In honor of Presidents’ Day, here are some thoughts on the men who have held the office.
1. Abe Lincoln: the times demanded greatness, he delivered and the Union survived.
2. George Washington: our greatest statesmen. What applies to Lincoln is also applicable here; the times demanded greatness, he delivered and the country grew from an infant.
3. Ronald Reagan: the only modern day president who read the 10th Amendment. Also, the threat of nuclear holocaust with an ideological enemy who was well armed meant that the times demanded greatness, he delivered and our nation endured.
-Teddy Roosevelt: the best quote I have ever read on this larger than life figure is from The Christian Science Monitor and it can be found on the back of my paperback edition of Edmund Morris’ outstanding biography Theodore Rex: “Roosevelt is a biographer’s dream, an epic character not out of place in an adventure novel.” That really says it all. But he just doesn’t stack up well on the time-demanded-greatness-test. Our country didn’t need greatness from the Oval Office at that time, which we should always be okay with.
-FDR: don’t agree with half of what he did but how can I not use the standard which I have already established above, so here it is again; the times demanded greatness, he delivered and our country emerged as the world’s superpower. Segue to…
-Harry Truman: changed the world, and our place in it, when he dropped The Bomb.
-Richard Nixon: the “peacemaker.” His judicial nominees were stellar (among them is William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court), he opened up China and appreciated the importance of a sound foreign policy, he asked the “silent majority” to make some noise, but the spying he was engaged in was just not cool.
Left Off The List
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison: all great men from a great time, but their most significant contributions came before they were president.
Andrew Jackson: lunatic. Instead of offering a laundry list of reasons here’s just one; after history’s most revered Chief Justice of the Supreme Court made a ruling against the Jackson Administration and in favor of the Cherokee Nation, President Jackson showed the blind arrogance of a king by responding with, “Mr. Marshall has made his ruling. Now let him enforce it.” Never before or since has there been such a clear violation of Separation of Powers. The result, of course, was the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
On Our Latest
-George H.W. Bush: best résumé of any president since Thomas Jefferson and not a wimp, but I’ll never forgive him for David Souter.
-Bill Clinton: caretaker president, not terrible at all, but should’ve fought Al Qaeda. I wouldn’t mind getting together to watch a game with Bubba.
-George W. Bush: it pains me to see how his opposition still portrays him. I’ll just give you one point. The best move W made was withdrawing John Roberts’ name as nominee for Associate Justice and resubmitting that very same name as nominee for Chief Justice. Any president’s legacy can be found over on the Supreme Court. I have complete faith that Chief Justice Roberts will be remembered in our history books as one the finest to ever serve.
-Barack Obama: I remember reading an article years ago about evaluating presidents (forgive me for not being able to cite it properly). The author argued very convincingly that a president’s performance cannot be accurately assessed until ten years after he has left office. So with that being said, I’ll have to spare you from what would have been an unfavorable critique of the incumbent.