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Old 05-15-2017, 05:04 PM
Reddy Mercury Reddy Mercury is offline
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The Best Presidents Who Never Were?

Who do you feel are people who would've made great Presidents had they been elected, but lost either the nomination of their party or the general election?

Myself (in chronological order, not order of preference.

1) Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. I think he would've handled our entry into WWI better, and might have handled what would become the League of Nations issue more handily. He would also have likely staved off the rise of Conservative Republicanism for a few more years given how popular he was.

2) Leonard Wood in 1916 or 1920. TR's protege and a great Progressive Republican who I feel would've done a better job than Wilson.

3) Thomas Dewey in 1948. Truman's best work as President I feel occurred prior to his second term, and perhaps the Korean War may not have happened or would have been handled better by a President Dewey. Also, Dewey's position as the Eastern Establishment Republican might have kept the Conservative wing at bay for a while more.

4) Wayne Morse or Stu Symington in 1960. Morse because he would not have escalated Vietnam further, and Stu because I feel he would've made for a stronger leader on the world stage than Kennedy and Johnson were given his more experienced background in politics.

5) Hubert Humphrey in 1968. We would've had an earlier end to Vietnam and an even greater society.

6) Either Gerald Ford or Jerry Brown in 1976. Either one would've done I feel a better job than Carter did.

7) Mario Cuomo in 1992. He was an excellent governor, an orator on par with Obama, and would've been the first Italian-American President in our history; and given his skills he might have had a less disastrous first term than Clinton did.

8) Joe Biden in 2016. I love Uncle Joe.
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:48 PM
Blue Max Blue Max is offline
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Off the top of my head:

Henry Clay. One of the men who engineered the compromise of 1820 and clearly good for trying to prevent regionalism from tearing apart the Union. Questions about trying to avert or mitigate the civil war can start here.

Samuel Tilden Instead of the compromise that led to the end of reconstruction and the "Solid South", Tilden himself would probably have been a better. The man broke with Tammany Hall's corruption, and I see him being a better President than Hayes.

William Jennings Bryan With Bryan at the helm, we are looking at the start of "Christian Socialists" in America. Bimetallism, someone who will not get into a gigantic boondoggle over Cuba and the Philippines or roll into the "White Man's Burden" Interestingly, the Evangelical-Archcapitalist alliance of modern times probably wouldn't form either.

Eugene Debs Imagine president Bernie Sanders in an era where children die in coal mines and it's still acceptable to shoot and kill striking workers. This would undoubtedly be at least FDR levels of reforms a generation early, but Debs would also defuse the "Red Scares" caused by misunderstanding social democrats.

Huey Long Another wave figure that would have massive implications for the future. A more aggressive belief in social works, taxing the wealthy and helping the poor than even FDR, Long may very well mean a faster recovery from the depression.

Earl Warren Want to imagine Blacks lining up for the GOP? A President Warren means an earlier fight over civil rights and no 'Southern Strategy'; it may very well even mean that both Democrats and Republicans remain "big tent" parties.

Paul Wellstone It's easy to want someone better than Al Gore running for the Democrats--how about someone that's going to fight hard for campaign finance reform and opposed the Iraq War in its own time?
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:21 AM
Evan Drake Evan Drake is offline
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I came across this wiki for Bill Bradley last year, and he seemed pleasanter than most.

Last edited by Evan Drake; 05-16-2017 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:56 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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I would like to mention Daniel Webster. He was a patriot and statesman the likes of which have seldom been seen.

Going a different route, I've long held the opinion that President Nixon in 1960 would have been FAR better than President Nixon in 1968. Kennedy got awfully lucky with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I don't think that things would have gotten nearly that close to the brink under Nixon. In addition, I think that Nixon's years in political exile changed him for the worse. I highly doubt that anything like CREEP or Watergate would have happened earlier, even under similar circumstances.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:20 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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George Pendleton probably was the best likely candidate in 1868. He was an experienced politician and a reformer.

But he had several strikes against him. He was a Democrat at a time when the Republicans were dominating national politics. He had favored negotiations with the Confederates during the war, which was a thoroughly discredited position after the war had been won. And his opposition to corruption made him enemies in his own party.

The result was Pendleton didn't get the nomination and Grant won the election anyway. While Grant was a good person and a great general, he was generally a failure as a President.
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Old 05-16-2017, 04:42 AM
Reddy Mercury Reddy Mercury is offline
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I would like to mention Daniel Webster. He was a patriot and statesman the likes of which have seldom been seen.

