The Greatest Mediocre President


Russell Roberts over at Cafe Hayek reminds me why William Henry Harrison is my favorite president.

Every President is divisive. That is the nature of politics. The only President in American history who wasn't divisive might be William Henry Harrison who died a month into office. ... The essence of politics is to be divisive.

Like most people, everything I need to know about politics I learned from The Simpsons.

We are the mediocre presidents.
You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents!
There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore and there's Hayes.
There's William Henry Harrison, "I died in thirty days!"
We... are... the... adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable
Caretaker presidents of the U-S-A!

Of course, a mediocre President is a great President. The less a President does, the better. When judging the character of potential presidential candidates, I look for laziness, ineptitude, ill health, and most importantly, an inability to lead. Gridlock works nicely too.

Although it's not polite to make light of the dead, Harrison's demise demonstrates one of the many dangers of a career in politics.

It was an extremely cold and windy day, March 4, 1841, when Harrison was to take the oath of office. Nevertheless, he faced the weather with no coat on, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history, at nearly two hours. During this address he caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia. He passed away a month later, becoming the first American president to die in office. Harrison served the shortest term of any American president, a total of only 31 days.


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Ronald Reagan almost

Ronald Reagan almost approached Harrison's exalted position of greatness. Would this have been a good thing?

The less a President does,

The less a President does, the better.

Perhaps if we're starting from an honest limited government standpoint. However, from where we are now, I'd say a truely great President has a lot to do, such as relentlessly supporting and initiating bills to abolish departments and laws and agencies.

"Of course, a mediocre

"Of course, a mediocre President is a great President. The less a President does, the better. "

A Congress that does nothing is a blessing. But the above statement reminds me of Jimmy Carter -- and that wasn't a good time.

Apparently, I was a bit too

Apparently, I was a bit too subtle.

1. The title of the orignal post was "The Greatest Mediocre President."
2. The criteria for this designation is
that WHH died one month after assuming office.
3. RR's term was almost ended just several months after assuming office by a would-be assasin.
4. Arguably, given the above criteria, this would put him in the running for the "Greatest Mediocre President."

My question was, and is, if his presidency had been terminated, would that be a good thing?

Wayne, 1. I certainly don't


1. I certainly don't advocate assassination.

2. The post was written tongue-in-cheek.

3. The shorter a term is, the better. A President can't get much done if his term lasts less than 30 days. So, yes, in some sense, it would have been a good thing had Reagan not been able to serve the rest of his term and increase spending so dramatically.