Tuesday, February 19

In the Line of Fire - A Short Story


On this day (-4) in 1933, a man set out to change history. Now, I know it is hard for you to believe but this guy almost succeeded. Even harder for you to believe this guy was a…..well…..what they used to call a psychopathic malcontent. Now, living in the calm and peace of America in these times you probably wonder what a psychopathic malcontent might be.

Well, in this case, he was altitudinally challenged (4' 10"), authoritatively alienated (his father hit him once), stress raged (his stomach hurt and he threw up occasionally). Not having the opportunity to appear on a talk show he decided the only chance he had to resolve his problems was to kill somebody important.

So, in his late teens, in his native Italy, he decided to kill the King (Victor Emmanuell II). When he discovered the King lived too far away to commute on a donkey, he changed plans.

Eventually, he came to the U.S. Upon arriving in the U.S., he decided to kill the sitting President Calvin Coolidge. But ...lacking a donkey to reach the Prez…..he gave up on the idea. He spent several years pacing about in smoldering hostility. (Remember....no TV talk show outlets.) Then he resolved to kill President Hoover…..until he heard it was cold and snowy in Washington D.C.

Then it all came together. He learned that the President-elect (FDR) was to speak in Miami (rather close to home). So, on this day, he bought a gun and went out to become famous. Much to his surprise he discovered many people had come out to see the President-elect. Now if you are 4' 10", it is not only difficult to shoot the President in a crowd of thousands…..it's difficult even to see him. So, the would-be assassin pushed his way through the human sequoias, jumped up on a chair and started firing. He missed FDR completely but fatally wounded the Mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak who was travelling with FDR.

The tiny terrorist, Guiseppe Zangara, was arrested on the spot. Within 33 days, he was arraigned, indicted, convicted and electrocuted. (Of course that was before the Patriot Act.)

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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