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Who is the greatest US president of the 20th & 21st centuries?

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by dust1n, Apr 18, 2013.

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  1. William McKinley

    0 vote(s)
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  2. Theodore Roosevelt

    16.1%
  3. William Howard Taft

    0 vote(s)
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  4. Woodrow Wilson

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  5. Warren G. Harding

    0 vote(s)
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  6. Calvin Coolidge

    3.2%
  7. Herbert Hoover

    0 vote(s)
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  8. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    22.6%
  9. Harry S. Truman

    0 vote(s)
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  10. Dwight D. Eisenhower

    6.5%
  11. John F. Kennedy

    9.7%
  12. Lyndon B. Johnson

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  13. Richard Nixon

    0 vote(s)
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  14. Gerald R. Ford

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  15. Jimmy Carter

    16.1%
  16. Ronald Reagan

    12.9%
  17. George H. W. Bush

    0 vote(s)
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  18. Bill Clinton

    6.5%
  19. George W. Bush

    0 vote(s)
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  20. Barack Obama

    6.5%
  1. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    There is only so much the ruler of a foreign state can do to influence the public trust of another state, though. It seems to me that you are wildly overestimating the actual foreign power of the POTUS. Any POTUS.


    Maybe he did. I don't think he did, though.


    Nor can I. However, it does not follow that a better course of action was available.



    Really? I happen to think that he dealt with it as well as was realistically possible, given the constraints of being the POTUS and having to deal with a social bomb that just had to detonate. A foreign social bomb at that.



    Maybe so. It does seem however that he was far better at that than anyone else in power since.



    Which is enough to show how difficult it is for a POTUS to make much of a difference in the situation. People don't listen to the advice of those who they have deemed enemies.



    I doubt he did. If you can point me towards some evidence of that, I will be grateful and rather enlightened.



    It would be, sure. However, I can hardly believe that Carter failed to notice the degree of revolt in Iran. Most anyone noticed, it was very plain to see, and very worrying. I wonder why you think he did not.



    I won't comment on that. I don't feel informed enough to.


    That may be true. I just don't know.


    Really? I happen to feel that the opposite is true. Sentiments are most often created to change the perception of reality to make certain goals easier to attain, usually at the expense of accurate perception.


    Maybe you did, but did not accept them for what they were.
     
  2. bobhikes

    bobhikes AntiRepublican
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    Trust buster, naturalist, and created the Bull Moose party.
     
  3. Wannabe Yogi

    Wannabe Yogi Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but he was a terriost. He trained people to commit Genocide in central America. Let Drug Lords sell drugs in America as long as they Hated Communists. The support, training, and funding of the killing peaceful woman and children in farming coops. These facts make him a monster by any ethical system I value.
     
    #63 Wannabe Yogi, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  4. Wannabe Yogi

    Wannabe Yogi Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but he could have done worse. He could have started a war. It is also important to remmember that Iran had a socialist democracy that American's help over though and place the Shah in power. Carter did not create this problem it just expolded on his watch.

    He did much better in the Middle East then any of those who came after him. Camp David is proof of this.

    It agree 100% with your assessment of LBJ and FDR.

    1st FDR
    2nd Teddy
    3rd Carter
    4th LBJ
     
    #64 Wannabe Yogi, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  5. Wannabe Yogi

    Wannabe Yogi Well-Known Member

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    I would agree that he was a good Man. It turns out that Carter was good for the economy. He put in Volcker ( Chairman of Federal Reserve board) who is credited with ending the United States stagflation crisis of the 1970s. Inflation, peaked at 13.5% in the year 1981, and was lowered to 3.2% in 1983. Which made Reagon so popular. The up tern in the 1980's for the America economy was because of Carter. It terns out that this was Carters plan.
     
    #65 Wannabe Yogi, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  6. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Dear Luis :)

    Thank you for taking the time and putting the effort in to critique my rather long (apologies!) reply to you. It is refreshing to see someone who truly considers the arguments of the other person in the discussion, with the amount of depth and patience that you have shown. I appreciate that.

    I will answer your points in segments. This post will address your first point.

