Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » May 2005 » "Greatest Americans...."

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05/16/2005: "Greatest Americans...."

Via Lean Left, we get a pointer to a post by Kevin Drum referencing a recent (? or soon to be aired? I don't know, since I pay very little attention to TV) listing of 100 Greatest Americans. Actually, this is a list of mere nominees; apparently they're soliciting votes for the show's ultimate list of greatest Americans, to be presented June 5.

Below the fold I'll set out the list (alpha by first name, for some inexplicable reason) along with a few comments of my own (because I want to be a shit disturber; why else have a blog, eh?). But a general observation. The "Greatest Americans" website (linked above) notes that the 100 nominees were selected by "you" (whoever the fuck "you", is supposed to be; I can solemnly assure you that I wasn't consulted in any way, shape or form), and shows the obvious bias towards the present that characterizes collections of "100 Greatest Songs" polls that are conducted via call-in polls on radio: Americans (particularly those of the TV generation) have the historical consciousness of an underwatered houseplant. Anyway, to the list (and if you think I'm full of shit, well, that's why we have comments, Bunky)....

[Those nominees who I think deserve their nominations are in boldface; the clearly (IMHO) undeserving are in italics.]

Abraham Lincoln --if anyone debates this nomination, they prove only that they know nothing of American history. Period.
Albert Einstein --certainly deserving based on his accomplishments, however, I have problems calling Einstein an American. Yes, he did take U.S. citizenship in 1940, when he was 61, but by that time all his best work was behind him (he only lived another 15 years). Further, I'm not even sure that Einstein would have come to the U.S. but for the Second World War. If I have to give him a nationality, I'm going to say Swiss (his citizenship when he did his work on relativity, and on the electromagnetic effect (which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics)), but German is a strong contender since Einstein was born in Germany (though he renounced his German citizenship twice, which is a strong point against that).
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Hamilton
Amelia Earhart
Andrew Carnegie
Arnold Schwarzenegger --give me a fucking break.... Though I will concede that Arnie has more of a claim to "American" than Einstein.
Audie Murphy --not to denigrate Murphy's courage (which was considerable; no coward becomes the most decorated American soldier of the Second World War), but great? As in Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson great? Nope.
Babe Ruth --Well, Babe was probably the greatest ballplayer who ever lived, on sheer talent and impact on the game, but think there's a more suitable candidate out there from the ranks of MLB....
Barack Obama --premature. If/when Obama is elected the first black president of the U.S., we'll discuss it, though he's still a long shot even then.
Barbara Bush --another "give me a fucking break" nomination. The closest she comes to it is marrying "correctly", but even then...
Benjamin Franklin
Bill Clinton --More qualified than Dumbya, but the only way I'm letting Bill on the list of "greatest Americans" is if there's a rule requiring every U.S. President to be on it, a rule I think sucks because it means that we have to put Dumbya there as well, and I'd sooner die first....
Bill Cosby (William Henry Cosby, Jr.)
Bill Gates
--Bill ain't great, he is lucky. Period.
Billy Graham
Bob Hope
Brett Favre
--pretty much by definition, entertainment/sports figures are going to be IMHO undeserving unless they're clearly great for other reasons than being entertainment/sports figures. Ruth or Gehrig excepted, of course.
Carl Sagan --hurts me, since I like Carl, but realistically.....
Cesar Chavez
Charles Lindbergh
Christopher Reeve --I can't say that he's completely undeserving, but realistically? The best I can say is that he's not, like say Arnie, a "gimme a fucking break" nomination....
Chuck Yeager
Clint Eastwood
Colin Powell
--sorry Colin. If you'd resigned on principle and denounced Rummy, Cheney and Bush, you'd be great. As it is, you're a sniveling little toady. Enjoy your retirement.
Condoleezza Rice
Donald Trump

Dwight D. Eisenhower --I like Ike more for his role as Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, in World War II, not for his Presidency.
Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt) --A close one. I can't say she's deserving of a boldface entry, though.
Ellen DeGeneres
Elvis Presley
Frank Sinatra
--wannabe mobsters aren't great, IMHO. Even if they sing like Sinatra (and I'm not really that impressed with his singing, myself).
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Frederick Douglass

George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
--IMHO neither Bush deserves it unless you're conceding that honor to every U.S. President. And I'm not.
George Lucas
George Patton --I'm mildly surprised that we've not seen George Armstrong Custer's name come up after Dumbya's. The nominating "panel" obviously didn't have enough Little Big Horn Associates in it. :-) (No, I would not have nominated Custer...)
George Washington
George Washington Carver
Harriet Ross Tubman
Harry Truman --it's tough not bolding Harry, inasmuch as he's the only Missourian to be President, and being a Missourian is a sufficient criterion for greatness in my eyes. :-) But alas, he could have handled that Red Scare bullshit better. Still, if the race is between him and Dumbya it's nowhere NEAR a photo-finish....
Helen Keller
Henry Ford
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Howard Hughes
Hugh Hefner

Jackie Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson) --this one should be a no-brainer.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jesse Owens

Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Stewart
John Edwards

John Glenn --not a slam dunk, IMHO, but a good case can be made.
John F. Kennedy --ditto the same comment I gave Glenn. I agonized about this one, as I grew up in the post JFK-assassination idolization of the man. But hey, he wasn't the Messiah. Greater than Truman, I'll concede, and he runs rings around Dumbya.
John Wayne
Johnny Carson (John William Carson)

Jonas Edward Salk
Joseph Smith Jr. --only deserving if you really believe he was God's prophet. I don't. I'll leave my other opinions to myself for now.
Katharine Hepburn
Lance Armstrong
Laura Bush
--the best case I can make for Laura is that she's marginally greater than her dipshit husband. Marginally.
Lucille Ball
Lyndon B. Johnson
Madonna (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone)
Malcolm X (Malcolm Little)
Marilyn Monroe
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) --Absofuckinglutely, and not just because he's another native Missourian. Basically, Twain wrote The Great American Novel: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Any man who wrote Huck Finn is great. Period.
Martha Stewart
Martin Luther King Jr. --not a slam dunk inclusion, IMHO; his plagiarism of his Ph.D. thesis and his adulteries make me hesitate. But a damn good case can be made....
Maya Angelou
Mel Gibson
Michael Jackson
--Yet Another "gimme a fucking break" nominee
Michael Jordan
Michael Moore
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)

Neil Alden Armstrong --growing up during the space race, I have difficulty leaving Armstrong off my list, personally. Not a slam dunk, but a good case can be made. Of the U.S. astronauts, if any are to make the list I'd go for Alan Shepard (first in space), Glenn (first in orbit), and Armstrong (first on the moon).
Nikola Tesla --my sentimental favorite, since Tesla and I share a birthday. Tesla does, IMHO, have a better claim to the title "American" than Einstein (born in Serbia, he did most of his significant work after immigrating to the U.S.). A case can be made for his inclusion on any "greatest Americans" list.
Oprah Winfrey
Pat Tillman
Dr. Phil McGraw

Ray Charles
Richard Nixon --nope, I've not forgiven Tricky Dick. Again, I can't see him on the list unless you mandate the inclusion of all U.S. Presidents.
Robert Kennedy --cheated by not ever becoming President, IMHO; if he had been I'd wager his case would be as strong as his brother Jack's....
Ronald Reagan --not on my list, but I can (grudgingly) see a case being made for him (unlike, say, Bush the Elder or Bush the Lesser).
Rosa Parks --not a slam dunk. I can see a weak case being made here.
Rudolph W. Giuliani
Rush Limbaugh
--only if you define "greatness" as "being a lying, talentless, drug-addicted pig who is a waste of the chemicals making up his body". 'nuff said.
Sam Walton
Steve Jobs
Steven Spielberg

Susan B. Anthony --I can see a case for her; I wouldn't include her on my list, but reasonable minds can differ.
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Edison
Thomas Jefferson --Kennedy said it best (to the assembled Nobel Laureates at a White House luncheon): "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
Tiger Woods
Tom Cruise
Tom Hanks
Walt Disney

Wright Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright)

Len on 05.16.05 @ 08:29 PM CST

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