Going a different route, I've long held the opinion that President Nixon in 1960 would have been FAR better than President Nixon in 1968. Kennedy got awfully lucky with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I don't think that things would have gotten nearly that close to the brink under Nixon. In addition, I think that Nixon's years in political exile changed him for the worse. I highly doubt that anything like CREEP or Watergate would have happened earlier, even under similar circumstances.
It's pretty well known that Nixon was really messed up after having the election stolen from him by a guy he considered a friend. After that, his attitude was he would do whatever it took to win, because if the Democrats could do it in 1960 and get away with it, so he could he. The humiliation the press put him through after his loss in '62 to Pat Brown only cemented this sense of "fuck 'em all" and turned his distrust of the press into outright hate.
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:04 PM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
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Not exactly matching your criterion since he didn't exactly "lose" the nomination, but I think if Bobby Kennedy had survived he would have made a good president, certainly better than Nixon.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 05-16-2017 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:56 PM
TreacherousCretin TreacherousCretin is offline
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Jerry Brown. And yes, I'm serious.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:34 PM
WillFarnaby WillFarnaby is offline
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Robert Taft
  #10  
Old 05-16-2017, 01:34 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Scoop Jackson.

Instead of Jimmy Carter we would have had 8 years of Jackson. Ronnie would not have won.
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Old 05-16-2017, 02:55 PM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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Walter Mondale. Hubert Humphrey. Both great Minnesotans who truly cared about the people. Let's not miss our chance with the third great Minnesotan, Al Franken.
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Old 05-16-2017, 03:55 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I just recently re-read a 1992 collection of alternate history stories, edited by Mike Resnick. The collection is called Alternate Presidents, and the cover is great -- it has a triumphant Thomas E. Dewey holding up a newspaper whose headline reads Truman Defeats Dewey!

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1301871002l/293288.jpg

It features stories by several SF writers, and covers some of the cases listed here:

* Huey Long gets elected instead of FDR, and ends up confronting Hitler.

* Teddy Roosevelt runs in his progressive "Bull Moose" party against Taft, and wins.

* As the cover suggests, Dewey does defeat Truman

* William Jennings Bryan wins

*Tilden wins



the collection also has some other interesting and provocative choices:

* Benjamin Franklin is chosen instead of Washington as the first president

* Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president (in 1872) wins, and introduces some surprisingly liberal ideas



In his series on US history, Oliver Stone spends a lot of time on John Nance Garner, FDR's veep for three of his terms, who was replaced for the last term. Stone clearly felt that he would've been a radical departure from what Truman was if he took over after FDR's death.
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:17 PM
NDP NDP is offline
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In his series on US history, Oliver Stone spends a lot of time on John Nance Garner, FDR's veep for three of his terms, who was replaced for the last term. Stone clearly felt that he would've been a radical departure from what Truman was if he took over after FDR's death.
Are you sure it was Garner? He was FDR's veep for his first two terms but not his third. I think you mean Henry Wallace who was VP from 1941 to 1945 before being replaced by Truman.
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:23 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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It's pretty well known that Nixon was really messed up after having the election stolen from him by a guy he considered a friend. After that, his attitude was he would do whatever it took to win, because if the Democrats could do it in 1960 and get away with it, so he could he. The humiliation the press put him through after his loss in '62 to Pat Brown only cemented this sense of "fuck 'em all" and turned his distrust of the press into outright hate.
Nixon had embraced the "whatever it takes to win" attitude long before 1960. He displayed it all the way back in his first congressional race in 1946.
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Old 05-16-2017, 09:52 PM
Truman Burbank Truman Burbank is offline
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Bobby Kennedy. Damn. Some things you never get over.
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Old 05-16-2017, 09:58 PM
E-DUB E-DUB is offline
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Bobby. (Even if other posters hadn't mentioned him already, the single word would be sufficient.)
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Old 05-16-2017, 11:26 PM
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Hillary
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:21 AM
syncrolecyne syncrolecyne is offline
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A Dukakis win in 1988 might have led to a marginally better presidency from 1989-1993, but much more importantly, might have spared us from much grief since 2001.
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Old 05-17-2017, 04:04 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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2008- John McCain. One of my favorite politicians and he should have been President in 2000.

2004- Joe Lieberman. I still think Lieberman was the right guy for that time, although I shudder to think about a rise in anti-semetism in the wake of a financial crisis with a Jewish President in charge. But he probably would have beaten Bush and was a fundamentally decent guy.

2000- Al Gore. Gore would have made a great President and I'm not happy he ended his political career.

