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Presidential Knife Fight

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Which U.S. president wins in a knife fight? The rules:

To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the redditor Xineph:

Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency. Fatal maladies have been cured, but any lifelong conditions or chronic illnesses (e.g. FDR’s polio) remain.
The presidents are fighting in an ovular arena 287 feet long and 180 feet wide (the dimensions of the [1] Roman Colosseum). The floor is concrete. Assume that weather is not a factor.
Each president has been given one standard-issue [2] Gerber LHR Combat Knife , the knife [3] presented to each graduate of the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Assume the presidents have no training outside any combat experiences they may have had in their own lives.
There is no penalty for avoiding combat for an extended period of time. Hiding and/or playing dead could be valid strategies, but there can be only one winner. The melee will go on as long as it needs to.
FDR has been outfitted with a [4] Bound Plus H-Frame Power Wheelchair, and can travel at a maximum speed of around 11.5 MPH. The wheelchair has been customized so that he is holding his knife with his dominant hand. This is to compensate for his almost certain and immediate defeat in the face of an overwhelming disadvantage.
Each president will be deposited in the arena regardless of their own will to fight, however, personal ethics, leadership ability, tactical expertise etc., should all be taken into account. Alliances are allowed.

I expect everyone to have obvious answers here. But is the result so obvious as to feature TR, Jackson, and Washington? I don’t know that things would go this way. Personally, I might put some money down on Lyndon Johnson. And Zachary Taylor was a tough, tough man.

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  • TR. TR will win because he’ll cheat and bring a shotgun.

    • I will rarely defend TR. But I will here. He wouldn’t have brought a shotgun because that would have been an unmanly violation of the carefully delineated rules of warfare. And if there’s one thing TR hated, it was violations of carefully delineated rules of warfare, whether in hunting, football, boxing, or actual war.

      • L2P

        I think we can put Nixon in the “he’d cheat to win” circle, amirite?

        • Warren Terra

          Yeah, this was my kneejerk reaction as well. LBJ and Andrew Jackson were tough, as were some others. But Nixon would cheat, and cheat more thoroughly than anyone else.

  • Amok92

    Clearin’ brush strength + a codpiece for an extra weapon = W in a route.

    • L2P

      Based on history, he’d be busy trying to get a deferment to the Coliseum National Guard in the opening seconds of the fight. Sadly, right before he finishes the WX-178b, Carter stabs him in the kidney, yells “Navy, biatch!” then runs off to help Ike take out a large man with a walrus mustache.

    • The man was in excellent physical condition during his presidency, and he has the reflexes of a cat.

      I don’t know if he wins, but he’s in the running.

      • Halloween Jack

        “Reflexes of a cat”? Are you kidding? He was nearly killed by a pretzel, managed to fall off a Segway, and showed up several times during his administration with unexplained scrapes on his face. He managed to dodge a slow, unaerodynamic projectile from several feet away after watching the guy wind up. As far as we know, the only fight he’s been in was one that he tried to pick with his dad while he was drunk. He might win an early round against one of the older dyspeptic minor league presidents, but that’s it.

        • Taft could take W. He’d baffle him with bullshit a clearly-spoken declarative sentence and then head-butt him down.

  • Malaclypse

    G W Bush. He’ll declare knives to be WMDs, get Collin Powell to give a speech at the UN confirming this, order air strikes on the arena, then make jokes at the White House Correspondents dinner about how he could order them all killed for using cutlery as well.

    Fox News will use coverage of Peter Jennings cutting a piece of asparagus as final proof of how the media hate our freedom.

  • mattc

    Exactly. That’s why, as Erik posits, LBJ would win. He totally WOULD bring a shotgun…or dip his blade in poison…or whatever it took to win. Nixon would, too, of course, but the phlebitis would get him first.

    • Scott P.

      Plus it’s hard for someone who’s just a head to win a knife fight.

      • Hanspeter

        Nikon would cheat and use the headless body of Agnew.

        • Furious Jorge

          I never understood how the headless body of Agnew was able to growl so fiercely …

          • Hanspeter

            Guttural growling, you know, from the gut. Because ‘guttural’ has g-u-t in it.

    • L2P

      See, I think Nixon and LBJ would take each other out in a grudge match as soon as the battle royale started (I’m guessing simultaneous groin attacks, possibly with poisoned nuclear shotguns). So I count out both of them.

      • Heron

        LBJ and Nixon actually worked pretty well together and respected each other from everything I’ve read on the subject. Of course, they’d also shank each other for political advantage if need be, but that’s politics for you.

        • Jonathan

          they’d also shank each other for political advantage if need be, but that’s politics for you.

          This is why we’re all going to die.

    • LBJ–there’s a man who would have no problem cheating to win.

      • L2P

        How many presidents would go in the “won’t cheat to win” category? Washington, the first Adams, TR, of course. Let’s assume the living presidents (because, ugh, that’ll start getting ugly, right?)

