In light of the approaching inauguration, rather than spurting the same old policy drivel that I usually throw out, today I’m going to toy with a new theme. Glancing back through our history, I thought it might be fun to examine past presidents of these United States and generate a list of their ability scores according to the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons – 1st Edition (‘cuz I’m old and that’s what I learned on).

If you aren’t familiar with D&D, that’s okay, you don’t need to be. Here’s the gist: an individual is scored on six innate abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Human scores typically range from 3 to 18 (3 being pathetic, 10-11 being average, and 18 being exceptional).

All I’m going to do is rate past presidents on these abilities, based on what we knew about them. I think Dexterity will be the hardest, since we typically don’t hear about how nimble or agile our presidential figures have been. But I’ll do my best.

Why am I doing this? I suppose because it’s fun. And once we have a few, maybe I’ll match up a couple in a competition and role-play out a victor. I’d love nothing more than to orchestrate a scenario where John Quincy Adams completely embarrasses W. in a battle of wits or Taft squashes Martin Van Buren under his thunderous derrière.

So I think I’ll start with my most-favoritest President, the great and loveable Theodore Roosevelt:

TeddyLaughSTRENGTH: 17 – Known for his physical exploits, Teddy may be the brawniest of our past leaders. Though far from herculean, he is surely deserving of a near-the-top ranking.

INTELLIGENCE: 15 – Certainly no dummy, our percipient Teddy Bear wasn’t exactly the most astute academic. He was home-schooled, which apparently left him struggling in mathematics and languages (Latin and Greek, who can blame him?); but he largely compensated for this with a photographic memory, a voracious reading schedule, and by holding curious and eloquent conversations with the smartest people he could find, whom he consistently surrounded himself with throughout his life. Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard and an attendee (though not graduate of) Columbia Law School, I’m rating him as not-quite brilliant, but considerably smarter than the average bear.

WISDOM: 16 – This was a tough one. I found myself torn between his exceptional bravery and tactical military ability, his reasonable approach to labor disputes, food and drug safety, and supportive foreign policy, and his darker comments regarding Native Americans and the practice of eugenics on criminals and the so-called “weak-minded.” In the end, his extraordinarily prescient views on the environment, conservation, and corporate influence in government, and his significant role in the advancement of the Progressive movement won out and I had to rate him highly in the prudence department.

DEXTERITY: 15 – Best guess here. He was an incredible horseman and foot soldier, he climbed numerous mountains, went on a safari, navigated the Amazon, and was known for trouncing double-time through the forest with his grandchildren for hours. I can only assume he was sure-footed and well-balanced. At the same time, he was barrel-chested and a little top-heavy, so obviously no Fred Astaire either.

CONSTITUTION: 16 – Another tough one. At first glance I was inclined to rate him highly based upon his physical exploits, rigorous outdoorsmanship, and general physical prowess. But considering his sickly childhood, lifelong asthma, and late rheumatoid arthritis, as well as his relatively young death (60), I then pulled the number back quite a bit. But then I couldn’t ignore that at nearly 54 years of age, Teddy was shot point-blank prior to giving a speech in Milwaukee, WI. The bullet lodged in his chest but did not puncture his lung, so he ascended the podium anyway and gave his 90 minute speech, noting that he had, “just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He carried the bullet with him (internally) for the rest of his life. So yeah, there was something exceptional going on in the heart of the Old Lion.

CHARISMA: 15 – Rounding out this exceptional figure, we must acknowledge the hugability of Uncle Teddy. Between his revered command of the “Rough Riders,” his popular (yet difficult) reform of corruption in the US Civil Service Commission and the New York City Police Department, and his coalition-building to create 5 National Parks, 18 monuments, and 150 National Forests, I think we have enough evidence to suggest that people generally liked dealing with TR.

So here’s the final tally for Teddy:

S: 17    I: 15    W:16    D: 15    C: 16    CH:15

All around, a cunning and formidable figure with no obvious weaknesses. Certainly a likely victor over any of his colleagues, past or present. We’ll see how he matches up against more figures yet to come.

Care to rate any others?

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