1988- Jack Kemp. Reagan 2.0, probably with a lot more competence.

1992- Ross Perot. Came around 24 years too early when Americans only thought they were fed up with politics as usual.
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:52 PM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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Nixon had embraced the "whatever it takes to win" attitude long before 1960. He displayed it all the way back in his first congressional race in 1946.
Your assertion is contrary to his decision against contesting the 1960 election. If he really did feel that way, it's hard to imagine that he would have let concern for the country stand in his way.
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:07 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quoth adaher:

2008- John McCain. One of my favorite politicians and he should have been President in 2000.
Maybe he should have been President in 2000... but the John McCain who was running in 2008 was a very different one from the one who was running in 2000. The 2008 McCain earned his loss fair and square.
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:27 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Jerry Brown. And yes, I'm serious.
Which one, though? I am not sure the 1970s "Governor Moonbeam" was capable of running the country any better than Carter.

The one who pulled a Sully with California a few years back? You bet yer ass.
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:50 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Your assertion is contrary to his decision against contesting the 1960 election. If he really did feel that way, it's hard to imagine that he would have let concern for the country stand in his way.
I believe his decision not to contest the outcome of the election was due to his knowledge he'd lose such a contest. Were there improprieties in the Democratic vote count? Probably. But there were also improprieties in the Republican vote count. Nixon knew any challenge he made would be matched by a Kennedy counter-challenge and he knew that at the end of any legal battle he'd end up losing the election anyway.
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Old 05-18-2017, 08:01 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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I believe his decision not to contest the outcome of the election was due to his knowledge he'd lose such a contest. Were there improprieties in the Democratic vote count? Probably. But there were also improprieties in the Republican vote count. Nixon knew any challenge he made would be matched by a Kennedy counter-challenge and he knew that at the end of any legal battle he'd end up losing the election anyway.
Absolutely. I've heard a variety of anecdotes about the night, both favorable and unfavorable to Nixon. I don't know if any of them can be taken at face value, but all of them agree that he had lost and had no chance of success if he challenged the results. He used the 'good of the country' excuse another time later in his career and clearly had only his own interests in mind.

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Old 05-18-2017, 09:17 PM
Fair Rarity Fair Rarity is offline
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Maybe he should have been President in 2000... but the John McCain who was running in 2008 was a very different one from the one who was running in 2000. The 2008 McCain earned his loss fair and square.
2000 McCain, or at least who I think he was at the time, would have been a great leader after 9/11, through Katrina.

He was his own worst enemy in 2008 picking Palin.

I wonder if we'd be having the health care meltdown now if Dole had won in 1996, since ACA is not too far from his ideas. If he had implemented it, it'd be harder for current Rs to destroy a popular plan from their own party.
  #26  
Old 05-19-2017, 05:59 PM
TreacherousCretin TreacherousCretin is offline
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Jerry Brown. And yes, I'm serious.
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Which one, though? I am not sure the 1970s "Governor Moonbeam" was capable of running the country any better than Carter.

The one who pulled a Sully with California a few years back? You bet yer ass.
One and the same.
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:39 PM
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I've always heard good things about Adlai Stevenson. Surprised no one's mentioned him yet.

As far as William Jennings Bryan, I'm not on board with him. But most of what I know about him was from accounts of the Scopes Monkey Trial and I was less than impressed. I don't have any problem with bimetalism as an economic policy, but I thought he just came out a decidedly distant second best against Clarence Darrow. Maybe Darrow would be a better president that we never had.
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Old 05-20-2017, 06:20 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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It is quite possible that a fair count would have Nixon winning in Illinois. A lot of gravestones voted in Chicago. But I also suspect Republican irregularities elsewhere and I think Nixon knew it. My mother felt that Nixon should not have been allowed to walk down the street without ringing a bell and saying "Unclean, unclean".

I don't know what Tilden's policies were, but he was a Democrat and the Dems were dominated by the southern states in those days and I doubt reconstruction would have survived any better under him.

What I have read on Brian and evolution is that he believed that it necessarily implied social Darwinism and he objected strongly to that. It doesn't. At any rate, he was an old man by the time of the Scopes trial, which he wasn't in 1896.

Yes, Stevenson would not have sent "advisors" to try to help the French hang on to Viet Nam. I think Ike was blindsided by Dull-ass on that one. I think he would have made a great president.

Garner was FDR's VP for two terms, then Wallace, then Truman.

I think McCain did himself in by choosing Palin. I could not trust his judgment after that.