        But after that? I remember the 19th century as being filled with shenanigans.

        • rea

          I’m not so sure about Washington–look what happened to M. de Jumonville back in 1754.

          • Jonathan

            Everyone seems to forget what the 18th century was actually like. No, people were not more noble than they are now.

          • ajay

            Quite. So he’d break his word, betray his king, and ally himself with the deadliest enemies of his country – enemies that he was fighting against earlier on in his career – but you reckon he wouldn’t cheat?

            • “I cannot tell a lie: I’m gonna cut you, sucker.”

              • Western Dave

                Dude launched sneak attacks on people – at Christmas. ’nuff said.

  • Keith B

    It’s a knife fight. So I have to go with Nixon.

    “Rules? In a knife fight?”

    • “Rules? In a knife fight?”

      There is something to the idea of Nixon rounding up some of the lesser lights, probably with Jackson nominally in command, into a kind of brute squad before betraying them at the end.

      • Dirk Gently

        See, this is really where it will come down—who has the personality and guile to rally people around him to form a brute squad, as you say, and then the deftness to take out his finest brutes?

        Even here, I see TR as being formidable.

        • “and then the deftness to take out his finest brutes?

          Even here, I see TR as being formidable.”

          It depends on whether or not they know each other’s reputations before combat begins. If Jackson, Johnson, Harrison, the Adams boys, etcetera know that Nixon’s not to be trusted and that TR is a hotheaded nut, then neither Dick nor Teddy would be able to deceive the others, and that hurts them bad.

          On the other hand, if reputation is a factor, you’ve got to like Washington. He could just stand in the corner acting far more dignified than this uncivilized farce and have half a dozen others defend him to their last out of patriotism.

          • hickes01

            By the time he got to the White House, TR was a broken down wreck. This list begins and ends with Andrew Jackson. Old school badass.

  • L2P

    I’m going with Grant. That guy knew how to fight and how to win. Plus, unlike Jackson, he wouldn’t be distracted into Hulk-like if another President (I’m looking at you, Adams) started taunting him about his wife. People in seething, mindless rages rarely win knifefights.

    Or so I here.

    • L2P

      Hear, even.

      • Jonathan

        Hear, here!

    • John

      Jackson won all the actual fights he got into when people taunted him about his wife.

      • L2P

        Not WHILE they were taunting him (AFAIK). He had time to settle down. I don’t think anybody said something like “You’re wife’s a whore” as he was shooting, for instance.

        So imagine Jackson dueling with Abe and , suddenly, Nixon yells out, “Jackson’s wife sees more naked men then a proctologist” just as Abe goes in for the spleen. I’m not so sure hot-headed Jackson isn’t going to get just . . . that . . little . . . bit . . . distracted.

        • He’ll probably think “proctologist” is a fancy word for prostitute, but the effect is the same.

        • Heron

          Lincoln was, from all account, a physical beast of a man. I don’t know if that was still true by the time he got to the White House, but in his prime he could lift a man one handed and shake him like an infant until he cried “uncle”.

          • Jonathan

            “LINCOLN SMASH! LINCOLN SMASH!”

            • allium

              I’d rather face off against Green Lincoln (Hannibal Hamlin might be able to calm him down) than Gray Lincoln.

          • wengler

            I saw a documentary where he axed the shit out of vampires too.

          • Halloween Jack

            He still had it as President. He’d regularly have contests with soldiers to see who could hold a full-sized axe extended straight out at arm’s length for the longest time. Guess who always won.

            • Bill Murray

              the guy with the power to put the other guy in the brig

      • Lev

        According to Robert Remini’s book, Jackson was in pretty poor physical shape as president, frequently sick and I believe suffering from lead stuck in his body from a duel in his past. I wouldn’t count on him being a serious contender.

    • Warren Terra

      Grant sober, or Grant not sober?

      • Not sober, he wins.

        • Informant

          Ah, Legend of Drunken Master-style!

  • Amok92

    What about the 1st Harrison, the Tippy Canoe guy? Wasn’t he a buff Indian killer?

    • John

      He was really old by the time he was president.

      • rea

        plus, the rules specify, “the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency,” and WH Harrison was seriously ill for his entire presidency, such as it was.

        • Warren Terra

          On the plus side, if he managed to infect his opponent with lethal pneumonia, the knife fight might be scored as a draw retroactively some weeks later.

          • Desert Rat

            FTW.

  • It’s the opposite of a creative answer, but I don’t see how you get around Lincoln here. In a real melee it could be anybody (and some overlooked guy like Monroe or Garfield could camp until there was almost no one left), but he has to have the shortest of the long odds. Huge man, gargantuanly strong to the point that getting *shot in the head* still took him a while to die, and if there’s one President who is comfortable murdering the fuck out of his countrymen in the name of survival, it’s Abe.

