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  #1  
Old 01-11-2020, 04:32 AM
russian heel is offline
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Since WW2, who has been the most politcaly talented President? (Setting aside politics)


1. DONALD TRUMP
Never seen so many fanatical followers. Also, the first non-politician to rise to the High Office. (NOTE: I HATE the guy. But I can't deny his talent!)
2. RONALD REAGAN
A movie actor that played it to the hilt. Even his enemies could not say a bad word about him.
3. JOHN F KENNEDY
The first "TV" candidate. Forever influenced how Prez candidates were packaged.
4. BILL CLINTON
Slick Willie even talked his way out of an impeachment.
5. BARACK OBAMA
Behind Trump and Reagan, the greatest Presidential orator of the last 70+ years.
6. DWIGHT EISENHOWER
Basically because of his leadership in World War 2. But no denying his charisma because of that. The ultimate "safe" candidate.
7. HARRY S TRUMAN
Got re-elected. But a newspaper thought dullard James Dewey beat him how can I put him higher on this list?
8. JIMMY CARTER
His fresh new face in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam was at first refreshing, but quickly blemished in the face of inflation and the hostage crisis.
9. GEORGE HW BUSH
Only get elected because he was Reagan's Veep and even after a successful war, got usurped after only one year after that. Was exposed as old-timey, out of touch in 1992.
10. GEORGE W BUSH
Other than after 9/11 nothing seemed inspiring about this guy. Full of vocal boners, and a personality like a doormat, the fact that he got re-elected is a Christmas Miracle.
11. LYNDON JOHNSON
The ugly, bald headed, Southern drawling dull guy who took over the country after the movie-star JFK took lead to the skull. Only reason he was re-reelected was Barry Goldwater was considered a kook. Declined to run in 1968 in the wake of Vietnam. A colossal bore.
12. GERALD FORD
A good man, and a highly underrated President. But name me one inspiring moment from his Presidency. At least W has a few!
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Old 01-11-2020, 07:25 AM
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Your number one contradicts the purpose of the thread. Trump isn't a politician. He's not an orator, either. He's a politically-inept bully who stumbled his way into office.
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Old 01-11-2020, 08:00 AM
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Only reason [LBJ] was re-reelected was Barry Goldwater was considered a kook.
How many things are wrong with this?

1) Obviously, LBJ wasn't re-elected as President in 1964.

2) Maybe you weren't around in 1964. Another Republican might've only lost by 8-10 points instead of >20.

And more general criticisms:

3) "politcaly talented" involves more than winning elections. Jimmy Carter's Presidency is a testimony to that. What landmark legislation did he get through Congress? I can't remember any, and I was paying attention at the time.

That's one reason I'd put LBJ at or near the top of the list. In 1964, with the same Congress that Kennedy had had to work with, LBJ got Civil Rights legislation through Congress where Kennedy hadn't been able to. And then he took full advantage of the Goldwater rout to get the Great Society programs through Congress.

4) Where's Nixon? Whatever one may think of him, he certainly was politically talented.
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Old 01-11-2020, 08:53 AM
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Presuming political talent = ability to win elections, I think we've had a handful of A+ political talents since WWII: Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama. These are candidates who simply aren't going to lose an election, barring very unusual circumstances -- they're that good.
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:44 AM
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Hmmm...most politically talented - setting aside politics

1. LBJ - The most politically astute in affairs of office
2. Nixon - Similar to LBJ in office
3. Truman - unpopular incumbent who beat Dewey
4. Obama, Clinton, JFK - experts at the art of the political campaign
5. HW Bush - Politically skilled - the best choice for the Reagan reconstruction
6. Ike - an astute, moderate politician (but I voted for Stevenson)
7. Reagan, W Bush - inept objects who fronted for the establishment
8. Carter - an honest man and an inept politician
9. Ford - largely apolitical
10, In a normal distribution there will be rare cases that fall outside the 3 sigma points. They are statistical outliers that are best removed from consideration because they pollute the data. Such a one is Trump.

Last edited by Crane; 01-11-2020 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 01-11-2020, 11:48 AM
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The term politically talented is so subjective, but I think the most useful definition would be to convince others to make policies favored by that person.

LBJ, Reagan, and Clinton lead this group by miles and miles.

Obama, Bush I and II, Nixon, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Ike and Carter are in the middle somewhere. I’d probably put Ike, Nixon, and Bush I more towards the top of the heap, and Obama and Carter further down.

Trump is obviously dead last. He has literally no skills to convince people who don’t already agree with him.

Note that I’m not picking this definition just to criticize Trump. I think the currency of the realm in politics is finding ways to get things done when faced with people who disagree. Some politicians have it, and some don’t.
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Old 01-11-2020, 12:03 PM
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The OP seems to be confusing Presidents who are inspiring with Presidents who are effective. And I feel being effective is a far better indicator of political talent than being inspiring.

Lyndon Johnson was a very effective President. Regardless of how you feel about his policies over civil rights, social programs, and Vietnam, you have to concede he got the laws and programs he wanted enacted. Kennedy may have been far more inspiring but Johnson got a lot more done.

If all you're looking for in a President is somebody who inspires you, then you might as well say Jed Bartlet is the most politically talented President we've had since WWII.
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Old 01-11-2020, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
Presuming political talent = ability to win elections, I think we've had a handful of A+ political talents since WWII: Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama. These are candidates who simply aren't going to lose an election, barring very unusual circumstances -- they're that good.
Kennedy probably didnt actually get the votes he needed to win the election. Voter fraud made him President.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...dy-1960-214395

Quote:
Kennedy triumphed by the thinnest of margins. His lead in the popular vote was just 118,574 out of almost 69 million votes cast. (He got 49.7 percent to Nixon’s 49.6 percent.) It was the tightest popular vote margin since Grover Cleveland’s defeat of James G. Blaine in 1884 (23,000 votes) and Benjamin Harrison’s subsequent victory over Cleveland in 1888 (he won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by 100,456).

In the electoral college JFK’s advantage was more comfortable: He took 303 electors to Nixon’s 219. But in two key states that helped swing the election, Kennedy’s victory struck some Republicans as suspect. In Illinois, he won by just 8,800 votes, largely due to margins in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley – a Kennedy stalwart – tightly controlled the Cook County organization. In Texas, home of his running mate, Lyndon Johnson, he won by a margin of 46,000. Had Nixon carried both states, he would have won the electoral college, 270 to 252.

