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Best of Mark Pilarski
Different political figures have come out of nowhere to either run for, or become president. What are the odds of any American becoming president of the United States? Do you wish to share with us whom you will be voting for in 2000? Megan R.
I actually received this e-mail from Megan in 1999, and although I responded privately to her, there is a reason for the five-year delay in getting the answer into print.
As to Megan's question, a Google search of life's facts and stats, brings up a number of web sites stating that the odds of becoming President at 10,000,000 to one. You can improve those odds if you are a Union general from Ohio-five such went on to become President. A better chance of becoming President comes with the name James, six of whom went on to become President. Odds improve if you were born in a log cabin, as eight Presidents were born in timber dwellings. If you hold the second highest office, you have the best chance of becoming President, as 14 Veeps have done just that.
But I think the odds are a tougher beat than the 10,000,000 to one that I found popping up here and there on the internet, and here's my reasoning why even Megan's chances for being President are so slim. There are over 280 million citizens in the United States, and only one is President at any given time (for which we can all give thanks). If all the Presidents during Megan's lifetime served only one four-year term, and her actuarial life expectancy being 80 years, then in her natural life, among those eligible to become President (over 35) there is likely to be 11 different Presidents. Therefore, if equal opportunity exists for Megan (does it? really?), the odds of her becoming President are at best 25 million to one.
Still, even with those long odds there is yet another possibility. The prospect of those individuals we meet in our lifetime who we feel, could be, and should be, residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With these citizens, I say, the odds may drop down to one in a 1,000. I have met two couldn't-miss possibilities.
The first is US Army Captain Darren Moniot, who is currently deployed in Iraq. Though he has never spoken of presidential ambitions (I figure that once he leaves his Middle East sandbox he'll ski bum for a while), I have known him since he was seven, and believe me, he has the right stuff, especially against today's standards. Besides, the ski bum livelihood worked for Howard Dean. Though falling short of becoming President, after his dishwashing Aspen hiatus, he did become a three-term Vermont governor.
My second person did have political aspirations, declaring many times in locker room banter that he would be President in 2004. This individual, Skip Miller, was a swimmer from an archrival high school in Detroit (Skip, Redford, myself, Henry Ford), and was the most outstanding high school student that I have ever met. I would need an additional 10,000 words to describe Skip, but suffice it to say, like Darren Moniot, he had all the attributes at 18 that so many highly visible politicians lack today-leadership, character, energy, strength, spirit and courage.
Regrettably, I lost track of Skip after high school, but one day I received some mail from a friend with a newspaper clipping from The Detroit News. While on a summer job before entering law school, Skip had a seizure fell from the salmon tender "Le Conte", sinking quickly with no chance of rescue and drowned August 10, 1979. I was just flabbergasted. Not Skip. Not the guy I promised in 1972 that I would vote for President in 2004. Therefore, Megan, since you asked, when I cast my ballot on November 2nd, I will be writing in Skip Miller for President.
Now before all you volunteer statisculaters fill my mailbag with rants that I'm throwing away my vote, I do not live in a battleground state within the margin of litigation, and, forget not the Show Me folks of Missouri, when they posthumously elected Gov. Mel Carnahan to the senate. I have waited 32 years since Skip last whipped my behind in the 100-yard breaststroke to cast a vote for him, so, friends, it's Miller Time.
Gambling quote of the week: Skip Miller crewed a lightweight eight
at the University of Washington, and I did find one quote attributed to him
on an internet site for rowing. "We told the local pub, where we have been
rationed to one pint of beer a night, that if we won today we'd be back for
five or six pints tonight." Skip Miller