Yesterday’s Presidents… Today! (Pt. 2)
February 12, 2007
In response to Dr. Hammerskjold’s list below, I feel I have to reciprocate with my own picks. At first glance, his (and my) choices are quite weak. Would we really want to reanimate any of these people to lead our glorious nation? The complicating factor, however, is that the vast majority of presidents were god awful. To fix that problem, I’ll do another column later wherein I make my picks from all presidential candidates, not just the winners. Alas, I do not make the rules.
1) Chester A. Arthur
President Arthur has the unfortunate distinction of falling right into the middle of the post Civil War 19th century, otherwise known as the “The Era of Wildly Ineffective Presidents with Funny Sounding Names That Nobody Ever Remembers.” If not for that, Arthur might be remembered as the good president that he was. Elected as Garfield’s vice president in 1880, he only assumed the presidency after his boss was murdered. Once in office, however enacted sweeping civil service reform, passed immigration legislation, and managed to remove much of the cronyism and corruption of the Grant years. Chester Arthur would be exactly the sort of leader we need today to clean the stink of Bush from Washington and rise above petty politics.
2) James Monroe
In terms of popularity and effectiveness, Monroe may be the greatest president in history. As a long time diplomat, Monroe was a foreign policy specialist who also benefited from having the best Secretary of State in history, John Quincy Adams. In these times of international troubles, we need a president who can chart a steady course and restore America’s prominence abroad. Furthemore, Monroe was able to maintain a general sense of unity domestically as he oversaw what is commonly referred to as the “Era of Good Feelings.” If there’s anyone who could see us safely out of Iraq, defuse Iran and North Korea, and solve the Darfur problem, it is the Monroe Administration.
3) Jimmy Carter
Often maligned was one of the more ineffective presidents in history, we think that Carter doesn’t really get a fair shake. For the most part, he was a victim of terrible luck. The gravest problem facing America for the foreseeable future is the growing energy crisis. Of all the presidents, Carter is the only one with any sort of positive track record on energy. The energy crisis during his administration was pretty much out of his control, but he passed effective legislation pushing necessary conservation. Furthermore, Carter has a strong record on foreign affairs, stressing human rights as a guiding principle. Another Carter Administration would get us out of Iraq and actually work towards defusing the Arab-Israeli conflict, as opposed to the dangerous Bush strategy of unilateral support for Israel. People like to use the hostage crisis against Carter, but at least his solution wasn’t to arm our Iranian enemies and negotiate with terrorists. All in all, there could not be a more tireless advocate of global peace.
The winner? Carter has a serious leg up since he is still alive, so that’s who I will go with.