Over a half century after the fact, it’s impossible to judge what really happened. Multiple judges and one independent prosecutor, all of whom weighed in over the ensuing months in response to Republican complaints, determined that the vote tally was fair. But historian Robert Dallek, who wrote definitive biographies of JFK and LBJ,, concluded that Daley’s storied political machine “probably stole Illinois from Nixon”—though he reminds readers that Kennedy “would have won even without Illinois.” FBI agents who had placed wire taps on key Daley lieutenants (for entirely unrelated purposes) also had reason to believe that Illinois was rigged.
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Old 01-11-2020, 01:28 PM
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Cook County went Democratic? Shock!
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Old 01-11-2020, 01:36 PM
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The OP seems to be confusing Presidents who are inspiring with Presidents who are effective.
...and/or political talent with charisma. And/or being good at politics with looking like a politician—the kind of person you'd cast as President if you were making a movie.

LBJ was way, way better at politics (using the political process to get things accomplished) than Donald Trump.
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Old 01-11-2020, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by russian heel View Post
[B]11. LYNDON JOHNSON
The ugly, bald headed, Southern drawling dull guy who took over the country after the movie-star JFK took lead to the skull. Only reason he was re-reelected was Barry Goldwater was considered a kook. Declined to run in 1968 in the wake of Vietnam. A colossal bore.
Come back after you have actually read some history.
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Old 01-11-2020, 02:43 PM
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2. RONALD REAGAN
A movie actor that played it to the hilt. Even his enemies could not say a bad word about him.
What?

Wasn't Reagan criticized by his foes as hard as any other president?
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Old 01-11-2020, 02:43 PM
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Kennedy probably didnt actually get the votes he needed to win the election. Voter fraud made him President.
There was voter fraud on the Republican side as well. Nixon received more fraudulent votes than Kennedy did. That's why Nixon didn't challenge Kennedy's election in the courts. He knew that Kennedy could launch his own countersuit and when the fraudulent votes on both sides were thrown out, Kennedy would still have more votes than Nixon.
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Old 01-11-2020, 03:56 PM
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There is not the slightest doubt that LBJ was the most skilled politician of his (and many other) generation. Much as hate his guts, the most skilled politician today is Moscow Mitch. I am afraid that Carter and Obama, presidents I admire greatly, were not good politicians. Sara Palin (by putting McCain's judgement into question) and Romney's 47% crack helped elect and reelect Obama.
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Old 01-11-2020, 04:08 PM
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I guess I don't know what your definition of talent is.

If your definition of talent is able to lead a cult like movement, then yeah I'd agree Trump is the most talented. But he is grossly incompetent at actually being a politician. He doesn't know how to keep his underlings happy, how to broker deals, he throws people under the bus, etc. For the most part his 2 big accomplishments as president are stacking the appellate court with conservative judges (McConnell is the one who actually deserves credit for this) and passing supply side tax cuts. Both were actually done by congress, Trump just signed the bills after congress did the work.

Also a lot of Trump's loyalty is more about his voters than about him. His voters are enraged that the country is changing demographically and Trump is their great white hope to keep America a white christian patriarchy. Some other politician could've filled that void had they wanted to.

But I agree, Trump is very talented at inspiring loyalty among his supporters. Far more than any other politician I've seen in my lifetime (Bernie is maybe a distant second).

Trump to his credit also won an election that most people deemed unwinnable, including top strategists. So he deserves credit for that.

So in a lot of ways, Trump.

I'd put Bernie as second (I know this is about presidents and not candidates, but still) and Obama as 3rd. Reagan maybe 4th because I don't 'think' he had much of a movement behind him. Reagans legacy (from what I know of it) was put in place after he was president, not during his presidency.

But as far as actual talent as a politician, I think LBJ deserves top rank for that. Its a sad testament to how our political system works. JFK was good looking and played the part of a politician, but LBJ was an actual competent politician. Our system rewards the first part, not the second. Personally I'd much rather have someone competent then someone charming as president, as long as they agreed with my agenda.

So when it comes to being a 'politician', I'd say Trump is the most talented. When it comes to the nitty gritty of politics (passing laws, deal making, keeping people happy or afraid, etc) I'd say LBJ. Cheney probably deserves honorable mention at this too despite him being VP.
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Old 01-11-2020, 06:11 PM
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The OP's window excludes guys like WH Taft, an indifferent president but admirable justice, not to mention FDR. Political "talent" ==> notching accomplishments before and during their presidency - and not only achieving easy wins. LBJ obviously tops the effectiveness scale. IMHO he didn't seek re-election because he was just worn out.
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Old 01-11-2020, 08:54 PM
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My Assessment from Truman to Trump

1) President Truman: History has been kinder to him than his contemporaries. While he pulled off a shock victory as the incumbent president in 1948, the fact remains he was not popular during his tenure. He was not considered sophisticated or worthy of the presidency. His popularity as a president improved once the full extent of his leadership in the immediate aftermath of WW2 became known. Everything fell on his lap after the death of Roosevelt and a less capable successor may have mapped the reconstruction period a lot differently and a lot worse. Truman's leadership was decisive and with a vision for the long term.

2) President Eisenhower: With him I believe his popularity as a president has gone down somewhat as time has passed on because the historical record distinguishes Eisenhower as a WW2 hero and Eisenhower as a post-WW2 president. He is still very highly thought of among Americans as a president by republicans and democrats but he's probably a tier below in the history books rankings than what the people of the time thought which was giving him two stonking victories and super high approval ratings. I think in part because he was politically steady and not partisan for that era --- Truman wanted him to be his Democratic Party successor. But not particularly visionary. America in the 1950s wasn't as cushy as nostalgia suggests but Eisenhower was the right leader for that decade. A respected elder statesman who commanded respect around the world and a stoic personality that was reassuring as Cold War tensions and the Atomic Age heated up.

3) President Kennedy: The opposite of his predecessor. Young, photogenic, telegenic, exuberant and a man who challenged the country and its people to aim higher, do better and enter a new era. The 1960s was the decade when black and white TV was on the way out, young people started to express themselves outwardly, the culture became less stiff, and the Kennedy's image of Camelot was a selling point. Definitely one of the great orators although the man goes down as part-myth because of the assassination. He wasn't that successful in getting legislation passed and records show because he wasn't particularly cut-throat about it as his successor turned out to be.

4) President Johnson: A real nasty piece of work. Mean, vindictive, a bully. But the most politically shrewd president of this timeline. Johnson signed into law the most consequential landmark legislation: the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid. His methods in some ways were awful, but successful and America became better for it. That said Johnson is barely talked of as a great Democratic president, never mind a great president overall. Because of Vietnam. He escalated that war --- I believe because foreign policy was never his wheelhouse and he listened to the Generals too much as he focused on "The Great Society" at home. Vietnam is a big blemish on his record. He lost control over the war, lost control of the country as protests, riots and political assassinations were carried out, which led him to not seeking him another term in 1968. He was a power hungry man all his life but once he reached the top he saw the view wasn't all that good. While he won in 1964 by an epic landslide, he was never loved in life, and certainly not in death as the details, stories, rumours and innuendos started being revealed. He's a complicated character who even Robert Caro probably doesn't fully understand.

