Tag: Clinton

It is no longer someone else’s mess

It is no longer someone else’s mess

Every President, except for George Washington, inherited something from the previous administration. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is bad.

President Barack Hussein Obama has been talking for quite some time about the “mess” that he inherited from George Walker Bush. He has made references to mops and other allegories to describe the challenges that he has faced. While that is all well and good for the first few days of the Presidency, at a certain point BHO needs to own the problem.

That day is today.

There is no defined time for the honeymoon period of a new candidate. Most people felt that September 11, 2001 was close enough to the inauguration of George Walker Bush (just under 9 months) that the attacks on that dreaded day were at least partially the fault of William Jefferson Clinton. The honeymoon is certainly longer than the first 100 days that are all the talk at the beginning of a term. Everyone seems to agree that it doesn’t extend beyond a year from the date the person is elected.

For the past 12 months, BHO has been the President or the President-Elect. Every day he has received security briefings. Every day he has had access to and influence over thought leaders on a wide range of issues. Every day, he could pick up the phone and call any world leader, banking leader, Senator, Governor, or Representative.

When a person inherits a farm or house or china from a parent, from that day on the item or property belongs to the heir. This is the same now for the issues within the United States. The mess no longer belongs to GWB – it is the sole ownership now of BHO and he better get to work fixing it and stop talking about mops!

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East

This is a great book.  Everyone should read it (or listen to it). 

I just finished the Audible version of this book.  It was excellent.  Here are some learnings:

  • James Earl Carter was more incompetent than even I thought he was.
  • William Jefferson Clinton was not as incompetent at Carter, but he was close.
  • George Walker Bush did a pretty good job with most of the Mideast, did a plausible job of getting rid of Saddam (which the book admits had to happen) and then bungled the reconstruction.  Okay, this really wasn’t a big learning but it was worth noting.
  • Ronald Wilson Reagan did an excellent job with the Middle East as did Nixon and Ford.  George Herbert Walker Bush barely gets a mention which is surprising since he put together the coalition to kick Iraq out of Kuwait.
  • Saudi Arabia has to be part of the solution, they are not part of the problem. The book correctly identifies fools like Michael Moore as screwing this up.
  • Winston Churchill made a real mess of it.
  • The Ottoman empire showed the way that the Mideast needs to be dealt with.

Great book.  Everyone should read or listen to it.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Politically-Incorrect-Guide-Middle-Guides/dp/1596980516

Audible: http://www.audible.com/adbl/site/products/ProductDetail.jsp?productID=BK_BLAK_002466&BV_UseBVCookie=Yes

Obama has set the standard as the Great Communicator

Obama has set the standard as the Great Communicator

For the past decade or two, Ronald Wilson Reagan set the standard as “The Great Communicator” while he was President of the United States.  There is no question that he excelled over the many bumblings of George Walker Bush as David Letterman has so aptly recorded for us!

However, it is already clear that President Barack Hussein Obama is going to take the mantle of the Great Communicator if he hasn’t already done so.

Here are some of his accomplishments so far:

Congratulations to BHO and his staff on all of this.  I am sure that it has been quite difficult! Our government has never been the center of excellence for the use of technology. Clinton’s team was extremely frustrated at the lack of technology when they moved into the building.

Let us hope that all of this will result in a better run government, although the various missteps on getting nominees approved has been a bit disconcerting.  And like all Presidents, he needs to stop exaggerating the truth.

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Least qualified President in decades/century?/ever?

Least qualified President in decades/century?/ever?

The current President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, has had a very troubled start to his Presidency.  Not only did he inherit a mess in the economy, but he has had multiple mis-steps in his selection of his cabinet and advisors.  While the tax problems with Daschle and others have plagued the first few nominations, now there is even some concern about his most important advisor, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.  There has also been some criticism for his first international discussions, the first phone call he made to a foreign power was to President Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority.

There is also a great deal of controversy about the replacement to BHO’s Senate seat although it is likely that none of this is his fault (even if it makes one wonder how he could have thrived in such a corrupt political environment as Illinois / Chicago politics).

Why is there such turmoil in the first 100 days of the BHO presidency?
It is quite likely because he is so inexperienced at being in such a large stage.  He has had little experience in this area.  In fact, he is easily the least experienced President in decades and he is probably the least experienced President in over 100 years.  The table below lists all the Presidents since 1900.  It shows their previous national office as well as other significant positions that they held.  Most Americans allow a Governorship to be qualification for office and so I am lumping this in with Senate and Congress service.

A quick look takes us to Hoover before we get to someone that didn’t get elected to a major office and hold that office for a term or two.  Hoover did run a major cabinet before the election and was very prominent in world and national politics and had been a moderately successful businessman so it is arguable that he was less experienced in a national office.  He is also not a President that most people regard as being very successful!  In addition, while the election of the President was a populist effort at that time (dirty politics aside), the selection of candidate by the party was very much decided by power brokers in the parties of the day.

