Those of us who can remember back that far all can recall the kid in the neighborhood who would get so mad when he lost a game, he would take his ball and go home. Or the guy who would blame everyone on his team except himself after losing a game. Or your friend who would kick over the card table or the chess board when losing seemed inevitable.
You probably know where I’m headed here …
I’m not going to take on Donald Trump, mainly because he got 71 percent of the vote in Miami County this year and I believe in self-preservation. A live dog is better than a dead lion. I will say that the president is following a long line of notable sore losers in American politics. Here are a few:
• John Adams. The second president of the United States was so upset he lost to Thomas Jefferson that he refused to attend Jefferson’s inauguration. He slipped out of town at 4 a.m. on a stagecoach to Baltimore on Inauguration Day. To be fair to Adams, he also was mourning the death of his son Charles, who died from the effects of alcoholism a few weeks after the 1800 election.
• Aaron Burr. When Burr lost the race for governor of New York in 1804, he blamed his old adversary Alexander Hamilton for the loss. He was so mad at Hamilton he challenged him to a duel, then shot and killed him. It not only ruined Burr politically but centuries later someone wrote a musical about Hamilton that made Burr out as the bad guy. Being a bad loser sometimes is hard to live down, even 200 years later.
• Andrew Jackson. Talk about a guy who hated to lose. Jackson was incensed by the deal between Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams that made Adams president in 1824. He called Clay “The Judas of the West” and asked, “Was there ever witnessed such bare-faced corruption in a country before?” He was so angry that when he was elected president in 1828, he publicly snubbed President Adams, which led to …
• John Quincy Adams. Like father, like son. Adams refused to attend Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 and lit out of town the night before.
• The Entire South. When Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860 the entire South decided to take their ball and go home, only they did it with cotton. They just quit the country altogether. That didn’t work out so well.
• Richard Nixon. After losing the race for governor of California in 1962 to Pat Brown, Nixon delivered his angry speech where he told the media “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” This turned out to be wildly inaccurate — there was a lot of kicking yet to come.
• Theodore Roosevelt. When Roosevelt decided he missed the White House and didn’t like what his old friend William Howard Taft was doing with the place, he challenged Taft for the 1912 GOP nomination. Taft beat him, so TR created his own third party, thus ensuring that Republicans would lose the White House. Along the way, he called Taft, “A flubdub with a streak of the second-rate in him,” a “puzzlewit” and a “fathead” with “brains less than a guinea pig.” You just have to admire a guy who has a way with words like that.
• Frances Cleveland. Grover Cleveland’s young wife was miffed when her husband was defeated in his bid for re-election by Benjamin Harrison in 1888. As she was leaving the White House, she stopped to talk to a favorite White House worker and told him to take care of the building. “We are coming back just four years from today,” she said. And that’s just what happened when Cleveland defeated Harrison in a rematch four years later.
Thinking about the Clevelands makes me wonder. I’m willing to bet Donald Trump knows the story about Frances’ famous quote. You don’t suppose the Trumps are already making plans …