The President’s Finger on the Button: Disaster, Dessert, or POTUS Pranks?

Button on President's desk
Hollywood has immortalized the image of the fate of the world resting on a shiny red button on the desk of the President of the United States. With a single press of that button, life as we know it would come to a brutal, inglorious end. It makes for good fiction, but that just isn’t the way it works. When the President pushes a button, it is generally for something far more mundane.  Continue reading

The Ultimate Rental House Fixer-Upper

White House Truman renovation

As President Harry Truman’s daughter, Margaret, played the piano one day, she was startled as one leg of the piano suddenly dropped through the floor of the White House residential level. Engineers were called in to see what was going on, and the report was nothing short of alarming.

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Three POTUS Portrayals

"See no evil. Hear no evil. Evil." Ford, Carter, Nixon, Dole
Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon.

Senator Robert Dole, upon seeing a picture of former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon lined up at an official event, pointed them out and identified them, in turn, as “See no Evil. Hear no Evil. And Evil.”

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The Torch Has Been Passed … And Possibly Caused a Fire

"Hot words" Eisenhower to Kennedy fire at podium
John F. Kennedy takes the oath of office on January 20, 1961, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower looks on. Photo credit

The world watched the peaceful transfer of power on January 20, 1961, as the oldest President to that point, Dwight D. Eisenhower, handed the reins of power to the youngest elected President, John F. Kennedy.

As the two men stood side-by-side on the inaugural platform, listening as Cardinal Richard Cushing prayed the invocation, they noticed smoke billowing from the podium. An electrical short sparked and nearly started a fire that would have required the hurried evacuation of the entire United States federal government from the crowded platform.

Unaware that his successor was about to speak the immortal words, “Let the word go forth from this time and place to friend a foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…,” a bemused Eisenhower leaned over whispered in Kennedy’s ear, “You must have a hot speech.”

Fortunately the electrical problems were resolved before a crisis developed, and the torch was passed, peacefully, as planned.

Ridicule for the Gentleman Cowboy

Theodore Roosevelt "hasten forward quickly there"

Theodore Roosevelt was a man’s man — the very image of individualism, strength, and courage. It is hard to imagine anyone making fun of the man who would become the 26th President of the United States. Continue reading

Asleep at the Senate

Charles Dawes Vice President tie-breaking vote asleep
30th US Vice President Charles Dawes (left) and 48th US Vice President Mike Pence (right)

On February 7, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence became the first Vice President to cast the tie-breaking vote in the US Senate for the confirmation of a cabinet member. Under the terms of the Constitution, the Vice President presides over the Senate, but does not have a vote except for the purpose of breaking a tie. With the Senate evenly divided on the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Vice President Pence cast his vote in favor of confirming the President’s nomination, thus earning himself one more place in the history books.

One of his predecessors had the opportunity to have that place in history.  Continue reading

Being President Doesn’t Make You Master of the House

Gerald Ford locked out of White House

If there was ever a man who was unchanged by the power of the Presidency, it was Gerald Ford. Thrust unexpectedly into the Oval Office upon the resignation of Richard Nixon, Ford always seemed to be just a regular guy. Nothing illustrated this better than his relationship with his dog. Continue reading