A little farther down the list, we see that Harding and Taft didn’t have a great resume for national office but they did have a bit of experience in running a territory or State and, like Hoover, were major players in the political machines of the day. Harding is often referenced as being among the worst President’s ever and takes specific criticism for his cabinet and appointees.

So the conclusion that we must draw is that BHO has less experience for national office than, at a minimum, the previous 12 men who held that office.  It is also reasonable to conclude that he has less experience than any President since Teddy and the leadership of the United States within the world has definitely evolved since Teddy was talking about big sticks!

The final conclusion is simple, with such an inexperienced man as POTUS, we will continue to see mistakes until he figures out how to do the job.  Let’s all hope that this is a quick learning curve since we need to dig ourselves out of the mess that Mr. Obama inherited.

List of 20th and 21st Century Presidents
(data collected and confirmed from Presidential library sites and Wikipedia)

President Previous national office Other significant position
Barack Hussein Obama US Senator (didn’t finish first term) Illinois State Congressman (1 term)
George Walker Bush Texas Governor (didn’t finish 2nd term) Part – owner of a professional baseball team
William Jefferson Clinton 12 years – Governor of Arkansas Attorney General Arkansas
George Herbert Walker Bush Vice President of the United States – 2 terms US Congressman, CIA Director, Ambassador
Ronald Wilson Reagan California Governor – 2 terms President of union
James Earl Carter, Jr. Governor Georgia – 1 term Georgia Senator (2 terms)
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. Vice President of the United States (2 yrs) US Congressman (25 yrs)
Richard Milhous Nixon Vice President of the United States (2 terms) US Congressman (2 terms), US Senate (didn’t finish term)
Lyndon Baines Johnson Vice President of the United States (didn’t finish first term) US Senator (2 terms), US Congressman (6 terms)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy US Senator (2 terms – didn’t finish the second) US Congressman (3 terms)
Dwight David Eisenhower Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe 5 star General in the US Army
Harry S. Truman Vice President of the United States (didn’t finish first term) US Senator (2 terms)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt New York Governor State Senator, Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Herbert Clark Hoover United States Secretary of Commerce Head of the American Relief Administration
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. Vice President of the United States (didn’t finish first term) Massachusetts Governor
Warren Gamaliel Harding US Senator (1 term) Ohio Lt. Governor
Thomas Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Governor President Princeton University
William Howard Taft United States Secretary of War Governor of Phillipines
Theodore Roosevelt Vice President of the United States Governor New York

Is George W. Bush the worst President ever? Part 3 of 5

Is George W. Bush the worst President ever? Part 3 of 5

For the last two posts we have been exploring the claim that George W. Bush is the worst President of the United States ever.  This post continues the job of grading W on the various issues that he faced in his two terms of office.  See the previous posts to get the background for where we are now.

We are wimps – A – Osama Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein counted on the fact that the US doesn’t like to stay in the fight when the going gets tough (Vietnam and Somalia are great examples).  He stood his ground and got destroyed politically to prove this wrong.  Much of the animosity most Americans feel about W stems from his unwillingness to allow the cut and run mentality to take over. But now our enemies don’t just assume that we will run home to mommy when the bullets start flying.

Libya – A – no question about it.  He got them to give up their nuclear program.

Africa – B – compared to other Presidents he actually should get an A since no other President has done as much for this continent as W.  AIDS help, malaria help, better trade, etc.  Unfortunately there was a lot more to do and the amount of suffering on this continent belittles the suffering on all other continents.  He has done the best here.

Economy – tough to grade as he did great for awhile and then it fell apart – in general he gets a C only because it could have gotten a lot worse a lot earlier.  The fact that the economy didn’t tube after 9/11 and Katrina is a testament to his skill.  Unfortunately, the things that he needed to do to fix the problems of the Clinton era were not possible (politically or pragmatically) due to 9/11 and Katrina.  I am not giving him a walk on this, I am just trying to be realistic about the outcomes of other actions.  If he would have tightened credit earlier on during the thralls of pain from 9/11 and Katrina then the economy would have gone south for sure.  I am not convinced that anyone could have prevented this current banking crisis without causing the crisis to occur several years ago.  I would have given him a higher grade if he would have been making speeches warning of the problem though so that some small changes could have been been in place before it went over the cliff.  He could have provided more intellectual leadership in talking about the problem without actually proposing a solution that would have caused the economy to tank – thin line to walk though.

