GREAT AMERICANS….Stephen Bainbridge is unhappy with the Discovery Channel’s “Greatest Americans” show, which follows cheerfully in the populist call-in tradition of both the BBC’s “Greatest Britons” show and the CBC’s “Greatest Canadians” show, previously blogged in this space. The complete list of 100 nominations is below the fold.
All the expected atrocities are on the list, plus some unexpected super-duper atrocities. Prof B ably points them out and adds some of the more obvious omissions (along with a few atrocities of his own, I might add). Some miscellaneous observations:
Albert Einstein? Sure, he became a U.S. citizen late in life, but he’s no more a “Greatest American” than Alexander Graham Bell was a “Greatest Canadian.” Come on, guys.
B is unhappy with the inclusion of Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan among the nominees, but I don’t see why. If you accept that sporting figures belong on the list at all, Babe Ruth certainly deserves to be there, and probably Michael Jordan too. If anything, the list is surprisingly free of sports stars. No Dale Earnhardt!
Who’s the least deserving person on the list? Needless to say, it’s a tough call, but I think I’ll go with Dr. Phil. This is likely to be a very hard fought contest, so place your vote in comments soon.
Even though the list is a popularity contest, I’m surprised at the literary omissions. Mark Twain is there, but that’s it. No Hemingway, no Faulkner, no Steinbeck, no Poe, no Hawthorne, no Cather, no Cooper. Hell, doesn’t anybody play Authors anymore?
No other artists either, except for contemporary movie stars and rock singers. No Whistler, no Armstrong, no Joplin, no Stuart, no Gershwin, no Warhol, no Wright, no Griffith, etc. etc.
OK, that’s enough griping. Comments are open for your vote in the “Least Deserving” category, as well as whatever personal griping happens to seize you. There will be a special award for the funniest comment.
Alexander Graham Bell
Bill Cosby (William Henry Cosby, Jr.)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Washington Carver
Harriet Ross Tubman
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jackie Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
John F. Kennedy
Johnny Carson (John William Carson)
Jonas Edward Salk
Joseph Smith Jr.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Madonna (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone)
Malcolm X (Malcolm Little)
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)
Neil Alden Armstrong
Dr. Phil McGraw
Rudolph W. Giuliani
Susan B. Anthony
Wright Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright)