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趣谈美国总统:谁的胡须最美?谁的酒瘾最大?

更新时间:2017-2-23 10:54:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What Makes a President Great? Clipping? Sipping? Slashing?
趣谈美国总统:谁的胡须最美?谁的酒瘾最大?

So Presidents Day has come and gone, along with the whining over C-SPAN’s latest ranking of American presidents, which predictably put Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt on top (yawn); demoted the beleaguered Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson; and positioned Barack Obama, in his post-presidential debut, at No. 12.

总统日(Presidents Day)来了又去,与之相伴的是C-SPAN电视台最新发布的美国总统排行榜引发的不忿之声。亚伯拉罕·林肯(Abraham Lincoln)、乔治·华盛顿(George Washington)、富兰克林·德拉诺·罗斯福(Franklin Delano Roosevelt)不出意外地位列前三甲(无聊);饱受非议的安德鲁·杰克逊(Andrew Jackson)和伍德罗·威尔逊(Andrew Jackson)排名下滑;卸任后首次上榜的贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)则排在第12位。

Such lists are a fun parlor game, if one that tends to provoke weary sighs from scholars, including some of the 91 who participated in the poll. “It’s not a thing that lends itself easily to quantification,” said one of them, David Greenberg, a historian at Rutgers University (and author of books about Richard Nixon and Calvin Coolidge). “But still we play along.”

这类名单就像有趣的室内游戏,不过很有可能引得学者们发出无奈的叹息,包括参与这次调查的91名学者中的一部分。“这可不是那种易于量化的东西,”这些人中的一员、罗格斯大学(Rutgers University)历史学者大卫·格林伯格(David Greenberg,著有关于理查德·尼克松[Richard Nixon]和卡尔文·库利奇[Calvin Coolidge]的书籍)。“但我们仍然会一起玩玩这个。”

Our attachment to these rankings, Greenberg said, reflects something real. “The president is a singularly important symbolic figure in our national culture,” he said. “Because the head of government is also head of state, the president just becomes this vehicle for emotional attachment that might otherwise go to a king.”

格林伯格说,我们对这些排名的迷恋反映了某种现实。“在我们国家的文化中,总统是独一无二的象征性人物,”他说。“因为政府的领袖同时也是国家的领袖,总统变成了一种寄托情感的载体,这一角色或许本来会由国王扮演。”

Street-Fighting Men

街头战士

Politics ain’t bean bag, so when things get really tough, don’t you want a blade-wielding maniac in your corner? That’s the premise behind a classic blog post “In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?”

政治并非儿戏,当事情变得尤其棘手的时候,你难道不希望自己这边有一个舞刀弄剑的狠人吗?经典博文《至死方休的美国总统大乱战,谁会胜出,又缘何胜出?》便是以此为前提。

The post, written in 2009 by a Canadian named Geoff Micks, started as a comment in a Reddit forum, but quickly outgrew that site’s length limit. He has updated it a few times, including this year, when Vice asked him to collaborate on an animated version, which brings Donald J. Trump into the fray.

这篇博文由加拿大人杰夫·米克斯(Geoff Micks)在2009年写就,本来只是Reddit论坛里的一篇评论,但其长度很快就超出了该网站的长度限制。他已经进行了好几次更新,包括今年的这次——他今年应Vice新闻之邀参与打造一个动画版本,把唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)也纳入了战局。

“I really wrote it as a joke,” Micks, an industry conference planner in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “But then it really took on a life of its own.”

“我当初真的是写着玩的,”在多伦多做行业会议策划师的米克斯接受电话采访时说。“但随后它其实有了自己的生命。”

Micks’ bet is on Theodore Roosevelt, imperialist brawler and butcher of many animals. (Also, he writes, “anyone who gets shot at the start of a long speech and delivers the whole thing anyway,” as Roosevelt did in 1912, “has the tenacity to endure more than a few knife wounds if he thinks he’s right and everyone else is wrong.”) But he wouldn’t count out other members of the “Holy Trinity”: Jackson — a likely “murder machine” — and Lincoln, a “big guy who knew how to wrestle.” Besides, “who wants to be the guy to stab Honest Abe?”

米克斯看好西奥多·罗斯福(Theodore Roosevelt),一名信奉帝国主义的斗殴者,同时也是让很多动物命丧黄泉的屠夫。(而且,他写道,“任何一个刚开始发表冗长演讲便挨了枪子,但无论如何都会把要说的话全说完的人,”就像1912年的罗斯福那样,“即便满身都是刀伤也可以强挺着捱过去,只要他认为自己是正确的,而其他人都错了。”)但他不愿把“三巨头”的其他两人排除在外:杰克逊——颇有希望成为“谋杀机器”的家伙;以及林肯——“一个知道如何格斗的大块头。”再说了,“谁会想要成为那个捅‘诚实的亚伯’(Honest Abe)一刀的人?”

