Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy President's Day

When it comes to leadership, the U.S. has been extraordinarily lucky. From the list of 43 presidents - very few have been just plain bad. And of those few, the union survived each one. When we've needed our presidents to step up, they've done so. The world has been a better place because of these men.


Edward Copeland said...

So is this an endorsement of Clinton and Carter?

Jeffrey Hill said...

The short answer is: it’s not an endorsement, but neither Carter nor Clinton were the overwhelming disasters that conservatives (myself included) have said they were.

While I consider Carter to be one of our weakest presidents ever, he was not an evil bastard, nor a complete incompetent. Dude has had a few posts on this site defending Carter’s presidency and those arguments have merit (in particular, a post Dude had about Carter’s fiscal policy that helped stem inflation, at the cost of a second term). Still, I see his foreign policy, and his Presidency as a whole, to be a net loss for the U.S.

Clinton did a few things right – tax cuts, welfare reform and such – but he also made some bad foreign policy decisions that we’re paying for now. I don’t consider myself to be a Clinton hater. He was what I consider a "place holder" president. Nothing strong or bold or visionary, but he wasn’t supposed to be. I don’t think the voters were looking for all that when we elected him. I’m hard-pressed to criticize Clinton for not providing a direction for the post cold war since we were all pretty much sleepwalking. He was elected by a rudderless society (as was Carter) – and was a reflection of that society. The conservatives were split and couldn’t muster a vision to beat him and that was probably just as well. Hell, it’s to my everlasting embarrassment that I voted for Perot….twice. I doubt that would’ve been better.

Personally, I think Clinton is all about Clinton and he wanted to be liked too much. It’s impossible to be a great leader when you want to be liked too much. I’m sure he did what he thought was best, as I tend to think all the presidents do. However, I believe Bush is now clearing the brush that Clinton let get out of hand.

Two more things: 1) I am tired of Clinton sex jokes. Sure, I’ll still laugh at a few – but it’s time to move on. The impeachment is a pain in the ass to defend and I never liked it, though I think Clinton is responsible for giving the GOP all the rope it wanted; 2) Whatever Carter’s presidential legacy is, his ex-presidential legacy is pretty disgraceful. Like Gore, I think he’s off his rocker.