Huey Long??? Really. I have the distinct impression that he had dictatorial tendencies. He is supposedly the model for Sinclair Lewis's It can't happen here, which I read last summer. And what do you mean, he would have confronted Hitler. FDR would have too, had the country been less isolationist. He did what he could to prepare for war and it sufficed.

A couple of founders: Franklin and Hamilton would have been interesting.
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Old 05-20-2017, 07:00 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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A couple of founders: Franklin and Hamilton would have been interesting.
Franklin would have died in his first year in office.
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Old 05-21-2017, 02:31 AM
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John Kerry winning in 2004 would have prevented some things:
No Obama run in 2008, which would be good. Obama was not ready to lead the party in 2008.
The white nationalist element of the TEA Party wouldn't be so strong, and 2010 might not have been a GOP rout.
Probably a rather different State Department from Hillary's, and possibly avoiding committing to an unauthorized and illegal war in Libya.

The crash probably still would have happened. For the sake of argument, let's say either McCain or Romney would have won in'08. That would give Ted Cruz & Mitch McConnell less opportunity to play games in the Senate.
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Old 05-21-2017, 08:48 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Kerry winning in 2004 would have been disastrous for the Democratic party. He was never decisive or courageous enough to be the guy to take away the punchbowl, so the crash would have still happened on his watch, plus Iraq would have completely disentegrated. He could blame it on Bush all he wanted, but the fact would have been that Bush had only run the beginning and things didn't start to really go downhill until Kerry. Kerry also would have largely inherited Bush's FEMA, and it's unlikely he'd have turned it around, or even made it a priority, so Katrina goes down pretty much the same way for Kerry.
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Old 05-21-2017, 11:02 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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One and the same.
... with 30 years of seasoning.
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Old 05-21-2017, 12:45 PM
TreacherousCretin TreacherousCretin is offline
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... with 30 years of seasoning.
Point taken.
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Old 05-21-2017, 06:49 PM
erysichthon erysichthon is offline
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A Dukakis win in 1988 might have led to a marginally better presidency from 1989-1993, but much more importantly, might have spared us from much grief since 2001.
I recall a Dukakis interview where he blames himself for much of what happened after 2000: "If I had beaten the father, you never would have heard of the son."
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Old 05-21-2017, 09:56 PM
Ukulele Ike Ukulele Ike is offline
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Henry Wallace in 1948!

And I second the nomination of workers' candidate Eugene Debs for 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920.
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Old 05-21-2017, 10:00 PM
Count Blucher Count Blucher is offline
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Bill Bradley.
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Old 05-21-2017, 11:05 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Henry Clay had the political skills and personal temperament to be a good President, but it was not to be.

Samuel Tilden would've been about as good as Rutherford Hayes, and really ought to have won, had it not been for the corrupt bargains struck in late 1876.

Eugene V. Debs was a man far ahead of his time politically, but was an ideological purist and probably would've been able to get almost nothing done as President.

Huey Long was a corrupt, authoritarian demagogue. He would have been a disaster, or dangerous, or both, in the White House.

Hubert Humphrey and Bobby Kennedy both had the potential to be good or near-great Presidents, I think.

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A Dukakis win in 1988 might have led to a marginally better presidency from 1989-1993, but much more importantly, might have spared us from much grief since 2001.
I worked on the Dukakis national field staff for a year, and think he was a better person than GHWB (I still haven't forgiven Bush the Elder for building his low-road campaign around the Pledge of Allegiance, the ACLU, Willie Horton, etc.). But Dukakis would certainly have raised taxes just as Bush did to address the huge Reagan deficits; would not have been as good as Bush in rallying international support for liberating Kuwait (assuming Saddam still invaded); and would have probably inherited the same recession going into the 1992 election. Dukakis might have been a one-termer and the last Democrat in the WH for quite awhile. No President Bill Clinton, at least not in 1992 or maybe even 1996. I hate to say it, but on balance, it might've been for the best that Dukakis lost in 1988.

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Maybe he should have been President in 2000... but the John McCain who was running in 2008 was a very different one from the one who was running in 2000. The 2008 McCain earned his loss fair and square.
Agreed. I could see myself voting for McCain in 2000; by 2008 he had lurched too far to the right, and the Palin pick was unforgivable.

