Another interesting bit of Daniel Pearlstein’s Nixonland (previously mentioned in the Up With People post) is its account of George Wallace’s presidential third-party run in 1968. Wallace, the ultimate uber-racist, narrowed down his vice president list to three possible candidates, whom together must constitute the ultimate rogues gallery of American politicians:
Choice 1: Curtis LeMay, the inspiration for the mad general character in Dr. Strangelove. LeMay wound up being the eventual VEEP pick and instantly torpedoed the entire Wallace For President campaign by happily telling news corps that he would nuke Vietnam without hesitation.
Choice 2: J. Edgar Hoover. Yes, the same man who as FBI Director tried to blackmail Martin Luther King into committing suicide.
Choice 3: Harlan Sanders, aka Colonel Sanders, the great purveyor of fried chicken!
It’s a bit surprising to find out that the iconic Colonel Sanders was a real person in the first place– it would be like discovering that Ronald McDonald had actually been a key harlequin entertainer in Queen Victoria’s court. Stranger still to imagine that the Colonel could have wound up a proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency. I imagine him wielding his influence to insure that the infamous Cluck would be served as part of public school lunch programs. Harlan Sanders also gets a interesting bio treatment in Fast Food Nation, where we learn that he was a two-bit huckster for most of his life before rising to prominence in his later years (indeed, he was 78 years of age when Wallace considered picking him as his running mate).
Most endearingly, he apparently struggled his entire life with a determination to stop swearing. I love this image, for some reason.