My, my, you are certainly a contentious bunch. Thus far, more than a thousand of you have clicked the reply button to my column two weeks ago on The Worst President Ever. Your remarks have run the gamut from the sublime (those that agree with me, of course) to the ridiculous (the worst president in history was the first one George Washington?).
I just spent the past couple of days reading every single one. Yes, even the ones that ran more than a full page IN ALL CAPS! Oh, the sacrifices I make for my loyal readers.
Hey, folks, I know you feel pretty passionate about some of these issues. And I love that so many of you enjoying commenting on what you’ve read—or what some imbecile before you said. But trying to shout in email really doesn’t work—it just makes your comments hard to read. Please, turn off the all-caps key before you start typing.
But definitely keep those cards and letters coming. Or at least the emails. The comments sections are one of the best-read parts of Personal Liberty Alerts. I wouldn’t change that for all the rice in China. In fact, I’m going to quote from several in today’s column.
What got me started on the subject was a visit my son-in-law and I made to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. He pointed out that Franklin Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for that majestic building. I remarked, “Isn’t it ironic that one of the worst presidents in history dedicated the memorial to one of the best?”
This led Micah to ask me who else I would number among the worst presidents ever. I surprised him by saying I wouldn’t include Barack Obama—at least not yet. Let’s let him finish at least one term (hopefully his only one) before guessing what history will say.
That left the rest of my list: FDR, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton and (to the surprise of many) Richard Nixon. But the absolute worst, I said, was Woodrow Wilson. You can explore my reasons in the original column; I won’t repeat them all here. Click here to read it.
An overwhelming number of you wrote to say I had made one huge mistake in that piece—my exclusion of Barack Obama from my “five worst” list. In fact, many of you were outraged that I didn’t put him at the very top. Lee Ann spoke for a lot of readers when she said “anyone with a brain” would know that.
Interestingly, to many of you he doesn’t even deserve to be called Barack Obama. He’s B.O. Or Barry Soetoro. Or a lot worse. Thanks to a pretty tough spam filter, the most intemperate comments don’t get posted. But there sure are a lot of ways to be (relatively) polite while you say something nasty about our Teleprompter-in-Chief.
You may be surprised to hear that not everyone who reads Straight Talk can be found on the right side of the aisle. Hannington Okello wrote: “Barack Obama? You have got to be kidding yourself! He is and will be the best president America has ever had and one you wish could rule forever.”
Gee, Hanny, I think you kind of gave yourself away there, with your “rule forever” comment. How long before you demand that we serfs gently tug our forelocks as we bow to every bureaucrat and say, “yes, massuh”?
But Mr. Okeno has at least one ally in our comments section. Che King wrote to say, “President Obama will go down as America’s best president even before he finishes his second term.” Hate to rain on your parade, Mr. King, but I don’t think Obama will be in the Oval Office in 2012. Not after Jan. 21—unless he’s a guest of the new president.
Christopher Huber had a perfect rejoinder for the Obama idolaters in the audience. “Whatever drugs you are on,” he replied, “I want some.” Nicely put, Chris.
So who else did our readers nominate for the “worst of all time” list? There was a spirited debate lasting for many pages on the various demerits of Jimmy Carter vs. Bill Clinton. Bill made my original list, Jimmy did not. I will admit there was much the peanut farmer from Georgia did to embarrass me while he wore the title of the world’s most powerful leader. But being a sanctimonious, hypocritical, weak-kneed wuss isn’t enough to make my top five.
Several readers claimed that Bill Clinton wasn’t bad enough to deserve that honorific, either. But Lynette insists they didn’t know what they were talking about. Listen to this lady’s rant:
“Bill Clinton was one of the biggest drug dealers this country has ever known! He has been bringing in cocaine from Mena, Arkansas for years. While he was governor and while he was president. Watch The New Clinton Chronicles for a real eye-opener.”
I didn’t mention any of that. Or Whitewater, or Vince Foster, or even the unbridled ambition of his First Lady. All I know is that I was ashamed he was the leader of my country. I was delighted when he was impeached and sorry when he wasn’t found guilty and removed from office.
I thought my inclusion of Richard Nixon in a “worst ever” list would have many of you rushing to straighten me out. But in fact, most who commented on his appearance agreed with me.
No, the Republican president an extraordinary number of you loathe and despise is George W. Bush.
There are some of you who believe that GW personally conspired to bring down the towers of the World Trade Center. I guess the fact that 27 fanatical jihadists, armed with box cutters and other weapons, took control of those airplanes was strictly a coincidence? I like a good conspiracy theory as well as the next man. But this one is beyond absurd, as far as I am concerned.
RK denounced one contributor with the comment, “You are as stupid as the Tea Party.” (Did I mention that many of my readers enjoy insulting each other?) He then added, “The list of the worst president should read as follows: #1 George Bush, #2 George Bush, #3 George Bush.”
Apparently RK liked his comment so much, he posted it twice. Sharon added that since he only named three, she wanted to add two more: “#4 George Bush, #5 George Bush.”
At least some on the left have a sense of humor.
One who does not is Debo, who wrote that, “You might be watching too much Fox News. You and your ilk are not qualified to question the competency of the president of the United States.” Gee, do you happen to know Hanny Okello, Debo? Maybe I could introduce you.
In addition to George Bush, two other Republican presidents came in for an inordinate amount of reader-bashing. One didn’t surprise me—Abraham Lincoln. Many readers wrote at length, with eloquence and passion, about why they felt the Great Emancipator belonged on the list. Several said he should top it.
Jesse put it succinctly: “Lincoln prosecuted an illegal war against the Southern states… [that] resulted in the deaths of over 600,000 men on both sides.” This was more fatalities than we suffered in every war since then, he added.
You may be surprised to learn that many Americans consider Abraham Lincoln a terrible president. I’m not. I’ve read enough to know that these critics have some powerful facts to buttress their arguments. (See Thomas DiLorenzo’s Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know about Dishonest Abe and The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War.)
So who was the other Republican a number of readers disparaged? None other than Ronald Reagan.
I have to say, the unbridled vituperation many of you exhibited against the Great Communicator did surprise me. I’ll be the first to admit that as president (and before that, as governor of California), Reagan did many things with which I disagreed. More to the point, he did not do many things he promised he would—such as abolish useless cabinet agencies, reduce the cost of government, balance the budget, etc.
But being wrong or ineffectual didn’t make him evil. On the positive side, he brought the United States a new respect around the world. He said many of the right things—and he said them more eloquently than any president since the Founding Fathers. (And unlike JFK, he wrote most of the words he spoke.)
This triggered a provocative question from one of our regular correspondents. Beberoni asked: “Once I saw for myself what Ronald Reagan did, I ran as fast as I could from the Democrat Party to Ronald Reagan’s conservative party. I now wonder why the Republican Party has run away from Reagan’s conservative party. Why wouldn’t you continue a successful thing, when he showed them how to do it?”
Maybe they will, Beberoni, maybe they will. We’ll know this November.
And with that folks, I’ve run out room for this month. So let me close by encouraging you to join this fray once in a while. Read some of the comments at the end of my columns. Or if you’re a real glutton for punishment, read them all. And then join them yourself.
Unless you do, you won’t know why at least some loyal readers want Franklin Pierce, or Rutherford Hayes or James Buchanan added to the “worst ever” list. Or why one insists the top spot must go Dick Cheney.
As I said, my readers are a contentious and cantankerous lot. God bless you, each and every one.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.