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Who was the best US president since IIWW?

  1. Harry S. Truman

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Dwight D. Eisenhower

    4 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. John F. Kennedy

    6 vote(s)
    25.0%
  4. Lyndon B. Johnson

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Richard Nixon

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Gerald Ford

    1 vote(s)
    4.2%
  7. James Earl Carter, Jr.

    3 vote(s)
    12.5%
  8. Ronald Reagan

    3 vote(s)
    12.5%
  9. George H. W. Bush

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. William Jefferson Clinton

    7 vote(s)
    29.2%
  11. George W. Bush

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Sep 27, 2008 #1

    Borek

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    Staff: Mentor

    In the who won first debate thread Turbo and Tribdog exchanged thoughts:

    And it made me thinking - how do you (Americans, PFers, whatever) value your presidents? I had a problem where to start, I was grown enough to recognize names since Nixon, but at least some of PFers will have their own opinions on earlier presidents, so I decided to start with Truman, just after IIWW ended.

    So, which one was the best?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2008 #2

    turbo

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    Gold Member

    Probably Eisenhower. He was president during some tumultuous times, when servicemen were starting families and booming the economy, AND he was smart enough about the relationships between the Pentagon and their suppliers to know that they would bleed this country dry if possible, at the expense of schools, hospitals, infrastructure, etc.
     
  4. Sep 27, 2008 #3

    Evo

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    It depends on how you judge them, popularity, achievements. Most popular in my lifetime has to be Reagan. He also had a number of achievements.

    Then you have Lyndon B Johnson that took over at a very bad time and did a lot ending segregation, promoting civil rights, education, health care, fighting poverty, conservation, the right for blacks to vote, his backing the spcae program, but in the end, his escalation of the Vietnam War did him in.
     
  5. Sep 27, 2008 #4

    LowlyPion

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    I think none of the presidents since World War II really enjoys the mantle of greatness like Lincoln or FDR or even Teddy or several of the first Presidents like Washington or Jefferson. These were men that shaped their times as well as the times shaping them.

    I'd say Rushmore is in no immediate need of a makeover.
     
  6. Sep 27, 2008 #5

    OmCheeto

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    Gold Member

    Kennedy.

    Inspired us to go to the moon.

    The best should have the rest of the occupants of the planet saying, "Gosh, I wish he were our president".

    I don't think that could be said of any of the other presidents.

    The worst of course, are the ones who make us want to move to Canada.
     
  7. Sep 27, 2008 #6

    turbo

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    Gold Member

    I voted for Reagan the first time because he said that he would shrink our government and cut waste. His first term, he increased the size of government by 25% and gave tax cuts to the wealthy. No more support from me. Later, he would go on to commit treason (stealing weapons from our amories, and selling them to a state that was an avowed enemy of the US) so he could finance a private war in Nicaragua. What a swell guy!

    Have sex with an aide = get impeached. Commit treason = have a national airport named after you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2008
  8. Sep 27, 2008 #7

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    Reagan has a carrier named after him. Reagan and Bush have airports named for them.


    I couldn't handle Reagan's dishonesty. That was the beginning of the flawed Reaganomics, the culmination of which is the financial situation the country is now facing. The first indications that it wasn't going to work were the huge deficits and the S&L crisis. The government didn't learn and sought to deregulate.

    I agree with McCain about earmarks - earmarks and deficits are like crack - and Congress is addicted to both.

    It was well known in the mid-80's that Star Wars was a farce, but the government kept spending hundreds of $billion. One Air Force general ultimately conceded that they probably wasted about $500 billion. I wish I could find that testimony to Congress.
     
  9. Sep 27, 2008 #8
    There's a case to be made for Nixon, despite all of his well-known problems and the ignominious end of his tenure. He got the US out of Vietnam and shored up relations with China, which ultimately resulted in victory in the Cold War. He established the EPA, OSHA and a panopoly of other agencies to serve the public good, while also taking steps to improve automotive efficiency and calling for "comprehensive health care." Large scale school desegregation also occured on his watch. His Supreme Court appointments were pretty solid as well. It's difficult to swallow your bile and approve of Nixon, what with all the nastiness associated with him, but when you compare to, say, Bush, who is twice as nasty, just as corrupt, and incompetent to boot, well...
     
  10. Sep 28, 2008 #9
    I voted for Carter. How can you not like a do-nothing President? I expect Clinton to win though. The physics nerds are going to skew this in favor of a man who lied about having sex.
     
