Sunday, July 6, 2014

Obama the Least Competent but Not the Worst Postwar President

A July 2 Quinnipiac University poll finds that 33% of voters consider Obama to be the worst post-World War II president while 28% consider Bush to be the worst.  None of the others comes close.  The largest percentage of voters, 35%, like Ronald Reagan best.  Journalists who say that it takes years for historians to determine the true quality of a president so that the numbers aren't meaningful are misguided.  First, most historians are left or statist biased so that their opinions mean zero.  Historians are ideologues, and they frequently place their ideology before the facts. Second, historians are filled with future-oriented biases and typically lack a full grasp of the gestalt of a given era.  Future historians will be at a disadvantage in interpreting today's facts.

That said, I don't agree that Obama is the worst postwar president because Nixon did more to expand government than Obama did.  Obama is a traitor and a dummy, and his freeing a traitorous soldier a few weeks ago was the result. As well, his ill-conceived healthcare act is and will be a disaster, and he has magnified the economic errors of the Bush and preceding administrations.

The opinions of Americans mean little, for America is a dumbed down idiocracy. For example, a slightly greater number say that they like Obama better than Bush on the economy, but I doubt any can identify real differences between the policies of Bush and Obama because there have not been any.  The great debate between Democrats and Republicans about the economy during the Obama years was the $800 billion stimulus spent on crooked Obama cronies, but Bush had also overseen a stimulus. I recall getting the check for a few hundred dollars.

David Vogel's Fluctuating Fortunes: The Political Power of Business in America traces the history of business-government relations in the postwar era.  The book was copyrighted in 1989, so it doesn't tell the whole story, but the book makes clear that if you consider the president to have been worst who has most expanded government, then Nixon is worst.

Vogel describes how Nixon got into a pissing contest with Senator Edmund Muskie to see who could pass the more aggressive environmental regulation. He signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act,the Cigarette Advertising Act, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. Regarding the Clean Air Act, Vogel writes this (p.73):

With the passage of the House bill, the Nixon administration had firmly established a preeminent position in the field of environmental protection. It had initiated a significant strengthening and broadening of the federal government's regulatory authority over what was literally the most visible dimension of pollution control...

Vogel adds (p. 90):

The period of industry's greatest vulnerability--at least in the areas of social regulation and tax policy--coincided with the presidency of Republican Richard Nixon.  Just as it took the presidency of Lyndon Johnson to enact the legislative agenda of John Kennedy's New Frontier, so were many of the most important regulatory initiatives of Johnson's Great Society approved during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

As well, Nixon introduced what was probably the most socialistic American policy of the post-war period: wage and price controls and controls on oil prices. Not only did this policy fail; it generated Soviet Union-style lines at gas stations and was punctuated with the worst inflation since the one following Woodrow Wilson's venture into wartime socialism during World War I.

Vogel barely mentions the chief harm that Nixon did to the US: the abolition of the remnant of the gold standard that had survived under the Bretton Woods agreement. This opened up the door to ongoing expansion of government and money printing, which continues today.  I have to revise my former belief that Johnson was the worst president; Nixon was even worse than Johnson.

It is also true that the three presidents who introduced unnecessary wars, Truman, Johnson, and Bush, deserve demerits.  When you put the Vietnam War together with the Great Society, Johnson comes close to Nixon.  The abolition of the gold standard, though, was so far reaching that it reduces Nixon's position to worst.

It is shocking that a candidate as inept as Barack Obama received the adulation that he did, not only from dumbed down college students who have trouble spelling their own names but also from their professors.  It is the students who will ultimately pay the price for their choice, though.

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