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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Round 3: Worst President Ever: the Not-So-Great 8

~ Click to enlarge

The tournament to decide who is truly the Worst US President ever is proceeding quite nicely.. A couple surprises here and there and one controversial decision (Bush 41 over Clinton by a teeny-weeny speck) but mostly things are progressing in agreement with the general public..

Now things get really interesting..  Terrible leaders are directly going up against other Terrible ones meaning more debate, more controversy and more fun..

So let's see how the final 16 combatants fared...
 The first battle to see who reaches the Not-So-Great 8 is James Buchanan our 15th President vs Reagan who was our 40th..

J.B. was not a great President.. Not even a good one..  So the question is, was he even an average to mediocre one?

The only thing people really know about him was his administration was prior to Lincoln's and he was our nation's only bachelor President, which in this competition means nothing.

The nation was fracturing apart when J.B. was in office (1857-1861) and he did all he could to maintain peace which angered and alienated both North and South since by this point, both were really fed up with one another.
Buchanan's stance concerning secession was that it was illegal but it was also illegal for the government to intervene to stop it.  So its easy to see why he was so unpopular in his time.. A total wishy-washy do-nothing response to the most pressing political matter of his Presidency.  Historians have also looked harshly upon him..

If you believe secession is unconstitutional as most have been taught, then you'd hate J.B. for not getting tough on the Southern states who were clamoring to break away.

And if you believe secession is protected by the 10th Amendment as we do, then you look at Buchanan as pathetic for not having the guts to admit as much while he meekly stepped aside from the controversy.

In addition the Panic of 1857 occurred under Buchanan where state banks had overextended itself by $7 in dollar value for every piece of gold or silver it was supposedly backed by and the whole economy collapsed upon itself and took many years to recover...

Now onto Reagan..
We have the ballooning of the National Debt to $1.5 Trillion by the time he left office and the Iran Contra Scandal where weapons were to be sold without Congressional authority to our enemies in Iran to come up with the covert funds to support the Nicaraguan Contras faction in their civil war...

The thing with Reagan is unlike Buchanan and really unlike most Presidents, he genuinely made the American people feel good about themselves and proud as Americans, especially after four dismal years under Carter.

He gave people Hope.. Genuine Sincere Hope..  Sure it was sloganned and packaged expertly, like the "Good Morning in America" 1984 re-election TV ads but it actually worked because his policies allowed people to see improvement in their lives.
~ 1984 Election..  Reagan won the states in Red

When Reagan took office, true un-doctored unemployment was at 7.6%.  When he left office in 1988, the rate was at 5.5%

And when a President takes blame when an economy falters, he must get credit when it grows, and truth be told, generally speaking for most Americans the 1980s were a great period of economic prosperity.

So we have to give the victory to Buchanan.. His weakness and cowardice to take a stand one way or another propels him to the next round..

Next the battle between Gerald R Ford and George W Bush..  Rep vs Rep...  One served in office for three years, the other for eight..
~ Ford (on left obviously) from his U. of Michigan football days..

There really isn't much to say here... When you get a nation involved in two needless wars, including one on false premises of WMDs when it really was revenge for Saddam trying to kill Bush's father vs a man in Ford in inherited a moribund post-Vietnam economy from Nixon...

Well how can W. Bush not win this battle in a landslide.

We also resent among other things that during Bush's administration he signed into law the Bankruptcy Overhaul Act which made it increasingly difficult for people to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy at a time just a year or so before the recession hit full throttle so the banks and credit card lenders could be protected..
~ Proudly signing a law that hurt so many while further profiting so few..

At least Ford tried to take a stand in office.  New York City had gone bankrupt in 1975 and was asking the Federal Government for a bailout..  Yep that disgusting word was thrown about then too..

Ford said No and the NYC papers butchered him with bad press including the famous headline "Ford to NYC: Drop Dead!"...  Ford weakened to the pressure and caved in ultimately..

But at least he made the attempt..

So as we said,  W Bush gets a sleepwalk landslide victory..
Harding v Eisenhower is also not even close..

The only reason Ike is even in the Not-So-Sweet 16 is because we felt McKinley was slightly better as President but in no way implied we thought Eisenhower was bad.

It was quite an accomplishment in fact to serve two terms in office during the heart of the Cold War and not send US soldiers into harms' way to die..  Not once..

So Ike is one of those Presidents that goes down as somewhat good meaning he has no place among the battle of the eight worst..
Harding.. He wasn't a 100% awful President i.e. he signed the first federal child welfare program, dealt with striking mining and railroad workers in part by supporting an 8-hour work day, and oversaw a 50% unemployment rate drop..

