Monday, February 20, 2006

My Favorite Presidents on President's Day

I'm not a historian, (or an historian as we'd say in Greentown) but these are my FAVORITES:

1) George Washington... He had bad teeth which is probably why he never smiled in his pictures. Great leader... a man of prayer... Just what we needed at the time.

2) Ronald Reagan... Best president of the 20th century. Saved us from a second term with Jimmy Carter... made the word "Conservative" respectable again and forever linked it with common sense and a strong defense... saved the economy with his tax cuts... and he won the Cold War.

3) Andrew Jackson... He married Susan Hayward in "The President's Lady" and teamed up with Yul Brynner in "The Buccaneer" (and he looked a lot like Moses who coincidentally also starred with Yul Brynner in the Ten Commandments)
The real Jackson was a warrior and a man's man... and he stood up to the Supreme Court when he said, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" (Dang! I love this guy!)

Abraham Lincoln... He freed the slaves and led the nation through its darkest hours... and was so kind when he shared his apple with Shirley Temple in "The Littlest Rebel."

5) Theodore Roosevelt... He was a great leader and a great and colorful (and hugely popular) 20th century president... though I always thought he looked Japanese in those glasses in the old news reels. But whenever I hear his name I think of "Arsenic and Old Lace." Charge!


George "W" Bush... Not a true conservative, but he does seem to get the big issues right. And he defeated, and thus saved us from, two of the poorest war-time candidates for the presidency that have ever stood behind a lectern.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt... Father of the welfare state. At Yalta he gave away half of Europe to Stalin, which paved the way for so much suffering. He is mistakenly given credit for leading us out of the Great Depression when actually that was accomplished by pilots from Japan.

John Kennedy... Twiddled his fingers as the Berlin Wall went up... ("Ich bin ein Berliner..." Yeah right)... Failed to support the freedom fighters in "The Bay of Pigs" slaughter... Then when his past weakness precipitated the missile crisis... and his spine finally stiffened...he almost stumbled into World War III.


James Earl Carter... America didn't know what malaise was until Carter. Panama Canal give-away... Hostages in Iran... Double-digit interest rates and double-digit inflation... High taxes... and not a clue... Gloom. I'm sure there is more but I've no doubt blocked it out.

Bill Clinton... And just where do you begin with this national embarrassment?

Note: All the movies listed above are great movies which you must see... my favorite being "The President's Lady."


Larry Head said...


I think my only defection from your choices would be Lincoln. Although he freed the slaves it was not the primary motivation for going to war. In fact it did not appear as an issue with him until a speech and incident in NYC about half way through the war. What bothers me about Lincoln is his absolute decimation of the constitution with regard to the federal governments role in states issues...Forcing the south to go to war over economic issues he refused to negotiate on. Having said that his legacy of freeing the slaves will be his brightest moment. To bad he made personal comments about African Americans that were less than nice.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Larry hits on something regarding Lincoln. Make no mistake, I think Lincoln was a great man and a great president. His overcoming of personal obstacles in his life are an inspiration. Whether he intended to free the slaves with war or not, he did move to free them in the process.

The point I would make is that here is where Lincoln did the right thing for the time he lived in, but it had disasterous consequences later. The civil war strengthened the federal government and weakened the states sovereignty. Coupled with FDR's welfare state, the Federal government has now become a monster.

Good list; especially Reagan.

Peter W. Heck said...

Where's Millard Fillmore? Without him, this list is embarrassingly flawed and woefully inadequate.

In all honesty, let's add a category called "Most Underrated," and give James K. Polk and Calvin Coolidge the nod. Two men who knew their own limitations, yet who accomplished great things while in office.

Malott said...

Thank you Mr Heck. I'll check them out.

I confess, unless it's a president from my lifetime... or one that a movie has been made about... I am sorely ignorant.

GD said...

I heard there was a great movie coming out on William Henry's called, "The First 100...uh...30 Days."

Malott said...

Thanks gd...
Yes it pays to bundle up at your inauguration.

SkyePuppy said...


I love your photo. Every time I see it, I love it again. Keep commenting, so I can keep seeing it.


You might enjoy reading David McCullough's biography of John Adams. I fell in love with Adams from that book (and Abigail--what a woman!). Talk about underrated (from the sweep of his career, not necessarily his presidency).

Also, Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton is a wonderful portrait of a flawed man who achieved great things for our country, both because of and in spite of his character. I know, he wasn't president so he doesn't quite fit in this category, but his work in Washinton's administration is what helped to make the presidency much of what it has become.