Monday, February 17, 2020

President's Day - Best and Worst Presidents

Today is (the observed) President's Day.  This is my annual posts of the best and worst Presidents.  The one addition this year is a Lincoln de-mythification from the son of John Tyler, America's tenth President: Lincoln The Dwarf.  This will give you a taste:
Tyler catalogued Lincoln's crippling deficiencies: He was coarse, too coarse to be a hero; his reputation for kindness and humanity was grossly overblown; he was an overrated statesman, a vacillator who had trouble making decisions. He was too deferential to his cabinet, indeed was dominated by its stronger personalities. He started the war, then meddled in its conduct, prolonging the bloodshed, was a poor judge of generals, and allowed political expediency to guide his appointments. In constructing his argument Tyler relied as much as possible on sources he considered unimpeachable, such as Lincoln's friends Ward Hill Lamon and William H. Herndon and distinguished Northerners like Charles Francis Adams.
Sharp eyed readers will recall that we've seen (Union General) Charles Francis Adams here before.

(originally posted 20 February 2012)

It's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln was the 12th, Washington is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we're taking it today.  But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.

Top Five:

#5: Calvin Coolidge

Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.

#4. Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase).  He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.

#3. Grover Cleveland. 

He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now.  He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later.  This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character." 

#2. Ronald Reagan

He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above).  He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash.  It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.

#1. George Washington

Could have been King.  Wasn't.  Q.E.D. 

Bottom Five:

#5. John Adams.

There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment.  It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2. 

#4. Woodrow Wilson.

Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918.  He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy.  The fact that Progressives love him (and hate George W. Bush) says all you need to know about them.

#3 Lyndon Johnson.

An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.

#2. Franklin Roosevelt.

America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, sending American citizens to concentration camps, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle.  At least Mussolini met an honorable end.

#1. Abraham Lincoln.

There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to.  Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history.  Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit.  Needless to say, Progressives adore him.

So happy President's Day.  Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven't gotten this bad.  Yet.


Richard said...

Nice to see someone with a time horizon longer than 10 years.

jabrwok said...

What makes you think LBJ was unaware of the probable outcomes of his policies?

Glen Filthie said...

LOL. That's a good list, Borepatch - but it has to many damned crackers on it, you racist SOB! I really think you need to boot one of them off the list and show some inclusivity for Barkie Obutthole!!! From what little I know of Yank history, I'd probably punt Adams - although he does deserve dishonourable mention... and slide Barkie in his spot.

The libtards and progs up here in Canada think that Lincoln, FDR and Adams walk on water and that the sun rises and sets on them. I started looking into Lincoln and just grew more disgusted with him with every passage and documentary I came across. How in hell did Americans end up at each other's throats over slavery, when the issue was resolved peacefully everywhere else?

Once you ask that question, if you went along with the narrative as I used too... you will not like the answers that come back.

Pigpen51 said...

I think your list of worst presidents is spot on. Too many people worship both Lincoln and FDR, when they were actually rotten presidents who took the nation in a different direction from what it had been meant to from the beginning.
As for Obama, I believe that history will show that he is basically irrelevant and so is his presidency. Trump has succeeded in turning many of his policies and executive orders around, and making Obama's reign forgettable.


Borepatch said...

Glen wrote:

How in hell did Americans end up at each other's throats over slavery, when the issue was resolved peacefully everywhere else?

BINGO. That's THE question. And as you say, there are no (comfortable) answers. It leads you directly to Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Shorter Lincoln: give uo or else, Deplorables.

Borepatch said...

Jabrwok, I think that LBJ knew entirely what he was doing.

Pigpen, both Lincoln and FDR were as close to American Furhers as we've seen.

Will said...

It was pointed out to LBJ just EXACTLY what his laws were going to do to the black community and family prior to passage. His response was that the important thing was that the blacks would vote Democrat essentially forever, and he didn't care about any other problems it would cause. He was the perfect Democrat for the new age, and US blacks will be paying the resulting price forever. Between this, and property redlining in the early 20th century, they got totally screwed, and the Nation will be dealing with the fallout forever, also.

Obama's boyfriend said...

Agreed. spot on.