Assessing Presidents

With the presidential campaign in full swing, I ruminated recently about how I would judge some of the many Presidents who held office during my lifetime.   They really do run the gamut in ability and achievements or lack of them.   They also varied a great deal in their personal appeal.   You may not like what I think of them and that is fine.  Read some good biographies about each of them and reach your own conclusions.   These are the impressions I have and they are naturally influenced by my own life experiences and what I observed of them at different stages of my life.   So yes, these thoughts are “colored” by the prism of my beliefs and attitudes.    I was there and lived through their terms and don’t have to rely on opinions of others.  

We’ll start with Truman even though Roosevelt was President when I was born, but I don’t really have any opinion of him other than what I have learned from reading.   Truman was not our brightest President and his background leaves a lot to be desired.  Today he would never have been approved even for VP after being vetted with the scrutiny they are today.  He rose in the ranks of the old Prendergast gang in Kansas City and they weren’t angels; he also went bankrupt  and never graduated from college and that is significant now in the modern age.  He was not a Washington or Jackson who also never attended college.   He was way too close to the unions and almost their pawn and started the modern era of wars without Congressional approval.  Korea.  He wouldn’t even call it a war, it was referred to as a “police action”.  Never trusted him even as a youth.   Only thing he did right was allow the Manhattan Project to reach its conclusion and save American lives.

Ike.  I did like Ike.  Times were good, people were mostly decent and reflected his own decency as a man.  He was respected around the world and was great at bringing people together for a common purpose.  Remember both houses of Congress were controlled during all his time as President by the Democrats but he still managed to get some things done and keep the Commies at bay.  Keeping the peace with them was a greater accomplishment that it seems now with the passing of time.  Those were tense times.   You won’t find many negative remarks about him even from the Democrats of that era.

Kennedy.  Never liked him at all.   He was a typical rich kid telling the rest of us how to run our lives.  Having his brother as Attorney General would probably not pass muster these days.   He never had to struggle for anything in his life but was so sure about what we wanted or needed.  You know the history of his father’s fortune (bootlegger) and the trouble he gave Roosevelt at the beginning of WWII when he was ambassador to England.   He was a classic elitist in my book and had no backbone when crunch time came at the Bay of Pigs.   Either do it or don’t, but don’t abandon your men, ever.

LBJ.  He was definitely one of the worst.  Loud, rude, crude and so smarmy.  He had been in politics too long already.   I never could forgive him taking citations  during the war for flying  on one mission in the Pacific that was not really a dangerous one in the first place then playing the war hero back home.  He was gone only a few months and the rest of the boys were in for the duration.   His actions in Viet Nam were awful.  He was the reason I never considered volunteering for the service then even though I was overage already but the thought of him being my commander in chief repelled me.   You probably don’t remember his Guns and Butter programs.  They lead directly to some of the economic chaos of the ’70’s.   He tried to finance all his little dream ideas and the war at the same time.  That is when the deficit really started its climb.  The pieces were set in motion.   The tax rate for “unearned income reached up to 90%.  Of course there were numerous loopholes in the tax code to take care of every interest group under the sun.   That economic mess he created lasted throught the ’70’s and wasn’t finally  cleaned up until Reagan.

To be continued.  I didn’t realize this would rile my memories so much.  

You ever boiled coffee in a pot of water over an open fire?   Just throw in a big heaping handful of coffee into a half gallon of water, then wait while you watch it bubble and boil, pour into a tin cup and relax around the campfire.  Most of the grinds will settle in the bottom–really.

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1 Comment

Filed under history, Politics

One response to “Assessing Presidents

  1. Tim Weaver

    Kennedy had a good deal to struggle with- he had degenerative bone diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, and had to pop painkillers just to make it through the day. And, he did manage to get us all not killed by nuclear weapons. Not so bad if you ask me.

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