Tippecanoe and Mutton Chops Too

蒂珀卡努和络腮胡

Here’s something they don’t teach you in school: Only 12 American presidents have had beards, mustaches or other notable facial manscaping. If you don’t believe me, believe Wikipedia, which devotes a page to the subject. Or better yet check out GQ’s “Official Power Ranking of American Presidential Facial Hair.

有些东西在学校里是学不到的:只有12名美国总统留有络腮胡、小胡子或者其他经过修剪且引人注目的面部毛发。你可能不信我,但总要信维基百科(Wikipedia)吧,它专门用一页的篇幅讲了这件事。你也可以去看《GQ》的“美国总统面部毛发官方实力排行榜”。

Lincoln is there, of course, though his “strictly chin-beard situation” keeps him in the middling ranks. So are Chester A. Arthur, hailed by GQ for “that absurdity going on on his jaw,” and Martin Van Buren, whose prodigious mutton chops — more of a side Mohawk, actually — made him “the Bernie Sanders of the 1800s.”

林肯当然位列其中,尽管“一丝不苟的山羊胡”只能让他居于中游。还有切斯特·A·阿瑟(Chester A Arthur)——他靠着“下颚处的一团乱麻”赢得了《GQ》的称赞;以及马丁·范布伦(Martin Van Buren),他那大片的络腮胡——其实很像莫霍克发型挪到了两侧——让他成为了“1800年代的伯尼·桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)”。

But GQ’s top marks go to Ulysses S. Grant: “Well-trimmed, yet not overly manicured, jawline? Check. Smattering of gray hairs, alluding to years spent on the battlefield reuniting a nation? Check. Slight hair wave, for added effect? Check.”

但在《GQ》的榜单上独占鳌头的是尤利塞斯·辛普森·格兰特(Ulysses Simpson Grant):“下颌轮廓经过精心打理但却不会显得过于刻意?没错。美髯泛起银霜,让人联想起他曾为美国的统一而征战多年?没错。胡须略有波浪,更具额外效果?没错。”

Drunk History?

酗酒史?

Trump has said he never drinks. How history will judge him for his abstinence remains to be seen, but until then, there are 43 other imbibers-in-chief to ponder. Which is exactly what the website VinePair has done.

特朗普说他从不喝酒。史料将如何评价他的这种节制目前尚不得而知,但在那之前先得对另外43位“贪杯总司令”详加考察。VinePair网站就这样做了。

The list puts Franklin Roosevelt on top, for repealing Prohibition (duh). Wilson is No. 2 — not because he vetoed the Volstead Act, but because he rode into office in 1912 on a campaign song borrowed from an insidiously infectious whiskey jingle. (And you thought “Fight Song” was bad.)

富兰克林·罗斯福在其榜单上名列第一,因为他废除了禁酒令(切)。威尔逊排名第二——不是因为他否决了《沃尔斯特德法案》(Volstead Act),而是因为他在1912年的总统选举中使用的竞选歌曲改编自一首会让人不知不觉中招的威士忌广告歌。(而你曾经以为《战斗之歌》[Fight Song]很糟糕。)

Obama, the sometime beer-summitteer, is at No. 5, thanks to his penchant for serving a special honey ale, fortified with nectar from the White House beehives, while the wily Lyndon B. Johnson is cited for liking his drink weaker than everyone else’s, to better outwit them. Rutherford B. Hayes is dead last, thanks to his habit of serving guests punch with rum flavoring instead of the real stuff.

有时会举办“啤酒峰会”的奥巴马排在第五位——因为他喜欢为客人奉上一种特别的蜂蜜啤酒,里边掺有白宫自产的蜂蜜。狡猾的林登·B·约翰逊(Lyndon B. Johnson)上榜的原因则是,他喜欢让自己的酒比别人的都淡,以便更好地以智取胜。拉瑟福德·B·海斯(Rutherford B. Hayes)排名垫底,因为他习惯于拿以兰姆酒口味的调味剂炮制的鸡尾酒招待客人,而不是给他们加上真东西。

Hayes was apparently deferring to his teetotaling wife, but what was Richard Nixon’s excuse? Nixon, a near-Jeffersonian oenophile, reportedly “hoarded $700 bottles of vino for himself and served cheap red to the guests.”