5) President Nixon - Intelligent, calculating, paranoid. He sunk himself. Nixon did achieve historically significant things to start with. He established the Environmental Protection Agency, he signed into law the Clean Air Act in 1970, he opened the doors to communist China and established a foreign policy with the Soviet Union his successors benefited from. He ironically reformed some government agencies to become more transparent - notably the Budget Management office. He supported a national health insurance, spoke of it, and formulated a plan for healthcare reform (which never really got anywhere due to Watergate) but was picked up and built on by future lawmakers and presidents. He also to his credit signed into law all the Civil Rights legislation passed in Congress which included increasing spending and expanding social programs. But he had a devious side to him. Effectively sabotaging Johnson's negotiations to end the war in 1968, promising the other side a better deal if (once) elected. Since his opponent was Vice President Hubert Humphrey it tied the Vice President in a bind with the President when actually Humphrey often broke with Johnson on the war. Then when he became president Nixon planned to gradually bring home troops in a strategic manner so those still on the ground trained the South Vietnamese to fight the North. Therefore Nixon at the end could proclaim he brought the troops home and the North were defeated by the South, so the Americans efforts were not in vain. That did not go to plan. It was a folly plan in the first place. So Nixon carried on the escalation by invading and bombing neighbouring Cambodia which led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, and Laos, then Hanoi for his exit plan to now end at the negotiation table in North Vietnamese surrender. History now knows that war ended with the Fall of Saigon, North Vietnamese victory and Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos becoming communist. Nixon's downfall with Watergate is well known and how much guilt he personally held in the eyes of the law was never found out --- but Watergate as a nefarious political operation started off as a rookie error that escalated dramatically.

6) President Ford: A decent man and someone who did the job he needed to do well. Ford climbed up the ranks of the Republican House leadership and aspired to become House Speaker yet he ended up being Vice President, then eight months later, President. He was essentially a caretaker. No great expectations since no one voted for him. Someone to clean up the mess he inherited as much as time allowed. And there was a lot of mess. Pardoning Nixon is the worst thing his presidency is remembered for and some might say the only thing his presidency is remembered for. But his reasoning was the economy was in terrible state, an oil crisis was erupting, Vietnam needed a conclusion still, he needed the legalities of Nixon off his desk and if he didn't, Watergate could rumble on for years. I don't recall Jimmy Carter making a fuss about the pardon in 1976 to doubt Ford's motivation (allegations of a deal between Nixon and Ford) and Ford actually testified about it in Congress to his credit. He vetoed most bills that came on his desk. He wanted to curb spending to handle inflation. He couldn't. But neither could his successor.

7) President Carter: I like him a lot as a person. He demonstrates morality and practices what he preaches. He does preach a lot however and in his presidency that earnest Sunday School image started to wear thin. Politically he was the right man for that post-Nixon, post-Watergate, post-Vietnam election in 1976. As a governor from the deep south he was progressive on race and socially liberal, although he also espoused governmental fiscal restraint as a plus point. Therefore he was able to reach to different voters. Yet he almost blew that election. Two percentage points and a few thousand votes in a couple of states would have allowed the republicans to hold power after Watergate. In office Carter was not promising a grand package like the New Deal or the Great Society. He supported universal healthcare as an individual item during the election and tried to get a healthcare plan passed which essentially was Obamacare, just thirty years earlier. He created the Department of Energy and Department of Education --- two "big government" agencies conservatives have wanted to abolish for forty years. He formalised diplomatic relations with China (inviting Nixon back to the White House to recognise his role), signed an arms control treaty with Brezhnev, mediated successfully the Camp David Accords peace treaty with Israel and Egypt which still, on principle, stands today. These were all things he accomplished because he took them on as moral issues as well as the politically right things do to. The aspects which were the politically right thing to do but required backslapping, appeasing and being able to play the Washington game he saw as beneath him. And it annoyed Congress, including his own party. Compare him to Johnson who could butter you up one week then stomp on your toes the next to get his policies passed, Carter didn't want to do that. Instead he took it straight to the public with Oval Office addresses and Fireside chats. He didn't build the relationships in Washington to sustain support, was seen as weak during the hostage crisis (eventually got them out without firing a shot just as he was to leave office), got a primary challenge from his left by Ted Kennedy and lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980

8) President Reagan: If you're a conservative he's a saint. If you're a liberal he's the devil. Reagan was the Republicans answer to Kennedy as a public orator. He was also the Republican answer to Franklin Roosevelt as governing steadfast to ideology --- Roosevelt to "big government" liberalism and Reagan to "small government" conservatism. Both men embraced their own popularity and teased their opponents. Reagan used his acting heritage as a brilliant political tool, had an outward personality, and in contrast of being the oldest president ever he filled the judiciary with young conservative judges thinking ahead long term. This is similar to what is happening now. Reagan's accomplishments are well known, his failures gradually becoming more acknowledged. If the current occupant of the White House gets a second term he'll probably overtake Reagan as the republican deity.

9) President Bush Sr: While I find Reagan overrated I think Bush Sr was underrated. Sort of like Truman in the sense that he had to deal with foreign policy more than a domestic agenda because with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, he was tasked immediately of charting a new course. He also expanded trade with China and newly developing global markets. Bush Sr did it well in my opinion. He had foreign policy knowledge as UN Ambassador, CIA Director and Vice President and therefore he was a steady hand at the wheel. He also solved a potential crisis in Kuwait quickly and effectively. His popularity was sky-high at one point but while he was notching up foreign policy goals, he took his eye off the domestic situation. Economic downturn led to a recession, increasing job losses and unemployment which led to him breaking a promise to his supporters --- no new taxes. It was bad timing for him with re-election and something he carried on from the coattails of Reagan. You take the good with the bad. The good was being Reagan's VP got him elected. The bad was the economic policies of the 1980s while he was VP came back to bite him in 1992.

10) President Clinton: A political genius. This man would have been a great used car salesman. He was a wonk who stayed on top of the issues, knew the details, understood the nuances and how to sell it in a manner that appeared cool. He turned a crisis into a political victory for him starting with his problems related to his past in the 1992 election, then the 1994 Mid-Term wipe-out for his party which seriously made him appear wounded and "irrelevant" as some described ahead of 1996, then impeachment. These were sill personal scars that still show today as the Democratic Party re-evaluate the Clinton presidency and scandal. He remained pretty damn popular after leaving office but now his brand of centrism which brought the Democrats back to the White House after twelve years (plus between 1969-1993 only a single four year term belonged to the democrats) is being knocked back as deviating to the right wing. In the #MeToo era it's hard to escape the fact he abused his power as the president morally if not constitutionally, and frankly a father and husband, by having a sexual relation with a staffer and woman twenty five years his junior. I don't think we'll see much of Bill this year on the campaign trail.

