Monday, February 21, 2011

Against P Day

(This one is a rerun: I posted it last year, and I like it enough that I'm basically just reusing it).

Presidents Day is a terrible idea for a holiday.  Just an awful idea.  In this republic, there's absolutely no good reason to take a day to honor our presidents.

On the other hand, Washington's Birthday is a perfectly good idea.  If we're going to honor great Americans, I'm not going to argue with those who put George Washington first on the list of those to be honored.  In fact, the official federal holiday is Washington's Birthday, but lots of states have renamed it to Presidents Day or something similar.

The consensus Three Greatest Presidents are Washington, Lincoln, and (Franklin) Roosevelt, and I wouldn't argue with any celebration of those three. The other two Greatest Men Who Were Presidents are Jefferson and the sadly undercommemorated Madison, and I'm also on board with honoring them (I'm not a huge Jefferson fan, but I don't really object to his status as a great American. Want to argue Adams?  Ike?  Take it to comments).  On the other hand, I'm also pretty comfortable with Washington and King being the only two Americans honored with national holidays.

So, Happy Washington's Birthday, even if it isn't actually Washington's birthday, and even if most of what you're seeing are references to Presidents Day, President's Day, or Presidents' Day -- any way you spell it, a really bad idea.  Which reminds me -- if you happen to think of James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, or Richard Nixon today, I think what you're supposed to do is spit twice over your left shoulder to avoid bad luck.


  1. I always thought Presidents Day was just intended to be a consolidation of Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday (which is a legal holiday in New York and some other Union states).

    If you think of the word "Presidents" in "Presidents Day" as meaning "Washington and Lincoln" -- well, that doesn't sound so bad, does it?

  2. That is exactly what I thought, too.

  3. Why not call the day Washington/Lincoln Day?

  4. I support reinstating Washington and Lincoln's birthday, mainly because I get off when the federal government is closed and more days off are usually nice. I think that we should have a Roosevelt Day to honor Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt. A Jefferson day might be important to considering how influential he was in the early Republic plus the entire Louisiana Purchase, which did much to lead the United States in its march to the pacific.

  5. Lee Ratner: The legal name for today's holiday is Washington's Birthday, and to my knowledge Lincoln's Birthday was never a Federal holiday.

    Having two Federal holidays back to back is probably unrealistic unless you go like Christmas-New Years or Japan's Golden Week and have it just be a multiday mega-holiday. And a Lincoln-Washington holiday season would quickly degenerate into Presidents Week.

  6. I am in favor of having the holiday on Jefferson's birthday, for one simple reason: Jefferson was born on April 13, and that's a good day for a holiday. Clinton's birthday would be good too: It's August 19.

  7. And Clinton's Birthday would be celebrated by....?

    (Yeah, I'm sorry).

  8. We shouldn't forget Benjamin Franklin, the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States.

  9. I would consider adding Hamilton to the list of those worthy of being honored. It would at least be fun to monitor Jefferson's grave upon the announcement of honoring Hamilton to see if there was any movement that would suggest rolling over.

  10. I seem to recall that Nixon issued a proclamation in the 70s that honored Presidents' Day, a day to honor all Presidents, "myself included."

    So blame Nixon's insecurities.


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