The problem with Harding wasn't his policies or how he acted in office but the numerous financial scandals involving those he appointed in key positions of power and prominence as thank-yous for election..

Harding wasn't the first or last to thank key contributors this way but most Administrations are not left with constant scandal and the breaking of the law as a result of the 'you scratch my back, I scratch yours' way of politics..
So Harding moves on in the tournament..

Now Ulysses S Grant is very similar to Harding.. a lot of financial and criminal scandals involving political appointees.   The difference of course being Harding was an educated man who held very modern views on blacks and Jewish people, even stating he believed they deserved a homeland where Palestine stood..

Grant was a West Point educated but otherwise ignorant, drunk failure of a man who worked in his father's store when war broke out, held slaves at one time and as General at one time expelled Jewish soldiers from his Army, an order later rescinded by Lincoln.

So this piece of shit will be going up against another piece of excrement Woodrow Wilson who had a racist side and as we wrote before got us involved in World War I even after campaigning the year before on the slogan 'He kept us out of war' to protect the banking and financial interests.
He also was the bastard responsible for pushing and signing into law the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 establishing the Fed as we know it which is systematically destroying the US economy from within.   The bankers had tried for 4 years prior to get it passed but Taft refused.. Wilson happily agreed since those same bankers contributed so much to his campaign..

Now most historians rank Grant as a terrible overall President give Wilson good marks..

We wholeheartedly disagree..
For as despicable and vile a person as Grant was to go along with being totally out of his depths as a President,  Grant's actions did not cost 116,000 dead and 204,000 wounded Americans in a span of just nine months of fighting..  That blood is on Wilson's feet..

In addition, what chutzpah to seek to dictate terms to the rest of Europe during the Treaty of Versailles when nations like France and England lost 12x as many men and their economies in shatters due to Kaiser's Germany.

Grant was in many ways among the worst Presidents in this nation's history but compared to Wilson, not as bad, so W.W. gets the 'W' here and moves on with the other garbage..

Now onto Coolidge v Teddy Roosevelt..  

Here's two Presidents who one could say really did not deserve to be among the 16 worst if just ranking all Presidents 1 to 44 as a list.   But as we said in our Round 1 posting, all the names were literally picked out of a hat to start, so with random chance you will end up with battles like this..

Coolidge was a popular President for his day because he was a refreshing change from the scandal plagued Harding administration (he died in office) and Wall Street didn't miss a beat as the Roaring 20's kept on what would seem forever..

He was a big proponent of laissez-faire government which means business runs itself and fixes its own messes with little to no need for government to step in.
Of course this philosophy proved to be a complete failure by 1929 but it was Hoover who took the brunt, not Silent Cal Coolidge who was already of office by almost a full year when the market plummeted.

He also as typical with the Republican economic mantra of the 20th and 21st century was pro-Big Business, anti-Union and as long as the Dow was going up there were to problems economically to worry about.

Teddy Roosevelt was Republican as well but he served two decades before Coolidge and overall did care very much for not just the wealthy but the everyday person as well by fighting against monopolies and trusts whenever he could.

He also was a keen environmentalist..
~ Teddy with environmentalist John Muir

In this battle, it is Coolidge that moves on in the tourney though to be fair, if he had competed against someone like Jimmy Carter or George W Bush, he would not have made it to the final round of Not-so-great 8

Now onto Mr Cherries n' Milk Zachary Taylor vs. Herbert Hoover..

Z.T. only served a year or so in office before dying and being replaced by Millard Fillmore in 1850 and he like all the Presidents of the post Mexican War era had to battle to keep peace between the southern factions that wanted to secede and the northern factions what wanted to keep them in the Union for economic reasons..
But for Taylor's desire for peace, he certainly rocked the apple cart as the saying goes by pushing for California's entrance into the Union which upset the southerners deeply since it altered the 50/50 balance in the Senate and led to the ultimate Compromise of 1850.

All in all though, an insignificant Presidency..

There really isn't much competition between an ex Mexican War general who only served as President about 15 months vs a man in Hoover who held office for 4 full years and by the time he left in 1933, unemployment was at 25% and deep profound misery and fear swept the nation..

Hoover moves on..
And now to the heavyweight battles in our Round of 16..

The best way for us to evaluate these two Democrats is to ask a simple question:  If Bill Clinton was elected into office in 2008 and was currently serving his second term today, would things be better, worse or the same?