11) President Bush Jr: The worst president of my lifetime, so far. Led a disaster in the Middle East under false pretences that is still ongoing, the region destabilised and caused more terrorism not less. Civilians, women, children, babies killed. American troops killed. All in the name of patriotic jingoism which saw his campaign disgracefully smear his opponent in 2004. He increased the surveillance state under the guise of patriotism that just led to greater distrust in government. Oversaw the worst recession since the great depression, incompetence in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, was the worst speaker of all these men and only saving grace in that regard is he has now been overtaken as the biggest oratory buffoon. Where I'll give him some due is he didn't embrace Islamophobia after 9/11 even going as far to saying Al-Qaeda and who the US are up against do not represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims or the religion itself. In more practical work he did important work towards ending HIV and particularly by helping African nations, and he distanced himself from Cheney about halfway into his second term. Too late but it gives credence to the idea that Cheney was the one really driving policy and Bush was a puppet.

12) President Obama: A fantastic orator, political operator and decent man. But he might be the most disappointing president in relative to the expectations of his election to the eventual outcomes by the end. It's not necessarily his fault because expectations were so high. The first black president, winning on a message of hope and change, young, intelligent, not too entrenched in Washington but not a political newbie either. He inherited an economy in deep trouble and by the time he left office turned it around giving his successor a healthy balance sheet to take over. His stimulus package revitalised industries such as automobile companies, getting unemployment beneath the historical average in this timeline, he enforced stronger regulations on the financial sector so not to allow the bubble to burst again. He established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of that regulatory change to protect citizens. He achieved the landmark goal that others tried and failed which expanded healthcare access to millions of people. It was never the end goal but a starting point. The United States found and terminated Bin Laden on his watch. Same-sex marriage became enshrined by the Supreme Court with his support crucial. The problem was that Obama did not do much. It's that much of what he did has been rolled back, or at best undercut, by his successor. Some presidents are elected to steady the ship. Others are to transform. Obama was supposed to go down as transformative and symbolically he is, but legislatively another democrat has to pick up the pieces. His eight years feels disappointing because of that.

13) President Trump: A bullshitting, lying, cheating conman and that just sums up his business career. His presidency is a crossover between his business persona of appearing tough and grandstanding and the WWE where childish nicknames, tit for tat and playing up to the crowd matters most. With him at the helm it's a race to the bottom in terms of intellectual vigour and I just hope this year ends with him packing his bags without any madness leading to devastation. He's threatened it enough times already. The day Trump plays golf and no one gives a shit will be a great day because it means we have a new president!

Last edited by Boycott; 01-11-2020 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 01-11-2020, 09:21 PM
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It depends on what you mean by "politically talented." I think a case could be made for any of them to be #1 except for Bush II, Carter, and Ford depending on our terms.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:40 AM
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Boycott,

I agree with your analysis for the most part, but I feel you were too light on Reagan and heavy on JFK. JFK was the most popular president in my lifetime (I was born in the Hoover administration).

JFK was challenged by racial tensions in the south and by Russia internationally. He skillfully handled the Cuban crisis. JFK also initiated the highly successful Apollo program. And, I agree, there was a mythical dimension to his administration. That was helped by Vaughn Meader.

Reagan looked presidential. but his administration was famously corrupt and out of control. His policies produced a roller coaster economy. Large scandals were commonplace - Hud, Savings and loan, Iran Contra and the marine barracks disaster. When he wagged the dog in Grenada he was almost repulsed by the local constabulary.

Judging by the responses above, Nixon. LBJ, Truman and Eisenhower will be the beneficiaries of time.
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Old 01-12-2020, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Kennedy probably didnt actually get the votes he needed to win the election. Voter fraud made him President.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...dy-1960-214395
Yeah, that's far from conclusive, and there's no evidence. It all sounds good until you realize that JFKs machine had no idea those were the two critical areas. And of course the GOP had their own crap they were pulling too.

Even your own cite sez "Over a half century after the fact, it’s impossible to judge what really happened. Multiple judges and one independent prosecutor, all of whom weighed in over the ensuing months in response to Republican complaints, determined that the vote tally was fair."

So, saying Voter fraud made him President is bogus.

Not to mention JFK did win the popular vote.
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Old 01-12-2020, 03:08 PM
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What?

Wasn't Reagan criticized by his foes as hard as any other president?
As a politician, certainly. Reagan surrounded himself with crooked cronies.


As a person, Ronnie was generally accepted to be a great guy.

So the Op is wrong, yet again.
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Old 01-12-2020, 03:11 PM
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My Assessment from Truman to Trump

.
Altho I don't totally agree with the rankings here, you assessments are generally sound, and 1000% better than the Ops.
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Old 01-12-2020, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Kennedy probably didnt actually get the votes he needed to win the election. Voter fraud made him President.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...dy-1960-214395
Say what? The most damning line from your quote is this:
Quote:
But historian Robert Dallek, who wrote definitive biographies of JFK and LBJ,, concluded that Daley’s storied political machine “probably stole Illinois from Nixon”—though he reminds readers that Kennedy “would have won even without Illinois.”
(emphasis added).

Your cite pretty directly contradicts your claim.
  #24  
Old 01-12-2020, 05:11 PM
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1. DONALD TRUMP
Never seen so many fanatical followers. Also, the first non-politician to rise to the High Office. (NOTE: I HATE the guy. But I can't deny his talent!)
2. RONALD REAGAN
A movie actor that played it to the hilt. Even his enemies could not say a bad word about him.
3. JOHN F KENNEDY
The first "TV" candidate. Forever influenced how Prez candidates were packaged.
4. BILL CLINTON
Slick Willie even talked his way out of an impeachment.
5. BARACK OBAMA
Behind Trump and Reagan, the greatest Presidential orator of the last 70+ years.
6. DWIGHT EISENHOWER
Basically because of his leadership in World War 2. But no denying his charisma because of that. The ultimate "safe" candidate.
7. HARRY S TRUMAN
Got re-elected. But a newspaper thought dullard James Dewey beat him how can I put him higher on this list?
8. JIMMY CARTER
His fresh new face in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam was at first refreshing, but quickly blemished in the face of inflation and the hostage crisis.
9. GEORGE HW BUSH
Only get elected because he was Reagan's Veep and even after a successful war, got usurped after only one year after that. Was exposed as old-timey, out of touch in 1992.
10. GEORGE W BUSH
Other than after 9/11 nothing seemed inspiring about this guy. Full of vocal boners, and a personality like a doormat, the fact that he got re-elected is a Christmas Miracle.
11. LYNDON JOHNSON
The ugly, bald headed, Southern drawling dull guy who took over the country after the movie-star JFK took lead to the skull. Only reason he was re-reelected was Barry Goldwater was considered a kook. Declined to run in 1968 in the wake of Vietnam. A colossal bore.
12. GERALD FORD
A good man, and a highly underrated President. But name me one inspiring moment from his Presidency. At least W has a few!
I disagree with your assessment of LBJ--He's the one who got Civil Rights/Voting Acts passed, which JFK couldn't, or more accurately wouldn't have pushed (if you read about JFK he was against March on Washington, called MLK "ML Coon", didn't want to upset South, et al). LBJ also pushed War on Poverty. In short, LBK did more than JFK ever did, except for Space Race. LBJ was crude, with zero charisma, but got things done!
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Old 01-12-2020, 05:14 PM
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How many things are wrong with this?

