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Pirates, and the Eternal Sea.

Blackbeard for President

 

Blackbeard was the consummate politician, blending guile, skill, and leadership

Blackbeard was the consummate politician, blending guile, skill, and leadership

I have a bumper sticker with a skull and crossbones on it. The skull is wearing an eyepatch, smiling no doubt because of the bright red bandana it’s sporting. Underneath it reads: “Put a Real Pirate in Office. Jimmy Buffett for President.”

I think Jimmy is having way too much fun to be tricked into running for president, but of all the pirates I’ve known, Blackbeard would make a terrific president. It’s hard to think of a more presidential candidate than Edward Thatch. That’s his baptismal name. Yes, even the parents of buccaneers have high expectations for their offspring.

Of course, I can hear your comments now. He doesn’t look anything like a president. Look at all that hair! And that beard!  Have you lost your mind? As a matter of fact, I have, but my wife has gotten used to it. Did you know we had quite a number of presidents who were no slackers in the hair and beard department? Abe Lincoln, of course, being one of the greatest.

It may interest you to know the last time we had a president with a full blown beard was President Rutherford Hayes, twenty-third president who served from 1877 to 1881. He could have passed as Blackbeard’s double though I don’t think Blackbeard would have approved of him as president. At his wife’s urging, he banished wine and liquor from the White House. That’s not the sort of thing a president with pirate tendencies does.

In case you haven’t noticed, Donald Trump is no slouch in the hair department though he would probably garner a bit more respect if he let it go pure white instead of using something on it that looks like dog pee. His hair dresser should tell him white hair implies age and wisdom.

As for Blackbeard, he was a dedicated pragmatist who knew exactly how to utilize his hair and beard. He used to weave fuses in his beard then light them during battle to intimidate his opponents. Imagine how frightening he would appear before a joint session of Congress or in a tense meeting with Vladimir Putin when suddenly smoke belched from his head, his black penetrating eyes boring a hole in your soul.

But it takes more than hair to be a leader. When you’re the leader of a pirate ship, you need three things: an ability to take control, a knowledge of people, and a thorough understanding of your profession. Blackbeard had these in aces.

However, like every politician, he held his position using guile, though his strong pirate persona would certainly give him an edge over whining tea partyers. He once blew the candle out in his cabin while drinking with a few of his crew. Suddenly, he picked up his pistols and fired them underneath the table, laming one person. When asked why he did it, he answered: “Got to show ‘em who’s boss once in a while.”

I think that would work well when a pirate president runs into a congress like we’ve had for what seems an eternity. After all, if pirates pulled off the crap that our senators and congressmen have, they’d never leave port. Pirates unlike most members of Congress today knew if you wanted to get things done… if you wanted booty, rum, and wenches then you had to compromise; you couldn’t sit on the deck and whine about having everything your way: “I don’t want to go to Africa; I don’t think we should take that prize; how come I don’t ever get first choice of captured guns. Blah! Blah! Blah!”

What I most admire about Blackbeard is his ability to command respect on both his ship and others. There has never been a recorded incident of Blackbeard having killed anyone, yet when he pulled his pirate ship up to a fancy yacht, he met no resistance. The captain and his men took one look at the Jolly Roger flying from the mast, and one look at Blackbeard snarling “Arrrgh” and they surrendered.

Imagine Blackbeard using a similar technique today. Grid lock in Congress? Gone! Feet dragging from the right wing? Gone! No I mean it! Both feet gone!!! Give-Away programs from the far left? Not if Blackbeard and his crew had anything to say about it. Booty on a pirate ship was meant to be earned. If you didn’t risk your balls loading the cannons, you didn’t get a share of the booty. If you weren’t swarming over the enemy’s deck with an upraised cutlass, you weren’t getting squat. No give-away programs for slackers on a pirate ship.

Before I hear from all you Bernie Sanders supporters, let me explain. Most pirates weren’t the insensitive brutes history has portrayed them to be. Some were worse, but they were the exception. Given the chance, most pirates would no doubt weep at the tenderest moments in Hallmark’s girlie flicks. To prove my point, did you know that if you lost an arm or a leg or even a finger on a pirate ship. you were compensated for it? And instead of kicking you off the ship because you only had one arm or leg, you were promoted to cook. That’s pretty good for a bunch of men accused of being blood thirsty, rum-swilling cutthroats.

A caveat to the swine who always have their heads in the trough. All booty on a pirate ship got divided evenly. No one got more than their fair share. Captains, quartermasters, carpenters, navigators, doctors got a half or full share extra because of their expertise. But that was it. Not one extra doubloon for the Wall Streeters and bankers. Dip your greedy little fingers into that pot and try to take one extra piece of eight, and you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate the meaning of misery as you sit  marooned on a sandy spit, your sole possessions a bottle of Perrier water, a pistol, and one shot. No semi-automatics here and no apologies to members of the NRA.

There’s no arrrguing that Blackbeard would make a great presidential candidate. Like Bernie Sanders he’s feisty. Like Hillary he’s wise in the ways of the world and politics, and unlike Donald Trump, he knows how to make good use of his hair.

Blackbeard for President. It has a nice ring to it. And if things don’t work out, who knows maybe Jimmy Buffett would agree to accept the keys to the White House in between playing gigs and washing down the Caribbean sun with rum and Margaritas. Hey, we can’t all be Rutherford Hayes!

What about you? Would you have voted for Blackbeard if you were on his ship? Let’s hope the next president has the wisdom, courage, and pirate persona to keep this country from sinking. The hair will be a bonus.

               Bill Hegerich

                The Uncommon Mariner

 

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