Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Long and the Short of It

These quakes can be the sort of disruption we need to reimagine the meaning of life. We get to meet our neighbors as God and Mrs. God are having their domestic squabble throwing tectonic plates. Yes, we are diminutive in epochal time; some more so than others.

Ever since David met Goliath in the great mismatch of pre-history, we've been rooting for underdogs. Or so we say. But when it comes to voting we tend to go big. Lincoln, at six ft. four in., was a full foot taller than Stephen A. Douglas who got trampled. Of course Lincoln was also stronger having built the log cabin he was born in. Abe was a gentle Goliath whom the Bible claims was nine feet tall. Michelangelo compensated for the disadvantage by sculpting David to seventeen feet.

Height counts. More than weight. William Howard Taft is probably last obese president we’ll ever have. Fat doesn't play well on T.V. There is a chair built specially for him at the Riverside Mission Inn which looks more like a couch to accommodate his considerable tush. Taft is said to have gotten stuck once in the White House bathtub. All 354 pounds of himself.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson relinquished their prospects as power forwards in the NBA to found our country. Both were six ft. 6 ft. 3 inches, give or take an inch. Madison was also 6 ft. 3 in. when on his horse. He is reported to have had a great outside shot but was too busy writing our Constitution.

Beethoven also had a tiny strike zone at 5 ft. 3 in spite of which, thankfully, he did what he did instead of becoming a baseball player. The result is our ode to joy. You didn’t have to be tall to be great in those days. It is doubtful Napoleon had a Napoleonic complex. He was average height at 5 ft. 6 in. Genghis Khan was more deserving of that term at a mere 5 ft. I in. when he finally got off his high horse.

I was surprised to learn that Stalin was a tiny 5 ft. 6 in. to FDR’s 6 ft. 3 in. I suppose they came in at equal numbers with Roosevelt in his wheelchair. Puny Putin twirls Trump around his finger while giving up 8 inches to our inspirational leader.

Mickey Rooney, at 5 ft. 2 in, was once asked how he managed to accumulate so many tall show girls. He said that he lied about his height. His first wife was Ava Gardner; between them there were 16 marriages. Judy Garland wasn’t one of them. At 4 ft. 11 in., she almost made Mickey look tall except that her booming voice seem to fill the room.

Pray we don’t go by height in the election of 2020 unless Beto somehow becomes the nominee. He, alone, looks down on Donald. Of course anyone of our two dozen contenders could reveal Trump as the hollow man that he is. His elongated limbs are perhaps compensatory for an absence of conscience and cognitive function. His official height of 6 ft. 3 inches probably includes the bumper crop on top of his crown and an ego to dwarf the Eiffel Tower.

I wonder if Donald dreams of playing half-court hoops with George and Tommy Jeff. They could talk about the glories of slavery and those savage Indians. If the conversation drifted to subjects like Democracy or a free press I expect Trump would grab his ball and go home. 

Some seismic temblors jolt us. The socio-political shift we’ve undergone in the past three years is a slow shredding, perhaps less jarring but more profound. Our tall president has been more destructive than anything registering on the Richter scale. It may take decades to retrofit our democracy. 

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