We honestly believe the country with the economy in particular would be in better shape if B.C. was currently in office versus B.O.

Clinton would never have wasted all his political capital in the first year or so in office pushing through his pet healthcare plan to the detriment of everything else..
In fact if one remembers, Hillary was in charge of a panel on health care back in 1993 but the administration felt there were bigger issues to address and to put healthcare first would be toxic.

We honestly believe if Clinton was in office, there would have been job creating legislation pushed through Congress even if the opposition party tried to block it..   There's be other job creating initiatives even by Executive Order if needed to get people working and not simply at McDonalds...

We're not saying Clinton was a great President because if we did, he wouldn't be in the Round of 16, but we are saying he was an active do-something person especially when the polls showed a majority wanted X or Y..

Clinton was/is a people person.. He loved/loves interacting with others..
Obama is very academic and aloof.. a delegator who finds socializing to be degrading..  Its so hard to get anything done in a democracy with that mindset

And it really is amazing how inactive and hands-off he is to anything not involving the term 'Obamacare'

We all know the current lower unemployment is a sham but what makes it such is the academic manipulation of numbers to give the appearance things are getting better while the President sits on his hands or looks for ways to involve our military in needless and unwanted entanglement squabbles.
Now all the Bureau of Labor Statistics chicanery was started by the Clinton administration as they devised new methodology to figure unemployment so it wouldn't appear so high..

That said, as remarked before, Clinton was very active and in-control in office.  He wouldn't have just twiddled his thumbs and allowed a recession-depression to enter year 6 with annual GDP still at an anemic 2%.

Now would a Clinton Administration have pushed the Justice Department to prosecute those on Wall Street responsible for the crash, especially the heads of all the banks involved in those toxic mortgage and derivative schemes?

And would the NSA be running amok with their spying on US citizens without probable cause?  And would the Patriot Act have been extended while the Bush tax cuts been made permanent like the current incompetent?
Honestly its hard to say.. we'd like to hope.  But President Clinton loved Wall Street..  Really he was the first Democrat President to have such an open affinity and admiration for their avarice and greed.  And they rewarded him with hefty contributions especially the 1996 re-election..

And it was during Clinton's administration that NAFTA was passed which destroyed thousands of American jobs sending them off mostly to Mexico and severely weakened US labor unions..

So we don't know how dramatically different or better Clinton would be if in office today..   We just feel it would be a more pro-active Administration in dealing with the problems being currently ignored and swept under the rug..

And that E for Effort for Clinton is just enough to propel our current Commander in Chief into the next round..  "Victory" to Obama..
Lastly, the really Big battle of the Round of 16..  Nixon vs LBJ

In one corner we got the man who dramatically pushed and expanded our involvement in Vietnam vs the man who promised in 1968 he'd get us out and yet kept us in a full three years after the fact just to save face under a 'peace with honor' slogan..

Neither President seemed to care about the feelings of those who spoke out against the war and their decisions to keep up the fight collectively contributed to a weakening US economy, higher inflation and in the case of Nixon, the decision to stop pegging our currency to gold, so to allow the money printing necessary to finance the war..
~ LBJ

For many people, who is better or 'worse' is simply determined by political affiliation.. Dems will never believe for a moment Nixon did more for the nation than LBJ and Reps with the passage of time can re-embrace Nixon as one of their own by rallying around the complex man..

They will point to his trip to China as a golden moment..

But when you consider in 2014, China owns over $1.27 Trillion in US debt meaning they own the US (we can't even publicly admit they manipulate their currency without fear of economic reprisal) and our own stock market goes up/down based upon their currency strength, GDP and other factors making us secondary..

Really how 'good' was Nixon's trip to China anyhow?
~ Nixon with James Brown

So ultimately we pick Nixon to be the 'winner' by a wiggle because at least as we see it, on domestic issues such as Civil Rights and fighting poverty, LBJ seemed to genuinely care..

For Nixon, fair or not, it just never seemed a priority and in fact he seemed constantly in contradiction with himself.  Sometimes he liked to portray himself as very tolerant of others based on his Quaker background yet had a lot of hate in his heart for those who thought and believed different from him..

Nixon moves on in the competition..

So we finally reached our Not-So-Great 8

There are 5 Republicans, 3 Democrats and with the exception of Buchanan, all competitors are from the 20th century into the present..

Wonder who will make it into the Final Four of Failure?

Check back toward the end of the week to find out who advances..