    • L2P

      He’s also a vampire hunter, IIRC from last year’s movies. That’s got to help.

      If the fights were all one on one Abe would have a chance, but you just know that those willowy booky guys like Truman, Wilson and Coolidge are going to team up on the big guys right away.

    • MJSS

      Lincoln was my first thought. I think he’s the definite winner if you replace all the knives with cavalry broadswords.

    • But how fast was he? He was a captain in some sort of militia, but this is all Wikipedia has on him:

      Before the election Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War.[43] Following his return, Lincoln continued his campaign for the August 6 election for the Illinois General Assembly. At 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm),[44] he was tall and “strong enough to intimidate any rival”. At his first speech, when he saw a supporter in the crowd being attacked, Lincoln grabbed the assailant by his “neck and the seat of his trousers” and threw him.[45] Lincoln finished eighth out of 13 candidates (the top four were elected), though he received 277 of the 300 votes cast in the New Salem precinct.[46]

      I don’t know. If he spent his time knifing Indians like his predecessors, I might buy it.

  • Sly

    Physically? Lincoln. Both and LBJ were 6’4″, giving them reach, but Lincoln was probably more agile due to his lighter weight. Plus the guy hunted vampires in his spare time.

    But in a free-for-all against 43 other knife-wielding men? Toughness will only take you so far. The President with the greatest capacity for strategic thinking in such a scenario would probably be Ike. So unless he couldn’t kill the last President standing other than him, or Nixon stabbed him in the back at some point (likely), I’d put my money on him.

    • John

      I’d say Grant over Eisenhower as a strategic thinker. Eisenhower’s job was basically to be a politician – to mediate between Americans and British, between Patton and Montgomery, and so forth. The actual operational control of the fighting was left to his subordinates, and the higher level grand strategic planning was largely conducted by the various staffs – that is, by Brooke and Marshall. Not that Eisenhower was bad, but Grant was a genuine operational military genius, which I don’t think there’s any real evidence that Eisenhower was.

      • Sly

        Eisenhower’s job was basically to be a politician – to mediate between Americans and British, between Patton and Montgomery, and so forth.

        You say this as if it was easy. A large part of Ike’s job was politics, yes. I doubt the British would have even went along with a unified command structure unless Ike and others like him convinced them otherwise. But he was also chief of the Operations Division before his promotion, largely due to the fact that he had a string of recommendations from guys like Pershing, MacArthur, and Patton, who all worked with Ike at some point in his career.

        And the bottom like for me is that this scenario involves 44 armed men killing each other until one is left standing. While I consider Grant a close second, the only way he wins is if you accept the premise that he won the Civil War because he was willing to butcher his own soldiers.

        • Pseudonym

          44? Does Grover Cleveland get cloned?

    • Warren Terra
      • Auguste

        Jesus Christ, Operation Wetback?

    • Lincoln vs LBJ I would have to go to Lincoln since Honest Abe had far more hand-to-hand fighting experience.

      • Heron

        LBJ was in horrible physical shape for much of his life, and during his presidency in particular; plus, he likely suffered from a congenital heart defect exacerbated by his worrisome and stress-seeking personality. I’m usually one to come to LBJ’s defense when the subject arises, but I don’t put his chances too high in a free for all. He certainly had the ability to ingratiate himself to others and to build coalitions, but he flat out lacked the athleticism and endurance for a context like this.

        • Heron

          Err contest

          dangit <:/

    • Heron

      Lincoln was as much supreme commander of Union forces in fact as in name by the end, and he ran rings around his better-credentialed cabinet. I think it would be a mistake to discount his strategic acumen.

      Realistically, I think the right answer would be “they’d gang up together to break out somehow”.

      • Wrye

        you know…*this* has SF franchise written all over it.

        • Heron

          At the very least it’d make a good comic book/animated series ala The Amazing Screw-on Head, provided somebody was willing to give it a shot and cast Paul Giamatti as one of the Adamses.

          • Out if the box thinking: cast Giamatti as both of the Adamses, a la the man with two brains.

            • Of, too.

            • Heron

              This is excellent. You are excellent.

    • Halloween Jack

      Strategic thinking? In a knife fight? Try to stay out of trouble, boys. Officers aren’t particularly suited for that sort of thing, even great generals, unless they came up through the ranks, and maybe not even then.

  • John

    I think you’ve got to go TR as being the one who would actually be the best at knife fighting, given that we’re talking about physical condition during their presidency. TR was young during his presidency, a physical fitness buff, and a knife fight seems totally up his alley (unlike Dubya and Obama, who were also relatively young and fit when they started as presidents, but probably have little experience with fighting). Kennedy was young, but his back problems almost certainly guarantee that he’s not in the running. Washington was 56 and in not particularly good health when he became president. Jackson was 62. Taylor was 63. I’d say TR would have the advantage over them all.

