“Uncouth, Nasty, and Often Drunk”…70 Years Of Presidents (part 2)

“Uncouth, Nasty, and Often Drunk”  The Presidents (part 2)

70 Years of Presidents

Gerald R. Ford, our 38th president (1974-1977).  Kat, my wife, and I felt privileged to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ford got a lot of heat for his perceived clumsiness, but the fact was he was a great athlete, starring on the University of Michigan football team and going on to coach at Yale while earning his law degree.  He, too, was a lieutenant commander in the Navy during WWII.

Inheriting the office when Nixon resigned, his presidency was marred in the eyes of many by his pardoning of Nixon.  I think it was in the best interest of the country, putting at end a long period of dislike and distrust of the office of president.  He appointed former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to serve as his VP.  He had the courage of his convictions, vetoing 39 bills during his tenure in office, trying to keep inflation and spending under control.  His policies, in his own words, “…a moderate in domestic affairs, a conservative in fiscal affairs, and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist in foreign affairs.” A major goal of Ford’s was to help business operate more freely by reducing taxes upon it and easing the controls exercised by regulatory agencies. “We…declared our independence 200 years ago, and we are not about to lose it now to paper shufflers and computers,” he said.   I would welcome his approach in today’s congress and administration.

If Ford had a fault, it was that he was notoriously cheap.  If a tip should be $20.00 to a caddy, Ford was only good for a single dollar bill.  Would he and all presidents be as miserly with the national budget.

One of the great losses to the country was Ford’s loss to Carter in 1976.  As much as I admired and appreciated Gerald Ford, I disdained and disrespected Jimmy (James) Carter, our 39th president (1977-1981), and unlike the aforementioned presidents, for more intimate reasons.  Although I had no direct contact with the peanut farmer, I did have one personal experience with his family.  That said, no man should be judged by his brother, although I’d be proud to be judged by my own.  When I lived in Bakersfield, California, the Carters, brother Billy and family in tow, arrived to campaign and rented a remote mountain property from friends and relatives of mine, who collectively owned this small mountain resort.  Upon arriving and ensconcing themselves in the resort, the first question out of the mouths of the younger Carters’ was, “where can we buy some dope?”  Now they weren’t looking for heroine or LSD or some other heinous substance, only for a little marijuana, but I was surprised and shocked that they’d be so stupid to involve themselves in that particular activity during a presidential campaign.  I guess the peanut farmer looked so lily white that he didn’t think anyone would believe it, and I guess they didn’t, not that I shouted it from any soap box until this very writing.

“If the Secret Service considered Richard Nixon the strangest modern president, Jimmy Carter was known as the least likable. …Carter treated with contempt the little people who helped and protected him.” From In the President’s Secret Service, Ronald Kessler.  That speaks reams about the man.  Carter tried to project an image of being the “common man.”  In that effort he would carry his own luggage, and was lauded by the press for doing so.  However, he only did so when the press was close by, and even thought he knew it was not their job, would insist the Secret Service carried his bags otherwise…and those bags he carried when the press was present…empty!  He actually kept empty bags on hand to impress we poor dumb country folk watching him on TV.

Carter’s most terrible crime was his refusal to accept his responsibility.  He would not take the “nuclear football,” containing the codes to respond to a nuclear attack, with him to Plains, his home town.  Had he truly been a military man, he would have been prosecuted for dereliction of duty.  Had we come under attack, our response, if any could have been initiated, would have been hours late.  Reprehensible.

After Reagan was inaugurated, it was discovered that the Carter staff had left garbage strewn all over the White House and had trashed furniture in the Eisenhower Executive Building.

He left the country in as bad an economic shambles as his staff left the White House and Eisenhower.  I guess 18% mortgage interest rates could be considered “economic shambles,” and this from a man who professes his concern for those without homes, i.e. Habitat For Humanities.  Not that the program is necessarily bad, it’s Carter’s show of swinging a hammer that’s a disgrace.  The great Carter scam….

Everything the man did and still does is for show.  His presidency was a fiasco.  I think him despicable, to be kind.

Ronald Reagan, our 40th president (1981-1989).  It’s obvious that I’m a conservative, so you won’t be surprised that I think Reagan the finest president since…which may surprise you…Truman.  Reagan stimulated economic growth, curbed inflation, increased employment, and strengthened national defense.  And did all this with good humor and the utmost respect and admiration of the little people who worked for and with him.  Running for his second term, he won 489 electoral votes compared to Carter’s 49.  My faith in the intelligence of the American voter was renewed.

Kat and I have visited the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, four times as it’s less than an hours drive from our Winter place, and been both entertained and educated each time.

Republicans are generally thought of as the “rich man’s party,” however when Reagan overhauled the tax code, eliminating many deductions, he exempted millions of people with low incomes from taxation.  At the end of his administration the nation enjoyed it’s longest period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.  And Americans were happy, prosperous, healthy, and proud.  I could write reams about Reagan, but his record, his manner, and the continuing affection of the American people speaks for itself.