1) Obviously, LBJ wasn't re-elected as President in 1964.

2) Maybe you weren't around in 1964. Another Republican might've only lost by 8-10 points instead of >20.

And more general criticisms:

3) "politcaly talented" involves more than winning elections. Jimmy Carter's Presidency is a testimony to that. What landmark legislation did he get through Congress? I can't remember any, and I was paying attention at the time.

That's one reason I'd put LBJ at or near the top of the list. In 1964, with the same Congress that Kennedy had had to work with, LBJ got Civil Rights legislation through Congress where Kennedy hadn't been able to. And then he took full advantage of the Goldwater rout to get the Great Society programs through Congress.

4) Where's Nixon? Whatever one may think of him, he certainly was politically talented.
and Nixon was more progressive than people realize. Got EPA established, tried to get a form of Universal Health Coverage, initiated programs for Blacks, made truce with China
  #26  
Old 01-12-2020, 07:00 PM
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1) Obviously, LBJ wasn't re-elected as President in 1964.
That depends on how you define "re-elected."

If "re-elect" means "to elect for another term in office" then yes, he was.

If it means "to elect again" then no, he wasn't.

And, yes, of course, this is nit-picky.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:19 AM
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I would probably rank them LBJ, Reagan, Clinton in that order; with Obama, JFK and Nixon in a 2nd tier. (But the criterion is rather ambiguous.)

I often read here at SDMB that Obama was a super-charismatic candidate who won the Presidency easily. No. His super-charisma, along with voter fatigue over Bush's several blunders, led him to victory despite the millions of voters who would never vote for a black man. (I've previously linked to an academic study that strongly supports this claim.)

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There was voter fraud on the Republican side as well. Nixon received more fraudulent votes than Kennedy did. That's why Nixon didn't challenge Kennedy's election in the courts. He knew that Kennedy could launch his own countersuit and when the fraudulent votes on both sides were thrown out, Kennedy would still have more votes than Nixon.
Not to say you're wrong, but this is news to me. Some think Nixon "should" have won Illinois and Texas. What Nixon state should JFK have won?
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:26 PM
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Count me as another who puts LBJ at the top. He wielded the carrot and stick better than anyone, knew which was needed for any particular Congressperson, and where to hit when the stick was required.
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:54 PM
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No way is Trump at the top of any measure of political talent. He is good at rabble rousing, but has never cracked a 50% approval rating*. He can lock in his base, but he doesn't have the politicla talent to do anything else. The only way in which Trump is truly exceptional is that he has done so amazingly well with so little actual ability.




*with possible the exception a of few weeks early on where his surprise win made people think they had underestimated his abilities only to later determine that, no, they were right he really was that bad.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:50 PM
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LBJ was the most talented at getting legislation done. Clinton was the best at getting people to like him.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:16 PM
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There is not the slightest doubt that LBJ was the most skilled politician of his (and many other) generation. Much as hate his guts, the most skilled politician today is Moscow Mitch. I am afraid that Carter and Obama, presidents I admire greatly, were not good politicians. Sara Palin (by putting McCain's judgement into question) and Romney's 47% crack helped elect and reelect Obama.
Obama was ahead of McCain in the polls the entire race, Palin was a hail mary to combat the fact that McCain was a giant long shot against Obama. If anything Obama won in 2008 because Bush was hated so much.

I think Obama lead Romney the entire race too, but not completely certain about that.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:24 PM
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No way is Trump at the top of any measure of political talent. He is good at rabble rousing, but has never cracked a 50% approval rating*. He can lock in his base, but he doesn't have the politicla talent to do anything else. The only way in which Trump is truly exceptional is that he has done so amazingly well with so little actual ability.
Trump's biggest accomplishment has been getting elected President. I won't dismiss that but most of the people who held the office have accomplished that much. Getting elected doesn't make Trump a political genius among Presidents.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:29 PM
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Also, the first non-politician to rise to the High Office.
How about Eisenhower? Or Grant? Or Taylor?
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:31 PM
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When it comes to foreign policy I dont like any of them. Truman could have embraced Vietnamese independence back in 1946 and stopped the Vietnam conflict right there. Eisenhower supported the toppling of an elected president in Iran which started the mess we are in ow. Kennedy tried to oust Castro which pushed him into being a hard line communist when he was trying to make friends with the US.

So I dont think any have been that good.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:38 PM
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LBJ was the most talented at getting legislation done. Clinton was the best at getting people to like him.
This, both parts. JFK was glamorous and charismatic, but only succeeded with glamour projects like the Peace Corps and NASA. LBJ, with all his experience as House Majority Leader and in the Senate, knew how to get legislation passed, and use JFK's legacy to assist him. Foreign policy, especially Viet Nam for LBJ and Cuba for JFK, were their weak spots, and JFK didn't live long enough to suffer the consequences.

Clinton wasn't that great at policy - he and Hillary were going to re-do health care in the US, and that blew up and people figured out he was unable to tell the truth on a bet. He was great at taking credit for things - the economy did well without his doing much and then the Republicans took over Congress and balanced the budget and passed welfare reform and the rest of the Contract with America and he spent his time triangulating and getting impeached.

Those two are head and shoulders above the rest. Bush 41 was great at foreign policy, but bad at hardball politics. He wins Gulf War I, and then loses to a draft-dodger. Bush 43 - 9/11 and Iraq and the economy recovered from the dot-com bubble pop. Reagan knew what he wanted to do as President, and did it, but he set the stage to win the Cold War by being Reagan. Carter was in way over his head, and the country figured it out before 1980. Obama was the first Black President, but even with a majority in Congress couldn't do better than Obamacare and jacking up the national debt. Nixon was too paranoid - Watergate ruined any chance he had at being considered a successful President. Plus, Watergate was stupid - he was going to win in a landslide anyway - why did CREEP bother? Truman and Eisenhower were not exactly care-taker Presidents, but they were products of the 40s in the 50s. Trump is too soon to tell if he will be remembered as anything other than "he drove Democrats crazy".

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:34 PM
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The problem with putting LBJ at the top is that he benefited greatly from the death of JFK and the country's outpouring of love for JFK gave his vice president a lot of room to manoever on things like the Great Society. Immediately after Kennedy's death, Johnson's approval rating was almost 80%, but by 1965 it was down to 60%, and it kept declining all the way to the mid-30's. After he announced he wouldn't run for re-election, it jumped back up over 40%. In the meantime, his disapproval rating slowly climbed from 5% immediately after Kennedy's death all the way to over 50% by the last year of his Presidency.

