The Best President

As I slapped the Bobblehead doll of John F. Kennedy, making him utter the famous “Ask not” phrase, Julio asked me if he was the United States’ greatest president.

“Not exactly,” I replied, “but he wasn’t a bad one,” wondering how he would’ve been remembered had he lived out a second term, long enough to bore and antagonize the public. And I still bore a grudge, albeit diminished throughout the years, because his successor beat my beloved Barry Goldwater.

“So, who was the best U.S. president?” Julio asked. “Clinton? Jimmy Carter?”

“No, no, a thousand times no! Well, Jimmy Carter was a very nice man. And Clinton was smart.”

I thought for a moment. Now, my personal favorites were Calvin Coolidge and Teddy Roosevelt, but that’s not surprising, given my political leanings and adoration for their sense of style, but I knew that neither was universally appreciated. The best for everyone would have to be Harry S Truman.

I flipped the question back to Julio, asking him who the best Mexican president was, one of my favorite dinner party conversations, one which almost always elicits the same answer from all camps. Sure, there will be one or two who’ll proffer up Benito Juarez, Lazaro Cardenas or even Carlos Salinas, but the consistent winner is always Adolfo López Mateos. But then I may not be talking to the right people.

Julio insisted that the best Mexican president was Luis Donaldo Colosio.

“But he doesn’t count, since he never got to be president,” I said.

And sure enough, Julio came back with the right answer: López Mateos

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