Tag Archives: cold war

More president crap – part 11

Honestly I’m growing weary of this.  Not of the project in general, but making my way through every single president.  I am eager to do my analysis.  I’ve always been more of a fan of compiling results vs. the data collection process.  So, I shall soldier on, but I may be a little less verbose for these last few presidents.  I’m still going to do all the reading that I’ve been doing, but I am not sure I have the energy to type as much of my thought process out.

#36 — Lyndon B. Johnson.  LBJ made his career in Congress.  First he was a Representative, then a Senator.  I’m inclined, however, to give him credit for executive experience because for eight years, he was either the Minority Leader or Majority Leader in the Senate.  Hmmm.  You know, I’m guessing Sarah Palin wouldn’t consider Nancy Pelosi to have ‘executive experience’ because even though she’s leading the Senate, she’s still ‘just’ a legislator.  So we’ll say LBJ doesn’t have executive experience.  Now was he a good president?  Again, I’m torn.  From everything I’ve read about him, he was a complete dick.  I heard a story once where he had to relieve himself while outside with his Secret Service agents, so he walked over and started pissing on one of their legs.  The agent said, “Mr. President, you’re urinating on me” and LBJ replied, “I know I am.”   Nice!   Then there’s also the whole issue of the Vietnam War and the 58,000  American soldiers who died in the conflict, not to mention the countless Vietnamese, estimated to be in the millions.  On the other side of the coin, though, he did some phenomenal things domestically, many a continuation and building upon FDR’s New Deal programs through LBJ’s “Great Society” initiatives.  My knee-jerk reaction is to say he wasn’t a good president because of the Vietnam War, but further contemplation has my respect for his domestic accomplishments dominating.  So… EE: no; Good: yes.

#37 – Richard Nixon.  Nixon’s political experience was, like Johnson, garnered mostly in Congress.  Nixon is another of those conundrum presidents.  His domestic and foreign policies and accomplishments were consistently pretty awesome.  But then there’s that whole crazy paranoid Watergate stuff.  My inclination is to say as a president he was pretty great, but as a man he was pretty messed up… so that he accomplished all he did in spite of his own personal faults is more astounding.  So, I’m going to say…. EE: no; good: yes.

#38 – Gerald Ford.  Ford’s political career was again mostly in Congress.  Notably, he was a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the Kennedy assassination.  Ford was viewed as a decent, noble man that brought honor back to the White House after the Watergate scandal.  Beyond that, however, his presidency was mediocre.  He flip-flopped on a number of major issues, and he had a hard time coming up with any solution at all to other issues, such as the country’s economic downturn.  So… EE: no; Good: no.

#39 – Jimmy Carter.  Carter was the governor of Georgia (the state, not The Republic Of) before becoming president.  He also ran his family’s peanut business for a time and was quite successful.  Carter was nearly iconic in his ability to help negotiate peace between other countries (a role emulated by every president since) but in most other areas, his presidency was lacking.  He has had an exemplary and distinguished post-presidency and has since won the Nobel Peace Prize, but his presidency in and of itself was mostly a bust.  So… EE: yes; Good: no.

#40 – Ronald Reagan.  Reagan was governor of California before becoming president.  He also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.  I don’t personally agree with a lot of Reagan’s politics and stances, but there’s no denying he was a charismatic leader who was well-loved and maintained good relationships with a number of world leaders, as well as helping to bring about the end of the Cold War.  His presidency was tainted with a few issues, such as the Iran-Contra affair and his “Reaganomics” ballooning the national debt, overall I think we can say he was a pretty decent president.  So… EE: yes; Good: yes.

#41 – George H. W. Bush.  Bush 41 started his own oil company.  He served as the US Ambassador to the UN, and Director of the CIA.  I’ll give him executive experience credit for these items off his resume, but overall his experiences in both domestic and foreign affair roles may make him one of the most qualified presidents ever elected.  I think overall his presidency was a success.  He had moderate success with policies domestically, and resoundingly great successes in foreign affairs.  I think he mostly failed to gain reelection because of breaking his “no new taxes” promise and then running a lackluster reelection campaign.  So… EE: yes; Good: yes.

