The Presidential Talent Tournament continues with fierce competition! Four contenders will vie for your votes in the month of July, beginning with the man known as “W.”
While George W. Bush’s popularity might still be controversial, he does have a number of talents you probably don’t know about. For example, you might know of his athletic history, but did you know he was also the head cheerleader at the Phillips Academy? His knowledge of baseball trivia is extensive, as well, and he’s a much bigger reader than most people would give him credit for, having read 186 books (14 of them Lincoln biographies!) during his final three years of presidency. And how many people bike with Lance Armstrong on their vacation?
In terms of athletics, Gerald Ford might just trump George W. He played college football at the University of Michigan, made the all-star team, and was named MVP in his senior year. After graduation, he declined NFL offers from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers and later became Yale’s head coach of boxing and assistant coach of football. It’s no wonder he’s considered the most athletic president! But here’s a little-known fact: Ford also spent time as a male model!
Calvin Coolidge was quite skilled at silence, earning him the nickname “Silent Cal.” In fact, a dinner party hostess once bet a friend that she could get at least three words out of him–she explained the bet to Coolidge, who answered, “You lose.” It’s ironic that Silent Cal should be the first President to appear and speak in a film with sound (President Coolidge, Taken on the White House Grounds). His favorite thing to do, however, was to ride the mechanical horse that he kept in his bedroom–he probably would have done well at rodeos!
The final competitor for July is John Quincy Adams. JQA (as he called himself) was an adroit lawyer and successfully defended the slaves that revolted on the Amistad. A gifted swimmer, he could go for 80 minutes without touching the bottom and customarily took nude swims at 5 AM. He kept a pet alligator (a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette) in the East Room of the White House, and amused himself by terrorizing government officials with it. His wife also raised strange pets–silkworms, whose silk she used to make her own gowns.