Most presidents have skeletons in their closets

Twelve months from Tuesday, it's going to be a pretty big day in this country. Those of us who can prove we are who we are will go to the polls and choose the next president of the United States. That's a pretty big responsibility. I hope we are up to the task.

But even if we aren't, things somehow have a way of working out. Must have something to do with all the checks and balances the Founding Fathers worked into the Constitution.

Think about it. Folks fret about who is going to be president and the fact that we have "politicians" nowadays instead of "statesmen." We wring our hands about the lack of morals in many of the current candidates, and some of us foolishly announce that we will "leave the country" if this person or that person is elected.

A lot of Hollywood stars promised to do that in 2004 if 'W' was re-elected. He was, but they didn't, unfortunately.

I have heard the same vows from the other side of the political spectrum this year. "I won't live in this country if (Hillary or Obama or Edwards or fill in the blank) is elected! The country will be ruined.

Yes you will, and no it won't - no matter who is elected.

We Americans have short memories. We tend to canonize our leaders after they leave office. Perhaps we are blinded by the power of the office or perhaps we are just naive, but not all of our chief executives have been bastions of virtue, and I will prove it to you.

Take everything off your desk and take out a piece of paper and something to write with. We are going to have a pop quiz this morning. The topic? Former U.S. presidents.

1. Which president was accused of being a murderer by the opposition because he had shot and killed several men?

2. Which president's death was kept quiet until the Secret Service could get his mistress out of town to keep from embarrassing the president's wife?

3. Which president's wife actually ran the country while he recovered from a massive stroke?

4. Which recent president - hey, if he was president during my lifetime, he was recent! - never graduated from college?

5. Which president used an outright lie to escalate an unpopular war?

6. Which president defended himself in Congressional hearings by repeatedly offering "I honestly don't recall" in his own defense?

7. Which president claimed to have seen UFOs and to have been attacked, while fishing, by a giant rabbit?

8. Which president was caught red-handed, or blue-dressed, lying about his sexual relationship with a 22-year-old intern?

9. Which president had at least one illicit affair - and at least one illegitimate child - with his maid?

There is no question 10. Count off 11 points each and take a free point if you get your own name right.

Andrew Jackson fought more than 100 duels - or at least five - and killed at least one man - Charles Dickinson. But Dickinson had it coming. He insulted Jackson's wife. And here we are worried because somebody didn't show up for National Guard duty a couple of weekends.

FDR wasn't alone in the Little White House, y'all. You can look it up. And when President Wilson was struck down by a potentially fatal stroke while stumping the nation for approval for the League of Nations, his wife delivered many, many "policy messages" to Congress and the president's cabinet that old Woodrow could have never uttered.

The only diploma Harry Truman ever received was from Independence (Mo.) High, but he still gave 'em hell, and we aren't talking about the current commander in chief in question five. Google LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and you'll get the real scoop. Ronald Reagan claimed he couldn't remember a thing, and maybe he couldn't. He did, after all, regrettably develop Alzheimer's shortly after leaving office, but that didn't stop him from winning the Cold War.

Jimmy Earl Carter saw the flying saucers and the giant rabbit. We survived his presidency. We can survive anything. Nobody missed No. 8. Slick Willie added a new word to the dictionary. Even middle school kids know what a Lewinski is.

And Thomas Jefferson, of course, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was the answer to the last one. I guess old Tom thought women were created equal, too.

How'd you do? Anybody make a hundred?

Whatever. The point is, chill a little and enjoy the coming campaign. You know, politics has always been a spectator sport in the South. I'm not saying the choice isn't important, but I am saying our nation will survive, no matter whom we choose.

And me? I'm voting for Mike Huckabee - even if he does spell his name wrong.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.