Bush: THe Worst President in History?

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Lilith
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Bush: THe Worst President in History?

Post by Lilith » Sun May 07, 2006 7:56 pm

The case is made in an article by respected historian Sean Wilentz published by Rolling Stone Magazine.
In the article he states "Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties - Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush - have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures - an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance."

The description of Bush's "unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology, etc" reminds me of a few posters around here. :wink:

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Post by Ralph » Sun May 07, 2006 8:03 pm

William Henry Harrison was pretty much of a failure.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 07, 2006 9:19 pm

People who couldn't stand the New Deal (often old money people who survived even the Depression) thought that FDR was the worst president there ever was. The size of the faction that demonized Lincoln was so great that it would have been a wonder if he had not been assassinated.

I could go on about the presidents who were acknowledged failures and the many more who were mediocrities, but let's just say George W. Bush has a long way to go before deserving the epithet worst ever. In modern times with the state of communications and managed campains, it is unlikely we will ever see either the worst ever or best ever president in our lifetime.

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Post by Donald Isler » Sun May 07, 2006 11:19 pm

Would that Bush's time in office had been as short as Harrison's.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 07, 2006 11:42 pm

Bush: THe Worst President in History?
Only in the minds of the unhinged Bush-Haters, like some of the folks on this board.
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Post by Fugu » Mon May 08, 2006 2:48 am

Of course, among the unhinged Bush-lovers he's the greatest thing since spam in a can.

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Re: Bush: THe Worst President in History?

Post by pizza » Mon May 08, 2006 3:00 am

Lilith wrote:The description of Bush's "unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology, etc" reminds me of a few posters around here. :wink:
Yeah! Like the simplistic ideologue who unswervingly adheres to Bush-bashing! :lol:

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Post by pizza » Mon May 08, 2006 3:36 am

Dan Ferguson wrote:Of course, among the unhinged Bush-lovers he's the greatest thing since spam in a can.
Not surprising when that's their only frame of reference.

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Post by Holden Fourth » Mon May 08, 2006 4:36 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Bush: THe Worst President in History?
Only in the minds of the unhinged Bush-Haters, like some of the folks on this board.
So if you don't like Bush your unhinged? That would mean tens of millions of mentally unstable citizens in the United States according to that diagnosis.

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Post by Barry » Mon May 08, 2006 9:24 am

As I've said ad nauseum in the past on here, it's premature to make pronouncements on W's place in history. We simply don't know how things are going to play out in the Middle East yet.
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Post by Werner » Mon May 08, 2006 9:51 am

True, Barry - but while we must wish this Administration luck in finding their way out of the mess they've created, I don't see much good news ahead.
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Post by Lilith » Mon May 08, 2006 11:19 am

Actually, I do not think Bush is the worst - I do think he will settle nicely in the
bottom 10, somewhere near the mid point of that group.

No matter what happens in Iraq, Bush's failure to deal with the energy crisis, his horrendous deficits, failure to get Bin Laden, his sadly mistaken free trade policy failures (eg NAFTA, etc), the outsourcing of jobs,Katrina, the decline in real income over the past few years,the explosion in medicare costs, failure to deal with Social Security and the shrinking of the American middle class, etc etc ... all will secure his place near the bottom rung. And lets not forget, all these dismal failures with a Republican Controlled Congress for six years!

