Presidential Legacies

Every U.S. President leaves a legacy, a lasting impression, a particular memory imprinted on the mind of the people in our country and around the world.  Most people can probably use a couple of sentences, or even less, to describe the legacies of our former presidents, especially those that have served during our own lifetimes.

The first president that I have any real personal memory of was John Kennedy.  His legacies, “Camelot,” the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, and especially his assassination.

LBJ’s legacy was his untimely ascent to the Oval Office, the Viet Nam war and his conceiving, and birthing our welfare/entitlement state through his Great Society initiatives.  The Great Society made FDR (and the New Deal) look like an amateur when it came to pointing our country in the direction of socialism.

Nixon: “I’m not a crook!”  Right!  His legacy…Watergate and impeachment. 

Ford:  Improbable ascent to office.  Fairly inept.  A moderate Republican at best, maybe even leaning left.  A lousy Supreme Court nominee/appointment (John Paul Stevens).

Carter:  Probably the worst U.S. President in my lifetime.  Gotta be in the top 5 worst in history or the nation.  Diplomatic employees in the U.S. embassy in Tehran held hostage by terrorists for 444 days.  Gasoline rationing, and double digit inflation.  His claim to fame would be the so-called Camp David Accord, which in retrospect has not done that much.

Reagan:  Without question, the greatest president in my lifetime, and perhaps in the history of the nation.  Fixed the economy and broke the back of The Soviet Union.  Produced a really hopeful, optimistic and prosperous nation following the disastrous Carter years.

Bush 41:  “Read my lips, no new taxes.”  A promise that he broke!  That may have been a major reason for his defeat by this next guy.

Clinton:  People who presented any threat to his personal agenda, or that of his wife, often died prematurely.  At least one confirmed extramarital sexual affair with an intern in the private areas of the Oval Office.  House of Representative impeachment proceedings.  Extraordinary ability to compartmentize his moral failures.    An artful and probably pathological liar.

Bush 43:  Since his term is not yet over, the legacy may not be finally written.  Certainly the war on terror and the War in Iraq will make the list.  The expression of his faith in Jesus Christ has appeared to be much more genuine than, any of the presidents who have come before him in my lifetime.  Talks like a Republican, spends like a democrat. 

But, his failure to properly understand this man may trump even the cataclysmic events of 9-11 and all that has occurred in response to that.  Bush naively believed he could look into Putin’s eyes and see his soul and he believed that he was a “good man.”  In so doing, I think he gave not only comfort but also wiggle room to a confirmed super-communist who, from his behind-the-curtain position of power wielding, has successfully invaded and occupied an independent, sovereign  nation (Georgia) and is now promising something more than a diplomatic response to the missile defense agreement that the U.S. has just signed with Poland.  Does anyone recall the term “Cold War”?  We should all count our blessings, if this stays “cold.”

This situation demands that we elect a president who understands the very real and now undeniable interest on the part of Russia’s current leadership to re-assert itself as an expansionist nation.  If this pattern of behavior is allowed to progress, we will see the disappearance of countries that are now on the world map, and Russia’s borders being redrawn.  And it should correctly be recalled that this started on Bush’s watch and under the supervision of his “good friend Vladimir.”

Said another way, this MAY wind up being a major part of the Bush legacy, if you think 5 to 10 years into the future.  And I think it is a virtual certainty that Russia’s new ambitions will frame the legacy of our 44th president.  I think this will go very badly for our country and the world if we wind up electing Barry.  And if we do, I think it is not a stretch to say that virtually no eastern European nation nor an independent state that was formerly a part of the old USSR, will be safe.

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