  11. Sep 28, 2008 #10

    cristo

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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I'm not sure that's the reason the poll will be 'skewed.' I, for one, voted for Clinton solely for the work he put into trying to solve the conflicts in Northern Ireland. He's a good role model for your country: someone who really does care about international matters.
     
  12. Sep 28, 2008 #11
    Considering foreign policy, no doubt about it, Kennedy.

    After enduring the Bay of Pigs catastrophe which was an Eisenhower heritage, he found out the real reason of the failure and used that to successfully manage the nuclear threat from Cuba with the embargo in 1963. We never came closer to a man made world catastrophe. Knowing that key to success, he might have managed an early and favorable withdrawal from Vietnam as well. He never got a chance. Most presidents were populists only, he was also a genius.

    Believe me, Dallas November 22, 1963 was the blackest day by orders of magnitude in the history of the USA.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  13. Sep 28, 2008 #12

    OmCheeto

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    Gold Member

    Physics nerds? Lied about having sex?

    Carter said he only lusted after women in his heart. :wink:

    I would have voted for Carter in this poll(being both a physics nerd, and ex-navy), but his term seemed to be dotted with so many outside roadblocks, it never seemed to get off the ground. I voted for him during both of his campaigns.

    When Reagan took over, it pretty much told me the old adage about Americans not wanting a president who was smarter than they were was true.

    I've been pretty much disillusioned with the choices since then, and have not followed or seriously discussed politics with anyone until about 6 months ago.

    But getting back to Carter, he was either in office 30 years too early, or we are 30 years too late trying to figure out what he was doing.

    But unfortunately, he had little charisma, hence no one listened, the actor replaced the physicist farmer, and we've done little more than go forward in time since then.
     
  14. Sep 28, 2008 #13
    what did he do for the genocide in Rwanda?
     
  15. Sep 28, 2008 #14

    OmCheeto

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    Gold Member

    Well, even if he had done something, people would have still told him he was wrong.
    I had an argument with Astronuc about the genocide in Kosovo a while back. The American pop press seldom gets the whole story right. According to my friends from Moscow and Armenia, what's going on in Georgia is quite a bit more complicated than just a Russian invasion.

    But we are discussing presidents and genocide at the moment. I have to agree with Madeleine Albright's following statement about our involvement in these types of matters. Actually, the group as a whole had the solution down pretty well, IMHO. You may want to read all of their comments:

    What's really sad, is that when Colin Powell went to the UN and said there was genocide going on in Dafur, they said;"No there's not."

    Apparently the value we Americans put on life is not shared by the rest of the world. But that's another thread altogether.
     
  16. Sep 28, 2008 #15

    cristo

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    Not every problem in the world can be solved by American military marching into foreign countries under the US flag, and kicking the crap out of people there. If I understand things correctly, he left this situation to the UN, albeit he could have provided a little more support to the UN. Still, humanitarian help was provided after the incident.

    Similarly, one could ask what Bush has done regarding the recent situation in Zimbabwe.
     
  17. Sep 28, 2008 #16

    LowlyPion

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    114 days until we have a new President.

    114 days until our National bad dream hopefully will be lifted and the incompetence of the Bush/Cheney/Rove years are removed from office.

    Will the next President be in the running to be considered the best since WW II? I can only hope as we are in need of a return to superior rational policy - the built up problems have simply become bigger than ideology and posturing and pretense that things are under control.
     
  18. Sep 28, 2008 #17

    Defennder

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    I don't understand why JFK is considered one of the greatest presidents of all time. He didn't even serve a full term.
     
  19. Sep 28, 2008 #18

    LowlyPion

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    In terms of inspiration I'd say he certainly spoke to the best of the American psyche.

    The management of the Cuban missile crisis may have been as much his fault as his success. His stands against segregation, and the states' authority to perpetuate it, were the right thing to do. His call to explore the moon, which was realized as a result was to his credit. After the bland Eisenhower years his youthfulness was glamorous and forward looking to a generation of boomers that were inspired to service.

    Basically I don't count him the best of the bunch, but certainly I see him as middle table ahead of the effete Bush the Elder, or Bush the Jr, or Ford, or Carter.
     
  20. Sep 28, 2008 #19
    I voted for Carter. He did what was necessary for the economy (inflation was already at 12% when he came into office) by raising interest rates. He was willing to do the right thing and be unpopular. Others accomplished more, but boy did Carter ever have character.
     
  21. Sep 28, 2008 #20
    I checked and I was a bit off -- 11% and 9% in the two years before Carter. My memory didn't quite serve me. The point was that inflation had already taken off by the time Carter came into office.
     
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