We can only hope for reasonable outcomes in Afghanistan (where insurgency seems to be rising again) and Iraq. If these turn out badly, and I suspect they will, he may indeed be the worst President ever.
Last edited by Lilith on Mon May 08, 2006 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 08, 2006 2:07 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
Bush: THe Worst President in History?
Only in the minds of the unhinged Bush-Haters, like some of the folks on this board.
So if you don't like Bush your unhinged?
No. I don't like Bush, but not for the same reasons the Unhinged hate him. The Unhinged are . . . well, irrational. For example, the Democratic leadership and campaign strategists. They think they are running against Bush in the 06 and 08 elections. Mistake for the 06 and huge mistake for the 08 elections. They are so consumed with hatred of Bush they have no idea what to do except babble endlessly about what they think of Bush and attack him on every issue, even where their interests would dictate that they support him. They are in what technology historian James Chiles refers to as "cognitive lock:" where people in authority decide on a course of action and hold to it despite all conflicting and contrary evidence. In the Dems case they are still so furious about the 2000 election and all the events between culminating in the 2004 Bush victory that they can't develop any strategy that doesn't start with "Bush is . . . . " That's unhinged. They have their eye off the ball again, and the only thing that will permit them to succeed is the utter incompetence and haplessness of the leaderless Republicans.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 08, 2006 2:34 pm

Lilith wrote:Actually, I do not think Bush is the worst - I do think he will settle nicely in the bottom 10, somewhere near the mid point of that group.
:lol: :lol: :lol: Fortunately, you don't write the histories. Barry's right that it is too early to tell. However, Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House, has taken a stab at anticipating where Bush will end up. The book is based on a survey ginned up by the Wall Street Journal and sent to 85 experts on the presidency in 2005. From the Methodology Appendix:
Unlike most prior studies, these surveyed experts on presidential history and politics from the fields of law and political science, as well as from history. For the 2005 study we added economists to the mix, including six Nobel laureates. Moreover, for both studies we balance the group to be surveyed with approximately equal numbers of experts on the left and right. Because political leanings can influence professional judgments, we think that the 2005 rankings are the most politically balanced estimates of presidential reputation yet obtained for American presidents.

To choose the scholars to be surveyed, in 2000 or 2005 we had four expert panels of two scholars in each field come up with a list of experts in their field. The eight scholars who consulted on the make up of the sample were historians Alan Brinkley and Forrest McDonald, political scientists James Ceaser and Stephen Skorwronek, law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Steven Calabresi, and economists David Henderson and Jefery Sachs.

We tried to choose approximately equal numbers of scholars who lean to the left and to the right. Our goal was to present the opinions of experts, controlling for political orientation. Another way to express this is that we sought to mirror what scholarly opinion might be be on the contrafactual assumption that the academy was politically representative of society in which we live and work. This study attempts to resolve the conflict between prior rankings of presidents done mostly by liberal scholars or mostly by conservative scholars, but not by both together.
The study started out in 2000 to see if there was some impartial consensus on Reagan and other conservatives because the most famous rankings had been done by the likes of Arthur Schlessinger Jr. and his ilk in an effort to secure the places of liberal presidents like Johnson and Kennedy. In the 2005 WSJ study the editors threw in Bush. Not surprisingly, Bush ends up in the middle of the Average category. Here's the complete ranking:

Great
1. Washington
2. Lincoln
3. FDR

Near Great
4. Jefferson
5. TR
6. Ronald Reagan
7. Truman
8. Eisenhower
9. Polk
10. Jackson

Above Average
11. Wilson
12. Cleveland
13. John Adams
14. McKinley

Average
17. Madison
18. Lyndon Johnson
19. Bush 2
20. Taft
21. Bush 1
22. Clinton
23. Coolidge
24. Hayes

Below Average
25. Quincy Adams
26. Arthur
27. Van Buren
28. Ford
29. Grant
30. Harrison
31. Hoover
32. Nixon
33. Taylor
34. Carter
35. Tyler

Failure
36. Fillmore
37. Andrew Johnson
38. Pierce
39. Harding
40. Buchanan

Don't ask me the rationale for any one ending up where he did. There's another 40 pages of Appendices to explain the methodology and if you want to know what it is, you'll have to get the book to satisfy your curiosity.
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Post by Werner » Mon May 08, 2006 2:48 pm

An intresting compilation, probably more meaningful for those Presidencies farther removed in time from our time than those we've experienced ourselves.

