McNaughton’s Group

Special thanks to the eagle eyes at Wonkette, who’ve spotted a big one.

Extraordinarily cheezeball artist Jon McNaughton has brought forth a gathering of greats, as the ghosts of presidents past hover around sullen, stand-offish looking Barack Obama, variously annoyed or aghast at his literal TRAMPLING ON THE CONSTITUTION!

McNaughton is the kind of crank who rambles along in incoherent Founderspeak for numbered paragraphs, passive aggressively concluding:

“The information is historical. If it is not familiar to you – Google it.

Cramming all these figures into the frame seems to have skewed McNaughton’s perspective.  Small but perfectly formed James Madison is so upset at Obama’s boot-heel to our liberties that he’s bent over pleading, but appears to be almost Obama’s height.   The Forgotten Man is a giant seated on a toy town bench. Such is the occasion that Franklin Roosevelt walks.

McNaughton’s painting doesn’t leave much to chance, featuring ominous clouds, flags at half staff, and an accompanying video lush with  piano chords of doom.

This President’s Day, Stay Home!

As You Were  presidential_address.gif

A hardy perennial as President’s Day approaches is the nation’s great editorial voices lamenting the sad spectacle of Americans swarming the malls rather than making pilgrimage to stately presidential homes and memorials.

The economy should knock out retail worries this year, and pilgrimages have their own troubles.


President’s Day’s origin, such as it is, lies in Seventies legislation to standardize Federal holidays and shove as many as possible into three day weekends.

In days of yore February was the setting for George Washington’s Birthday Day sales, as well as Congress’s annual reading of his Farewell Address.  That part of the country which won the Civil War [you know who you are] observed Lincoln’s Birthday. Congress sort of fudged on what they were doing, apostrophes have wandered, and for elementary school civics and retail purposes the thing has become a catchall day for all presidents.

Let’s go to the shrines!  presidential-libraries-us-map.jpg

The pan-presidential holiday has opened the field to our unique American marketing genius.  Every crossing of the road once graced by a former Great spruces up for the expected masses.

Many of them are house museums, where  generations of captured audience school children learn the furniture preferences of former Americans, insofar as we can reconstruct them.

Woodrow Wilson’s Augusta Georgia childhood home is typical of the genre’s limitations.  This President’s Day it will feature free admission and actors playing Wilson and spouses.  Americans may never know how Wilson led us in war, launched massive repression of war opponents, or cemented segregation in Washington DC, but thanks to re-enactors we will know he married twice!


What ever is the point of these places?

Their guardians seem to miss it. The William McKinley complex in Canton Ohio is typical.

mckinley-administration-promises.jpg   The McKinley era had real consequence, launching us into an exciting new century of imperial adventure, defeating populism at home, and not least boosting the career of McKinley’s successor Teddy Roosevelt, role model for generations of reactionaries who wished to be seen as both forceful and thoughtful.

You’d never know it in Canton, but for the size of his tomb.


The McKinley museum has run out or never had anything to say about our martyred president, now featuring a science museum,  model trains, and fire-poles for the kids.

Franklin Roosevelt launched our glorious tradition of pharaoh-fication, famously parking the first presidential library in his yard and having himself buried there for the full experience.

The special local-ness of these little bits o’ greatness scattered over the landscape are celebrated by America’s leading purveyor of thoughtful presidential historian mush, mccullough-with-presicc960.jpg David  McCullough:

” it is valuable for anyone trying to understand the life of a particular president should come to the place that produced that human being, where his memory is part of the story of that place.“


Stirring words, except Reagan’s location is an accident of real estate after Stanford, where he had no ties, turned him down. Nixon crawled back to Yorba Linda after numerous rejections elsewhere, and Bush Sr is in College Station for ideological congruity, not any local ties.

The great tradition is coming to its logical end at the FDR Library, where the seventy-five year old structure’s roof leaks, the wiring is shot, and damp threatens the Roosevelt papers. A $17 million fix is requested.

Just why this national collection of randomly sited mini-archives must be maintained and expanded into perpetuity even as they are pilfered from within is unclear.

Sarah Palin Reloaded: McKinley Dies Again

Who Would Sarah Shoot?   mckinley-shot.jpg

The thrilling details of Sarah Palin’s Secret Service code name have been revealed to an anxious public, usually accompanied by boilerplate explaining how pretty Denali National Park is.  Passed over in Palin’s moniker acceptance is her slap at our martyred 25th president.

Denali is the Native Alaskan  name for Mount McKinley, the nation’s tallest peak.   alaska-flag.gif  Thoughtful Alaskans prefer Denali to the name imposed by the Colossus of The South.

We’ve all enjoyed the disproved allegations of Palin’s Alaska Independence Party membership, while pocketing her husband’s.

alaska-first.jpg   Denali-ing aligns Palin with one of the weirder parts of the AIP legend, in which white, often immigrant Alaskans try to drape themselves in the rags of the oppressed natives.

Shuffled Off From Buffalo  mckinley-martyr.jpg

McCain Mines McKinley Mojo

On to Buffalo! mckinley-uplifted.jpg

William McKinley’s last use in a contemporary campaign was Karl Rove’s mad scheme to present George W. Bush as the Big Mc of our generation, achieving solid Republican rule by persuading the scruffies to vote against their interests.

It worked with Bush, at least as far as the minstrel show 2000 campaign. It might again, but seems twice-musty for the already age-inflicted John McCain. The fighting Arizonan made the comparison anyway to USATODAY, dismissing Barack Obama as the new boy orator:

“If it was simply style, William Jennings Bryan would have been president.”

Gold Standard References bryan-cross.JPG



The Stump, In Happier Times mcninley.jpg

Washington State now boasts the replica of a structure built for a Presidential event which never occurred, standing proudly at a different location.

The “McKinley Stump” is in evocatively named Recreation Park. It stood in various parts of town

It was created for President McKinley, but never used by him. Theodore Roosevelt did speak from the stump, as did William Howard Taft before he was President. No word on what role America’s Fattest President might have had in starting the deterioration.