Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Curse of Burr? & Liz Cheney VS. "The Daily Show"

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!

Well, last week on Monday night, PBS aired the new American Experience special, "DOLLEY MADISON" about the woman who basically created the role of the First Lady. She was the first Presidents wife to have a charity she worked for, and was the premiere hostess in our brand new Nations Capital. Her amazing parties not only introduced ice-cream to the American public (Thank you so much for that Dolley!) but truly helped to ease partisan violence in an era where men would fight duels or engage in brawls on the Congressional floor over issues. It made todays partisan bickering look like a fight between pre-schoolers. At her parties members from opposing political parties could (and were sometimes practically forced) to be civil to one another and discuss things rationally over fine food and wine with Dolley making sure everything stayed friendly.

Born before the Revolution, she met Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and other heroes of the Revolution and lived into the era of the railroads and photography. Of course, what she is most famous for is saving the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Gilbert Stuarts now legendary painting of George Washington from the British Army when they captured Washington D.C. during the War of 1812 and destroyed the White House.

However, another famous story about Dolley Madison is how she was introduced to James Madison. At the time, Dolley was considered one of the most eligible women in Philadelphia--she was a young, attractive widow who turned heads everywhere she went. One day, Congressman James Madison--"The Father of the Constitution"--saw her as he was out walking and found her amazingly attractive. He asked a friend of his, who happened to be staying at the boarding house Dolley worked at and knew her well, to introduce him to her. That friend was Aaron Burr. Yes, the Aaron Burr who if you read this blog you should know by now. Burr was more than happy to introduce Congressman Madison to Dolley and the rest as they say is history. Even after Burr killed Hamilton in their famous duel and was basically shunned and discarded by President Jefferson (Madisons other best friend and key political ally) Dolley always was grateful to Burr for helping to get her together with Madison. However, in the special on American Experience, while Burr was mentioned--he was not shown onscreen at all. Also, in the multiple Emmy and SAG Award winning HBO series "JOHN ADAMS" starring Paul Giammatti and Laura Linney, Burr is mentioned twice but like in "DOLLEY MADISON" he is not shown at all.

Despite the exclusion of Burr I will say that the special starring Tony Award nominee Eve Best and Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays (who had played Madison before for a PBS series) was excellent. I really enjoyed it and if you're someone like us here at Vice-Precedence, I think you will enjoy it as well. Its great to get a different view of history -- in this case-- an extraordinary womans point of view. I highly recommend both it and JOHN ADAMS as well.

At the same time that Monday night on NBC "Law and Order" was on guest starring Debra Winger as a high school principal who was a little too close to her students at what is called "one of the worst schools in the city". Throughout the episode characters talk about how horrible this school is, how violent, how bad the students are, how dangerous it is, how it should and probably will be torn down and its students dispersed to other schools. The students there are suspects in the murder of a student at another school who they not only beat up, but light on fire while he's still alive. Nice kids huh? The name of this school? Why Aaron Burr High of course! Whats up with that?! I just thought it was interesting that Burr was mentioned on two completely different shows airing at the same time. How often does something like that happen?

It all made me think of a sort of theory that Jason came up with that he called "The Curse of Burr". "The Curse of Burr" is that since Burr was the first VP never to become President and was forced out of the office by his President, and his tie with Jefferson in the election of 1800 led to the creation of the 12th Amendment, that he changed the office of the Vice-President by being the odd man out and damned many of his followers in the Vice-Presidency to lives of obscurity.

In adding to this theory, its interesting to note that after Burr, practically all the VP's who became President only ascended to the office because of a national tragedy -- i.e. the death of the President. A few VP's got elected President on their own -- like Martin Van Buren and George H.W. Bush, but most didn't become President at all or lost in their elections for President, like Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Al Gore.

It seemed with Burr's exclusion on "DOLLEY MADISON" and the fact that the high school named after him on "LAW & ORDER" is a gangsters paradise ghetto dump that "The Curse of Burr" lives on in a different way. When one thinks of Aaron Burr, all most people think is "killer" and so using his name is a good way to make a place sort of dangerous sounding -- like they did on "L&O", meanwhile, if his name has to be brought up like in "DOLLEY MADISON" or "JOHN ADAMS", its better to just say it really quickly and move on. Aside from specials on Hamilton or Burr himself he's practically ignored. The "Curse" in action? Perhaps.

Also, apparently on tonights "Daily Show" on Comedy Central, there will be some discussion about Liz Cheney. Comedy Central is advertising the show as having earned the "Dick Cheney Scowl of Approval". Could be some interesting viewing.

Thanks for reading everyone.

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