    So if this was some kind of one-on-one knife-fighting single-elimination tournament, I’d definitely give TR the edge. But it’s actually a battle royale, and that might not play into Teddy’s strengths – he might tire himself out in the early going, leaving the way open for someone less scrupulous (LBJ, Nixon) to take him out once he’s exhausted.

    I’d add that if anyone was going to violate carefully delineated rules of warfare, the most obvious candidate is Jackson, whose practice of dueling was so abusive that many of his dueling contemporaries viewed his duels as basically murders. Jackson did what it took to win.

    • L2P

      The rules imagine the presidents in their physical peaks.

      • John

        Nope:

        Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency.

        • L2P

          I’m more talking about Kennedy.

          • John

            Aren’t Kennedy’s back problems like FDR’s polio? I mean, by the time of his presidency they weren’t as bad as they’d been at times in the 50s, but I think they’d still make serious physical exertion quite difficult for him, even if we take him at his best during the 1961-3 period.

            • Warren Terra

              They were a chronic ailment, and would have to be counted. But I thought he was able to conceal them, even to appear active before the press, albeit with medication and at a cost he’d feel later.

            • Heron

              We also shouldn’t forget that he was suffering for some sort of kidney or liver disorder. I can’t really recall which atm, and I don’t really feel like googling it.

              • Some days, it was so bad he had to limit himself to two or three starlets.

                • Bill Murray

                  or one and his wife

              • I don’t know that it’s ever been proven, but the theory is that Kennedy had Addison’s disease, an endocrine disorder, treated with steroids. The steroids, over time, cause soft-tissue breakdown, which contributed to his back problems.

                On the other hand, there’s a school of thought that holds that Lincoln had Marfan’s disease, which also weakens connective tissue (thus allowing for unusually tall stature–less holding growth back). In any case, though both men were warriors in their youth, by the time they were in the Oval Office, their bodies would in all likelihood be a bit trashed.

                • Lev

                  It’s been proven. It’s in Caro’s most recent LBJ book.

                • Pseudonym

                  Does that mean that if Kennedy won he’d get an asterisk by his name?

  • I don’t know that they’d be contenders for the top 5, but I think both Obama and Carter are getting short shrift here. Carter was a nuclear engineer submariner in the Navy, and in retirement he goes into war-torn countries and overseas elections for fun. Maybe his economic policies stank, but he wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on military action, starting the buildup for which St. Ronnie got credit.

    And Obama? Top physical condition as president, which is rare, with long arms and endurance. No combat training, but as soon as he sees a Bush all the supressed rage is going to come out, and I bet he spends the first ten minutes of the fight trying to run down George W, who’s bleating for Karl or Dick. Not sure he makes it past the first half after that, but I could see him back-to-back with Lincoln for a while.

    • John

      Carter also defeated that rabbit, so that should get him some points.

      • Yeah, I was leaving that out. But he may be the first president since TR to have a hostile encounter with an animal while in office. [Insert Dick Cheney/lawyer-hunting joke here]

      • rea

        You know, Napoleon got attacked by rabbits, too, and no one ever called him a wimp.

        • John

          That Napoleon rabbit story is amazing.

    • Warren Terra

      Don’t discount Obama’s Ninja Skillz.

    • Carter was a nuclear engineer

      Name a nuclear engineer known for his skills in close combat. Just one.

      • It’s the “submariner” part that suggests strength of will and close combat skills. Though don’t underestimate the gutsiness necessary to tend to nuclear vessels.

        • Guts, sure, but close combat skills?

          • Megan

            I’ve heard of footage of Carter building houses and sinking nails with single hammer blows. Don’t know that he can fight, but he is physically apt.

  • Keaaukane

    What about Taft? With only a 7″ blade, the Gerber lhr may not be able to reach a vital organ. I can see him taking FDR for a Nantucket sleigh (slay?) ride around the Colosseum.

    • L2P

      Ooooh, good point! But wouldn’t Taft pretty quickly just tire out and get cut up by somebody? I mean, how many feet do you think Taft could even walk without needing to sit down and rest?

    • ploeg

      To the throat. Enough said.

  • Also, I predict that this will be the longest troll-free comment thread in recent memory.

  • Jameson Quinn

    William Henry Harrison. He just lies there the whole time, taken for dead by most, until the rest die of their wounds.

    • hickes01

      +1

    • Bill Murray

      Like Tyler wouldn’t knife at the start of the fight

  • mattc

    LBJ and Nixon team up to turn Kennedy into a sieve, and are so focused on slaking their bloodlust they don’t even notice when Grant sneaks up behind them and slits their throats.