    That is a fair stance too take. You have clearly considered the same events as me but interpreted them from a completely opposite angle. Its interesting how two people can see the same things in drastically different lights.

    Actually, I don't think that even political analysts in 1976 had any clear notion that Iran would erupt into the overwhelmingly popular wave of revolution that occurred in 1979, least of all the US. Nor do I think that the Carter Administration ever banked on its most important Middle Eastern ally becoming an Islamist theocracy. Not in their wildest dreams could this have been imagined. Just months before the Shah escaped to Egypt in 1979, the CIA’s assessment in reports to the Carter Administration was that “Iran is not in a revolutionary or even pre-revolutionary situation”. That is why I think that your argument, while comprehensible, is not strong. The Iranian Revolution shocked the entire world.

    I think that much could have been done to help alleviate the approaching storm in 1977 while protest against the government was still sporadic. While a revolution was not seen as imminent - the US believed that their ally would be secure in his hold on the country just like the "Soviet's man" Saddam in Iraq - the tally of human rights abuses was well known.

    The reason why Carter did not speak up sufficiently about those abuses casts a real shadow over his administration, given its explicit aim of safeguarding human rights "absolutely". Well, apparently not in the case of a trusted ally needed as a buffer against the Soviet Union and its ally Iraq. It becomes even more incomprehensible when you realize that Carter thought he could use the Ayatollah's Islamic Republic of Iran in the same way he had used the Shah's, as a buffer.

    The reason why I brought Indonesia up is that it hits home the fact that Carter's failure to efficiently condemn Iranian human rights abuses three-two years before the first, unexpected but powerful wave of revolutionary unrest rent through the country, was by no means unique. He did it in Iran, Indonesia and Nicaragua yet was surprisingly vocal in his condemnations of the Soviet Union, a world superpower which his predecessors had worked to achieve détente with. Under Carter the Cold War came back from the dead with a vengeance. Ronald Reagan basically continued Carter's vocal critiques of the Soviets (about the only thing they would have agreed on probably).

    The situation with Russia demonstrates that Carter did have the necessary powers to stand up against human rights abuses. If he could stand up to the world's second superpower, the Soviet Union, then surely he could do so too with much smaller and far less powerful American side-kick "Iran", or Indonesia or Nicaragua all three of which were but regional powers if even that, and all of which were largely impoverished nations.

    The fact that he chose to placate, aid and bulk up these regimes with disastrous consequences in all three cases, is frankly disturbing IMHO in light of his supposed "principles" that he touted to the American public and to the world. It is also somewhat incomprehensible, unless one posits that he put the regional interests of American strategy above human lives ie having that buffer against the Soviets in Iran, as well as much coveted Iranian oil in the Strait of Hormuz and power over the affairs in the Middle East; and in Indonesia's case access to the large reserves of that region and another partner in Asia against Communism in China, Vietnam and North Korea.

    However unlike other presidents, who had such strategic concerns, I think that Carter made an utter mess in foreign affairs. All he achieved was the undermining of his idealistic pretensions.
     
    #66 Vouthon, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
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  7. Wannabe Yogi

    Wannabe Yogi Well-Known Member

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    To me he was the first progressive. He was also a War hero and a real man. His sneaking of with John Muir as president is also a great story. But, all things said to bad he was a colonialist.
     
    #67 Wannabe Yogi, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  8. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Thanks.



    I did not know that. I suppose everyone hoped for the best to some degree. It turns out that what was acceptable for the street level Iranian citizen was far more hostile than those advisers dared to accept.



    I have trouble believing that. It is far easier to believe that CIA is not well-suited to gauging levels of popular revolt and communicating them (having been involved in creating that very situation and all) than that Khomeini's acceptance and influence rised unpredictably and suddenly. There were far too many people in Iran, and the revolt was much too open and too popular, for me to believe that it couldn't be expected by those who dared to accept it as a possibility.



    Agreed. I wish I weren't so young at the time, so that I had a more informed notion of the political climate.

    All the same, I'm not certain it makes a lot of sense to even talk about a "hold" on whole countries. Or that it is a desirable goal for one to have if it is even possible.



