Woodrow Wilson, I’ve long argued, should hold the distinction as America’s Worst President. An unrepentant racist, philanderer, egotist, liar, tax-raiser, warmonger, starry-eyed “progressive” and hell-bent regulator, he ran roughshod over the Constitution and American liberties. (See my articles listed below this one for related links).
Before Joe Biden is done wreaking havoc, he may yet eclipse Wilson as our worst. So far, he’s managed the near-impossible feat of getting everything of any consequence precisely wrong. How many Joe Bidens does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two. One to assure the public that everything possible is being done and the other to screw the bulb into the water faucet.
I detest bad or dishonest presidents, but I deeply appreciate good and honest ones. Lest any readers of El American think I’m too focused on the former, I offer here some random compliments for a notable few:
George Washington, the first, was the right man at the right time. He wasn’t in it for the power or the limelight. He set a powerfully positive example when precedent counted for a great deal. He authored one of the best state of the union speeches because it was the shortest on record—just ten minutes, as I explained here. He also delivered one of the very best Farewell Addresses, as noted by Richard Lim in “Washington’s Warning on Disunity”.
When the young nation lurched in a statist direction under the otherwise well-intentioned John Adams and his Federalist allies, it was Thomas Jefferson who yanked us back on course. He established the Democratic Party as the party of small government, which lasted for the better part of a century. To this day, no American president expressed the essence of the American experiment better than he did with these words:
A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
Grover Cleveland vetoed more bills than all previous 21 presidents combined. He stood squarely for small government, limited spending, lower tariffs and taxes, free trade and sound money. He once killed a bill to appropriate money for drought-stricken farmers in Texas, claiming that “Though the people may support the government, it is not the duty of the government to support the people.” He kept America out of foreign wars as he kept government in its proper place at home.
The president who routinely gets rated very low by left-leaning historians, Warren Harding, was far better than that undeserved reputation. The scandals that plagued his administration were the shenanigans of underlings and Harding was guilty of little more than trusting friends who let him down. In his 2-1/2 years in the White House, he slashed taxes, spending, and the national debt; restored “normalcy” after the destructive Woodrow Wilson years; and went out of his way to defend the civil rights of black Americans.
Harding’s vice president, Calvin Coolidge, was one of the best American chief executives of the 20th Century. Like his predecessor, he cut taxes, spending and the national debt. The federal government spent less when he left office than when he entered it, a feat never since equaled by any president. He defended traditional values of hard work and responsibility by being a superb example of them both.
Ronald Reagan endured endless harsh attacks from leftists, who tried to stereotype him as dumb and aloof. But most Americans now look back on him as far smarter than any of his forgettable and forgotten critics. He restored confidence in America and its ideals. He took on the Soviet Evil Empire and helped indispensably to kill it. And, always eloquent, he warned Americans of the ever-present duty to defend liberty. This is one of his best quotes:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well fought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.
I remind my fellow Americans and the world that America can do far better than Joe Biden. We already did, on numerous occasions in the past. Inspired in part by the ideas defended by our best, we will do so again.
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