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Making The Grade 2007

George W. Bush, in my opinion, has done a fine job as President, certainly top ten in terms of meeting his duties of the office and accomplishing the most important jobs. Some folks would agree with me, though to a different degree, while others would disagree with me. And some brain-dead vipers would be so consumed by their hatred of Dubya, that they would be unable to accept even the slightest of his successes.

Why mention this? Those people who have known me for years, know that every so often I like to compare Presidents in ranks, usually by a form of competition. And as the NCAA Basketball Tournaments wind down, my mind has once again found itself pondering POTUS match-ups. I do not intend to inflict that condition on anyone unasked, which is to say I will have the competition up on Stolen Thunder later this spring, but for now I am simply asking the reader, once again, to consider what it is that makes a President a failure or success.

The test is not one of popularity. I like whom I like, but that proves nothing in any objective sense. And it should be obvious that politicians in general seek to do what will make them popular, which is one serious reason why significant challenges go unanswered for so long - it takes real guts to try to address what has no easy answer, what does not promise immediate rewards, and which can usually only succeed where the leader in charge is selfless and humble to a degree scarcely found in people who run for elected office.

I would also say that accomplishments are not of even weight. A good President will understand that what solves the day's problems is not as good an answer as one which solves threats to the generation. This is one reason why Reagan is properly acknowledged as so much greater a President than many who came before him; his actions - though controversial at the time - strengthened America and advanced her interests far beyond the moment. This is also why Clinton's legacy will stand against him - he sought what worked for the season, never considering long-term effects of his decisions.

What I am throwing out for today, is discussion about which five Presidents you think have done the best job (let's leave off failures for this discussion) and why, and then note which people today seem to have the most qualities in common with the great Presidents. If you see no such contender worthy of comparison, please note what you think might be useful in bringing such a person to consideration. This could be a useful tool is helping filter the dreck from the quality candidate, and less than a year from the primaries, such an exercise could be vital for both parties.

UPDATE - I would remind the readers that this article is an attempt to explore the characteristics of successful Presidents, and which present-day contenders might show similar qualities, of any party. This is NOT a thread for insults and smear attempts, and any such comments will be deleted as soon as I see them, regardless of the target. Keep it positive, or expect to be wiped.

I repeat; you are entitled to support anyone you like, for any positive reason, but trash comments will be removed.


Comments (35)

Reagan-ThompsonRoose... (Below threshold)
kim:

Reagan-Thompson
Roosevelt-Bush
Wilson-Giuliani
Kennedy-Romney
Truman-Dole

but it's early.
==========

One of them went with Linco... (Below threshold)
kim:

One of them went with Lincoln, but now I've forgotten which.
======================================

Oh, yeah, Jeb Bush.=... (Below threshold)
kim:

Oh, yeah, Jeb Bush.
============

Or sons.=====... (Below threshold)
kim:

Or sons.
=====

kim, I want to be specific.... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

kim, I want to be specific.

Did you mean FDR or Teddy for 'Roosevelt'?

For "Bush" did you mean Jeb, Neal, or do you think GHW will run again?

For "Dole", do you mean Elizabeth Dole will run?

Come, come, come. I see wh... (Below threshold)
kim:

Come, come, come. I see why you didn't understand I meant Dubya, but fairly obviously I meant Franklin, not Teddy; I meant Bob, but if you have to explain it, it's not funny.
Sorry for wasting the bandwidth.
============

Washington- PaulJeff... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Washington- Paul
Jefferson- Paul
Cleveland- Paul
Jackson- Tancredo
T Roosevelt- Tancredo

Actually Kim, it was not ob... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Actually Kim, it was not obvious to me, that's why I asked.

And you're only 'wasting bandwidth' if your name is Gore or Huffington.

And sorry I didn't read the... (Below threshold)
kim:

And sorry I didn't read the qualification 'contender' or potential contender.
===========================

NOWTHATSFUNNY//////////////... (Below threshold)
kim:

NOWTHATSFUNNY////////////////////
=====================

... and Kim, Bryan, what qu... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

... and Kim, Bryan, what qualities put those people at the top of your list(s)?