    No doubt there were conflicting interests at stake on that matter, as in so many others. I still feel that you are overestimating the amount of influence that a POTUS can legitimally (and usefully) exert over a foreign country that has a very different culture.

    For that matter, I also wonder how useful a buffer Iran could ever have been, even taking aside the ethical considerations. For all I know Jimmy Carter aimed for a peaceful transition towards a Muslim government, realizing that the continuation of Pahlavi's role was untennable in more senses than one. And he would have pulled it off if previous history did not give him very unfavorable circunstances. He arguably did succeed, even.



    In the sense that it wouldn't submit to Sovietic influence, would that be innacurate?



    For good or worse, the Soviet Union is more likely to listen to the POTUS than poorer, less influential countries probably are. Not to necessarily agree or cooperate, but certainly to listen.

    Mind you, I don't mean that Carter was perfect or completely coherent in his foreign policy. I doubt he was, and in truth I don't even know. But I commend him for at least choosing the right public causes, something that his successors have failed quite disappointingly at.


    I'm not sure it does. It shows that the URSS listens to the USA in matters of foreign policy and that it dares not wage war at any price, though.

    That Carter, or even any hypothetical POTUS, could have made much of a constructive difference in Indonesia, Nicaragua or Iran is a far less clear.

    I would argue that they can not, mainly because the Americans themselves will not accept to pay the necessary prices, and for that reason nor will your politicians lend the necessary support.


    You are taking as a premise that it is easier to handle poor countries than it is to deal with the Soviet Union. I do not think that is a given at all.

    Iran, at least, is so difficult to handle largely because it is so miserable. I know misery from up close, being Brazilian. It is not conductive to peace, cooperation or acceptance. It breeds despair, corruption and irrationality.



    I would agree if it were clear to me that it happened as such. That is not the case.

    It is not even clear to me that his successors did not all handle Nicaragua, Iran and Indonesia worse than he did. Reagan certainly did make quite a mess with Nicaragua and Iran, at the very least.

    Also, for all of the Iran-related criticism that Carter receives, under his term we all were fairly certain that Iran would not seriously consider unilateraly deciding to bomb Iran, a scenario that is now perhaps even taken for granted.

    So no, I really do not see why even consider his foreign policy worse than any other before or since.


    It probably is if we take as a premise that he had much of a call there, I suppose.


    How so? Just because the world's nations were not his to command? I don't think that even counts as a failure.
     
  9. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    Towards the top of my list are Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Dwight Eisenhower, and Jimmy Carter.

    -Teddy went after monopolies and was a progressive. Plus he gets points for style.
    -FDR brought a good balance of shared responsibility and individualism.
    -Eisenhower as a Republican signed into the place the largest public works project in the nation's history (the interstate highway system) and tax rates were still a lot more progressive back then than they are now, so debt as a percentage of GDP after WW2 started going down and the economy boomed. Then he warned about the military industrial complex with his background of extensive military experience.
    -Carter had an engineering mindset and he thought for the long-term rather than the short-term. His policies and actions were generally nonviolent and he tried to do better about the environment and energy, which then totally reversed under Reagan.
     
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  10. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Dear Luis :cool:

    Thank you once more for a thoughtful reply. I enjoy reading your very different take on these matters. I think it helps to broaden my understanding of events since, naturally, we are all a bit biased and I am most definitely biased against Carter (lets just say that I'm not a groupie :facepalm: :D), which obviously influences how I interpret his actions.

    Good point. I think that the reason why the CIA did not anticipate the Iranian Revolution - and I kid you not they genuinely didn't see it coming, as unbelievable as that might seem to us with the benefit of hindsight - was because they were suffering from some major hubris. The CIA had practically overthrown Muhammad Reza Pahlavi's father Reza Pahlavi and put the son on the peacock throne. They did not for a minute expect that a regime they had effectively created to counter the feared Communist sympathies of the socialist leader Mossadegh, would collapse because of a rag-tag popular revolt by ordinary Iranians, including fervent students, and with hardly any blood spilt. The CIA just did not see it coming and neither did other analysts, because it was genuinely assumed that the USA would never let its most important Middle East ally fall. The Soviets had Saddam and the Americans had the Shah. Most people couldn't envision anything else.


