Jack, Jim, Maker’s, Ten High, Gold Johnny Walker’s
All bow before my Old Granddad’s Straight Talker
I hate it when outsiders start pontificating about the history of my fair island and ranking the leaders we’ve had there. Especially the British. That said, I feel that the Yanks are severely delusional in ranking their Presidents. With the advent of T.V. and the pitiful decline of any sort of public dialogue or analysis of meaningful issues, you can write off the past 54 years of the Presidency, where the balance between style and substance has been completely skewed so that while most of the inhabitants of the Oval Office have done a least a few good things, those accomplishments have had nothing to do with why they’ve been elected or, ultimately, remembered fondly. It’s all about the immediate 50.1% polling and the bloody 24-hour “news” cycle. It’s a joke and a great insult to the tough as nails men who occupied the office in the past.
Very few of our past Presidents could possibly be elected today. George Washington, a subtly intemperate man, got into innumerable bar fights in his life, kicking major ass from Georgia to Massachusetts and all points in between. Grover Cleveland publicly admitted to fathering a child with a prostitute years earlier during his first Presidential campaign. When his 19th century spin doctors were scheming how to handle the situation, Cleveland just said, “I’m admitting it and that’s the last of it.” He did and it was. The great Scotsman, ex-teenage Revolutionary War POW who hated the British as much as any crazed IRA bomber, Mr. Andrew Jackson, was in a duel for Christ sakes! He carried the bullet from it into the White House decades later and had it removed with only a tumbler or five of bourbon to ease the pain. None of these men could get past the vetting process of searching for “viable” candidates by this country’s “protectors” of the “public’s morals”. Not even Karl Rove could save such candidates (or maybe I’m underestimating him).
Jackson stands now and forever more as the greatest drinker to occupy the White House, but I posit that even he must bow to the one Harry S Truman. This may appear at first to be the most heinous of heresies but upon reflection Truman was the baddest of all bad asses to lead the US of A. The man was loyal and honest as all get out. Starting out as a Missouri judge in the 1920s, he worked with a Kansas City mob boss, one Tom Pendergast. Truman said he’d give Pendergrast’s favored contractors government bids so long as they were the lowest bidders. They were so they got the contracts, but Truman never profited a dime. (In fact, when he left the White House at age 68, he was not financially secure in the least and lacked secret service protection to boot. Remember when politicians would serve decades years in office and not make gross amounts of money? He only had security when his parent’s old farm was sold, splitting the proceeds evenly with this brother and sister). When he became Senator Truman in 1934, people called him the Senator from Pendergrast, but he did nothing to deny his connection to the man. When Pendergast died an ex-con, Truman was Vice President but went to his funeral anyway stating, “He was my friend, and I his.” Truman, despite extremely poor eyesight, served as an artillery captain in World War I in charge of an extremely unruly company of Midwestern Irishmen whom he gained the respect and devotion of. His company has one of the lowest fatality rates in the entire army. He and his wife broke more than their fair share of headboards in the White House despite pushing 70. He publicly threatened to beat the piss out of a critic who had the gall to give his daughter’s vocal concert a harsh review. A skilled piano player, Truman would comment, “You know, I could have been a hellavu whorehouse piano player.” And somehow he was a devout Baptist!
What was the secret to Truman’s success? A shot of Old Granddad Kentucky Bourbon at the start of every very early, long day in the Oval Office. He drank a fair share of it among other things at other times too, but Harry S always knew how to start the day right. After I finally learned to like this Hemisphere’s whiskey iterations via Lord Sidwell’s wake, I next went to the Old G because, honestly, it was cheap. I was quite surprised by how good it was. This surprise disappeared once I learned the Truman habitually enjoyed it. Harry was a no bullshit guy, and the Granddad is a no bullshit drink. It doesn’t have that Jack bite or that damned Maker’s choking-on-smoke grip in your throat. It’s smooth and basic. It gets the job done without stinging your tongue, assaulting your throat or committing a hate crime on your stomach. For my money it’s the best bourbon for the price and the kind of simple, honest liquor that you don’t find anymore. Just like Harry. To compare other President’s to drinks, JFK was clearly champagne (though there are those who would say he was a manhattan), FDR an expensive, well-made martini, Eisenhower a pilsner beer and Jackson Rebel Yell moonshine. They all have their pluses, but I’ll take my three fingers of Granddad on the rocks with some good, raunchy Kansas City whorehouse piano every time. R.I.P. President Truman and long live the Old Granddad. An uair a thèid na mèirlich a throd, thig daoin‘ ionraic gu ‘n cuid fhèin.