#42:  Bill Clinton.  Clinton spent nearly 12 years as the governor of Arkansas.  Clinton’s a rough one for me.  I really, really like him.  I think he’s a righteous dude.  But I’m really undecided right now.  He had some great successes under his watch — a strong economy, federal budget surpluses, achievements in economic globalization, interceding in the Balkans, and intervening in the potential currency collapses in Mexico and Asia.  But then there’s the stuff he didn’t do… health care, intervening in the Rwandan genocide, and the pesky question of whether or not he had sexual relations with that woman and all the hoopla and baggage and general disgrace that came with impeachment, in addition to the question of what he could have accomplished but didn’t while he was busy dealing with the impeachment proceedings.  I’m inclined to give him the thumbs up… after all, I gave Nixon props.  So… EE: yes; Good: yes.

#43 – George W. Bush.  Bush 43 was governor of Texas, and before that founded and served as chairman of an oil company, and was also a managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.  I know there are people that love him, but there is no way in hell I’m saying GWB has been a good president.  I think the Iraq war was completely unfounded, I completely disagree with the Bush Doctrine of preemptive striking a country who we think might try to get us first, and I am appalled by the erosion of freedoms we as a people have faced under his watch.  I applaud his intentions with No Child Left Behind but fault him for failing to properly fund it.  And, seriously, I just don’t see him as a very smart man.  So… EE: yes; good: no.

WHEW!!!  All done!  Now, on to compiling the results and seeing what we’ve got here.  Here comes the fun part.  Yay!!

Executive experience makes a good president? Part 10

#33 – Harry S. Truman.  Truman gained the majority of his political experience as a U.S. Senator, representing his home state of Missouri.  When he left office, he had an abysmal approval rating (lower than Nixon’s right after the Watergate scandal broke).  His presidency contained a number of controversial moves and decisions: the dropping of the atomic bomb, the Korean War, the support of the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, his dismissal of General MacArthur, and his weak response to Sen. McCarthy’s efforts to press the Communist panic button all give fodder to historians and make Truman’s presidency quite controversial.  However, despite these things, he is regularly ranked in the top ten of greatest presidents, and he made a number of significant contributions, including but not limited to expanding civil rights, expanding social welfare programs, his successful handling of the Soviet union post-WWII, and the successful transitioning of the U.S. from a time of war to a time of peace.  Therefore, I say… EE: no; Good: yes.

#34: Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Eisenhower was a four-star general and war hero during WWII.  After the war he served as president of Columbia University, and for a couple years before being elected president he was commander of the European NATO forces.  So, definitely executive experience.  Eisenhower’s presidency was mediocre at best.  While he presided over a peaceful time in America’s history, he left to his successor a raging Cold War and no test-ban treaty to end the testing of nuclear weapons.  While he did have a hand in finally ending the reign of persecution of Eugene McCarthy, he still sat idly by for years while McCarthy abused his power and conducted the most notorious witch hunt of the 20th century.  In matters of civil rights, it has been argued by Eisenhower’s main biographer, Stephen Ambrose, that Eisenhower wasn’t a ” …reluctant leader — he was no leader at all.”  In short, Ike’s presidency was largely characterized by his willingness to do nothing.  It kept us out of wars, to be sure, but it created and prolonged many more problems.  So… EE: yes; Good: no.

#35 — John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy’s political experience was in Congress, first as a Representative and then as a Senator from the state of Massachusetts.   Kennedy’s presidency has been the subject of mixed reviews… he made lots of aspirational speeches and promises, but his assassination deprived him of the time necessary to follow through.  Though his presidency was relatively short at just under three years, it contained a couple big failures, such as the Bay of Pigs, and a couple of pretty good successes, such as a test ban treaty and the formation of the Peace Corps.  Regardless, Kennedy is often ranked as a top-five president, most likely because of the strength of his leadership and charisma, and the inspirational nature of his words.  So, let’s say… EE: no; Good: yes.

Less than ten to go!  Oh I can nearly taste the finish.  Later!