2016 will bring a new President, and thus, new Presidential rankings….
History is constantly evolving and changing…. so is this list.
Can’t we all just get along?
George W. Bush ^ : Loathed by modern “progressives,” any historian worth his/her salt should have suggested patience. Presidents must not be judged immediately following their terms, nor soon after elections. Many of Bush’s policies are now being viewed as successful- see the Surge, and TARP. Despite the vitriol still spewed by his critics, W’s historical stock is rising.
Civil Rights Rube…
LBJ v : Recent release of Oval Office recordings revealed Lyndon Johnson at his worst. Modern depictions of him in films like “Selma” have also cast doubt on his civil rights legacy. No other President has experienced this sort of roller coaster ranking, and this year appears to be a straight drop for “Landslide Lyndon.”
Dwight Eisenhower ^ : Soon to be memorialized on the National Mall, Ike is liked once again. Historians are beginning to appreciate his cool demeanor and bipartisan political record. The current Republican party should do some soul searching when viewing its current obsession with ideological purity.
v : The recent uproar at Princeton over the racist legacy of its most famous history professor has everyone reconsidering our view of the Progressive champion. Proper scrutiny is now being leveled against Wilson’s policies- many of them created as a result of his distrust of the Constitution and disregard for the Declaration of Independence.
A continuing examination of the Presidency of Barack Obama… partisanship is kept to a minimum, but the issues raised are the opinions of Practically Historical and its staff.
The clean energy conundrum: Obama’s attempts to be the first “Green President” cost the tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus subsidies and crippled traditional industries(costing thousands of jobs) with an undeclared war on the coal industry. Considering that the United States accounts for less than 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions, Obama’s policies were decidedly ideological and at odds with the majority of the American people.
Minding the store: The 24 hour news cycle brings local stories national attention, completely skewing proper perspectives. Obama’s seeming need to insert himself in local and state matters often blurred the lines of Federalism and confounded attempts at reforming law enforcement. The “beer summit” and professed paternal bond with Trayvon Martin did more to divide the public than promote understanding. Obama’s image evolved into that of lecturer-in-chief, castigating the public for what he considered their ignorance. on matters of race, religion, and tolerance.
Selective Enforcement Syndrome: Despite being declared “scandal-free” by partisans, Obama’s Justice Department was plagued by insidious ideological application of the law. The half-hearted investigation of IRS officials targeting Conservative groups with audits and denying non-profit status based on ideology concluded without a single indictment; conversely, Attorney General Loretta Lynch promptly responded to Congressional Democrats demanding an investigation into secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials leaked by a pro-life group. The DOJ refused to pursue any charges in the botched DEA operation called “Fast and Furious.”
Another round was needed
Next time– The Ugly
Executive orders were once referred to as “memorandum, notes, or letters”… issued by the President. Many Americans equate the process with the creation of law, but typically the orders are written to enforce, not write laws. Recent Presidents have used the authority to implement policies which are not part of a legislative agenda. Historically, the American people are uncomfortable with an overly-active executive. The practice has only been officially documented since 1936.
Some perspective on the issuing of Executive Orders is needed….
Ge0rge Washington- 8
James Madison- 1
Andrew Jackson- 12
James K. Polk- 18
Abraham Lincoln- 48
US Grant- 217
Theodore Roosevelt- 1,081
Woodrow Wilson- 1, 803
*Calvin Coolidge- 1,203
Franklin Roosevelt- 3,721
Richard Nixon- 346
George W. Bush- 291
Barack Obama- 276
Donald Trump- 12…. and counting
Historically, inaugural speeches celebrate the American system… our republican virtue and the peaceful transfer of power. Partisanship is put aside in acknowledgment of being part of something greater, and speakers usually are humbled by the Day.
Still on the Stump
January 20, 2017 was just another stump speech for our 45th President… unaware or unwilling to accept that the day and our history dwarf him, President Trump repeated his neo-populist campaign slogans in a not-so-subtle swipe at his predecessors. At the precise moment he should have shed his reality TV persona, Mr. Trump chose to continue his role as rabble rouser in-chief.
“candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.”
John Adams understood the gravity of his inauguration… March 4, 1797. His words echoed through history for generations to follow, yet were all but ignored today:
“The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.”
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams waged a bitter and divisive Presidential campaign in 1800… deeply dividing their countrymen. Adams’ party was swept out of power and many expected Jeffersonians to settle scores. The speech Jefferson gave on March 4, 1801 was barely heard by those in attendance, but his call for political unity and patriotic harmony, resonated with his people…
Unite with one heart and one mind
“During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.”
“But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
140 Characters or less…
News of Donald Trump’s efforts at writing his own Inaugural Address… should worry us all. Can a man whose literary record consists only of insulting other celebrities and the media in less than 140 characters be expected to unite a deeply divided nation?
Recent discussion about the Supreme Court prompted… some thoughts about the greatest men to sit on our nation’s highest bench. Four faces that best exemplify jurisprudence in American history. Here goes….
John Marshall: Chief Justice 1801-1835– The George Washington of justices, the first and possibly the greatest. Marshall established all future Court behavior in Marbury v. Madison – later he helped define Federalism with the McCulloch v. Maryland decision.
Man of action
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: Associate Justice 1902-1932– A man of action on the battlefield (wounded twice in the Civil War) and in the courtroom. Holmes is one of the most cited Justices and helped establish that free speech must be responsible speech in Schenck v. United States.
The Great Dissent
John Marshall Harlan: Associate Justice 1877-1911– A former slave owner who became the voice of reason on a Court determined to protect segregation. Harlan’s lone dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson became the foundation of all future Civil Rights cases.
The Modern Era
Earl Warren: Chief Justice 1953-1969– Much ink has been spilled over Warren’s legacy, but it is an essential one. Warren’s decisions ended public school segregation, reaffirmed “one man-one vote,” and expanded due-process protections. He is largely responsible for the role the Court plays in modern American politics.