George H. W. Bush, or 41st president (1989-1993).  As Reagan’s VP, Bush 1 as we’ll call him, did a fine job, and had a distinguished background.  He was the youngest pilot in the Navy to receive his wings and went on to fly 58 combat missions during WWII.  He was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire and rescued from the sea by a U.S. sub, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action.

Prior to becoming president, he was twice a Congressman from Texas, although he twice ran unsuccessfully for the Senate.  He was appointed Ambassador the United Nations and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Bush put the American thumb on a cockroach in Central America, when Manual Noriega, little more than a drug dealer in a general’s uniform, threatened American troops and their families who were stationed near the Panama Canal, and the operation of the canal itself.  Noriega now sits in an American prison, thanks to Bush’s decisive act.

Kuwait was both his crowning achievement and his downfall, as trouble with the U.S. economy…due I think partially to his inattention…caused him to lose his re-election to Clinton.   Will Rogers said American’s vote after checking their pockets, and they did so in electing Clinton over Bush, who had shown the world American resolve in Iraq, and reaffirmed American pride for many of us.

My No. 3 son, Mathew, was seven weeks into the Marine Corps when Saddam Hussein decided to confiscate the lucrative oilfields of Kuwait by invasion, an act that was presumed to be only the foreshadowing of his invasion of Saudi Arabia.  Had he been allowed to accomplish both those acts, he would control a very large portion of the world’s oil supply, and have America by the balls…whoops, I probably should say barrels.

I will be forever indebted to George G. W. Bush for having the intelligence and leadership to delegate.  His admirals and generals conducted a brilliant campaign in ousting Iraq forces from Kuwait, and driving them back to their mud huts in the west.  That foresight on the part of Bush, keeping the politicians out of battle planning, kept my son and the sons of daughters of hundreds of thousands of other Americans safe during this conflict.  In 100 hours, the battle was over.

He’s been faulted for not finishing that invasion by putting Saddam’s head on a pike in the Baghdad town square.  But that’s another argument, a long one, for another time.

His loss to Clinton could be partly blamed on the split ticket.  A good many conservatives, including myself, voted for Ross Perot.  I regret that decision, as Bush earned my loyalty, and I get red in the face thinking of my transgressions.

It’s my belief that the biggest single mistake George sr. made in campaigning was being out of touch with the people.  He went into a supermarket during the campaign, walked through the check out line, and was surprised and fascinated by the scanner, which had been in use for several years.  What kind of a man didn’t know what a grocery scanner was?  The liberal press jumped on his surprised look like chickens on a June bug, and his fate was sealed with the American housewife.  From that time on I’m sure George sr. regretted the fact American women were ever given the vote.  Being out of touch cost his dearly when women went into the voting booths.  From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow, and from that tiny issue (among other economic ones), a mighty president fell.  The Bush’s were, however, honest, honorable, down to earth folks.  The best example of that came from Barbara Bush, when in residence at the Bush’s Kennebunkport, Maine residence, walked into the nearby Secret Service post and said, “I’m doing some laundry for the president and don’t have a full load.  Any of you fellas need a little laundry done?”  If that’s not down to earth, I don’t know what is.

Enter William Jefferson Clinton or 42nd president (1993-2001), who brought us into the 21st Century…if somewhat kicking and screaming.

Clinton was the first Democratic president since FDR to win a second term.  He did lots of good things: the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country’s history (however this particular statistic led to the current economic disaster), dropping crime rates in much of the country, and reduced welfare roles.  He actually proposed a balanced budget and achieved a budget surplus.

Clinton was and is a very smart guy, winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, and receiving a law degree from Yale.  However he was not smart enough to keep the majority in the House and Senate the Democratic Party enjoyed during his first two years in office…the first time in 12 years that both the White House and a majority in Congress were held by the same party.  Nor was he smart enough to avoid a chubby girl who he thought of, I’m sure, as just another lay down in a long line of easy women to a guy with a lot of charm and a line so glib it got him elected, if not physical attributes.  He raced from Rhodes Scholar to ninety miles of bad road.

Clinton’s little head overwhelmed his big one, and his indiscretions in dumbly thinking with his dick caught up with him—power is attractive to women.  As a result of his dallying with Monica Lewinsky, and his outright lying to the American people, and later recanting, he became the 2nd American president to be impeached…however he was found not guilty in the Senate, proving to my way of thinking that there truly is honor among thieves.  Being smart, and reading the pulse of the American public, he came clean and apologized to all America…and America was so refreshed by a seemingly “honest” politician, he went on to have unprecedented popular approval ratings.  I began then to really question how gullible the American voters really were…a later president made me convinced that most of them had been given a date rape drug.

