A Tale of Two Ex-Presidents

ONCE there were two retired presidents of a rich and powerful nation. The first was a man of humble origins who had built his political reputation as a state governor, then come to Washington as an outsider to oust an incumbent from the White House.

But he had a rough time there. He tried to manage everything. He worried a lot and told Americans things were not so good. For fun, he ran long distances and grimaced. When it got cold, he put on another sweater. Even though he helped find a way to peace in a troubled part of the world, voters chucked him out of office after one term.

The second man was also of humble origins, built his reputation as a governor, and came to Washington as an outsider.

He left the management of government to others. For fun he had friends over to watch movies and eat popcorn. When it got cold, he went to the sun. He told Americans things were terrific. Even when the ``experts'' and pundits pointed out his mistakes, the people who count most - the voters - loved him. He served two full terms and left office as popular as when he'd ousted the first man.

So whatever happened to the two ex-presidents?

The first went back home to work on his library and organize conferences to talk about serious things. He traveled to Central America to oversee an election and observe the skulduggery and thuggery there, which he reported in detail to the leaders now in charge of foreign policy. In his spare time, he helped poor people build homes, and he urged others to do the same.

The second man went back to a $2.5 million mansion in the sun. When he wasn't working on his memoirs, for which he will receive an estimated $5 million, he gave $50,000 speeches. His travel plans include a trip to the Far East, where he will be paid $2 million by a corporate sponsor for speaking and taking part in ceremonies.

The moral of the story: It's possible to rise from humble origins to become President of the United States. Then retire to do good ... and to do well.

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