The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Presidential popularity ratings

It is apparent, in the way President Obama had Bill Clinton carry the burden of his pressing for the passage of his tax compromise, that he's relying on Clinton's current popularity. And in a recent poll rating the most recent presidents, Clinton ranked very high — after only JFK and Reagan. Which set me to thinking: Why do bad Presidents get good popularity ratings, and good ones get bad ratings?

The most popular President of all was John F. Kennedy, and what did he do to get such a high rating except be shot and killed by an assassin? He was responsible for the disaster of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and could not push a single bill he considered important through a Congress controlled by his own party. (After the assassination, Lyndon Johnson adopted Kennedy's program as his own, and succeeded in pushing much of it through. But this was a success for LBJ, not JFK.)

Second on the list was Ronald Reagan, who probably does qualify as a successful President. I had feared that his Presidency would be too right-wing, and had favored others for the nomination, but perhaps I should have noted that both in the year he failed to gain the nomination (when he picked Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania), and four years later, when he did win the nimination and selected George H. W. Bush, he was willing to give moderates a role and showed a tendency to be a lot more inclusive than many "Tea Party" Republicans are in 2010. His Presidency was generally constructive.

The number 3 slot in the poll went to Clinton. I can't find words to describe the negative feelings I have about Bill Clinton, who I consider the worst President to serve in my lifetime. (Full disclosure: I had a job that was funded out of the Strategic Defense Initiative "Star Wars" program, which Clinton said in his campaign he would kill, and he kept that promise. I ended up unemployed for four years, and never again had a really good job. So I was personally affected negatively by Clinton, which makes me hate him in a more visceral way than most Presidents. But on an objective basis: What other President was called before a grand jury and lied to it? Not to mention all the other acts of misconduct which were found by Kenneth Starr.) Only politics in the U. S. Senate saved him from removal by impeachment.

On the other side of the coin was Richard Nixon, the most underrated President we have had. Because he was too loyal to underlings who violated the law to help re-elect him, he has been stigmatized. In opening the way to contact with China, producing the basis of a settlement of Vietnam, and such, he did an amazingly good job (which was sabotaged in both cases by Jimmy Carter's ineptness, of course). He deserves to be rated much higher than he has been.

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