. I can’t help it: I’m a staunch enemy of the spoils system and greatly believe in the Bank of the United States, as did my father before me.
Of course, the only thing most people know about the first President Harrison is that he died 30 days after taking office, having caught a cold which developed into pneumonia after delivering a nearly two-hour, 9,000 word inaugural address on a cold and rainy March afternoon. Which is oft-repeated bunk, of course, because weather does not cause such illnesses — viruses do — and because Harrison showed no signs of illness for nearly two weeks after the inauguration. The White House was a more open kind of place back in 1841, and the fact is that he probably caught his death from one of the hundreds if not thousands of grubby antebellum Americans marching through his home looking for a cushy federal job.
Why do I mention all of this? The primary reason is that Harrison is one of the many comically ineffective and/or downright pathetic Ohioan presidents, and he and his ilk have fascinated me since I moved to this godforsaken state over 17 years ago. These guys died empty and now largely forgotten deaths, drank themselves into stupors, and either obtained their offices in a fraudulent manner or conducted themselves fraudulently after being elected. The only one who wasn’t pathetic or tragic on one level or another was Benjamin Harrison, and despite his Ohio roots, he claimed Indiana as his home, the traitor. I mention his grandfather because no one else ever does, and that’s kind of sad.
The second reason I mention this is because today it’s supposed to be in the 20s and spitting snow as Obama takes the stage in D.C., and I don’t want any of you needlessly worrying about his health. True, Obama didn’t fight any Indian wars and was never Minister Plenipotentiary to Colombia, but I suppose his overall athleticism makes him nearly as tough as Old Tippecanoe, so even if cold weather did cause pleurisy, he’ll be just fine.
But that’s later today. This morning at THT:
And yes, I’ll be watching the inauguration today. Not because I care about history as such, but rather, because I placed a prop bet with a Swedish bookie that Obama would utter the word “pants” at some point in his speech, and if that comes in baby, life will be grand indeed.