Enron crisis – corporate governance –  B – this was not just about Enron but the several issues that surrounded Enron.  This was really a mess by Clinton that reared its ugly head during Bush’s term.  Clinton would get an F in corporate governance!  I originally gave W an A here except he did two things that were less than great

  1. he tried to hide that he knew Lay which was stupid. 
  2. He also allowed Sarbanes-Oxley to go too far and is driving companies to go private and offshore.  SOX is a perfect example of overshooting the mark to get on track, we can’t govern like a pendulum but need to drive to the right answer and not cause more problems as we overshoot the mark. 

Iraq solution – C – something had to be done here.  We had about 4 options (with variations on the themes) and all of them really sucked.  All options that Bush took were going to give a C or D (the only option that would give an A was that SH would have taken exile and W at least tried that option although it is questionable that he tried hard enough or with enough convincing).  He gets a C because he took one of the options that resulted in less global calamity and fewer casualties than any of the others. 

Iraq invasion – A – faster and more successful and with less casualties on our side or among civilians than anyone thought realistic.  Was at the easy end of the scale compared to what we were worried about.  One of the things that the talking heads of the Democratic party lied about during the campaign was that we weren’t welcomed as liberators when we were.  The people of Iraq did welcome us at first – do you remember the Saddam Hussein statue party?  The big concern at the time was that we were going to cut and run (which we didn’t).  If W was President during Vietnam and Korea the world would be a decidedly different place today (not necessarily better since Vietnam and Korea were actually hot proxies for the cold war).

More on this topic later!

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Is George W. Bush the worst President ever? Part 2 of 5

Is George W. Bush the worst President ever? Part 2 of 5

It is probably too early to truly grade W and rank him among his peers.  Time will tell if his policies were somewhat effective or total garbage.  If you are going to grade a President, you need to take a more inclusive look and not just talk about his various failings.  Also the “what if” discussion in that grading is incredibly important such as, “What if President Bush had not gone after Saddam Hussein – what would the world be like?”

It is also difficult to grade individual events because they are so intertwined (Libya, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Al Qaida, Palestine, Syria are all different variations of the same problem).  That said – here are my thoughts on the 19 things that GW did (or didn’t do):

9/11 – Bush got an A for this. Massive aid to NYC (that the Dem Senators asked for but he said yes immediately), spoke to nation well and told them not to overreact.  Was calm and reassuring in a time of near panic.  Reorganized airport security quite quickly.  Reorganized CIA/FBI, et. al. to get them to work together (probably give him a B/C on that since he could have done more).  Told Americans to do EXACTLY what was needed – go shop and get on with your lives.  By the way, Mr. Clinton gets an F for this since it was under his watch that these guys were recruited, the plan was established, the people were brought in, individuals were trained to operate planes.  The intelligence network was messed up and Clinton took steps to make it WORSE.  Check out how bad things were that GW inherited before condemning him on this issue. .  Many of our current problems with terrorism are because Clinton did such a lousy job!  According to that article, Clinton passed on going after Osama Bin Laden (OBL) 16 times and yet some cite that Bush hasn’t been able to find OBL as him doing a bad job.  We were handed OBL by the Sudanese and we turned them down and were happy they sent him to Afghanistan!

Anthrax – W gets an A for the reaction to the various attacks.  The fact that they didn’t catch the guy and execute him before he died was more of an issue of our legal system and burden of proof (something we don’t apply to foreign terrorists thankfully).

Afghanistan invasion – A – decisive and complete.  Called on the leaders to hand over OBL and when they didn’t he overran the country in a matter of days.  Tremendous statement to the world on our ability to extend our power.

Afghanistan occupation – D – some would say he gets an F here but that isn’t fair.  A lot of good things have happened along with a lot of bad.  In general women have more rights and religious persecution isn’t quite so bad.  The President that we selected is still in power (and alive) but the insurgents are stronger now (I have seen rumors that this is because Russia doing to us what we did to them in the 80s) and political calm is not in place.  There is no reason to believe that the current President could step down and there would be a smooth and orderly transition to a new President.  W can’t get better than a D here because it hasn’t gone better but giving him less is not a fair assessment of what has gone well.

Al Qaida – C – he got most of the leaders save for 2.  The problem is that in order to prevent the regrowing of terrorist organizations it takes more than capturing people but re-educating people and giving them a reason not to hate.  He pretty much has these guys neutralized as a world player in about 6 months until the Iraqi resistance aligned with them. Which leads to the next one.

Preventing terrorism – C – no attacks at home which he gets an A for but the reason there are no attacks at home is that the terrorists are much more likely to have little skirmishes in Iraq and Israel so he really just transfered the problem over there and he probably has created more reasons to be a terrorist in his term than even Clinton did.  So he effectively protected America but the world at large is worse off by his actions.  Also, he gave terrorist sponsors a real wake up call in his actions with Afghanistan – don’t mess with the US.

More on this topic later!

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