海斯似乎是在表达对他那滴酒不沾的妻子的尊重,但理查德·尼克松(Richard Nixon)又是怎么回事呢?据报道,作为一个几乎可以比肩杰弗逊的嗜酒者,他“为自己囤积的是每瓶价值700美元的佳酿,却用便宜的红葡萄酒招待客人。”

Sheer Badness

纯粹的恶

The day after the inauguration of Trump, millions of anxious Americans poured into the streets to protest what they saw as his incompetence and nefariousness. But Jeremy Derfner, a former doctoral candidate in history and freelance writer in Seattle, got cracking on something more productive: creating a website called Crummy Presidents. (OK, it’s actually called something stronger, but we must have respect for the office.)

特朗普就职次日,大批焦虑的美国人涌上街头参加抗议活动,因为在他们眼中他既无能又邪恶。但前历史学博士候选人、在西雅图做自由撰稿人的杰里米·德尔夫纳(Jeremy Derfner)做了件更有成效的事情:创办了一个名叫“疯狂总统” (Crummy Presidents)的网站。(好吧,它的名字其实更辣眼睛一些,但我们必须对这一职务表示出尊重)。

The idea is to write one entry a week, covering all the presidents, focusing on parallels between Trump’s missteps and outrages, as Derfner sees it, and those of his predecessors. “Presidents stink,” Derfner said in a telephone interview, again using a saltier term. “It’s this unique office that people come into with no experience by definition doing it. What I’m finding out is that almost all of them are terrible at the start.”

其构想是,每周写一篇帖子,把所有总统都写个遍,重点是找出德尔夫纳眼中的特朗普的失误和恶行,与此前历任总统的失误和恶行有哪些相似之处。“总统们令人生厌,”德尔夫纳接受电话采访时其实使用了一个更为尖刻的说法。“这是一个独一无二的职务,人们上任时通常没有任何这方面的经验。我发现,几乎是他们所有人一开始都很糟糕。”

The first entry was for Grover Cleveland, whose taste for “tuzzy-muzzy” or “crinkum crankum,” as the Victorians put it, makes Trump’s locker-room talk look tame. (Cleveland “is lucky they hadn’t invented the hot mic in 1884,” Derfner writes.) The anti-immigrant Coolidge is chided for trying “to flash-freeze the ethnic composition of the country,” while the sainted Dwight Eisenhower (No. 5 per C-SPAN) is described as presiding over the moment “when our health system learned its neat trick of costing twice as much to give care that’s half as good.”

第一篇帖子写的是格罗弗·克利夫兰(Grover Cleveland),他对“花环”或如维多利亚时代的人们所言的“盘曲有趣之物”的爱好————让特朗普的更衣室谈话显得平淡无奇。(克利夫兰“很幸运,因为他们在1884年还没有搞出开着的话筒”,德尔夫纳写道。)反移民的柯立芝(Coolidge)因为试图“迅速固化这个国家的种族构成”而遭到指责。德高望重的德怀特·艾森豪威尔(Dwight Eisenhower,在C-SPAN的榜单上排名第五),则被指一手造就了这样一个时代:“我们的医疗保健体系学会了花两倍的钱,提供只有原来一半好的医疗服务的花招。”

Derfner is looking forward to lighting into some real baddies, like Andrew Johnson (second to last in the C-SPAN rankings), who in addition to bungling the aftermath of the Civil War held a disastrous round of rallies, called the Swing Around the Square, that helped lead to his impeachment. “He was drunk half the time, and a raving lunatic,” he said.

德尔夫纳期待痛批某些真正的坏家伙,比如安德鲁·约翰逊(Andrew Johnson,在C-SPAN的榜单上排名倒数第二),除了没能做好南北战争善后工作,还搞了一波灾难性的集会活动,名为“巡回政治演讲”(Swing Around the Square),这是导致其遭到弹劾的一个因素。“他有一半的时间都醉醺醺的,是个狂热的疯子,”他说。

Derfner said he wasn’t looking forward to finding mean things to say about George Washington. But the real challenge may be the mere mediocrities. “I mean, what did Millard Fillmore even do?” he said. “I’m going to have to do a lot of research.”

德尔夫纳说自己并未盼着揭乔治·华盛顿的短处、说他的坏话。真正的挑战或许在于那些较为平庸的总统。“我的意思是,米勒德·菲尔莫尔(Millard Fillmore)到底做过什么?”他说。“我必须得做大量研究工作。”

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