A Brief Review of Presidential Competence and Morality

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A Brief Review of Presidential Competence and Morality

Let’s take a look at the com­pe­tence and moral­ity of some of our past presidents.

Jimmy Carter was the epit­ome of incom­pe­tence. As a young reporter for Newsweek, I was assigned almost weekly to the “Jimmy f***-up sto­ries.” They were many and var­ied, par­tic­u­larly his eco­nomic pro­gram that lead to double-​digit infla­tion, double-​digit inter­est rates and double-​digit increases in the price of gasoline.

The Iran cri­sis demon­strated his inep­ti­tude and held the entire coun­try hostage for 444 days.

Lyn­don John­son was the worst pres­i­dent in my life­time — a pres­i­dent whose poli­cies still hold an iron grip on many Amer­i­can cities.

In domes­tic pol­icy, John­son shack­led many through the War on Poverty. Just think how many peo­ple remain tied to the gov­ern­ment trough by these ill-​conceived pro­grams. More­over, we have LBJ to thank for the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­ity Act of 1965, which cre­ated the poor sys­tem Trump faces today. The Vot­ing Rights Act may have had noble inten­tions, but it has lead to the inabil­ity to ask vot­ers for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion dur­ing elections.

Then there’s Viet­nam. LBJ man­aged to mis­man­age the war so badly that the United States had its tail between its legs for nearly two decades until the First Gulf War in 199091.

JFK brought his tarts into the White House, but Bill Clin­ton had sex in the Oval Office. I have to thank Clin­ton, how­ever, because his reck­less acts made me rethink my polit­i­cal orientation.

For many years, I embraced the lib­eral poli­cies backed by baby boomers like me. I even voted for George McGov­ern in 1972! As a jour­nal­ist and an aca­d­e­mic, I had to go along and get along with the lib­eral point of view. Oth­er­wise, I would have been shamed for my stances and lost my job. In fact, I did lose one aca­d­e­mic job because of my con­ser­v­a­tive views.

Sim­ply put, I could not bide the dis­grace that Clin­ton brought to the office. If some­one had such lit­tle regard for the pres­i­dency, I could not sup­port him or his party, which sup­ported him through impeachment.

It started me down a path of eval­u­at­ing my polit­i­cal views. I found that I was a con­ser­v­a­tive on both eco­nomic and social policies.

Sure, Nixon had Water­gate; Rea­gan had Iran-​Contra, and Bush 43 failed to clean up Iraq. But Nixon brought China into the inter­na­tional fold, Rea­gan crushed the Soviet Union, and Bush 43 brought us together for a while after 911. Iron­i­cally, Bush 41, who brought vic­tory dur­ing the First Gulf War, may have been the best pres­i­dent dur­ing my life­time despite his read-​my-​lips gaffe.

For those who crit­i­cize the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and for those who have for­got­ten their his­tory, I hope this trip down mem­ory lane might be a use­ful review.

Cer­tainly, Pres­i­dent Trump has made mis­takes. But my short­hand response to crit­ics of Trump goes like this: unem­ploy­ment and debt are down; stocks are up; and Neil Gor­such is on the bench, with more to come. To me, that’s an awfully good start!

Let’s take a look at the competence and morality of some of our past presidents.

Jimmy Carter was the epitome of incompetence. As a young reporter for Newsweek, I was assigned almost weekly to the “Jimmy f***-up stories.” They were many and varied, particularly his economic program that lead to double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates and double-digit increases in the price of gasoline.

The Iran crisis demonstrated his ineptitude and held the entire country hostage for 444 days.

Lyndon Johnson was the worst president in my lifetime—a president whose policies still hold an iron grip on many American cities.

In domestic policy, Johnson shackled many through the War on Poverty. Just think how many people remain tied to the government trough by these ill-conceived programs. Moreover, we have LBJ to thank for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which created the poor system Trump faces today. The Voting Rights Act may have had noble intentions, but it has lead to the inability to ask voters for identification during elections.

Then there’s Vietnam. LBJ managed to mismanage the war so badly that the United States had its tail between its legs for nearly two decades until the First Gulf War in 1990-91.

JFK brought his tarts into the White House, but Bill Clinton had sex in the Oval Office. I have to thank Clinton, however, because his reckless acts made me rethink my political orientation.

For many years, I embraced the liberal policies backed by baby boomers like me. I even voted for George McGovern in 1972! As a journalist and an academic, I had to go along and get along with the liberal point of view. Otherwise, I would have been shamed for my stances and lost my job. In fact, I did lose one academic job because of my conservative views.

Simply put, I could not bide the disgrace that Clinton brought to the office. If someone had such little regard for the presidency, I could not support him or his party, which supported him through impeachment.

It started me down a path of evaluating my political views. I found that I was a conservative on both economic and social policies.

Sure, Nixon had Watergate; Reagan had Iran-Contra, and Bush 43 failed to clean up Iraq. But Nixon brought China into the international fold, Reagan crushed the Soviet Union, and Bush 43 brought us together for a while after 9/11. Ironically, Bush 41, who brought victory during the First Gulf War, may have been the best president during my lifetime despite his read-my-lips gaffe.

For those who criticize the Trump administration and for those who have forgotten their history, I hope this trip down memory lane might be a useful review.

Certainly, President Trump has made mistakes. But my shorthand response to critics of Trump goes like this: unemployment and debt are down; stocks are up; and Neil Gorsuch is on the bench, with more to come. To me, that’s an awfully good start!