  • Sphysicist

    The three favorites to my mind are TR (athleticism, enjoyment of blood sports), Jackson (we all know why) and Lincoln (reach). But I think FDR pulls off the upset. He won’t have the stamina issues everyone else faces, can outrun everyone at will, has serious upper body strength, and he’ll tie the knife to the wheels with his clothes and pull that Roman chariot stuff. Plus you know he’ll have the cigarette holder and lighter plus a bottle of the good stuff, which provide further armaments.

    • Not to mention that the man pulled himself up the dumbwaiter of his mansion for exercise. The determination is unbelievable. That has to count for something, along with the speed from the chair.

      • Vance Maverick

        FDR didn’t get polio (or whatever it was) till he was nearly 40. If we imagine a healthy 20-year-old incarnation with all the other superpowers he displayed late in life, he would do very well.

        • True, but that goes against the rules and would improve the chances of several other Presidents as well.

  • Fighting Words

    The Mediocre Presidents :

    All: We are the mediocre presidents.
    You won’t find our faces on dollars or on cents!
    There’s Taylor, there’s Tyler,
    There’s Fillmore and there’s Hayes.
    There’s William Henry Harrison,

    Harrison: I died in thirty days!

    All: We… are… the…
    Adequate, forgettable,
    Occasionally regrettable
    Caretaker presidents of the U-S-A!

    • Fighting Words

      Actually, because I’m pretty morbid, I wonder which U.S. Presidents would be the first to die in this hypothetical knife fight.

      My money would be on Madison, John Adams, Reagan, or Harding.

      • Dog San Vito

        WH Harrison–very old and frail by the time of his presidency….

      • Greg

        Taft, Reagan, WH Harrison, Kennedy, and Madison all go quick.

      • Warren Terra

        Taft’s not gonna last long. But Reagan and some others were pretty darn frail.

  • Dirk Gently

    Remember the opening battle in Gladiator, where there’s this really enormous “Germanic” who’s pounding away at folks, and then finally about five or six legionnaires gang up on him and ruthlessly stab him, precisely because he’s such a formidable and ostentatious foe? That’s Lincoln.

    You need the right combination of guile, physicality, tenacity, and ruthlessness–but also the ability to kind of lie low when necessary and/or fend off committed attackers.

    Another thing to consider: I think we’re all assuming these presidents with their contemporary mindsets. What will most of them make of Obama? Will his “negritude” intimidate, or make him a target?

    I think Grant may have all the right combination of elements to survive to the top three, at least.

    • Informant

      I need to type faster, darn it.

    • L.M.

      Plus, all the pro-confederate presidents gang up on Lincoln for purely ideological reasons.

    • Wrye

      As regards Obama, an excellent question. If racism is a latent factor in a 2012 election, I think we can assume it would come into play with at least a few of a bunch of pre-1860 white gentlemen,

      Additionally, much hinges on how much information the presidents have (or have been able to share) about their successors. Absent official briefings, GWB would likely have been spreading quite a few stories….

      • if racism is a factor in a 2012 election, i think it would come into play with at least a few of a bunch of pre-1860 1996 white gentlemen

        fixed that for you.

        anyway, my money’s on ray smuckles.

  • Informant

    I’ll emphasize that I’m not endorsing the other Presidents doing this, but isn’t there a risk of Obama getting taken out rather early in this given his rather obvious distinguishing characteristics from the other Presidents? He’s in good shape, but, being African American, I would think there would be a greater likelihood of others teaming up to take him down early in the fight.

    • Warren Terra

      Fair point. Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan, among others, might consider it necessary that he be dealt with before the gentlemen could contest their strength.

    • wengler

      Nah. 30 of the Presidents would probably ask Obama to hold their knife while they cleaned their wounds.

      A couple dozen of their heads would explode just learning he was a President.

      • I would personally like to see Wilson’s reaction.

        • Wrye

          I would pay 50 Quatloos for that!

    • SCV

      Obama pretends to be Jefferson’s man servant until half of them are dead. That should neutralize almost everyone before Ford though he should keep an eye on A.Johnson and Wilson.

  • Holden Pattern

    Not sure why Washington isn’t getting any supporters here. 6’3″, reputedly very strong, actual combat service as a line officer in hand-to-hand combat in the French and Indian War,

    • Woodrowfan

      Martin Van Buren was a New York boy, so that’s got to help. And you don’t think Bill Clinton learned how to use a knife growing up in Arkansas??

    • Woodrowfan

      As for GW, he was close to 60 so age would be a hindrance…

  • Leeds man

    Taft would have a bath tub covering his, er, back.

  • Anonymous

    Didn;t Lincoln win a real swordfight?

    • UserGoogol

      Not exactly. It was a duel which was called off before it happened. Lincoln seems to have gone into it with a significant advantage (his long arms gave him a distinct advantage in swinging around a sword) but a knife is very different from a sword, and a duel is very different from a 43-way free-for-all.

