Monday, June 06, 2005
The Greatest Americans? HA!
Watching the Tony Awards last night, I popped over to the Discovery Channel during the ads to catch a glimpse of their list of the one hundred greatest Americans. I came to the conclusion that the whole thing was a farce, especially after I looked at the list of nominations this morning (it's at http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/greatestamerican/top100/top100.html). Some of the people listed, and those left off, have really made me wonder what was going on. As an example, the presidents listed include some that you'd expect, such as Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Jefferson, Truman, and both Roosevelts. And I can also understand Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, and Reagan being on the list. But what are Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and both Bushes doing there? (In the case of Clinton and George W. Bush, I say they haven't had the chance for history to truly assess their impact.) And where are Woodrow Wilson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson? For that matter, why are so many recent First Ladies -- Barbara Bush, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and Laura Bush -- on the list, but not Dolly Madison, who defined the job in the first place? Or what about actors? Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are there, but not Humphrey Bogart, Douglas Fairbanks, or Clark Gable? Athletes on the list include Brett Favre and Pat Tillman (the latter, admittedly, more likely on the list because he was killed in Afghanistan), but not Jim Thorpe, Babe Didricksen, or Hank Aaron? In music, they have Elvis Presley and Madonna, but not Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Buddy Holly, or Bob Dylan. Sam Walton made the cut, but not Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward. Other nominees on the list whose inclusion I question include Ellen DeGeneres, John Edwards, Rudolph Giuliani, Hugh Hefner, Michael Jackson, Robert Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Phil McGraw (wow, he does have a last name), Michael Moore, Barack Obama, Condaleezza Rice, Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, and Tiger Woods. I'm not saying that these people aren't important or influential, but there are so many who weren't even nominated who have had a bigger influence on American life that I just have to wonder how the list of nominations was even arrived at. You can vote on the top twenty-five over at http://tv.channel.aol.com/greatestamerican, but personally, I'm so disinterested now that I'm not even going to bother watching, let alone voting.