It's hard to see how that translates into 'great politician'. The end result of his Presidency was to give Republicans the Presidency which they would keep, with one four-year gap, for a generation. Yes, he got major Democratic legislation passed in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination when his and the Democrat's popularity were at all-time highs, but that goodwill was quickly squandered. Any president who presides over a constant decline in popularity, and then chooses not to run rather than lose the next election, is not a great politician. He was also unrefined, crude, and foul-mouthed. If he had been around in the twitter era, he might have been another Trump.

Reagan is #1 as far as I'm concerned, with Clinton a close second. Reagan's popularity remained relatively high, even when the nation went into a deep recession to break inflation. After a tough first term that included the recession, Reagan was re-elected in one of the biggest landslides in history, taking 49 out of 50 states. And when he left office he was still popular enough to help launch his vice-President into the Presidency.

Clinton also expanded his margin in his second term, as did Nixon and Eisenhower. Clinton is perhaps the most gifted natural politician, but his personal failings keep him out of the top spot for me. A great politician wouldn't have gotten into an affair with an intern, and damned sure wouldn't have done her in the oval office. Clinton showed (and shows) terrible judgement when it comes to his sex life, and it hurt him badly while in office.

Both Bushes sucked as politicians. Bush 1 had a 91% approval rating a year from the election, and still lost. Huge gaffes like "Message: I care" (which in turn was uttered because of Bush's reputation for being a cold fish and an aristocrat who didn't care about the average person). Bush 1 also tried to run for President before and got stomped by Reagan. Not a great politician, but a good man.

Bush II was very good at campaigning and coming across as a 'normal guy'. He was likeable and seemed relatively down-to-earth. But his political instincts were awful, and he had terrible speaking skills. He's near the bottom of the list with his dad.

Nixon was a skilled politician but like Clinton had personal flaws that kept him from true greatness. Middle of the pack.

Obama was a great campaigner, but as a President he proved himself incapable of working with Republicans on many issues, and very early on retreated to 'using his pen and a phone', which means almost everything he did was undone by Trump. Also, he horribly mismanaged the rollout of Obamacare, and made gaffes that hardened opposition to him. Despite a friendly media environment and all kinds of help from people like Harry Reid who lied about Romney's taxes and Candy Crowley who intervened on his behalf in a debate, he almost lost his re-election bid. Middle of the pack.

Carter actually got quite a lot done. Aside from the things already mentioned, he also appointed Paul Volcker to the fed (probably the best Fed Appointment in history) and started the de-regulation of trucking and airlines, which revolutionized both industries. On the negative side, he also was strongly anti-nuclear, and signed an executive order banning re-processing of nuclear fuel, which led to the nuclear waste problem and helped keep nuclear power from growing. As a result, Carter may be more responsible for climate change damage than any other president. Unfortunately, as a retail politician he was terrible. He gave speeches that were constant downers, and his Presidency was synonymous for 'Malaise' for years. He lost in a landslide to Reagan after only one term. And I don't see how any one-term President could be considered great.

As for Trump... He has a party trick that got him a whole lot of support from a specific group, but as a working politician he alienates everyone around him, and he can't keep quality people in his cabinet. His unforced errors in insulting half the country have him capped at a below-50% approval rating at a time when the U.S. economy has been the strongest since the 1990's. The only way he wins the next election is if the Democrats shoot themselves in the foot.

A president with Trump's economy should be sitting in the high 60's or 70's. Given where Trump is, he's a really terrible politician.

So...

1. Reagan
2. Clinton
3. Eisenhower
4. Nixon
5. Obama
6. LBJ
7. Bush II
8. Bush 1
9. Carter
10. Trump

Last edited by Sam Stone; 01-13-2020 at 03:36 PM.
  #37  
Old 01-13-2020, 03:36 PM
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Lyndon Johnson was one of the most skilled politicians in American history, possibly in the history of great nations with legislative systems. And the OP has him dead last? That makes this a joke thread.
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Old 01-13-2020, 04:34 PM
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As I mentioned, LBJ benefited greatly from goodwill following JFK's assassination. He started his presidency with an 80% approval rating and only a 5% disapproval rating. He also presided during a 26 year stretch in which Democrats had a stranglehold on the House and Senate.

Nonetheless, despite all that wind at his back, his approval ratings plummeted steadily and his disapproval rose, leading him to decline to run for another term rather than almost certainly lose. In his last year his approval rating was in the 30's and his disapproval over 50%. Both recovered slightly after he announced he wouldn't run.

So how exactly was he so great? He was a decent wheeler-dealer in backrooms, but as a retail politician he sucked.

Last edited by Sam Stone; 01-13-2020 at 04:35 PM.
  #39  
Old 01-13-2020, 05:40 PM
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The Teflon President


Reagan was smart enough to get himself a top drawer Chief of Staff and a reasonable core cabinet and content himself with reading Peggy Noonan's speeches. People loved him. The press ignored him and it didn't make any difference what he did. The fact that he was a divorced, has-been 'B' movie actor who ratted out his friends to McCarthy didn't matter. Or his fruitcake Interior Secretary who did not need to protect anything because Jesus would be back real soon. And the couple over at HUD who were shoveling money out the door to their friends. And Ollies girlfriend who was smuggling classified material in her panties and Reagan and Rumsfeld approving the sale of gas components to Saddam so he could gas the Kurds and the millions he got paid by the Japanese just after he left office. It didn't matter because they loved him. BTW the other President they loved was Harding.

The Republicans wanted Reagan because he looked good in the office....well he did until Raisa Maximovna Gorbacheva and her husband Mikhail Gorbachev came to town. Then he and Nancy looked like the DC Hillbillies. Just a couple of actors trying to play the part.

So, I believe Reagan was a modestly successful President who should rank in the middle third as Presidents go, but he wasn't a politician in the class of LBJ.
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Old 01-13-2020, 05:50 PM
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Truman could have embraced Vietnamese independence back in 1946 and stopped the Vietnam conflict right there.
It was a bad decision but Truman had good reasons for making. France was insistent on re-establishing its empire after WWII. Truman needed France as a part of plans for rebuilding Europe and resisting the Soviet Union. Supporting French efforts to keep Vietnam was the price Truman had to pay.

