• Clarke Wallace

"You’re telling me," a grumpy friend said, "there have been lousier U.S. presidents than the last guy who held up in the oval office?" When I nodded, he grumbled, “Name ‘em!”

What about the latest outgoing U.S president who set the bar pretty high, and was called the worst president ever.

What about James Buchanan, a one-term president – 1857 to 1861 – labelled the worst in historic rankings. In part for condoning the rights of the Southern states, which alienated the anti-slavery Northern Democrats All this while a civil was closing in.

What can we say about Franklin Pierce? (1853-1857). History would nail him with the decline of the Democratic party at the time. His lack of leadership encouraged a growing southern succession movement. He even upheld the controversial Fugitive Slave Act.

William Harrison was a military man of distinction, the first American president to die in office. The poor guy lasted 31 days, thus not fulfilling all he himself expected to handle.

Ulysses S. Grant played a major role in the Union Army in dismantling the Confederacy and supporting civil rights for black citizens. On the other side of the coin, he was known for many allegations of corruption and financial misdoings which plagued his years in office.

John Tyler believed in manifest destiny. Good for him. Then again, maybe not. He became the first head of state to face impeachment.

Lyndon Johnston: He had a bit of the rogue in him. A mirky history, as one critic opined, in his ethics. He allegedly fixed an election which got him a seat in the U.S. Senate. He used his influence to have his wife buy radio and television stations to plug his career. It made him a very rich man.

Author’s comment: I’ve picked out Richard Nixon, the only president who resigned the office over, the Watergate scandal. During his tenure it seems opponents’ offices were bugged or those thought were suspicious. There are many more...

  • Clarke Wallace

Updated: Jan 19

How many times have you shoved something out of sight, maybe not quite out of sight, because you won’t be using it for awhile. Or just to get it out of the way. Like coming into the garage and spying your golf clubs leaning untouched against the wall. It’s winter after all, and the golf season some months away.

Then there’s the cross-country skis tucked away because you spend more time these past winters hitting the downhill slopes.

In contrast to the golf clubs and cross-country skis, what catches my eye is the small model of a Mazda Miata sportscar sitting comfortably astride the wood carding box on my desk.

It’s bright red with all the details of a regular Miata, with two doors that hinge open; along with the driver and passenger windows. It comes complete with authentic-looking tiny wipers resting against the curved windshield.

If you push down on the little sportscar, it moves up and down on the suspension holding the four wheels in place.

I can see it when writing at my desk. I’ll often stop and smile because it’s a precise replica of my full-sized, bright red Miata sportscar sitting on blocks in the winter next to the house and buried under heavy canvas.

Author’s comment: I saw my first English sportscar back in 1999 parked in the display window of a Montreal dealership. It caught my imagination. A gearshift to boot. The type where if you want the roof off, you loosen bolts, unhook it and along with the windows shove them in the trunk.

What about my twenty-one-year-old Miata parked today next to the house? You fold back the canvas roof and wind down the windows.

I’m looking at the little Miata on my desk. And smile. To think I’ll uncover the bigger version come spring. With some six months of pure driving bliss in the open air.

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