The face of change
It doesn’t happen very often that someone gets talked about as “money-worthy.” In fact, I can’t think of one time up until now when a public figure has been mentioned as instantly suitable for currency. (Coins have been different, with JFK on the 50-cent piece.)
Which leads to an examination of the suitable “namables” that are available to the newly deceased. In the normal scheme of things, the first items that get named after a dead president are public schools. Now, if you were a bit of a zero as chief executive, you’re gonna be lucky to have a handful of elementary schools named for you. If you were a quality leader, high schools aplenty bearing your name will proliferate around the nation. In rating the presidents of the last 50 years, you gotta figure there are loads of schools named after Ike and JFK (getting assassinated adds exponentially to the number of the things named after you, due to the tragedy factor), a handful of schools named for LBJ (97 percent of those being in one state), about the same number for Jimmy Carter (again, an extremely provincial situation, although Jimmy’s continued profile as America’s “International Cracker for Peace” can’t hurt his chances for bagging more schools in the years to come), and a couple of token schools in Houston and the immediate surrounding area named after Bush the First.
That leaves Nixon, Ford and Clinton. On the surface, it would not seem that the scowling, crabby Nixon and the friendly, philandering Clinton have much in common, but their legacies are both tainted by the lingering smudge of impeachment. Such a smudge has to carve deeply into school-naming impulses among school board members around America, leaving a severe shortage of Tricky Dick and Bubba Bill high schools. As for Ford, well, it’s hard to imagine anybody anywhere in this country sitting in on a naming session and raising his hand to say “How about Gerald R. Ford Junior High?” (If that did happen, and considering the strong weird-ball factor in this country, it undoubtedly has, it would then be easy to imagine a response of an awkward silence, followed by someone saying, “I don’t know, I still kind of like Emerald Landfill Junior High.”)
Reagan won’t have any problem racking up a few thousand schools within the next five years. But that may not be enough to cool down money-hungry Republicans who will be quick to point out that the last two presidents to get on a form of cash (Roosevelt and Kennedy) have both been Democrats. Who knows? In a couple of years, you just may be paying for lunch with a couple of “Rons.”