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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I believe his decision not to contest the outcome of the election was due to his knowledge he'd lose such a contest. Were there improprieties in the Democratic vote count? Probably. But there were also improprieties in the Republican vote count. Nixon knew any challenge he made would be matched by a Kennedy counter-challenge and he knew that at the end of any legal battle he'd end up losing the election anyway.
Time to put the legend to rest that Nixon didn't challenge the results of the 1960 election. More accurately, he personally didn't challenge the results, but many other top GOP officials did, and he did nothing to stop them.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_a...on_robbed.html
http://www.alternet.org/story/10100/...counts_in_1960
http://articles.latimes.com/2000/nov/10/local/me-49741

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I've always heard good things about Adlai Stevenson. Surprised no one's mentioned him yet.

As far as William Jennings Bryan, I'm not on board with him. But most of what I know about him was from accounts of the Scopes Monkey Trial and I was less than impressed. I don't have any problem with bimetalism as an economic policy, but I thought he just came out a decidedly distant second best against Clarence Darrow. Maybe Darrow would be a better president that we never had.
Stevenson becomes President in an alternative 1952 election in C.J. Sansom's thriller Dominion, and takes a more aggressive line against the still-extant Nazi regime than his predecessor, Robert A. Taft.

Bryan was a pacifist and Christian fundamentalist. Just not sure he would've been a good President.
  #38  
Old 05-23-2017, 05:57 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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I'm tempted to start a thread about "The Worst Presidents Who Never Were"; but maybe that discussion could just go here.

What would a Spiro Agnew presidency have been like, if he hadn't resigned before Nixon?
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Old 05-24-2017, 01:01 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Agnew wasn't the sharpest blade in the drawer and was obviously a crook (hence his resignation). He would've made Ford look like a great statesman, had he taken office upon Nixon's resignation, and might've lost the 1976 election - assuming he ran for the Presidency in his own right - even worse than Ford did.
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Old 05-24-2017, 01:38 AM
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I worked on the Dukakis national field staff for a year, and think he was a better person than GHWB (I still haven't forgiven Bush the Elder for building his low-road campaign around the Pledge of Allegiance, the ACLU, Willie Horton, etc.). But Dukakis would certainly have raised taxes just as Bush did to address the huge Reagan deficits; would not have been as good as Bush in rallying international support for liberating Kuwait (assuming Saddam still invaded); and would have probably inherited the same recession going into the 1992 election. Dukakis might have been a one-termer and the last Democrat in the WH for quite awhile. No President Bill Clinton, at least not in 1992 or maybe even 1996. I hate to say it, but on balance, it might've been for the best that Dukakis lost in 1988.
The most important macro thing in Bush v 1.0's term was the collapse of communism and the end of the Soviet Union. And he dealt with it with a deftness which belied how tricky and difficult it was and how very very badly it could have gone.

Would Dukakis have the skill, experience and standing to do the same? Would he have been able to stand up to Thatcher and Mitterrand's opposition to German reunification?
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Old 05-24-2017, 09:38 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Fair questions. Dukakis was smart and a quick study, but had zero foreign policy experience.
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Old 05-24-2017, 07:16 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Kerby winning in 2004 would have given us the loathsome Edwards as VP. Not sure when all of his scandals would have leaked out but it would have been bad times.
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Old 05-24-2017, 07:25 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Fair questions. Dukakis was smart and a quick study, but had zero foreign policy experience.
Typically, governors bring a high level of administrative and political experience, while senators bring a high level of legislative and (often) foreign and domestic policy experience. If we can't get a full spectrum of experience, I'd say being a capable (government) administrator and effective working politician trumps other experience.
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Old 05-24-2017, 10:09 PM
Beren Erchamion Beren Erchamion is offline
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Clinton, McGovern, Mondale, Bobby Kennedy
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Old 05-24-2017, 10:44 PM
Rick Kitchen Rick Kitchen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Franklin would have died in his first year in office.
I'm reading Alexander Hamilton right now, and man was he a strong central government advocate. Things would have been really different.
  #46  
Old 08-10-2017, 07:51 PM
E-DUB E-DUB is offline
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Lemur866 wrote: "Kerby winning in 2004 would have given us the loathsome Edwards as VP. Not sure when all of his scandals would have leaked out but it would have been bad times." The only scandal I'm aware of was his knocking up his videographer. This happened during the '08 campaign. Had he been VP, he might not have even met this gal.
  #47  
Old 08-11-2017, 04:32 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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People prone to affairs and knocking up their lovers aren't usually victims of circumstance, but people who inevitably have affairs and knock up their lovers. It wouldn't have been Rielle Hunter, but it might have been a White House page or something.

The real catalyst for Edwards' affair wasn't the campaign, it was his deteriorating relationship with his wife.
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