Oh cheer up. It’s the Fourth of July. Yes, anyone who loves this country has to be worried that by next July 4 Donald Trump will be president and the red, white and blue, star-spangled banner we all love will suddenly seem a soiled pennant of shame.
Put it in perspective. Should the ultimate infamy occur this November, and America’s fearful and ignorant elect a bigoted fraud as president, be reassured: He won’t be the most flawed individual ever to hold the highest office in the land. Well, OK, he will be the most flawed individual ever to hold the highest office in the land. But he’ll have plenty of second-place company.
In celebration of Independence Day, a quiz on some near-Trumpian mediocrities the American miracle has somehow survived.
1. Trump won’t be the first president whose arrival in office was greeted with sorrow. Who was deemed “probably the man of smallest caliber who has ever been made president of the United States”?
a) Thomas Jefferson
b) Calvin Coolidge
c) Harry Truman
2. Trump would not be the first president who neither held previous elective office nor served in the military. That distinction is shared with a man whose stump style was described this way: “Throughout the campaign he refused to answer pertinent questions and openly resented the fact that they were asked.” Who is he?
a) Herbert Hoover
b) Lyndon Johnson
c) Jimmy Carter
3. Just as Trump uses Twitter to sidestep a critical press, so this president went on a tour of the country trying to speak directly to the public. The press savaged him. “He was pictured as a drunken demagogue and the impression was given that the trip was just a drunken orgy,” one account noted, quoting a newspaper that said the president had “the face of a demagogue, the heart of a traitor.” Who was he?
a) Abraham Lincoln
b) Andrew Johnson
c) Woodrow Wilson
4. While bigotry is a hallmark of Trump’s campaign, he wouldn’t be the first president to stoke hatred. Presidential non-entity Millard Fillmore sought re-election as head of the “Know-Nothing” Party that opposed Catholics and immigrants. What did their 1856 platform declare?
a) “Americans must rule America.”
b) “America first.”
c) “America doesn’t want foreigners here.”
5. Like Trump, Fillmore was born in New York. If he wins, Trump will be the first resident of New York City elected president since . . .
a) George Washington
b) Theodore Roosevelt
c) Richard Nixon
6. Patriotic Republicans like the Bushes and Mitt Romney have refused to support Trump, citing his unfitness for office. While several presidents have chosen not to run for re-election, only one sitting president was refused the nomination by his own party. Who was it?
a) Franklin Pierce
b) Chester Arthur
c) Lyndon Johnson
7. While Trump would be the first president who married three times, several predecessors have remarried. How many U.S. presidents married twice?
8. Trump is tarnished by various morally reprehensible scams, like Trump University. One president, Rutherford B. Hayes, was known as “His Fraudulency.” Why?
a) Elected president while receiving fewer votes than opponent
b) Not being born in this country
c) Attempted to sell shares in his administration
9. Warren G. Harding was not only a businessman, like Trump, but the sort of business he was in was itself a source of embarrassment. What badge of shame did Harding wear?
a) pawnshop owner
b) brothel proprietor
c) newspaper publisher
1. b) Coolidge, who took office at Warren G. Harding’s death; 2. a) Hoover; 3. b) Johnson; 4 a) “Americans must rule America.”; 5 c) Nixon. Born in California, he moved to NYC after losing the 1962 California gubernatorial race, and lived at 810 Fifth Ave. when elected in 1968. 6. a) Pierce; 7. c) Six. Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan remarried before taking office; Tyler and Wilson while in office; and Fillmore and Benjamin Harrison after leaving office. 8. a) Samuel Tilden received more votes than Hayes in 1876, yet lost; 9. c) Harding was the owner of the Marion Star.