Which Thompson did Kim mean... (Below threshold)

Which Thompson did Kim mean? Fred to Tommy, I'd assume Fred.

Ambiguitee,Is my Ali... (Below threshold)
kim:

Ambiguitee,
Is my Ali.
==========

Honestly, dj, I see the con... (Below threshold)
kim:

Honestly, dj, I see the connections, it's hard to explain 'em.
====================================

Washington -no oneJe... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Washington -no one
Jefferson - no one
Lincoln - no one
F. Roosevelt - no one
Reagan - no one

A sad commentary on the sad sack(s) who aspire to lead us.

Yeah, Fred would take the S... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Yeah, Fred would take the South in a sweep just reciting some of his movie lines in speeches, especially the 'Russkie dump' (cf 'Hunt For Red October') amd 'Come to Jesus' (cf 'Flight of the Intruder') classics.

My responses were framed mo... (Below threshold)
kim:

My responses were framed more by the geopolitical and historical situations in which my pairings were acting. It wasn't so much about the personal characteristics of the actors.
===============================

Let's see, Giuliani was an ... (Below threshold)
Kim:

Let's see, Giuliani was an out of control prosecutor like Fitzgerald; which Prez fits them? Obama's as naive and compelling as Jimmuh. Romney is every moderate's dream except for that theocrat in Utah; Kennedy's was in Rome. McCain, he's so vain, he's like Clinton, but I wouldn't call Clinton successful. Dean is Biden his time like so many past never were Presidents. Webb's contradictions never bothered any successful President. I see no modern parallel to Washington or Jefferson; the times and the needs are too different. Lincoln? Good question.

Monroe? Bush to be.
===================

DJ, Reform is Good. My cand... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

DJ, Reform is Good. My candidates are reform-minded, and my top 5 presidents were each reformers in their own time and mindful of the constitution. (Well, Jackson wasn't quite so, and the collaboration with the State of Georgia viz. the Indian Removal Act was a black mark; however, his titanic struggle with Biddle and the Bank of the United States- which he blamed for that assassination attempt against him- puts him over the top as a People Power Paragon. And by People, I mean Constitution vs. private banking control of currency, ie. BoUS, Federal Reserve System)

In that context, your list ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

In that context, your list is consistent Bryan, except I don't see Washington as a 'reformer'.

What about Paul or Tancredo make them reformers, do you think?

Also, I am curious as to just how we would replace the Fed in our current condition. I do not see the Federal Reserve as the same thing as a 'Bank of the United States', but I do agree that it has far more control than most people seem to recognize.

George WashingtonTho... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Woodrow Wilson
Dwight Eisenhower
Ronald Reagan

[ edited to remove insults - stay positive, please ]

Rudy probably has the determination to be Reagan-esque in the fight against Islamofascism. Otherwise, there's not a dog in the hunt for '08 that strikes me as a potentially great leader. Of course, greatness has a way of thrusting itself upon the POTUS.

I'd have a three-way dead h... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

I'd have a three-way dead heat at the top between Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR. The thing they all have in common is how their words and deeds shaped, or re-shaped the nation. And there isn't anybody today who comes close to any of them. BTW, all three of these men are controversial, and that speaks to their greatness since those who are successful at great changes always inspire the wrath of those who benefited from the status quo.

The confusion which seems t... (Below threshold)
Kitty Crouch:

The confusion which seems to exist concerning charisma versus character leads to flawed assessments of presidential greatness.
Washington had both. In my view FDR had only personal magnetism going for him [ edited - please stay positive ].
Reagan had both qualities.
GWB has more character than charisma, but in person his magnetism is considerable. I think he has been steadfast and admirable. May the historians treat him fairly.

I decided to only include p... (Below threshold)
crazylibs:

I decided to only include presidents elected after 1900 or no president in the last 100 years would have made it. Kennedy was the only person on my list i compared to anyone. Not to say there are not some decent leaders out ther e but none of them really seem to have much in common with those on the list.

