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What Is A President To You?

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Revoltingest, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    It's always fun to over-simplify things....to pare away nuance & complexity, & reduce many
    things to a few. And then I force posters to pick one uncomfortable little box over another.
    It's not about being accurate or right, but rather to consider the choices. Therein lies the fun.

    A recent conversation about Trump drove home a difference in how many people see him.
    I propose 2 categories....

    1) Some see him personally....he is one of 2 things....
    A) He's a hateful lying, thieving, sexual predator
    B) He's a smart, successful, straight shooter
    They either like him or hate him because of of these qualities.
    It's all about how he...as a hero, icon, or even parental figure...makes them feel.

    2) Some see him as only a tool which will result in tangible policy changes.
    A) He is exacerbating global warming, failing at tax reform, failing at health care reform.
    B) He is enhancing border security, & pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.

    Disclaimer....
    The above pluses & minuses aren't my personal judgements.
    They're just things often cited by others.

    So, fellow RF denizens.....I'm a type one.
    Which are you?
    And yes, you can be a combination
     
  2. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    Let's look at a couple past presidents, & see how the above types would evaluate them.....

    Reagan
    Many on the right liked him because he was positive, affable, eloquent & productive.
    But in liking someone, this can blind one to negative acts, eg, his role in killing over a million people in the Iraq v Iran war, & how this legacy continues to cost us dearly in the middle east.

    Nixon
    Many on the left hated him. He was a "crook". He even looked & sounded crooked.
    (This why his head is one of the biggest villains on Futurama.)
    But the same folk miss his success in areas which should earn their praise....
    - Detente with China
    - He signed the 57 & 64 Civil Rights Acts, & the 65 Voting Rights Act

    To hate or love a politician is to risk being blind to merits or faults respectively.
     
  3. BSM1

    BSM1 Who's a good boy?

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    Although I was apolitical at the time, it's hard to ignore Reagan's role in ending the Cold War by convincing the Soviets to "...tear down this wall...".
     
  4. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    An impotent king.
     
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  5. jonathan180iq

    jonathan180iq Well-Known Member

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    Solid points.

    It's possible to dislike a human being but still be aware of their professional accomplishments, should they arise.
    I think people simply forget that ultimately you can't judge a Presidency, or an Administration, until after it has ended.

    (People also forget that they aren't constitutional experts and most of their opinions on any given subject are just the regurgitated opinions of other people, but that would get us too far off topic...)
     
  6. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man.

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    It used to be the office of the presidency and it's rightfully elected president were held in high esteem. After the elections were over, everyone set their differences aside and got behind the president and did the best they could in support of the nation and its welfare admist a healthy dose of patriotism and national pride.

    Once the presidents term was up, back to the voting booth to once again vote approval or disapproval.
     
  7. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    Aye, I think that was not only his greatest achievement, but it was unusually inspired.
    He completely changed his mind, moving from animosity for Soviets to empathy for Russians.
    Suzanne Massie, the agent of change, deserves a statue in her honor.
     
  8. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    I occasionally refer to a copy of The Constitution.
    I even give away copies to anyone interested.
     
  9. Nakosis

    Nakosis Barnacle Bill the Sailor
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    I suppose I see Trump as an entertainer. He's different so that makes things interesting. So I guess that means personality.

    Other than that, I see the office of the President as a necessary nuisance. I just hope whoever is in office doesn't screw things up too much.
     
  10. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    It could also mean that you're not emotionally invested, either pro or con.
    I'd say you joined me on the Type 2 bench.
    (Note the Alice's Restaurant "Group W bench" reference there.)
     
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  11. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
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    My view is that the government and the mechanisms by which it operates are so huge and unwieldy that the individual personality of "The President" is somewhat irrelevant. The "Presidency" is really just a huge organization with millions of employees who know that they're working under a "temporary CEO."

    I think J. Edgar Hoover said something to the effect of "It doesn't matter who becomes President or Attorney General. They're just visitors to Washington. I'm a resident."

    But the President also generally comes part of a "package deal" which includes the key players from either party, as well as various political machines they're associated with.

    I think that's what may have characterized Reagan, since he seemed like he just wasn't bright enough to run everything on his own. Either he was a puppet of his advisers or simply left major decisions up to others. With later revelations about his bout with Alzheimer's, one might wonder whether he was just a propped-up figurehead who was told what to say and do - or whether he really was his own man making his own decisions.

    Some might also look at JFK, particularly in light of his assassination which some believed was an internal government conspiracy by those who ostensibly felt that JFK wasn't playing ball and carrying out the agenda they wanted carried out. I think the assassination itself may have had a traumatic effect on how the public perceives its President - either as a powerless figurehead who either has to "play ball or else," or as some kind of disposable, easily-replaceable political hack.

    With Nixon, it was a bit different, although it can be said that was trying to skirt Constitutional limitations on his office and make it so that he wouldn't be some "powerless figurehead." But in the end, he turned out to be just as replaceable.

    Nixon was actually the first President I remember when growing up. That is, at the time I started to become barely aware of politics and that there was a President, he was it.

