Saturday, September 12, 2009

Franklin Pierce's Miserable Legacy Celebrated in Song

Fellow Franklin Pierce aficionado David Holzel has shared with the editorial staff of this blog (me, myself, and I) the breaking news that Handsome Frank is prominently featured in a song slated for release in November of 2009. That's right, Handsome Frank fans--singer-songwriter Christine Lavin has penned a paean to the current White House occupants titled "Attractive Stupid People." Lest stunned supporters of the 44th President start running their Priuses (or is that Prii?) into bridge abutments when they hear this news, let me hasten to add that the song mentions the Obamas only briefly as pretty people with brains, as opposed to the likes of the 14th President, who skated into office on good looks and charm. The song, not surprisingly, was composed after the writer heard Sarah Palin speak.

I never thought I would hear the phrase "Ostend Manifesto" in a contemporary song, or a song of any kind, for that matter. Yet there it is in Ms. Lavin's catchy little ditty, which is available for preview at her web site. She is to be congratulated for historical accuracy. Not only did she avoid the pitfall of believing that Franklin Pierce ran over a woman during his presidency, she went so far as to go beyond the internet for fact-checking. Writing in the Sunday Washington Post, Gene Weingarten explains how Ms. Lavin asked him whether Pierce had actually signed the Ostend Manifesto (a scheme cooked up for taking over Cuba put together by Pierce's subordinates), and how Mr. Weingarten earned credit for co-writing "Attractive Stupid People" when he suggested the final verse to Ms. Lavin. The complete article, "Lyrical Miracle," is quite entertaining and is available online.