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 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!