January 15, 2012
Buchanan: Barack Obama Is the Best President of My Lifetime
A friend recently told me that she intends to convince me that Barack Obama "is the best president of our lifetime." Regular readers of this blog know that this would seem to be a steep hill to climb, because I have been highly critical of Obama since even before he was inaugurated. ... Over the course of his first three years in office, however, I have become ever more convinced that he is simply a right-of-center old-fashioned moderate Republican, rather than (as his defenders suggest) a true progressive who has been forced by political realities to agree to pragmatic compromises. ...
My friend and I were born in 1959. The Presidents who have served in our lifetimes are: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush pere, Clinton, Bush fils, and Obama. No matter how one might define "best President," it is obvious that Ford, Carter, and both Bushes are not in the running. (The younger Bush is, in fact, easily on the short list to be remembered as the worst President in the country's history.) That is not to say that there are no positives on their records (with both Carter and the elder Bush being center-right pragmatists, operating in different political eras), but there is almost nothing that would make them the best. ...
That leaves Obama contending against Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton. ... [T]he Presidents who have served during my lifetime have either been unremarkable (Ford, Carter, Bush I), terrible (Reagan, Bush II), or a combination of huge positives canceled out by bigger negatives (LBJ, Nixon, Clinton). Only JFK seems plausible as a "best President" nominee, and only because of the lasting impact of his aura, rather than for anything achieved under his presidency.
Obama, therefore, need not have done much to take the top spot. Although he has many negatives marks on his record (especially his adoption of Bush's aggressive militarism, and his poor handling of terrorist detention policies), even when I am being most relentlessly critical of Obama, my complaint has generally been that he has done too little (without apparently trying very hard), such as his poor handling of the budget fights in 2011. The stimulus was too small, and it was certainly a missed opportunity, but it still did a lot of good. The health care law is deeply flawed, but it was still historic ....
I do continue to believe that Obama is a center-right Republican, because the policies that he pursued to prevent a new depression were anything but leftist. In many cases, he simply carried out policies that were either begun in a bipartisan fashion before he took office, or that would have been enacted in weaker form under a conservative Republican President. (McCain, in 2009, surely would also have acceded to calls for stimulus and bailouts.) Obama is no FDR, but at least he prevented us from needing another FDR to get us out of an even bigger economic catastrophe.
As I noted above, saying Obama is the best President of my lifetime could be nothing more than consummate faint praise. Saying that he is the best by a large degree, while less faint, in no way suggests that he could not have done much, much better. Given the alternatives, it is impossible not to hope that he will be in office for five more years, during which he can prove that he really understands what Democrats should be fighting for.
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Posted by: Anon | Jan 15, 2012 1:02:51 AM
Posted by: Anon | Jan 15, 2012 1:02:51 AM
My thoughts exactly. It must be nice to be in academia; reality doesn't have to get in the way.
Posted by: Martin | Jan 15, 2012 1:19:14 AM
We'll see in November how many agree.
Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 15, 2012 5:34:52 AM
I thought this was about Pat Buchanan. I don't know who this Buchanan is, but he is just as nuts as Pat.
Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Jan 15, 2012 10:44:46 AM
It appears to me that Professor Buchanan is strongly delusional. Or, he's descended from President James Buchanan and is desperately seeking someone to be known as the worst President ever.
Posted by: Bob | Jan 15, 2012 12:27:39 PM
This is absurd regardless of your political view.
If you are generally left wing, you have to think of the passage of the Great Society legislation and the civil rights bills of the 1960s as by far the most important domestic legislation since 1950.
Let us also give Carter credit for the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the Alaska lands bill, and the appointment of Paul Volcker to the Federal reserve. I don't think Obama has done anything that measures up to any of those three items. Note that Carter was personally very involved in the first two of these; they did't just happen on his watch.
If you are generally right wing, maybe you would think that Reagan's foreign policy, which led to winning the Cold War, was important.
And if you can count, you might think that Eisenhower (1953-1961) was a more generally competent President than any of them.
Posted by: WhiteyC | Jan 15, 2012 12:59:26 PM
In other news about "the best president in Prof. Buchanan's lifetime:"
Obama on Pace to Borrow $6.2T in One Term—More Than All Presidents from Washington Through Clinton Combined
President Barack Obama has been increasing the national debt during his presidency by an average of $4.24 billion per day putting him on a pace to increase the national debt by $6.2 trillion by the end of his term on Jan. 20, 2013, according to the debt figures published by the U.S. Treasury. ...The national debt was $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009, the day Obama was inaugurated. As of the close of business on Jan. 11, 2012, it was $15.2 trillion.
Neil H. Buchanan teaches tax law, tax policy, contracts, and law and economics. His research addresses the long-term tax and spending patterns of the federal government, focusing on budget deficits, the national debt, health care costs, and Social Security. ....
With his so-called expertise and conclusions, how could Buchanan be remotely qualified to teach economics and effects of government debt? Oh, yeah, like Obama, he can blame Bush and others....even Nixon!
Clearly the buck doesn't stop with "Buchanan's best President," who keeps spending all of them that can be printed and borrowed.
Posted by: Woody | Jan 15, 2012 1:46:44 PM
Thank you Professor Caron, for the link to this fine example of the delusional far left wing mindset. Only someone who is so far left as to consider communists and socialists bedfellows could write with a straight face that Obama is a center right Republican, while calling Reagan terrible and JFK the best of the past 50 years.
He brings to mind the famous story of the people from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, who were shocked when Nixon won in 72 because everyone they knew voted for McGovern. Safely ensconced in his progressive bubble of academia...
Posted by: Todd | Jan 15, 2012 2:08:09 PM
That is the most hilarious thing I have read in a long time.
Posted by: Lt. Dangle | Jan 16, 2012 11:33:19 AM
do you realy think so?
Posted by: Greg | Jan 16, 2012 11:35:13 AM
I get it. This originated with "The Onion."
Posted by: Woody | Jan 17, 2012 12:45:58 PM