After nearly seventy years in this country, I have a gut feeling regrding some names. For all the Hollywood glamor and personal charm of Reagan, I doubt if he will remain in the ranks of near-greats. That would automatically move Truman up one - a spot he well deserves. Pizza's "hat-seller from Missouri" managed, without a college degree, to be widely-read, decisive, and the source of the policies that steered our way through the Cold War to a civil resolution.

As for the "average" group, I'd expect to see, at minimum, a reversal of Bush 1 and Bush 2, although the possibility of Bush 2 winding up much further down the scale certainly seems to exist.

And I believe that greater perspective will view Clinton more favorably.
Last edited by Werner on Mon May 08, 2006 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Barry » Mon May 08, 2006 3:02 pm

I suspect that if those rankings were redone today, a year later, Bush might be a few places lower on the list. But again, while ranking Presidents may be fun, it's meaningless to rank not only Bush, but Clinton as well at this point. We all know how far down the list Truman would have been in such a list shortly after leaving office.
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http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by karlhenning » Mon May 08, 2006 3:25 pm

Barry Z wrote:. . . We all know how far down the list Truman would have been in such a list shortly after leaving office.
Yes, and now there's been that great Truman movie with Jim Carrey :-)
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Post by srappoport » Mon May 08, 2006 3:43 pm

Having read some books about Lincoln and his times, I would be cautious about trying to declare what sort of president Bush 2 will turn out to have been. History depends on matters working themselves out to a conclusion. While you are living in the times, you cannot see clearly because you do not know what, in retrospecct, will be considered important. In fact, you don't even know what issues will be relevant to the future.

I can assure you that if you look at how Truman was regarded in 1952 and the first few years thereafter, you never would classify him as anything but a contender for worst president ever.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 08, 2006 4:16 pm

srappoport wrote:I can assure you that if you look at how Truman was regarded in 1952 and the first few years thereafter, you never would classify him as anything but a contender for worst president ever.
I must confess that the hostility to Truman surprised me when I became aware of it. My parents thought a lot of him, espeically my dad the career Army officer, so naturally I thought everyone did.
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Post by Barry » Mon May 08, 2006 4:38 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Barry Z wrote:. . . We all know how far down the list Truman would have been in such a list shortly after leaving office.
Yes, and now there's been that great Truman movie with Jim Carrey :-)
One of my favorites :).
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Barry » Mon May 08, 2006 4:40 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
srappoport wrote:I can assure you that if you look at how Truman was regarded in 1952 and the first few years thereafter, you never would classify him as anything but a contender for worst president ever.
I must confess that the hostility to Truman surprised me when I became aware of it. My parents thought a lot of him, espeically my dad the career Army officer, so naturally I thought everyone did.
My grandparents certainly loved him. Part of that was that my grandfather was stationed in the Pacific during the war, but as a mechanic. He always felt that Truman dropping the bomb and avoiding the invasion of Japan may have stopped him from being shipped up to the front lines.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by srappoport » Wed May 10, 2006 1:59 pm

Barry Z wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
srappoport wrote:I can assure you that if you look at how Truman was regarded in 1952 and the first few years thereafter, you never would classify him as anything but a contender for worst president ever.
I must confess that the hostility to Truman surprised me when I became aware of it. My parents thought a lot of him, espeically my dad the career Army officer, so naturally I thought everyone did.
My grandparents certainly loved him. Part of that was that my grandfather was stationed in the Pacific during the war, but as a mechanic. He always felt that Truman dropping the bomb and avoiding the invasion of Japan may have stopped him from being shipped up to the front lines.
I was 10 years old in 1952. I can recall Eisenhower's promise of "I will go to Korea." At that time, our troops were bogged down in the war there, and the war seemed endless. (Sound familiar?)

Moreover, Truman's Administration had a fair whiff of corruption.

Of course, I was living in upstate New York, which in those days had distinct Republican loyalties.

