June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Donald Trump (who seems to have completely fallen out of the news in the last month, or so) called Obama the Worst President Ever back in April. Of course, this was a also common troupe of the left against Bush the second. It is either a sign of our increasingly polarized political environment that each side is so quick to such unlikely charges (after all…there’s a whole bunch of Presidents between Andrew Jackson and Abe Lincoln that nobody even knows…they probably sucked pretty hard). I mean, how great was John Tyler? Millard Fillmore, anyone; Or, it’s a sign that we have a real dearth of political talent out there lately.
Or, it could just be that Bush was the worst president ever, until Obama was elected. Bush inherited a projected surplus in the budget, and turned it in to a multi-trillion dollar deficit. Of course, he also inherited a new regulatory environment, after the late-90s repeal of Glass-Steagall, which fundamentally changed the way banks had operated in this country since the time of the Great Depression, which allowed the creation and marketing of the financial instruments that eventually brought the big banks down. The housing market crumbled under his watch, but the run-up in prices can be traced back to very early in Bush’s tenure, so early that it’s doubtful that anything he could have done would have changed anything — the fact is that it had become too easy for people to buy homes they couldn’t afford, because Fannie-Mae (a quasi-government agency) was backing something like 90% of home purchases for socio-political, rather than economic, reasons. Bush got us involved in two very expensive wars — though the media and the Congress were more than a little complicit in the run-up to war, and only became watch-dogs when things started going badly. Besides, almost everyone agrees that Afghanistan was a righteous war, and some have even begun to argue that the budding Democracy in Iraq may have, at least in part, inspired the Arab Spring (or, you know, it could have all been Twitter).
In the end, There were more jobs when Bush left office than when he came in; he navigated the worst attack on military soil since Pearl Harbor the best way he could (and, we should note, there have been no further major attacks since 2001), he brought a quick end to the Recession that he inherited upon taking office, and he got one of this nations greatest tax cuts passed. He also spent like a drunken sailor, and couldn’t talk too good.
Obama inherited an economy that was deeply troubled (a job he asked for, and for which he ensured us he was qualified), and has presided over the worst job-creation results since Herbert Hoover. He’s made Bush’s spending binge look like frugality. He has broken promises to close Gitmo and to end the war in Afghanistan. He’s actively worked to bring oil and gas prices higher, as it’s his philosophical belief that only through higher prices will we curb our reliance on fossil fuels. Obama had one mandate when he came into office: To improve the economy. He’s failed. Utterly.
From 1982-1984, Ronald Reagan, who was facing a bigger unemployment rate, higher inflation, unbearable interest rates, weaker allies, and stronger enemies, oversaw the creation of 7.2 million jobs (and without the benefit of any watershed technology, as Clinton was the beneficiary of in the 90s), an actual expansion of workforce participation (had the workforce contracted, as it has under Obama’s watch, Reagan’s employment numbers would have looked even better), he brought America’s military back to a preeminent status, fought inflation and interest rates down, and was able to run in 1984 on the slogan, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Well, hell yes we were.
Dems argue that Obama has not had the time, or inherited too big of a fiasco, to have had much impact in a single term. The experience of Reagan’s first term should show the obvious falsehood of that tripe. Reagan knew, as Clinton did later, that massive government was not the answer to this nation’s economic ills.
So, is Obama the worst president of all time? Maybe not. The worst in memory? I suppose that depends on whether you remember Carter.