The dumb decision was for us to stay in Vietnam after the French left in 1954. Our problem was that the Truman and Eisenhower administrations had sold our intervention in Vietnam as a fight against communism rather than a fight for French imperialism.
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Old 01-13-2020, 05:54 PM
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As I mentioned, LBJ benefited greatly from goodwill following JFK's assassination.
Johnson was a smart enough politician to use the Kennedy legacy when he had it. But he didn't need it. Johnson had been an effective politician in the Senate before he was Vice President and before any Kennedy legacy existed.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:31 PM
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How should we describe — in the context of this thread — LBJ’s take on Vietnam? Is it that he figured he could sell the American people on what he had in mind, but failed because the electorate simply didn’t want what he thought they’d go for? Or is it that he figured he couldn’t sell ‘em on it, but kept at it anyway? If, hypothetically, he’d been a more ‘politically talented’ president, would that mean successfully selling it ‘as is’ or changing course to market something more, uh, saleable?
  #43  
Old 01-13-2020, 11:49 PM
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The problem with putting LBJ at the top is that he benefited greatly from the death of JFK and the country's outpouring of love for JFK gave his vice president a lot of room to manoever on things like the Great Society. Immediately after Kennedy's death, Johnson's approval rating was almost 80%, but by 1965 it was down to 60%, and it kept declining all the way to the mid-30's. After he announced he wouldn't run for re-election, it jumped back up over 40%. In the meantime, his disapproval rating slowly climbed from 5% immediately after Kennedy's death all the way to over 50% by the last year of his Presidency.

It's hard to see how that translates into 'great politician'. The end result of his Presidency was to give Republicans the Presidency which they would keep, with one four-year gap, for a generation. Yes, he got major Democratic legislation passed in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination when his and the Democrat's popularity were at all-time highs, but that goodwill was quickly squandered. Any president who presides over a constant decline in popularity, and then chooses not to run rather than lose the next election, is not a great politician. He was also unrefined, crude, and foul-mouthed. If he had been around in the twitter era, he might have been another Trump.

Reagan is #1 as far as I'm concerned, with Clinton a close second. Reagan's popularity remained relatively high, even when the nation went into a deep recession to break inflation. After a tough first term that included the recession, Reagan was re-elected in one of the biggest landslides in history, taking 49 out of 50 states. And when he left office he was still popular enough to help launch his vice-President into the Presidency.

Clinton also expanded his margin in his second term, as did Nixon and Eisenhower. Clinton is perhaps the most gifted natural politician, but his personal failings keep him out of the top spot for me. A great politician wouldn't have gotten into an affair with an intern, and damned sure wouldn't have done her in the oval office. Clinton showed (and shows) terrible judgement when it comes to his sex life, and it hurt him badly while in office.

Both Bushes sucked as politicians. Bush 1 had a 91% approval rating a year from the election, and still lost. Huge gaffes like "Message: I care" (which in turn was uttered because of Bush's reputation for being a cold fish and an aristocrat who didn't care about the average person). Bush 1 also tried to run for President before and got stomped by Reagan. Not a great politician, but a good man.

Bush II was very good at campaigning and coming across as a 'normal guy'. He was likeable and seemed relatively down-to-earth. But his political instincts were awful, and he had terrible speaking skills. He's near the bottom of the list with his dad.

Nixon was a skilled politician but like Clinton had personal flaws that kept him from true greatness. Middle of the pack.

Obama was a great campaigner, but as a President he proved himself incapable of working with Republicans on many issues, and very early on retreated to 'using his pen and a phone', which means almost everything he did was undone by Trump. Also, he horribly mismanaged the rollout of Obamacare, and made gaffes that hardened opposition to him. Despite a friendly media environment and all kinds of help from people like Harry Reid who lied about Romney's taxes and Candy Crowley who intervened on his behalf in a debate, he almost lost his re-election bid. Middle of the pack.

Carter actually got quite a lot done. Aside from the things already mentioned, he also appointed Paul Volcker to the fed (probably the best Fed Appointment in history) and started the de-regulation of trucking and airlines, which revolutionized both industries. On the negative side, he also was strongly anti-nuclear, and signed an executive order banning re-processing of nuclear fuel, which led to the nuclear waste problem and helped keep nuclear power from growing. As a result, Carter may be more responsible for climate change damage than any other president. Unfortunately, as a retail politician he was terrible. He gave speeches that were constant downers, and his Presidency was synonymous for 'Malaise' for years. He lost in a landslide to Reagan after only one term. And I don't see how any one-term President could be considered great.

As for Trump... He has a party trick that got him a whole lot of support from a specific group, but as a working politician he alienates everyone around him, and he can't keep quality people in his cabinet. His unforced errors in insulting half the country have him capped at a below-50% approval rating at a time when the U.S. economy has been the strongest since the 1990's. The only way he wins the next election is if the Democrats shoot themselves in the foot.

A president with Trump's economy should be sitting in the high 60's or 70's. Given where Trump is, he's a really terrible politician.

So...

1. Reagan
2. Clinton
3. Eisenhower
4. Nixon
5. Obama
6. LBJ
7. Bush II
8. Bush 1
9. Carter
10. Trump
I agree with much of what you said but I think Eisenhower is too high and LBJ and Trump are too low.

Eisenhower didn't do anything great, but wasn't bad either. He presided over the 50s which were mostly a cooling off period after WWII. The economy was great and the civil rights strife hadn't started yet. Not much really happened in comparison with other eras.

You criticism of LBJ seems to be his poll numbers. That was almost entirely due to Vietnam. Nobody really could have seen the outrage over that coming. Yeah let's send in some advisors, now a few more advisors, a few troops, a few more troops, and pretty soon we were in a situation where we had to decide if we were going to engage in total war (bad) or withdraw (bad) and Johnson's just got stuck there. A poor decision, I agree, but not one that speaks to his political ability. The ability, which as noted otherwise, was incredible in his passage of many of the most monumental pieces of legislation in history.

Trump is unique and it also calls into question what we mean by "politically talented." Yes his polls are in the low 40s, but those people will wade through hell to vote for him and support him. All it takes is 270, and if you have 270 is it bad politics to say to hell with everyone else and double down on what you are doing?

What's the alternative? Trump is never going to get 400EVs or have 65% approval rating no matter what he does. He could find Jesus tomorrow, apologize for being so insulting and change his way, and he still probably wouldn't pick up very much support at all. And doing so would cause his core support to abandon him.

If you are incredibly unpopular yet do the only thing that you can to win, you one once, and have a decent shot of doing it again, it's hard for me to say that is bad political strategy.