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Post by rogch » Thu May 11, 2006 6:10 am

Worst president in US history? The worst i know about is without a doubt Lyndon B. Johnson. A liar, whealer-dealer, black-mailer i don't know what. Read about or heard the tapes of his telephone conversations? Check out some of them and you will know what i mean.
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Post by Ralph » Thu May 11, 2006 6:51 am

rogch wrote:Worst president in US history? The worst i know about is without a doubt Lyndon B. Johnson. A liar, whealer-dealer, black-mailer i don't know what. Read about or heard the tapes of his telephone conversations? Check out some of them and you will know what i mean.
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The Nixon White House tapes reveal the man's real and deep anti-Semitism and racism yet compared to Dubya his political instincts and actions were far more liberal and intelligent.
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Post by pizza » Thu May 11, 2006 8:00 am

Ralph wrote:The Nixon White House tapes reveal the man's real and deep anti-Semitism and racism yet compared to Dubya his political instincts and actions were far more liberal and intelligent.
Yeah -- like the Watergate burglary and coverup when he knew he already had the election in the bag -- and then maintaining and later destroying incriminating tapes of his conversations.

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Post by Ted » Thu May 11, 2006 10:39 am

Let’s see, he boozed and drugged till he was in his 40’s, then he failed miserably in the private business sector.
Now that his political endeavors are coming to a close, maybe it’s time for him to consider the training program at Bloomingdales

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Post by jbuck919 » Thu May 11, 2006 12:53 pm

These historians' polls which take place every few years do not exactly "rank," as I recall, but place presidents in one of a handful of categories. The last one I can remember examining in detail had, if I recall correctly, the categories great, near great, average, below average, and failure. Generally, great will always include Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR, and I have seen it include TR and Andrew Jackson. I vaguely recall near great hovering around James K. Polk, Grover Cleveland, Truman, and believe it or not Lyndon Johnson. And traditionally the out-and-out failures were Grant and Harding.

Many questions are of course raised about automatically disqualifying factors. Is Nixon automatically a failure because he was a criminal who surely would have been impeached and dismissed from office? As far as G. W. Bush is concerned, they usually exclude serving presidents and even demand a "waiting period" of maybe a decade or so.

It has to be remembered that historians are generally a liberal bunch, and I don't expect any poll in my lifetime to elevate Ronald Reagan above the level of average, and he only gets that far because these guys have occasionally to face their fathers-in-law who brought the money into the marriage.

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Post by Barry » Thu May 11, 2006 1:05 pm

jbuck919 wrote:It has to be remembered that historians are generally a liberal bunch, and I don't expect any poll in my lifetime to elevate Ronald Reagan above the level of average, and he only gets that far because these guys have occasionally to face their fathers-in-law who brought the money into the marriage.
Sorry John, but the most recent couple of such surveys that I've seen have Reagan in the near-great category, either just above or just below Truman.
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http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Post by jbuck919 » Thu May 11, 2006 1:15 pm

Barry Z wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:It has to be remembered that historians are generally a liberal bunch, and I don't expect any poll in my lifetime to elevate Ronald Reagan above the level of average, and he only gets that far because these guys have occasionally to face their fathers-in-law who brought the money into the marriage.
Sorry John, but the most recent couple of such surveys that I've seen have Reagan in the near-great category, either just above or just below Truman.
I would have to guess, though I do not know, that this is largely owing to his alleged role in bringing down communism. I do not buy the common opinion that he had very much to do with that except as coincidental window dressing. If that is today an outsider's opinion, just wait until the inevitable revisionism kicks in.

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Post by Barry » Thu May 11, 2006 1:48 pm

As I said with Bush and Clinton, we don't have any idea of what historians will think 50 or 100 years from now, but I suspect that Reagan will remain in that near great category. But I disagree with you on his role in at least speeding up the collapse of the Soviet Union.