  • calling all toasters

    As no one will have a wooden stake, the obvious winner is President Cheney.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Don’t you mean light saber?

  • Dog San Vito

    Lincoln–no president stronger. Obama is tough and young, and TR knows how to fight. But The Railsplitter could wrassle an alligator and win! Give him a knife…he wins…..

  • Will

    I’ve got to give some thought to the idea that Ford would do pretty well. I know… I know.. but hear me out.

    Eagle scout, U Mich football, while in the Navy preflight school he coached in all nine sports that were offered, but mostly in swimming, boxing and football, he even scored a hole in one while golfing in 1977, so he clearly retained some degree of coordination.

    Ok, yeah, he tripped and fell down some stairs once. BUT, he got right back up. The man was tough. Think of how many presidents you could shove down a set of stairs and expect to bound right back to their feet afterwards.

    • hickes01

      I was thinking the same thing. An all-America football background has to count for something. He was pretty nice, however. Not sure if he’s mean enough for a knife fight.

    • Gus G.

      Ford.

  • Greg

    I think folks are underestimating GHW Bush. Sure he looks like Captain Nerdlinger but he was an athlete and a war hero in his day.

    • Greg

      For that matter, he and his son together would be pretty tough. There are few other obvious instant alliances, and of the other familial connections, these two are the toughest.

      • Will

        But if Oliver Stone is to be believed (and really, why not?), W would be the first one to shank HW.

      • Warren Terra

        What was the physical condition of the Adamses? And you have to assume an instant Lincoln-Grant alliance, although gawd knows what Andrew Johnson does.

        There’s also the Roosevelts, but unless that wheelchair gets seriously upgraded it’s not a strong team.

        • Malaclypse

          My google-fu is weak, but Rauchway over at EotAW had a mockup of FDR in the motherfucking baddest of all badass wheelchairs. If he’s in that, he wins.

        • Greg

          The Roosevelts weren’t particularly closely related, and the Adamses wouldn’t be good fighters.

          • UserGoogol

            They weren’t closely related by blood (they were fifth cousins) but Eleanor was Theodore’s niece, so they weren’t exactly strangers either.

    • L.M.

      “Here’s a little something we learned in CIA!”

    • ajay

      I think folks are underestimating GHW Bush. Sure he looks like Captain Nerdlinger but he was an athlete and a war hero in his day.

      In his day, sure, but that was a long time before he became president. He was 65 in 1989. I think that you can just assume that no one over retirement age is going to win this one.

      • Greg

        Dude’s still jumping out of airplanes in his 80s. He’d fuck some of these young whippersnappers’ shit up.

      • L.M.

        But G.H.W. Bush was a Republican, so he was still way under retirement age at 65.

  • Warren Terra

    OK, I want to know why the URL for this page is “lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/08/knife-fight-2”. What happened to knife-fight-1? I feel like I’m missing out here.

      • Warren Terra

        The reality is always a disappointment compared to the imagination.

        • Are you also editing my book chapter tonight?

          • Warren Terra

            Um, do you insist on competence?

            • It’s obviously more than I should be expecting from myself after reading this shit.

              • Here’s a preview of the gloriously happy story that is this chapter:

                “Scribner nearly died several times from logging accidents, including losing a finger from a saw that he grabbed to save his head from hitting it and another when a log rolled over his chest, crushing several ribs and ripping open his sides to the point that “the doctor had to stuff my intestines back in like they were rope, curling them and shoving them back up inside of me.”

                • LuckyJimJD

                  So clearly Scribner would have beaten all the Presidents in a knife fight.

                • Jackson never had his intestines shoved back in.

  • It would come down to Lincoln and Nixon fighting in a circle lit by glowglobes.

    Nixon would put a soporific on his blade, but Lincoln could easily change his metabolism to counter it.

    A poisoned barb hidden in the folds of Nixon’s clothing would come close to cutting Lincoln, making him consider using his vast oratorical powers to freeze Nixon in his tracks.

    But in the end Lincoln would win out.

    • Warren Terra

      You forgot the link.

      • I wasn’t thinking of the Lynch version but a maniacal Nixon spending most of his administration prancing about in his underwear makes a good amount of poetic sense.

    • Heron

      Lincoln would clearly win. His name is a killing word.

  • Robert Farley

    The first time Andrew Jackson heard “Folsom Prison Blues,” he said “Shot a man just to watch him die? Just one?”

    • There you go.

    • NBarnes

      I could listen to Andrew Jackson jokes all day.

    • Lev

      “So, tell me, Mr…”
      “Clinton.”
      “Ah, yes. A good Democrat, I presume? Tell me, is the party still adhering to my philosophies on Indian removal, hard money, and preserving the sacred Southern way of life?”
      “Um…the current guy is black. That tell you what you need to know?”
      “Damn! I knew Taney was a squish.”

