Monday, October 28, 2013

pail by comparison

I have no bucket list.

It isn't that I am a man with no sense of curiosity or adventure --the kind of guy who doesn't care what he does before his hall pass expires.

If you have read these pages for any time at all, you know I am not a person to pull an Achilles in my tent.  I enjoy getting out in the open.  If not on the edge.

My problem with bucket lists is that I am not a very consistent list tender.

Let me give you an exapmle.  Several years ago, I decided to read a biography of each of the 43 men who have served as President of The States.

The goal made sense.  After all, the life of each president presents a little slice of American history.  And I always discover some new dispute I knew little about.  Or something I knew about, but can now examine from a different perspective. 

Think of Spielberg's treatment of the Thirteenth Amendment in Lincoln -- culled from a new biography.  Old issue.  New vantage point.

That is the beauty of biographies.  No matter how well I know the subject, there is always some new treat to be discovered.  And, in the process of learning more about the country, I learn more about myself.

I am currently reading A. Scott Berg's Wilson.  The similarities between Wilson and the current president are impossible to ignore.  If Wilson bequeathed us anything, it was a set of foreign policy principles with which we still grapple.

When I finish off Wilson, I will have read 17 of the stated goal of 43.  I suspect I may have read biographies on at least two of the presidents on the list.  But, as I told you, I am a lousy list tender.

At the rate I am going, I should be finishing up number 43 just as we have elected our 50th president.  I doubt my hall pass has that much time remaining.

Here is the list.  (I am not anal enough to include the biographer names.)

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren

William Henry Harrison

John Tyler

James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor

Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes

James A. Garfield
Chester Arthur

Grover Cleveland

Benjamin Harrison

William McKinley

Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman

Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson

Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford

Jimmy Carter

Ronald Reagan
George Bush

Bill Clinton

George W. Bush

Barack Obama


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