My guess for Clinton is that he'll always be tarred by the "I" word, which is a shame since it was a partison move that never should have happened. Were it not for that, I suspect he'd wind up in the above average category, but that's obviously meaningless speculation.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 11, 2006 7:51 pm

rogch wrote:Worst president in US history? The worst i know about is without a doubt Lyndon B. Johnson. A liar, whealer-dealer, black-mailer i don't know what. Read about or heard the tapes of his telephone conversations? Check out some of them and you will know what i mean.
Mmm. Ordinarily I wouldn't say a word to defend that poor white trash, but the tapes and his vulgarity and his petty-mindedness have little to do with the rating. Just for shits and grins, you should get a copy of the book I mentioned and take a look at the competition. Whatever else Johnson may have done or said, if it hadn't been for Viet Nam, he would have ended up higher in the ratings because of his ramming thru the long-overdue Civil Rights legislation that he and his fellow Democrats had been blocking opportunistically for 9 decades. It was like what they say about Nixon and China: only a Republican could have made the overtures to China because Republicans are the paramount national security party. Only a Democrat who knew all the shabby secrets of every legislator in Congress could have produced the Civil Rights legislation of 1964 and 1965. For that, he deserves a place at least in the middle of the list.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 11, 2006 7:55 pm

Ralph wrote:yet compared to Dubya his political instincts and actions were far more liberal and intelligent.
Where's the gag emoticon? Liberal yes (being a product of decades of Republican minorities and the "Democrats-lite" philosophy that afflicted the party); skillful in many respects, yes; intelligent, no.
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Post by Ralph » Thu May 11, 2006 9:07 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:yet compared to Dubya his political instincts and actions were far more liberal and intelligent.
Where's the gag emoticon? Liberal yes (being a product of decades of Republican minorities and the "Democrats-lite" philosophy that afflicted the party); skillful in many respects, yes; intelligent, no.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 11, 2006 11:38 pm

Ralph wrote:Nixon always knew where the American center was and he played to it,
It's no great strategy to find a center when there was one and there was so much of it. We don't have a center anymore. We have partisans and the undecided. The undecided aren't "the center;" they are people who can't make up their minds.
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Post by Ralph » Fri May 12, 2006 8:16 am

Why are folks here so afraid to touch the subject of William Henry Harrison's presidency?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri May 12, 2006 12:03 pm

Ralph wrote:Why are folks here so afraid to touch the subject of William Henry Harrison's presidency?
Because it lasted only a month, during which he was too ill to do any damage?
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Post by Ralph » Fri May 12, 2006 12:44 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Why are folks here so afraid to touch the subject of William Henry Harrison's presidency?
Because it lasted only a month, during which he was too ill to do any damage?
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THAT'S a reason :?:
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Post by jbuck919 » Fri May 12, 2006 12:54 pm

A related topic would be presidents who are justly renowned for something else, just not for their presidency. This would include such illustrious figures as John Adams, James Madison, and Ulysses S. Grant. It would also, oddly, include Herbert Hoover, for his direction of relief efforts after WW I. Eisenhower might be up in the air in this regard.

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Post by srappoport » Fri May 12, 2006 2:44 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Nixon always knew where the American center was and he played to it,
It's no great strategy to find a center when there was one and there was so much of it. We don't have a center anymore. We have partisans and the undecided. The undecided aren't "the center;" they are people who can't make up their minds.
I am in no way a Nixon lover, but his first Term was quite successful despite the Southern strategy and his imposition of wage and price controls.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri May 12, 2006 2:49 pm

srappoport wrote:I am in no way a Nixon lover, but his first Term was quite successful despite the Southern strategy and his imposition of wage and price controls.
The "southern strategy" is a myth of disgruntled Democrats who think their Depression-era dominance is the natural order of things and need to convince themselves that they couldn't possibly have lost the south by honest means.

And let's not forget Nixon's gift that keeps on giving: "Affirmative Action" or racial discrimination by a sexier name.
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Post by Ralph » Fri May 12, 2006 3:02 pm

jbuck919 wrote:A related topic would be presidents who are justly renowned for something else, just not for their presidency. This would include such illustrious figures as John Adams, James Madison, and Ulysses S. Grant. It would also, oddly, include Herbert Hoover, for his direction of relief efforts after WW I. Eisenhower might be up in the air in this regard.
*****

And that list would certainly include

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON!
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