    Well, I wasn't born back then. I was born in 1992 :D My understanding of it comes from studying the 1970s in the context of the Cold War.

    Agreed. I was speaking of the Shah's hold on Iran, however. His dictatorship was considered to be stable since there had not been great protests at all before the sudden onslaught of the Islamic Revolution of '79. In hindsight, it should have been known that the over-Westernization of Iran under the Pahlavis and the de-Islamization, welded to an ever-widening rich/poor disparity and the lack of political freedoms (despite great social freedom if you were upper-middle class or upper class) and the fact that Iran was the first country in the Islamic world to have a parliament in 1906 after a Persian Constitutional Revolution, would lead to some kind of revolutionary situation. Iranians were like the French of the Middle East - revolt against tyranny was built into the fabric of their Shi'ite faith. One of the key events in Shi'ite history was the Battle of Karbala where Husayn was murdered standing up to the Caliph Yazid. The Shah was identified by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 60s as a modern day Yazid. People should have realized back then that if given the right time, this could galvanize popular revolt (ironically in 2009, the Iranian protestors branded Ayatollah Khameini as the new Yazid. Iranians are dissatisfied again with the abuses of the current government).

    I'm not so sure. The whole point of being a superpower, surely, is the ability to influence other nations. The entire Cold War was premised on the notion of the two superpowers using other, smaller countries to fight each other by proxy and expand their competing ideologies (Marxism vs liberal capitalist democracy). The Soviet Union had their Iron Curtain behind which lay their client states, the Soviet Bloc - nominally "independent" but in reality under the direct command of the Soviets, as poor Czechoslovakia learned in 1968 when it tried to have a "Prague Spring", bringing in liberalizing social freedoms. Under the terms of the Warsaw Pact the Soviet Union invaded the country and overthrew the government.

    While America, as a democracy, did not aspire to do this as we all know its inevitable superpower status led it in to doing something similar in North Vietnam under the dictator President Diem, in Nicaragua and so forth up to the present.

    Its one of the sad side-effects of maintaining "superpower" status. Its what turned ancient Rome from a republic into an empire through an endless series of foreign wars.

    From 1976-1979, given the intel from the CIA, Carter would have been completely unaware that Iran would move towards becoming an Islamic theocracy. Do not forget that most ordinary Iranians did not think they would be living in a theocracy. Khomeini promised them the heavens. He said that women would have their rights protected and dress as they pleased, minorities would be protected, their would be representative government etc. so long as the US was kicked out and the Zionists were attacked. He was of course lying and he only said such things to his own people, however the people believed him. Hence why the Communists - the Tudeh party of Iran - helped his Islamist rebels overthrow the Shah in the mistaken belief that after the Revolution the Ayatollah would retire to Qom and live peacefully as a retired mullah. Khomeini had promised his people and the Marxists that the clerics would have no power in Iran. In fact he turned the country into an Islamic theocracy.

    So I do not think that Carter had any notion that Iran would become a Muslim state until the Ayatollah made plain his intentions to create the system of vilayat i faqih (rule of the Islamic jurists) when he got off that air France jet in 1979.

    When he did announce this, Carter suddenly thought - and told his aides - that an Islamic state would be a good buffer against the Soviet. So instead of imposing sanctions or hard verbal protestations as he did against the Soviet Union, Carter thought he could bribe the new government into becoming America's next ally and buffer.

    He received an answer with the Iranian hostage crisis and that was the death of Carter. He was unelectable after that, when the crisis lasted from 1979-1981 - over a year of terror for the hostages and their families.

    Yes. Carter considered the Mujahdeen and other Islamist groups fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He thought that because these groups went into a provisional, short-time kind of quasi-alliance with the US against the Soviets, that Iran would follow suit. Khomeini, being a religious man, was against atheism after all.

    He seemed not to realize that Khomeini considered America and Israel to be the two Satans, with Soviet Russia a far more distant third. It was the West that Khomeini believed to be the greatest evil. He understood that communism in Russia and the Soviet bloc would not last forever and had a sell-by date. It was the West, with its alluring materialism and (as he saw it) immoral lifestyle, liberal tolerance of homosexuality, women's equality and religious freedom, that represented the truly satanic power - one that would long outlast Communism and constitute the single greatest bulwark against his brand of fanatical Islam.