  • Sherm

    Maybe the Nationals can start staging knife fights with their mascots during the 7th inning stretch.

    • Warren Terra

      Or just draft from the audience anyone who sings “Sweet Caroline”?

  • gmack

    Without reading the whole thread (just the first half or so), I think I need to add some further considerations, namely, alliances. If, for instance, we could get, say, the revolutionary five together (Washington, Adams & son, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe), that’s some pretty major advantage. Granted, you could argue that they wouldn’t necessarily band together, but perhaps some of them would, and even a few allies can be essential to protect one’s back, especially at the beginning.

    • L.M.

      This is why I think the edge ultimately goes to Washington. Which president is going to bring himself to kill Washington. Every other president’s whole self-image is based on emulating the man!

      The few who might make a run at Washington (Jackson, LBJ, Nixon) will find themselves out the game early, if the other presidents know what’s good for them.

    • Humanities Grad

      I don’t think either (or even both) of the Adamses would count for much. Pasty, overweight, unathletic businessmen don’t provide much value added. Their alliance mates would have to devote a lot of energy and attention just to keeping them alive.

      Madison would be running around the arena trying to stab England, and would be essentially useless, as the English don’t appear to be present in our hypothetical arena. And Jefferson was a lot better with a quill pen than he was with a shiv.

      • gmack

        I think you’re underestimating the value of Washington’s Leadership and Intangibles. His veteran presence will push his team to give 110% and to maintain the poise they’ll need to push them over the top.

        • Heron

          But what’s the range of his command aura? Real life has terrible pathing and lacks a decent auto-formation function, so the limited range of passive area buffs is easily exploited.

      • Jfp

        All that you say about the Adamses is true but he would still draw first blood when he stabs Jefferson, lost in erotic reveries about that fine slave wench called Beyonce who sang Mr. Keys poem set to To Anacreon in Heaven so captivatingly, in the kidney.

        • Jfp

          By he I mean John of course not John Q.

    • njorl

      I figure Roosevelt (FDR) gets Washington. Nobody would take him seriously, and he’d have a lot of resentment about coming in behind Washington in all those “greatest president” polls.

      The ultimate winner would be Chester A. Arthur. He’d convince everyone he wasn’t actually in the competition because he was never elected. Then, he nails the only other survivor at the end.

      Ford couldn’t really try the same trick. They’d gut him anyway for pardoning Nixon.

  • My favorite comment was about Taft: “Dead early, and his corpse might well be used as a low wall or some sort of artificial hill to lend advantage to his conquerors.”

  • Robert Farley

    I believe this thread is missing a certain statesman names Jefferson F. Davis…

    • Warren Terra

      I made that joke here two days ago. Dunno why I forgot it this time. Maybe it’s that (1) I don’t have a clue what Jeff Davis looked like; and (2) based on the Civil War I don’t think much of him as a military man.

  • Bill Murray

    I’m going to propose a dark horse

    Franklin Pierce — only 48 when elected and ~5 years removed from commanding a brigade when that meant actual fighting. he was seriously wounded during his command when he fell from a horse, but returned to lead his troops during the capture of Mexico City

    • John

      But also a drunk.

      • Bill Murray

        but his VORP-kf (value over replacement President-knife fight) is like 5 wins. Other drunk presidents like GWB are negative

        • Plus One

          That may be the best statistic ever.

      • ploeg

        Which makes his internal organs hard as a rock. Your point being?

  • Stag Party Palin

    This would make the greatest mini-series ever! You’d spend the first five minutes setting it up, and then the next 43 weeks composing alternate endings, a la the Clue Movie. I’d really like to see the ending where Taft wins.

    BTW, I declare Copyright, Trademark, and Patent on this idea.

    • Stag Party Palin

      Shoot, make that 44 weeks for my fail, and add one for Jeff Davis. Good one Farley.

      • Pseudonym

        Does Grover Cleveland get to team up with himself? That could be a compelling advantage.

  • Desert Rat

    Washington or Grant.

    Washington because he physically was a bull, and personally courageous to a fault (IIRC, he had a ton of horses shot out from under him during the Revolution).

    Grant for his heroics in the Mexican-American War (he was highly decorated) and for his likely pigheadedness in refusing to admit defeat.

    If limited to 20th Century Presidents, I’d go with LBJ or TR.

    • njorl

      “Personally courageous to a fault” ain’t no good in a free-for-all knife fight. Especially a presidential free-for-all knife fight.

  • Ben F

    Chester A. Arthur wins by hiding until the last moment.

    (Fillmore tries the same move, but halfway through the fight, his absence is startlingly noticed.)

  • Fats Durston

    I can’t believe Washington doesn’t win, “threw a knife into heaven and could kill with a stare” (not to mention kicking you apart).

    Then again, LBJ had his pants made so that they could hold his knife.

