When I was a kid, I liked Cracked magazine almost as much as I liked Mad. Both had good satire and just plain funny articles and comics.
In the Internet age, Cracked has evolved to be less cartoony and more amusing for other reasons, with a different sense of humor. One thing they do, is encourage their readers to create meme-like images with either creative use of photoshop or interesting facts and factoids.
They recently shared a “photoplasty” article from a couple of years ago on their Facebook page, filled with examples of coincidences that could make you believe in a curse. It included Tecumseh’s curse (presidents dying in office after having been elected in a year ending in zero), the Kennedy curse (multiple members of the family dying young, tragically), and various sports curses (Babe Ruth for the Red Sox, the goat for the Cubs, and Philadelphia’s William Penn curse that covered all four sports teams).
Two items in the article stand out for their particular inanity. First was the observation that multiple members of the Hemingway family committed suicide. I wouldn’t call that so much a curse as treating this as one item of evidence that mental illness can run in families.
Then there’s this one:
Seems impressive, doesn’t it? Until you actually break it down. Let’s start with the close relative portion. That would really only apply to two unsuccessful candidates in the time period provided: Adlai Stevenson and Al Gore. (The latter of whom also served as Vice President and senator so we don’t really need to include him here.). I guess FDR wasn’t close enough to his cousin Theodore Roosevelt to qualify.
Since the end of the Civil War, there have been only nine unique presidents from the Democratic Party. Now take a look at the wording here. “Without having been president”. While on its surface, this would exclude re-elections to a second (or in FDR’s case, a third or fourth term), but it also has the added bonus of excluding both Harry Truman and LBJ, both of whom served full terms in the Senate before being picked for Vice President by a president who would go on to die in office.
That leaves us with seven presidents. Six if you factor out JFK as mentioned in the image. Of those six, we have Barack Obama, who was elected president before he completed his first term in the Senate, and five people who were previously governors. (Cleveland and FDR were both governor of New York, Wilson was governor of New Jersey, Carter was governor of Georgia, and Clinton was governor of Arkansas)
The simple truth is that state governorships are an extremely common springboard to the presidency. The losing democratic candidates since the Civil War came from governorships too. And the senate. And the house. And the military.
Since that article first appeared, Joe Biden announced that he won’t run for president in 2016. I’m not saying that Hilary has nothing to fear in her candidacy right now, but she certainly doesn’t have to fear this completely meaningless “curse”.