It’s tough to be President these days. You’re expected to look like a Hollywood leading man, be as witty as Oscar Wilde, testify like a televangelist, and be as morally clean as that Mormon neighbor who makes you feel ashamed whenever he catches you smoking. Of course, nobody is actually ever able to meet these high standards, but at least they pretend to. That hasn’t always been the case, however, as many of our ex-presidents have been, uh, a little rough around the edges. Just how rough? Well take these following American icons. Thanks to various deficiencies and character defects, not one of these 8 former Presidents could get elected today.
8. George Washington
Sure, he was a great leader, but that’s only going to take you so far when you show up for a debate and your wooden teeth fall out. Late night hosts would crucify him and he’d be painted as some backwoods Appalachian hillbilly. And let’s not forget that the dude was growing fields of weed. That might get you the Green Party vote, but as enlightened as America has become, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be cool with electing a dude who had a massive growing operation. Sure, it’s not like he was growing that shit in the closet with the help of special lights, but still, you know? Oh, and he also owned slaves. That’s kind of a deal breaker in 21st century America. Yeah, he’d probably sweep the South, but as we’ve seen the last couple of elections, the Southern Strategy isn’t as strong as it used to be.
7. Grover Cleveland
Besides looking like some freak scientist’s escaped human/walrus hybrid, Grover Cleveland would be finished as soon as people learned about his bastard child, and especially once they learned the details. About a decade before he became President, ol’ Grover knocked up a store clerk, and so Grover did the sensible thing and had her committed to a nuthouse and the baby boy sent to an orphanage. Naturally, this didn’t go over well with the clerk, Maria Halpin, who emerged from the nuthouse good and pissed off. Cleveland had to pay her $500 to go away and only managed to squeak by when his opponent in the election, James G. Blaine, turned out to be corrupt. Look, say what you will about society having relaxed over the years when it comes to moral issues, but nobody’s gonna vote for a dude who these days would probably end up on Maury.
6. John Adams
John Adams was pretty much a wreck. He suffered from bouts of depression and could probably be labeled a manic-depressive, which really doesn’t play well when you’re trying to convince people you should have your finger on the button. He also suffered from tremors, which made him look like Muhammad Ali whenever he had to speak, and was prone to collapsing fits, one of which left him in a coma for five days. Oh, and he lost his teeth and refused to get dentures, which made him speak with a lisp. Just read all that again and tell me he would ever have a chance of being elected. Hell, he wouldn’t even make it out of high school.
5. James Madison
It’s totally superficial, but there’s one big (well, small…) reason why James Madison could never get elected today: he was tiny, only 5’4” and no matter how enlightened people pretend to be, no one would vote for a dude who had to use a booster seat at restaurants and wasn’t allowed on roller-coasters. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating a little bit, but still, people would be leery about voting for a dude who looks like he could be beat up by their 8th grader. We’re a nation of assholes and natural bullies, and we just wouldn’t be able to get past it. Even in his day, Madison was described by writer Washington Irving as “a withered little apple,” but he managed to squeak by because his wife, Dolly, had huge boobs. I guess people were just more enlightened in those days.
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR banged anything with two legs, which is impressive given that he couldn’t even use his own legs thanks to polio. And while we’ve shown that we’re perfectly willing to look past a dude with a wanderin’ dick (thumbs up, Bill Clinton) there’s no way in the media mad world we live in today that Roosevelt would be able to hide the fact that he was in a wheelchair. Even back in the day, he knew that he had to hide it from people, or else he’d look weak and ineffectual. Again, it’s shallow, but too many people would just see him as old and broken. Sure, we have more positive handicapped role models these days, like Professor X and Larry Flynt, but running a country is a lot more physically demanding than running a mutant academy or your own jerk rag, even if people respect both of those things more than politics these days.
3. Abraham Lincoln
Yes, Lincoln is perhaps the most universally respected man in American history – at least north of the Mason-Dixon Line, anyway – but here’s the problem: the dude was ugly as hell. That may be a little too blunt, but let’s not beat around the bush here. There’s no way he’d survive the TV and mass media age. He’d walk onto stage looking like the Elephant Man, and babies would start crying. Sure, hipsters would love him because of his nifty top-hat, but most Americans would vote for whatever Jon Hamm looking dude who got up there and promised to put a bag over Honest Abe’s head. I’m not trying to be mean here, I’m just being realistic.
2. Thomas Jefferson
I mean, come on. Just like with George Washington, the whole slave owning thing wouldn’t fly today, especially since he, you know, liked to bang them every once in a while. Imagine how hysterical people would get if it came out that the President just randomly owned some people he kept around the house and boned whenever he felt like it. But if by some miracle people were able to get past that, what you’d be left with is a shy dude with a really high-pitched voice who struggled to get his thoughts out without sputtering all over himself. Basically, he was High Pitch Eric of Howard Stern fame. Oh, and he was a ginger. If he were born today, the only thing he’d be president of is the Wack Pack, and even then he’d probably struggle to beat Beetlejuice in an election.
1. Andrew Jackson
Slave owner, slave trader, notorious racist responsible for trying to wipe out every Native American east of the Mississippi, alcoholic, chronic duelist, murderer… Andrew Jackson’s resume basically reads like one of the bandits in Blazing Saddles. It would take too long to get into each and every charge levied against him up there, but they’re not only true, they’re a part of the dude’s legend. He was basically a more violent, hateful version of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and while him whipping ass and shotgunning beers might be okay for Monday Night Raw, it probably wouldn’t work for the leader of the free world. Then again, he gets the honor of being rolled up and used as a straw by every coke head in America, and let’s be honest, that’s all he probably ever wanted.