    • Heron

      Plus he was 12 storeys high and made out of radiation. Then there’s what he did to bears…

      Posters here also seem to be discounting his ruthlessness. I’m going to lay it on the line; he shoved people’s hands into acid for fun. The man was stone-cold.

      • Heron

        It seems that, in my haste, I failed to provide a link to the relevant documentary.

        It’s sad to see the research of a scholar like Dr. Neeley go disregarded, but I suppose that simply highlights the disturbing distortion that patriotism still plays in field of academic history.

      • The British Children

        We would never discount Washington’s ruthlessness. We have cause to reflect on it daily, here in this crocodile’s stomach.

    • Jon

      Six foot twenty, fucking killed for fun

  • ralphdibny

    Two dark horse candidates:

    James Garfield. Only 50, strong as an ox, excellent military strategist.

    Andrew Johnson. Our most white trash president. A mean drunk.

  • Mark f

    While you all have been scrumming, a figure thought to be the referee has been quietly slipping the blade into the unguarded kidneys of the more brutish scrappers. That man is T. Woodrow Wilson.

    • Heron

      I was thinking something similar. Wilson was a prick, and he was subtle.

      • Lev

        Yes, a prick, but also a prick who saw himself as a uniquely virtuous man, easily capable of compromising his own principles and rationalizing it with no problem. Really, not too unlike Mitt Romney, come to think of it.

  • Gus

    I’m voting for Jackson. How many times did he get shot? How many duels did he fight?

  • wengler

    I saw this on Star Trek. Lincoln will win, but he’s going to need help, especially against Nixon and Colonel Green.

    • Beat me to it.

      Quick: which Star Trek villain most reminds you of Richard Nixon?

      • Greg

        Kai Winn.

      • Lev

        Gul Dukat is pretty Nixonian.

        Man, was DS9 a great show.

      • Q.

      • Barry Freed

        Beat me to it too, I’d missed this when I posted mine.

  • wengler

    I actually don’t know who will win, but Madison is fucked.

    I also expect to see a dramatization of this scenario on SpikeTV.

  • Bush I would use his CIA training to manipulate his competition into killing each other until W finally decided that it was time to settle old scores and take him out. Teddy Roosevelt would totally go after Taft first due to the lingering grievance about Taft not tstepping aside for him for the 1912 election.

    LBJ would find a way to stab the competition in the back while looking them in the eye – hell, for that matter so would Nixon, who’d be popping up at random like a 1980s action movie ninja.

    In the end, I have to go with Lincoln – in addition to strength, he has the advantage of reach on almost every one of his rivals.

  • Steve H

    Does Grover Cleveland get two knives?

    • ploeg

      Yes. But only one knife at a time, and he has to wait four years between knives.

  • Warren Terra

    If a President is eliminated, does their vice President get a go? And does this give various people who’ve held both offices two goes?

  • ploeg

    First off, I think that guile and subterfuge will have an extremely limited role in the fight, especially in the first rounds. Basically the first half of the fight will be picking off the old and weak. You’re not going to let anybody that’s close to your strength near you, and you’re not going to get close to anybody that’s weaker than you unless it’s to do them in. And if you’re being a weasel right from the beginning, everybody will think that you’re weak, so bye-bye Tricky Dick. So for the first cut, everybody 50 or older at inauguration is toast except for Lincoln, Carter, Shrub, Hoover, and LBJ. FDR will be a surprisingly hard get because of his upper-body strength, but he’s gone. In subsequent rounds, the post-Reagan presidents will have a distinct advantage in general physical fitness that probably only TR could match (knife-fighting is hard work), so in the end, we’re probably talking about Clinton, Obama, Bush, and TR as a final four. After that, it’s pretty much a crap shoot.

  • Greg

    Sometimes I wonder how a thread like this would look to a foreigner. But then I remember I’m an American, and I don’t give a good goddamn what they think.

    • Keaaukane

      I’m sure the more erudite Brits often engage in speculation about knife fights between their various sovereign kings and queens. Ethelred the Unready always dies in the early rounds. William the Bastard does quite well.

      • Warren Terra

        Gawd knows the Ulster Loyalists love to fantasize about how very, very butch King Billy was. A bit ironic, that narrative, but they’re stuck with it.

    • Wrye

      The idea that Washington would be to virtuous to cheat after he betrayed his King would be pretty droll, for a start…

  • njorl

    Yay! I’ve got the “Meet all 44 presidents” add up!

    • njorl

      Now I have the Dvor lit folding knife ad.

  • Lev

    Seriously, nobody mentions Truman? An Army officer who actually saw combat (I believe he was an artillery guy in WWI), universally described as physically vigorous, doing a hundred push-ups a day or whatever. Of course, he also had unusually strong ethics in many respects and wouldn’t fight dirty.

    • He’d be the one using a depleted-uranium knife blade.

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