Carter has to be at the bottom of any of these lists. He inspired nobody, accomplished very little, and projected weakness at all times. Bush II is right above him.
  #44  
Old 01-13-2020, 11:50 PM
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How should we describe — in the context of this thread — LBJ’s take on Vietnam? Is it that he figured he could sell the American people on what he had in mind, but failed because the electorate simply didn’t want what he thought they’d go for? Or is it that he figured he couldn’t sell ‘em on it, but kept at it anyway? If, hypothetically, he’d been a more ‘politically talented’ president, would that mean successfully selling it ‘as is’ or changing course to market something more, uh, saleable?
Johnson was in the same trap that every President from Truman to Ford was in. The only realistic way we could get out of Vietnam was admitting we were losing the war. And no President wanted to do that; they would have paid a serious political price for losing a war. So they just kept prolonging the war, promising we would win it eventually, and passing the war on to the next President.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:12 AM
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Eisenhower didn't do anything great, but wasn't bad either. He presided over the 50s which were mostly a cooling off period after WWII. The economy was great and the civil rights strife hadn't started yet. Not much really happened in comparison with other eras.
Eisenhower's a tough President to judge. First off, there's his image; Eisenhower the politician behind closed doors was a very different that his public persona. A lot of people mistakenly saw him as bumbling. But in reality, he was very aware of what was going on and in control of events. He just thought it would be useful for people to underestimate him. It may have looked like the country was just drifting along during his administration but Eisenhower was steering events. And generally, his decisions were right.

But now for Eisenhower's flaws. First, he wanted to think of himself as being above politics. This meant he often despised some of the people he worked with because he felt they were engaged in what he saw as petty political fighting. But by placing himself above politics in his mind, he often justified engaging in very dirty politics. He would just tell himself that the dirty politics he did didn't represent his real self; it was just something he had to do because of all the dirty politicians around him. He never saw that all of those politicians he looked down on were probably thinking the same thing.

The second flaw was that Eisenhower essentially build up a government that only he could run. He held enormous prestige from his wartime service and he knew how the military worked; and the military knew and respected him. He warned about the danger of a military-industrial complex as he was leaving office. But he had supported the growth of it during the eight years of his presidency. Eisenhower knew that he could safely do this; he could have the benefits of a strong military, defense industry, and intelligence community while having the personal authority to restrain them when they reached too far. But subsequent Presidents, Democrat or Republican, wouldn't have Eisenhower's reputation backing them up. The tail would start wagging the dog. Eisenhower should have foreseen this problem and worked on building a more controllable national security apparatus.

The third flaw is one where I disagree specifically with something UltraVires wrote. Civil rights was not an issue on the horizon during Eisenhower's term of office. His years in office were right in the heart of the civil rights movement. And to be blunt, Eisenhower bungled it. He wasn't an outright racist. But his sympathies were on the wrong side. His attitude seemed to be that black people should stay content with second class citizenship and they shouldn't provoke white people by asking for equal rights. Eisenhower could also get annoyed with the racists and intervene against them - but he was only angry about them going too far in their actions not because he felt they were fundamentally wrong in their beliefs.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
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Originally Posted by russian heel
Also, the first non-politician to rise to the High Office.
How about Eisenhower? Or Grant? Or Taylor?
Going that route, toss in Washington, Jackson, and WH Harrison. Those are the six whose prior government job title was General. But Tramp never held ANY government position, civilian or military - he's the only one.
  #47  
Old 01-14-2020, 10:30 AM
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I'm standing by my ratings in #27 but, although he might not have been a "talented politician," I want to defend Eisenhower.

Truman had Korea; Kennedy had the Bay of Pigs and worse; Johnson had Vietnam; Reagan had Iran-Contra ... but there were few big crises under Ike. Key to a good Presidency isn't to be clever: It's to not make mistakes.

And Ike did have successes; I'll mention just two: In 1956 he opposed U.K. and stopped a major war over the Suez Canal. In 1957 he nationalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent in troops from the 101st Airborne to enforce a desegregation order.

FDR, Truman, Ike. Three very great Presidents in a row. Throw in JFK and LBJ if you will and make it five very outstanding Presidents in a row. Sadly, we haven't seen their like since.
  #48  
Old 01-14-2020, 05:18 PM
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Eisenhower ended the Korean War. Had Nixon done the same in Viet Nam he would be celebrated with the greats.
  #49  
Old 01-15-2020, 09:50 AM
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The biggest issue with the way the OP is framed is that running for president and being president are two totally different things, and being skilled at one doesn’t necessarily make one skilled at the other. That being said, here are my two lists with some commentary.

Skill at running for president.

1. Reagan. Won with the support of many Democrats in landslide victories. Unlike Ike, the political atmosphere was more partisan when he was running but he overcame that by wife margins.

2. Obama. In 2008 the War On Terror was still big on people’s minds. For a black man with the middle name of Hussein to win shows significant skill.

3. Clinton. Very charismatic and understood the public mood well.

4. Trump. Managed to best a large field of career politicians and win a general election where he was the underdog.

5. Kennedy. Overcame anti-Catholic bias. A less charismatic candidate would have lost to Nixon.

6. Bush Jr. Both elections were close, but I think his people skills were what made the difference in both razor thin elections.

7. Johnson. Better at the backroom deals than the direct interactions with the public.

8. Eisenhower. Times were less partisan but he won comfortably both times.

9. Nixon. Lacked charisma.

10. Bush Sr. Unable to overcome his missteps in office to win a second term due to average charisma.

11. Truman. Declined to run in 1952 due to his unpopularity.

12. Carter. Likely won only because of his image as a humble outside of Washington guy without any hint of scandal, which he made work because it was true in his case. By 1980 when Watergate was fading from memory he couldn’t hack it against a much more skilled Reagan.

13. Ford. Not much need be said.

Here’s the other list. Note how different it is, especially with the #1 guy now being last place.

1. LBJ. The Great Society and Civil Rights were huge accompaniments.

2. Eisenhower. Interstate highway system. Integration of public schools. Appointing Earl Warren as Chief Justice (despite his thinking later that was a mistake). General economic prosperity.

3. Nixon. I give him credit for things like opening up China to the west (“only Nixon could go to China), ending the draft, ending Vietnam, and starting the EPA. Despite personally being a racist civil rights made some progress during his term as well.

4. Clinton. Balanced budgets towards the end of his time, but focus on healthcare in his early years led to the 1994 Republican wave that hamstrung him the rest of the way.

5. Bush Sr. End of the Cold War. Handled the first Iraq war quite well.

6. Kennedy. Kept the Cold War from turning into a hot war.

7. Obama. See Clinton as above, but substitute 2010 for 1994 and take away the balanced budgets. Pluses would be the progress in civil rights for LGBT people.

8. Ford. Pardoned Nixon.

9. Carter. In over his head with stagflation and the Iranian revolution.

10. Bush Jr. Bungled the War On Terror.

11. Truman. His handling of the Korean War and beginning of the Cold War.

12. Trump. Singlehandedly has destroyed the US position as leader of the free world. Running the presidency for his personal benefit.

13. Reagan. Due to his Alzheimer’s it’s likely that successes during his term were due to his cabinet and staff rather than him personally making policy decisions.
  #50  
Old 01-15-2020, 10:06 AM
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My mistake on one thing on the above list. I should have given credit for the end of Vietnam to Ford rather than Nixon. None the less I think Nixon did accomplish several things which those of us on the left would point to as great accomplishments had they been done by a Democrat.
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