    The Soviet Union was beginning its long road of decline, while Carter's miscalculation left the world with an Islamist state fanatically opposed to the West and Israel. Iran become the world's greatest state sponsor of terror.

    The Iranian Revolution did not have to end with an Islamic state. It was a democratic-Islamist-Marxist revolution at first. The fact that the Islamists won through in the end and formed an Islamic Republic need not have occurred.

    The first Prime Minister of the provisional republic was a liberal socialist.

    Had proper support been given to him and the more liberal forces, Khomeini might not have been able to form his totalitarian religious state.

    Carter miscalculated that Khomeini would be a man he could do business with.
     
    #70 Vouthon, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  11. Wannabe Yogi

    Wannabe Yogi Well-Known Member

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    Good point about Eisenhower.
     
  12. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    Well you're gonna have to pick one and vote! :D
     
  13. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    Fine, Eisenhower.

    I don't really think there is a single greatest U.S. president over this period, though.
     
  14. DreadFish

    DreadFish Cosmic Vagabond

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    I know my opinion will be unpopular but, I think that George W. was probably the greatest president of the 21st century.


    We need someone to be bad at everything for the sake of perspective :shrug:


    Also, for the lulz: Bushisms :cool:


    Have any of you heard of Kennedyisms or Carterisms? I have not.
     
  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    I completely agree with your 1st, 2nd & 4th although for me it would be:

    1st FDR
    2nd Teddy Roosevelt
    3rd LBJ
    4th Dwight D. Eisenhower
    5th Woodrow Wilson (14 points, League of Nations etc.)

    Teddy Roosevelt I agree should be second because of his leadership of the Progressive Movement.

    Wilson should be up there too I think. His biggest blight was that he apparently held racist views or at least was not greatly supportive of the civil rights movement. That is naturally a huge X against him. I also don't agree with his interventionist foreign policy.

    Nevertheless despite those obvious major flaws, he also had inspiring international policies for his time, crystallized in his 14 points (courtesy of wikpedia) and was a powerful figure on the world stage.

    He begged his fellow Allies not to punish Germany harshly with the Treaty of Versailles. He feared that this could help lead too another world conflict and he was of course right.

    His 14 points:

    1. Reliance on open diplomacy rather than secret agreements
    2. Freedom of the seas
    3. Free trade
    4. Reduce the military forces and/or weapons
    5. Readjust the colonies fairly
    6. The allowance for Russia to self-determine its own government
    7. Respect for Belgium's Integrity
    8. Restoration of French Territory
    9. Italy receives territory based upon ethnicity
    10. Austria-Hungary receives fair development opportunities
    11. Independence for the Balkan states
    12. Self-determination for the peoples of the Ottoman Empire and free passage through the Dardanelles
    13. Independence for Poland
    14. The formation of a League of Nations to guarantee independence for all countries, large and small
    Some other decent things that he achieved:

     
  16. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    Oh no, the greatest U.S. president is mostly definitely married. :D
     
  17. Wannabe Yogi

    Wannabe Yogi Well-Known Member

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    America not excepting the League of nations must have broke his heart. Just think if Wilson had his way. WWII might never of happened.
     
  18. F0uad

    F0uad Well-Known Member

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    If have a question what's was JFK's foreign policy like?

    Or who had the most friendly foreign policy?
     
  19. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Competitive, I would say. Very much a cold war policy.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis happened under his watch, which IMO is a bad sign. I will be surprised if there is no disagreement on this matter, though.

    Either Jimmy Carter or someone going back way before Kennedy, I believe.
     
  20. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    Oh come now, Luis. It's not like Kennedy forced the Russians to plant Ballistic Missiles in Cuba. The Russians saw him as a weak President and thought they could get away with it. They found out rather rapidly that he wasn't quite as weak as they had allowed themselves to believe.

    Though the thought makes me shiver a bit, perhaps the best foreign policy initiatives were advanced by the Nixon administration under the tutelage of Henry Kissinger.

    *Dons flame resistant RF body suit*
     
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