1. Roosevelt (FDR).
2. Kennedy -- Obama
3. Clinton
4. Herbert Walker Bush (A terrific statesman)
5. Ike

DJ, Washington kept his end... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

DJ, Washington kept his end of the deal to head a system of limited government and within constraints clearly prescribed. And made himself the Example that lasted until Wilson, with a hiccup at Lincoln.

Paul is a constitutional fundamentalist who you should already know of if politics is your thing.

Tancredo is a hard-liner on border security and is in favor of deportation and revocation of citizenship to tha children of illegal aliens.

And since the platforms of Paul and Tancredo put them at odds with the Powers That Be, they're by definition reformers.

[ Edited to remove smears and insults ]

Best presidents: Washington... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Best presidents: Washington. Lincoln.

Interesting presidents: LBJ. Nixon. (also, both were GREAT for political cartoonists!)

Well intentioned but not very successful: Wilson. Carter.

BTW - I think modern presid... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

BTW - I think modern presidents don't measure up because they are further removed by time and awareness of the central concepts underlying our government----the Declaration, Federalist Papers, etc. I don't think the Constitution is all that understandable without the context that led to the founding of our country, and the replacement of the Articles of Confederation.

Washington was great, in part, because he chose to leave after 2 terms, really establishing from the start that the President is not a monarch, but a servant of the people.

Lincoln overstepped bounds, but saved the nation. Who can top that?!

Teddy Roosevelt--Giulian... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Teddy Roosevelt--Giuliani and Gore. Rudy has the toughness and charisma to be a leader in a time of war. Rudy is certainly more of a moderate Republican; TR tried to move the GOP into the Progressive camp.

Gore obviously gets a nod for his environmental, er, passions. And, of course, TR was a naturalist who founded our national parks and national forest systems and established nature preserves.

Hillary Clinton--Bill Clinton/FDR Plainly there's both good and bad here on many, many levels. I voted for the man twice and think he'll go down as one of our better Presidents--though, honestly, I can't say why I think that! LOL.

I don't picture Hillary backing down from a fight if provoked (FDR), but I do see her potential to waffle quite a bit when it comes to that fight (BC). I also see her backing off and trying to more of a "good neighbor" in her foreign policy (FDR, pre-Pearl Harbor). I think her desire to introduce a BIG social health care program could impact the country for decades a la FDR's "New Deal" programs, but with far different results. I think Hillary could move more to the middle (like BC did on many issues) IF the GOP regains control any time during her tenure.

Pretty superfiscial analysis on my end, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents.

"George W. Bush, in my opin... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"George W. Bush, in my opinion, has done a fine job as President, certainly top ten in terms of meeting his duties of the office and accomplishing the most important jobs."

I stopped there.

George Washington. He put t... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

George Washington. He put the good of the nation before what was good for George Washington.
Otherwise, we might be celebrating the birthday of King George I in February every year. Or, celebrating the Queen's birthday every year along with the Canadians and the rest of Greater Britain.

He is the ideal that everybody else should strive for.

I think Bush has some of that, in many areas he put the good of the nation before what was good for him, he is the most demonized man since Newt left office and is probably even more vilified than either Newt or Ronnie Raygun, but he keeps on doing what he thinks is right (not perfectly, but he's pretty darn good and deserving of high placement).

Who has that most important quality for a POTUS?
I don't know who does, but I do know who doesn't, and that's most of the front-runners.

There is only one quality t... (Below threshold)
Listkeeper:

There is only one quality that future presidents of the US need have...

They must be Fred Thompson.

Trackbacked by The Thunder ... (Below threshold)

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/26/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention.

Lincoln, No oneLinco... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Lincoln, No one
Lincoln fought a hot civil war against popular opinion, ispite of massive losses of troops, won that war and saved the unity of this nation.

G.W. Bush, No one
George is fighting a cold civil war while he fights global terrorism overseas, rather than in CONUS. This is one man who took his oath of office seriously.

