You will believe a Taft can fly

My good friend Dustin, a longtime comic book aficionado and fellow sojourner on numerous historical road trips, leveled this challenge in a comment to my last post: “Extra Credit: combine Dr. Manhattan and William Howard Taft. Show your work.”

Fusing America’s 27th President with Watchmen‘s blue-skinned, nuclear-powered superhero is a tall order indeed.  A tall order, that is, for a lesser historical blogger than myself.  All I need is a picture of Taft and Microsoft’s Paint program, and then consider it done…

(CUE TRUMPET FANFARE)

Washington, D.C.  1912.  During a top-secret experiment in a laboratory hidden beneath the Smithsonian, mild-mannered commander-in-chief William Howard Taft accidentally leaves his Twinkie behind in an atomic test chamber.  Rushing to retrieve it, he finds himself locked inside as the dreadful mechanisms switch on. . .

His body transformed in the ensuing firestorm, Taft is granted powers far beyond those of mortal heads of state.  Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s. . .

DR. MANTAFTAN!!!

taft-manhattan1

Tell the folks at HNN they can just go ahead and give me that Cliopatria Award now.

(Pre-lab accident Taft portrait from Wikimedia Commons)

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “You will believe a Taft can fly

  1. d_ustin

    Well done sir. You have defeated all of the internet. All things internet will be shut down at 6 AM tomorrow morning and replaced with something capable of living up to the sheer majesty of Dr ManTaftan.

  2. eljoe1235

    I just wanted to note that if Taft were truly the visionary he should have been he would have insisted that his name by pronounced “Taaaaaaaayyyy-pht”

    Did you also realize that Taft was the last President to rock the facial hair? While you know of my political leanings, and I know of yours, I submit to you that if you saw the celebrities with mustaches website and pasted a nice big shaggy one on Barack Obama, you would have been hard pressed not to vote for him. Vote for him, Hell, you would’ve been hard pressed not to have chiseled him into Mt. Rushmore immediately.

    The GOP needs to get with the program. Run a candidate with a big ‘stache. And if he happens to weigh 300 pounds, it would help. If you can’t like a President, you can at least find him a tireless source of bemusement.

    Joe Cox

  3. mlynchhistory

    Now that you mention it, there is something to be said in favor of a hirsute POTUS. I always think twice before messing with a man who has facial hair.

    I make one exception, and that’s Carter. His critics often accuse him of lacking backbone, but I don’t think facial hair would help. He’d look more like a kindly grandfather figure. I can visualize Sadat and Begin each sitting on one of his knees while signing the Camp David Accords.

    Maybe Limbaugh should sport the Ambrose Burnside look and make a run in 2012.

    –ML

  4. eljoe1235

    And while I’m on the topic, isn’t this a bizarre historical run:

    Washington-Buchanan: 15 presidents, no real facial hair (yeah, Van Buren experimented with some sideburns, and maybe Taylor or Pierce did too, but nobody had a mustache and/or beard)

    Lincoln-Taft: 11 presidents, 9 with real facial hair. The two who didn’t– Johnson and McKinley. One got impeached and one got assassinated. They should’ve gotten the message.

    Wilson- present- 17 presidents, no facial hair.

    I can almost understand Woodrow Wilson eschewing facial hair, because no guy named Woodrow is cool enough for some mutton chops and a shaggy mustache. But Warren G. Harding? C’mon. Sure, he would’ve looked like a crook, but he WAS a crook. Instead of people saying “Mmmm, don’t like the President, he’s a crook”, they’d have said “Well, the President is a crook, but he looks like the sort of SOB I wouldn’t want to mess with. Guess I support him.”

    In all seriousness, I do find it a wonderful indica of the bizarreness of the American voter that it was a uniform consensus that they wouldn’t support a guy with facial hair, then here comes Lincoln, and you’re darn right they will, then here comes Woodrow Wilson and nobody tries it again.

  5. eljoe1235

    In a follow up report, I checked out Presidential election losers since Wilson was elected. The years were not kind to the facial hair:

    In 1916, Wilson beat Charles Evans Hughes, who had a very dapper beard.

    Thomas Dewey and has mustache did not defeat FDR in 1944 or, more famously, Truman in 1948.

    And that’s it. But still, this means that in 61 years, we haven’t had a major presidential candidate with facial hair. Was Thomas Dewey the anti-Lincoln?

  6. mlynchhistory

    Facial hair was extremely uncommon in eighteenth-century America, unless you were a pirate or a Hessian. If any of the really early presidents had grown a mustache, they could have set off the trend decades before it actually started.

    Remember when Gore grew a full mustache and beard? If he’d done so earlier, the 2000 election might have turned out differently.

    –ML

  7. eljoe1235

    Good point. The ‘stache might have been that tiny little bit he needed to win.

    I think the facial hair was a missing point in very early American politics. “Vote for John Jay– he looks like a pirate or a Hessian.” Would’ve worked on me.

  8. d_ustin

    I’m just tossing this in here because someone is clearly ripping off a fine idea. Previous necessary infor: Blackest Night is the big time DC crossover 5 years in the making where every dead character comes back as creepy Black Lanterns. Now check out this link and gather the copyright laywers.

    http://everydayislikewednesday.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-sure-hope-geoff-johns-black-lantern.html

    There at the bottom…

  9. mlynchhistory

    This can’t be coincidental. I’m willing to settle this out of court for a sum in the mid-six figures.

    –ML

  10. Pingback: It pays to be Doris Kearns Goodwin | Past in the Present

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