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A Charlie Brown Presidential Rankings
A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted today, December 9, 1965. It was about depression and the true meaning of Christmas. In that spirit, we knock out another round of presidential rankings!
A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on CBS on December 9, 1965. It would go on to be an instant Christmas classic, and I'm pretty confident no one really understands its meaning.
It was the first film of the comic strip, Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz 15 years earlier. The film was directed by Bill Melendez, who also happened to be the voice of Snoopy and Woodstock. I don't think it takes much talent to perform such characters, but good for Bill for making his living this way.
If you forget the premise of this movie, here is the okay version:
Our main man, Charlie Brown, is depressed. What else is new with this kid. The Christmas season doesn't help. Most people make fun of him since, you know, depression is hilarious, and no one is supposed to be depressed during Christmas. After all, despite living in a dystopia, we should be happy because we have clothes dryers in our homes.
After one slam from Violet, Charlie heads over to the other Violet, Lucy, who pretends to be a psychiatrist. Her advice is to direct the Christmas play, because…well, because that's what the script has suggested.
Whoever oversees staging this thing agrees that Charlie Brown is the best candidate available. I'm sure this will go well.
Charlie shows up to rehearsal and finds the Christmas play is about commercialization. Oddly, Lucy seems to be at the center of this, playing the main character, The Christmas Queen, along with other nonsense complaining about not getting real estate as a gift.
Charlie Brown's sister and dog get into the act of misplaced Christmas spirit. Shockingly, Charlie's depression is not abated. In turn, Charlie Brown asks the class if they know about Christmas and suggests a Christmas tree. He then brings home a small pine tree, and everyone walks away laughing at him.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
At some point, everyone realizes they were too hard on Charlie. Linus, the ultimate weirdo, helps decorate the tree while reading scripture. Everyone burst into signing, and the War on Christmas was over. Until next Christmas.
There is no easy segue to the next round of rankings other than I hope you aren't depressed after reading them. Let's get after it.
13: John F. Kennedy
2017 Ranking: 13
2019 Ranking: 13
2021 C-SPAN Ranking: 8
Term – January 20, 1993 – November 22, 1963
Kennedy created the Peace Corps, which put hippies out into the world to do good. This pro-active idea of service leadership would be copied later on a domestic level with Americorps. He also did a lot space stuff and named his brother Attorney General, because “Bobby needed the work experience.” He prevented nuclear war by navigating the Cuban Missile Crisis successfully.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was bad, but probably because it failed. Also, Kennedy didn't push a lot for Civil Rights.
Bobby Kennedy' Brother believed in the power of American art as a power for good. They named a performing arts center after them. I’ve been there a few times.
Why did I rank him here?
Kennedy served in office for 1,036 days. It's not that long, yet he is considered a top 15 president at worst. As you can see from the CSPAN poll, many experts give Kennedy a top 10 ranking. His term was filled with plenty of action; the 1960s were…um…interesting.
12: Andrew Jackson
2017 Ranking: 5
2019 Ranking: 12
2021 C-SPAN Ranking: 22
Term – March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837
Jackson took down the Bank of The United States, which today operates under the Federal Reserve. He was correct that such an institution favored the rich and not the poor. He also slapped South Carolina over Nullification, which basically said states could ignore federal law. Much good it did about 30 years later.
The Indian Removal Act is at the top of any discussion that involves Jackson, and rightfully so. He pushed for a law to provide land to Indians living east of the Mississippi River to relocate. When numerous tribes declined the offer, he forcibly removed them. The Trail of Tears killed tens of thousands of Native Americans over a decade.
Jackson was the first sitting president to survive an assassination attempt in 1835. When this guy finally passed, he had about 700 bullets still inside him.
Why did I rank him here?
I have stated a few times on this blog that I have read about Jackson a lot, especially as a kid. There is no doubt in my mind that his good outweighed some nasty stuff. You cannot ignore the era of Jackson Democracy that demonstrated the power of ordinary Americans' self-rule. Ordinary Americans, like Jackson himself. The break from the Founding Fathers, and despite how much I have grown to appreciate John Quincy Adams, the impact of Jackson's government was positive.
The ironic thing about A Charlie Brown's Christmas is how much a commercial success it was. Coke sponsored it. CBS ran the film every year until 2001, then ABC took it over. Then in 2020, Apple TV bought the rights, and now you need a subscription to watch it. The film spurred other films, and there has been a staged version as well. Peanuts itself took off.
In this movie, the big thing for me is that we never know if Charlie Brown's depression was cared for. Sure, he starts singing with the others as the credits roll, but did he go on a massive bender after rehearsal? Charlie Brown didn't misinterpret Christmas; he suffered from a mental health illness. In turn, his family and friends figure out the true meaning of Christmas, but we entirely skip over the fact this kid needs help. It’s a weird movie. But I’m sure you and your family love it!
Well, that was fun!
JFK is not a top-ten president. Do you agree? I'm sure you think I have Jackson too high.
What are your thoughts? Share them below!