If, in my eyes, Clinton made one horrific terrible mistake, it was not taking out Osama bin Laden when he had the opportunity.  We knew where bin Laden was, and what he was guilty of in several bombings and attacks on Americans, and like so many Democratic politicians subsequent to Truman, he failed to be decisive and act.  It’s easy to have 20/20 hindsight, but this one was pretty cut and dry.  It was a mistake that cost not only over 10,000 additional American lives (counting Iraq and Afghanistan), but changed America forever.  Think of the cost, and changes in America, since the attacks of 911!

George W. Bush, our 43rd president (2001-2009).  George jr. was and is a bit of a conundrum to me.  I think he and his wife to be among the most honorable and forthright folks ever to occupy the White House.  This Bush, in fact, was honest to a fault.  Gaining religion after a wild and rather wasted youth…not wasted to the extent I wasted my own, but not nearly so accomplished as many others to occupy the office, when he was in office you could pretty well depend on him saying exactly what he meant.  Even if he normally didn’t say it very well.  Somewhere I saw that even his mother said, “I can’t believe he won.”  His mother was outspoken, and honest to a fault, so I don’t doubt her saying just that.

George was and is smart, however, not particularly well spoken.  Bush was also clever enough to take a page out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook.  Faced with a recession when he took office, Bush cut income taxes across the board, setting off an unprecedented 52 straight months of job creation.  One of his great accomplishments was adding a drug benefit to Medicare, providing access to medicines for 40 million seniors and others.  That, too, is a subject for another time, as I think that action should have carried with it a restriction on drug advertising, as “free” access to prescriptions led, in my opinion, to great excesses.

On September 11, 2001, the most horrific event to happen to America since the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened when terrorists flew two airliners into the Trade Center, killing almost 3,000 and changing forever the lifestyle of the citizens of this country.

Bush reacted as any good ol’ country boy would…seeking revenge.  And he had my complete backing, as well as that of every other good ol’ country boy in the nation, and most city folks as well.

It will be a never-ending debate as to his actions in invading Iraq, although it’s my sincere belief that he thought weapons of mass destruction were under development in Iraq.  I still believe that truckloads of very destructive weapons flowed out of Iraq into Syria during our preparation to invade.  We know Saddam Hussein gassed his own people, although he didn’t consider the Kurds to be “his people.”

History will be the judge of his liberating 50 million people from tyranny and if he actually accomplished anything in Iraq other than completing the job his father left swaying in the wind…killing Saddam Hussein.

I don’t have much respect for the tribal system that still seems to predominate in the middle east, and the dictating Sharia law, of the whole Muslim world, and will not be in the least surprised if the whole area, even subsequent to current events of revolts and so called cries for democracy, turns back into the mud hut mentality of the past…no matter how much oil money seeps from the desert sands.

During the 9/11 attacks, and immediately subsequent, Bush was his most presidential.  Against the advice of the Secret Service, he returned to Washington D.C., refusing to appear to be “on the run” from terrorists.  He was a leader in the best sense of the word.

One of the very positive results of the attack was improvement in the communications aboard Air Force One, as while in flight to D.C., Bush could only receive intermittent television coverage…now the plane has satellite reception.  But the most significant result was Bush’s leadership in consolidating all of the nation’s spy organizations into a central clearing agency, the National Counterterrorism Center, wherein one hand would know what the other was doing.  It’s had its subsequent drawbacks, in that by consolidating all spy agencies computers into a single accessible system…which led to Wikileaks and the exposure of lots of our very secret information.  However, that problem, I’m convinced, will be resolved and the country will be better for the NCC.

At least when 22 Muslim terrorists are planning to fly three airliners into American buildings, pieces of information can be more easily gathered from the FBI, CIA, NSC, and other intelligence organizations.

I question the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, at least so far as it’s ongoing implementation in the country.  I abhor the fact that during Bush 2’s administration the Democrats, with Republican culpability, were allowed to destroy the U.S. and almost the world economy by totally disregarding economic reality, by allowing, and the Democrats not only allowing but insisting upon, irresponsible borrowing for home loans.  Compounded by the despicable rating and sale of those loans in international markets, the fallout of which is yet to be seen but may be the crash of the dollar, particularly as the go-to currency in the world.  While the lion slept and watched for more dangerous prey, the rats were hard at work underfoot.

Even with the questionable Constitutionality of the Patriot Act, an absolute necessity at the time of it’s implementation, George W. Bush and his elegantly middle-American wife, Laura, left the presidency and America a far better place than any of his predecessors since the Truman’s, even if he left the economy in a shambles and set us up for a subsequent Democratic administration that may be the total destruction of our American predominance and preeminence in the world.

If George 1 and George 2 had two things in common, it was, first, their disregard for the domestic economy and their utter single-minded protection of the security of the country and faith in the American military.

70 Years of Presidents

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