    I sometimes wonder if that helps shape and formulate an individual's impression of the President and Presidency, depending on when a person's awareness of the President is developed. Whoever the President is at the time is an individual's first real life understanding of the President. I wonder if that shapes and influences one's perceptions of future Presidents and the office itself. After Nixon came Ford, and I didn't really like Ford too much. I kept wishing that Nixon was still President. I liked Carter, though. I thought he got a bit of a raw deal. He was a good man going up against a culture of sleaze, corruption, and entrenched interests - which had not significantly changed even despite the resignation of Nixon.

    But I think Nixon was a harsh lesson for both parties, but it was the GOP which learned quickly in hyping up Reagan as aggressively as they did. As you said, he was positive and affable, with a friendly demeanor and charismatic personality. He was an actor. Nixon didn't really have that. He was often described as "shifty-eyed" and was probably a bit paranoid. He ran with a rough crowd and had a lot of shady deals in his history.

    The influence of TV and more visually-oriented media might also be a factor. How a President "looks" has become of primary importance. Some have pointed out that Lincoln had a high-pitched voice, Washington had red hair, and Jefferson had a stutter. These qualities would be considered severe handicaps in today's political world. Not to mention Lincoln and other Presidents who have had beards, which seems a complete no-no in politics these days.

    I remember reading a story about how John Quincy Adams used to go out early in the morning and skinny-dip in the Potomac River. No guards, no protection, no motorcade. He would just casually stroll down by himself. That was a different time, and the President was viewed quite differently.

    But now, the President is more something like a newscaster. The President has to constantly worry about image and how they appear. Just like an actor, they have to spend a lot of time rehearsing and learning their lines (in case the teleprompter should ever fail). They probably have someone to do their makeup and make sure their hair is perfect - and spending a lot of time preparing to go on TV.
     
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  12. Sartre

    Sartre Well-Known Member

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    Reagan:
    Pros- No cause divorce

    Literally all I can think he did good on.
    Reagan is responsible for a lot of bad stuff in poor/black communities.
     
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  13. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    Dang, what a wall of text!
    I'll concentrate on what I quoted....

    A review of history shows that Reagan was the top dog, & that he implemented
    policies with far reaching effect.... some good...some bad.
    Consider detente with the USSR....
    He could've remained who he was before his change of heart, & we'd have seen a
    greater risk of WW3. But he gained a more peaceful understanding of Russians, &
    ended the cold war....for a while, anyway. This shows the power of the presidency.
    If Dubya had not urged with with Iraq, would Congress have done it anyway?
    No. The President has much power, the influences of underlings notwithstanding.

    Not bright? He demonstrated the ability to learn & change.
    How many politicians rise to that level.
     
  14. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    The thread isn't about just Reagan.
    Nor is it about debating whether a particular policy is good or bad.
    If you don't think detente with the USSR is good, that would be a great thread topic for you to create.
     
  15. Sartre

    Sartre Well-Known Member

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    I think that how the president is viewed is heavily dependent on which state theory a group/person sympathizes with.

    State theory is generally something most mainstream politics never deals with, as we are expected to adopt the standard liberal conception of the state.

    Marxists see the presidency as almost entirely irrelevant to the economic mode of the state, to them no matter what, a capitalist republic will have bourgeois rule will continue to exist despite the election result.

    A hardcore structuralist will say there is zero blame that can be attributed to the president.

    Different state theories will land somewhere between structuralism and behavioralism and one will derive different political beliefs from thereon. State theory is something that should partially exit from political science as a discipline and enter mainstream political discourse.

    I was going to separate my contributions to this thread into separate differently relevant posts. :p
     
  16. sunrise123

    sunrise123 Darkness will pass. Dawn is almost here.
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    The President is like the CEO of a very large corporation. Anyone who has ever worked for a very large corporation will understand what this means.

    In addition, when something goes good, he'll take the credit. When something goes wrong, he'll find someone else to blame.

    The office also brings all faults and virtues into full display. Those with overall positive traits will inspire people and be there when disasters strike. Those with negative, egotistical, self-referential personalities will fail miserably if they try to do those things.

    President Obama, since you brought up Trump in the OP, took time before he understood how hard it is to institute true change in a very large bureaucracy. He like all POTUS did the credit/blame game. And he inspired many of us.
     
  17. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Libertarian Gearhead
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    I don't have a "state theory".
    I look at the power a president has, & what he does with it.
     
  18. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    In regards to Reagan, just a reminder that it was predicted before Reagan even took office that the Soviet Union was on it's last legs, largely because they simply could not compete internationally.

    As far as Trump is concerned, I've many times expressed my opinions so there's no need to repeat them.
     
  19. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    The president is -- or should be -- a department head; the CEO of one of the three branches of government. He should not be depicted as a leader or king. He's a civil servant like any other.
    We abolished aristocratic hierarchy a couple of centuries ago and, evidently, have been busily trying to restore it ever since.
    A certain portion of the population seems to have a psychological need for a strong father figure to feel secure. Why should these be allowed to vote? They're are anti democratic and anti American.
    Real Americans don't have leaders. We're supposed to be a democracy. We have only representatives, picked to promote our interests.
     
    #19 Valjean, Sep 13, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  20. esmith

    esmith Well-Known Member

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    Someone who put the Country before their party.
    Someone who puts the Country before themselves.
    Someone who is willing to do what it takes to defend the Country no matter the cost.
    I guess that is about it.
     
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