Harry S Truman, No one
Truman made decisions no President has ever had to make. Truman threw up the wall the contained global communism. His handling of the Korean war could have been better. Had he supported the Nationalist Chinese, history would be different.

Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney
Reagan, through bold action, won the cold war that started during Trumans adminstration. Reagans only flaw was Iran-Contra. Congress does not have the power to limit the given power of the Presidency, but they did pass the law. Romney has the charisma and good looks of Reagan.

John F. Kennedy, John McCain
Inspite of his over active libido, Kennedy understood the job of President. He was a leader and acted like it. He stood up to America's enemies and was the last democrat to draw a line in the sand and defend that line.

I won't attempt to place GW... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

I won't attempt to place GW Bush in the rankings of Presidents because I don't think we are too close to the event and don't yet have the proper perspective. Right now, we are just now gaining the perspective that we need to judge Reagan, George H. Bush, and Clinton.

For what it's worth, my fab five Presidents are, in no particular order:

* Washington: Refused the chance to establish a monarchy with himself as the Crown. How many other world leaders in the history of civilization have done that? None that I can think of. Maybe Napolean, sorta kinds, but he went over to the dark side shortly after.

* Jefferson: If you go read the quotes engraved on the inside of the dome of the Jefferson Memorial, it makes the case for democracy and self-rule with almost breathtaking audacity. Heady stuff. Ironically, I don't think a Jefferson could get elected today, so it's a good thing we had him when we did.

* Monroe: The President who really established the governmental and cultural break from Europe. Which, at this point in history, is turning out to be even more important that anyone my age ever thought it would be.

* Lincoln: Without him, we wouldn't be having this exchange. There's little doubt in my mind that without him, the North would have eventually turned towards something like Facism, while the South would have eventually turned into something like Haiti.

* Reagan: Only the second world leader (the first was Churchill) to turn full-on towards the evil of 20th-century totalitarianism, spit in its face -- and make it blink.

Note that only one of these was a 20th-century President. I can't really come up with any others that stand out as the perfect combinations of great leader, great administrator, and great tactician that the five I named were. FDR falls more into the category of a President who had greatness thrust upon him (in this respect, he is somewhat like W). As a peacetime President, I think he would have done poorly. But history doesn't work that way.

Wilson I used to have some respect for, but the more I learn about him, the less respect I have for him. He was an unabashed transnationalist and appeaser. The one thing that could be said in his defense is that they didn't know in his time what we know now. Truman I still haven't made up my mind about. Eisenhower was a disaster. He may have been a fine general, but as President he fell too much in love with his own status. He allowed the Korean conflict to end inconclusively, and half a century later, we are still dealing with that. He hamstrung America's ballistic missile program until the Soviets slapped him upside the head with Sputnik, triggering a catch-up crash program that fouled up America's space exploration plans, from which we still haven't recovered today.

JFK was decent. He wasn't the second coming of Jesus. However, he might have been our last classical-liberal President. LBJ was probably our most corrupt President next to Taft. Nixon was a protaganist in a Greek tragedy, undone by his own hubris. Carter was elected by accident of history, and to me all of his good intentions have been rendered corroded by the hatred towards Jews that we now see has always burned in his heart.

To be honest, I have trouble drawing positive comparisons between any of the current best-known candidates and my Great Five. Gingrich has some of the qualities of Jefferson, in his ability to enunciate clearly the principles of freedom, and his willingness to call out pseudo-intellectual BS. Guiliani is probably most similar to Washington, a get-'er-done street fighter. Romney could have some Reaganesque qualities, although I'm still waiting to hear more from him. Obama could be a Lincoln, if he plays his cards right, although it's too early to tell. Hilary, Edwards, and McCain, I can't draw any favorable comparisons to. (McCain in particular, I'm afraid would turn out to be another Eisenhower.)

Remarkably fine insight, CD... (Below threshold)
kim:

Remarkably fine insight, CD. Thank you.
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