Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bush vs. Clinton

There is so much happening in the present it is difficult to think of anything except what is going on around you right now. But I am a little bit ahead in my efforts so I have some small amount of time to think about past presidents. Frankly, I'm a little tired of thinking about our present one.

The other day someone wrote about me that I never said anything good about a Democrat. That is patently untrue. All presidents make mistakes. Some greater than others. Unfortunately, most of those mistakes are driven by ideology. I admire the way FDR took on WWII without flinching. It must have been like trying to juggle 6 balls in the dark. It was an arduous task and he was not a well man. I remember quite a bit about WWII even though I was very young then. For my age I pretty well understood what was going on. This was probably due to listening to my father and grandfather argue politics.

I admire Harry Truman more than any other Democrat. He was hard nosed and honest. He was a  scrapper who took no bull from anybody. He made some hard decisions and said "the buck stops here". Best of all he meant it. He never whined, never apologized, and never even tried to throw someone else under the bus. That is except for one music critic that didn't say good things about Truman's daughter's piano playing. His one major fault was burying his head in the sand over the start of the cold war and we ended up in Korea.

But my main topic is the last president of the 20th century and the first president of the 21st. Those sixteen years were some of the best years this country has seen since the fifties. Bill Clinton was fortunate that he came in on an expanding economy and was able to have a peaceful term on the world stage. In fact at one point he complained that he wished something would come along to make his presidency more memorable. It did. But I don't think it was what he wanted or expected. Hey, nothing is ever perfect.

George W. Bush is a good man who in many cases got a bum rap. He made some serious mistakes but believed he was doing right. His biggest mistake, in my opinion, was bringing back so many of his fathers old associates rather than building an administration from his own contemporaries. He should never gone into Iraq. But he did the wrong thing for the right reasons. By the way he didn't lie. At least three different intelligence groups from three different countries said there were WMDs in Iraq. I know that people think he mishandled Katrina but the people that should have been calling for federal help didn't do so until it was too late. He tended to misspeak in public ("good job Brownie", "mission accomplished"). Those didn't go over well. But we still had another good seven years. If he had the grit to control spending in the last two years, it might have been eight good years.

I'd go back to the Clinton years or the George W. years, minus 9-11, in a second. If you think I'm wrong, stretch your memory a little, and go back and relive those days in your mind. They were better times. Which was the better president? Neither. Which was worse? Neither. Tie game. But both men loved this country. Both recognized American exceptionalism. I wish today's president were on the same page. Or even reading from the same book.

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