The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Presidential musings

No, I am not thinking of running in 2012. Please do not ask.

When I turn off my TV, the last thing I do is switch the channel to a 24 hour news channel. I have no idea why I do this, it just gives me a "jumping off" point when I turn it back on plus I get a bit of what's in the news.

If I may digress a bit... I tend to read the scrolling news along the bottom of the screen more than I pay attention to whatever talking head happens to be on the air at the moment. But when I once could multi-task and read while listening, I find I can no longer do both.

I usually turn the TV on around 3:30 in the afternoon. But I pay very little attention to it. At 4, I tune into Your World with Neil Cavuto. It's a business oriented news and commentary hour. I am not a businessman, never have been, but I find it interesting. And often entertaining. Neil's a funny guy... in a dry, boring business-y way. And he has interesting guests. But, yesterday, what grabbed my attention was the press conference "starring" Bill Clinton.

I was a bit taken aback by the way Clinton took over the press conference. It seemed clear to me that Obama wanted a short, to the point, statement of support by Clinton on the pending tax legislation extending the tax cuts of George Bush which was running into Democratic resistance in the House and even the Senate.

It didn't turn out that way. Clinton took over the podium and wouldn't give it up. Obama gave up hanging around after 11 minutes and left the room. Clinton continued for another 25 minutes.

I am not alone in seeing it this way. Just read the various news reports of of the conference. Here's a good example:

That got me to thinking about former presidents... how they act, and how we view them, after leaving office. Many are treated like elder statesmen. A few are ignored. Very few stay as unpopular as they were in their last couple of years in office. In recent years, only one has not overcome his poor image. We still think of Jimmy Carter's one term as a failed presidency. And he seems to have become a bitter man. It's a pity. He tried to revamp his image after leaving office with his involvement in Habitat for Humanity. I think that worked for awhile. But then he started giving his political views and they were as unwelcome as they had been while he was in office.

Even Nixon was smart enough to avoid the limelight until it was safe to come out again.

G.W. Bush has made a bit of a comeback. His poll numbers are on the rise. I am reading his book, "Decision Points", to get his take on the various things that so captured our attention while he was in office. I understand the book is selling quite well. I would not recommend it to anyone looking for an objective view of his presidency but it does reveal a lot about the man. Will he also become an elder stateman? I think so... eventually. Though I suspect he will never be seen as a great president, history may be much kinder to him than we might think today.

I thought about presidents I admired as I went through life. Eisenhower was the first I recall. I was only 4 when Truman left office. I was just becoming politically aware when he was replaced by JFK. I liked JFK... who didn't? Well, if you examine the results of the 1960 election, quite a few didn't. Almost enough to keep him out of office. When we look back, we view his presidency through the filter of his assassination. In reality, he (like virtually every president) did some good things (space program, lowering tax rates, invigorating the image of president) and some bad things (mishandling the Bay of Pigs invasion, getting us embroiled in Vietnam, letting Bobby Kennedy wiretap and investigate MLK) but none of it matters as much as the emotional impact of his assassination. He was an instant icon after the last echo of the bullets.

I did not like Lyndon Johnson and despised Nixon. I will give Nixon credit for only one thing, recognizing China existed politically. I don't think anyone else could have done it. Nixon was seen as a hard line anti-communist. Who better to open the door to relations with Red China? I never considered Nixon corrupt but I did think he was too loyal to people who were. He didn't order the Watergate break in but should never have covered up any involvement by people in the White House.

I am almost ashamed to say it but I voted for Jimmy Carter. While Gerald Ford was a decent man, he was not presidential enough and seemed a "place holder" more than the chief executive. The economic problems he (Ford) faced were too tough for him. Carter, however, made a complete mess of things in that area. I still have a lot of respect for his Middle East diplomatic efforts. He is still the only president to get at least two of the main combatants to reach an agreement. He should be remembered for that.

Reagan was the very image of what a president should be. He revitalized the country, made us proud again, gave us hope. George H. W. Bush was another Ford. It seemed the only thing he did right was to kick Saddam out of Kuwait. Clinton seemed, to me, more interested in the perks of the office (see interns and royal treatment) than he was in the actual workings. I considered his administration to be corrupt and possibly influenced by Indonesian and Chinese money. Still, he was an amusing and charming guy.

I wonder how Obama will be seen in ten years?


Pearl said...

You sure we can't talk you into running?!


Douglas said...

Pearl, if I run, would you be my Secretary of Transportation?