After all, of the 42 ex-Presidents of the United States, only four are still alive. That's over a ninety percent mortality rate. That’s worse than 'Nam.
And without a doubt, the hardest part of an ex-Presidency is the first hundred days. That period when the country is abuzz over your replacement, yet the office is still so fresh in your mind that you sometimes awake in the middle of the night demanding to speak to the Russian Premiere, or absent-mindedly threaten to have the CIA kill an annoying neighbor before realizing your error and breaking down in a crying jag right there in the jam aisle.
But Mr. Carter’s laughable shortcomings aside, Bush’s recent purchase of a new home in Preston Hollow, Texas, signals the beginning of his grappling with the demon Obscurity.
And because I hate to see a man kicked while he’s down, I’ve decided to put together this little primer to help him through the transition. Will this save us all the heartache of waking one morning to find a senile G.W. running naked through the streets of Dallas? We can only pray.
Coping With Cancellation: A Presidential PrimerFish vs. Pond: People are judged on a relative scale. When you were the President, the citizenry of the United States (or at least 29% of them) granted you the use of all of their collective balls (and, for the sake of sexual equality, let’s say ovaries). This left you with huge, swinging ovary testicles that you could fluff and sit on and show off basically anywhere you went. Your balls were so stuffed with ovaries that you had to have guys in black suits and plastic wires in their ears with you at all times.
Well, like the aged tend to do, your balls have shrunk. The important thing is to display them in their best light, like how holding a ping-pong ball next to a Monopoly house makes the ping-pong ball look huge by comparison. So let’s look at which neighbors your importance is likely to be measured against.
Notable Preston Hollow residents include:Ross Perot—You’ve already accomplished something he failed to. Make sure to remind him and others of this by holding regular “ex-President” barbecues and “accidentally” sending him an invite. If he gives you any guff, just tell people you think he might be going insane. It worked on Kucinich, and they’re almost twins.
Tom Hicks—He bought the Texas Rangers from you, which gave you the capitol you needed to launch your political career. In some ways, he could claim to have “made you what you are.” Use this to your advantage, by reminding him of what a crappy President you turned out to be. Try loudly thanking him for the job when you run into him at the corner market. Soon enough, you’ll be chairing the HOA committee on pool maintenance.
Mark Cuban—He’s richer than you, owns several sports teams and an HDTV network, and appeared on Dancing With The Stars. Okay, this one might be tough. You could learn to dance, but that’s just asking for a debilitating injury. Your best bet is to have one of your SS guys run him down in a black sedan. I’m not saying you should do that, I’m just saying it’s your best bet.
Retaining Your Celebrity: Try and keep some of that White House heat going if you can. There’s a long, cold Winter ahead, and nabbing a few headlines in regional papers can go a long way towards keeping you from chowing down on two barrels of sweet, sweet release.
Clinton’s got his wife to lean on, and Carter’s got the whole Habitat for Humanity thing. Even your Dad gets called in to give political advice now and then. Of course, Laura Bush’s political career has about the same outlook as Fergie’s, so no help there. And if someone calls you asking for political advice, just hang up; it’s a prank. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t fret—there’s no need to resort to philanthropy just yet.
Instead, stick to what made you our beloved leader in the first place. Buy a company, run it into the ground. Invite Rove and Cheney over for secret “planning sessions,” even if you just end up watching old tapes of Felicity and talking about boys all night. Maybe even pick up your cocaine habit again (there’s a friend that’ll never abandon you).
In short, just get back to your roots. You’re out of D.C. now, it’s time to let your hair down and party like a largely forgotten rock star. Like, say, a Nugent. That’s you. You’re President Nugent. In fact, asking people to call you that might generate some press of its own.
As Powers Fade: A lot of the perks you’ve grown accustomed to over the last eight years are going to change, and quickly. No longer will it be within your power to call in air strikes, know what the deal is with aliens, or force Emeril to give you his secret gumbo recipe on pain of waterboarding.
The key to coping with this immense and crippling loss of power is to exercise what powers you still retain, and realize that, though in some sense crippled, you remain a self-actualized individual with the ability to affect the world around you. If you’re feeling a little powerless, why not:
- Preemptively trim a neighbor’s encroaching hedges before they can invade your lawnspace.
- Orchestrate a massive surge…of delicious, homemade bean dip!
- Bug the driveway with a concealed baby monitor to find out who keeps swiping your newspaper.
- Use the neighborhood newsletter to leak vital information regarding Laura’s Vagisil prescription.
- Hold an impromptu press conference with the family dog to announce your withdrawal from the yard.
- Watch an old war movie and pretend like you know why the losing side lost.
- Finally get back at that kid who keeps egging your car by violently invading the house of someone who has nothing to do with him, but looks kind of similar.
- Call and demand a recount of your cellular minute overages.
- Veto Laura’s yam casserole. Or, if she topped it with a layer of marshmallow, consider a line-item veto.
- Head on down to the local hardware store and locate the WMD’s (Weapons of Mouse Destruction).
- Beat one of your children, just so they know who’s boss.
But most importantly of all, welcome your successor with grace and aplomb. Not that he’ll care, but you might guilt him into inviting you to a dinner at the White House, and you can hide in the Lincoln bedroom for a few precious hours.
When not clinging to election reportage for dear life, Michael serves as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!