Friday, January 16, 2009

Why Didn't the Curse Get Bush?

A piece in Slate speculates on how George W. Bush escaped the Curse of Tecumseh.

The history, at least, is straightforward enough. Starting with William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, eight American presidents elected at 20-year intervals have died (or almost died) in office. Harrison caught a cold and expired after just a month as president, the shortest tenure ever. Everyone knows what happened to Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860. James Garfield, elected in 1880, lasted four months before Charles J. Guiteau, upset about not receiving an ambassadorship, shot him. William McKinley, re-elected in 1900, was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Warren G. Harding (1920) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940) died of natural causes. And the circumstances of John F. Kennedy's death, like those of Lincoln's, are well-known.

So what of this Tecumseh guy? In 1811, Harrison, commanding about 1,000 troops, defeated some American Indians in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Depending on who tells the tale, either Tecumseh, the defeated chief, or his brother, the prophet-cum-medicine man Tenskwatawa, issued a spiritual fatwa on the head of Harrison, predicting his death as president and then the deaths of presidents elected every two decades thereafter.

It concludes that Bush may have broken the curse which was, in any case, severely bent by Ronald Reagan's survival of an assassination attempt in 1981.

I disagree.

Personally, I never wanted to see Smirky/Darth assassinated, as such events tend to create martyrs out of the most undeserving victims. But if Bush had succumbed slowly, painfully and publicly of some horrific venereal disease I probably wouldn't have mourned much.

No, Smirky didn't break the curse. The curse didn't apply to him because he wasn't elected in 2000 - he was put in office through a judicial coup d'etat. The man who actually was elected president in 2000 never served in the office, and therefore the curse didn't apply to him, either.

If the curse is real, whoever's elected in 2020 is still at risk.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....