Happy Presidents’ Day! This is a day when Americans celebrate all Presidents, but in a larger sense, we celebrate the system by which we pick our national leader. The Founders devised a brilliant system that gave a say to all the individual states, with their vastly different cultures and interests. We also celebrate our unprecedented history of respecting the vote of the people and the peaceful transfer of power. It’s too bad that many people now are so eager to trash the Electoral system, disrespect the voters’ choice and resist the peaceful transfer of power in the name of preserving their own political power. But they can at least pretend to respect those traditions for one day, then go back to observing “NOT My President Day” the other 364 days of the year (or 365 in leap years like this.)
I wrote an essay about Presidents’ Day in 2018, and I think it bears repeating, since nothing really has changed since it first appeared…
Monday was Presidents Day, and this year brought sobering new evidence that not only are Americans sadly ignorant of US history, but our historians aren’t exactly setting the woods on fire in that department, either.
A number of polls were released, asking the public to rank the greatest Presidents of all time. Overall, the highest vote-getters were John Kennedy, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan. JFK had some major accomplishments, like the space program, but his term was tragically cut short after less than three years. Obama’s #1 ranking is similar to those Internet lists of the “all-time greatest movies” that include nothing made before 1995 (“Wow, ‘The Last Jedi’ is #1!”) They’re more a testament to the youthful ignorance of the rankers than the quality of the films. And while I take a back seat to nobody in my admiration for Reagan’s accomplishments, even he would likely protest that Washington and Lincoln should have been on top.
I don’t think most people these days appreciate the unprecedented service Washington performed by refusing to rule as a king and voluntarily stepping down from power to rejoin the people. Without his example, the presidency might not even be recognizable today. Well, at least George and Abe made the top 10 in most polls, but I suspect it’s less because of their historical significance than the fact that young people know them from the money. We’re lucky they didn’t name Alexander Hamilton as the best President, because he’s on the $10 bill and he starred in that rap musical.
But it’s easy to pick on the choices of the general public, who will naturally name things that are most recent and fresh in their minds. But what excuses do alleged experts have for their biased and uninformed choices? For instance, the 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey is based on responses from current and recent members of the Presidents & Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. They ranked Lincoln #1 and Washington #2. Their top 10 also includes Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR. But LBJ at #10? (I get it: they love big government). Reagan only made it to #9, and at #8: Barack Obama (it goes without saying that they ranked Trump dead last, despite him presiding over the destruction of ISIS, a tax cut that’s firing up the economy and the rollback of executive overreach, all in his first year -- yet he’s ranked lower than William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia 31 days after being sworn in. He must’ve had one heck of a month.)
I think all you need to know about the “expertise” (or the bias) of these particular Presidential experts is that their top 10 includes Obama but not, say, James K. Polk. Polk oversaw the winning of the Mexican-American War; the reestablishing of the independent Treasury system; the annexation of Texas; the Oregon Treaty that set the border with Canada and won more of Oregon from the British than anyone expected; and the Mexican Cession, which added territory that included the current states of California, Nevada and Utah, most of Arizona, half of New Mexico, and some pretty sizable chunks of Colorado and Wyoming. He even tried to buy Cuba, which would have prevented a lot of grief down the road, but Spain wouldn’t sell. And Polk did all that and more in just four years because he kept his promise to serve only one term. For that alone, he deserves to be in the top 10 (They rank Polk at #20, seven places below Bill Clinton).
In comparison, Obama’s eight years gave us…Obamacare? A record stretch of low GDP growth? The spread of ISIS? Michelle’s school lunch program?
I can’t help wondering how many of these alleged “presidential history experts” who lionize Obama live in states that wouldn’t even be part of America if it weren’t for James K. Polk.
Over the weekend, President Trump paid a visit to the Daytona 500 that reminded NASCAR fans of why he was known as one of our greatest showmen before he even entered politics. It started with a thrilling buzz of the event in Air Force One...
Then the First Lady joined him for some patriotic comments…
And he even took a lap of the track in the armored Presidential limo, “The Beast.” It had the crowd cheering and race commentators declaring it “awesome!”
But of course, the liberal media outlets were not impressed. They were (and stop me if you’ve heard this before) “outraged!” How DARE Trump use government resources like Air Force One and the Presidential limo to attend an event that might burnish his election chances, they stewed…conveniently ignoring all the times they cheered Obama’s coolness for doing things like throwing out the first ball at the World Series, using the limo for an interview with Jerry Seinfeld, and flying to L.A. so many times to vacuum money out of the pockets of leftwing celebrities that Angelinos coined the term “Obama-jam” to describe the traffic tie-ups from all the street closures caused by his frequent fundraiser visits.
This was the type of all-American event that Presidents often take part in, but when Trump does it, it’s an unprecedented scandal, and possibly an impeachable offense (they should ask Alan Dershowitz about that.) I wonder if these whiners realize that they’re coming off like the sad goth kids in high school, pouting at their table in the back of the cafeteria and making snarky comments about the cool kids – not realizing that everyone knows they’re jealous and secretly wish they could be that popular.
Interesting post by Steven Hayward at the Powerline blog about the recent history of newspaper journalism: how reporters stopped thinking of themselves as being in a trade and began to think of themselves as college-educated “professionals” whose stories shouldn’t be recitations of objective facts but their expert personal interpretation of events…and how this led to all the slanted leftist “reporting”…and how this has helped contribute to paid newspaper circulation dropping by nearly half since 1968, despite a 50% increase in population, and nearly 1800 newspapers going belly-up since 2004.
Of course, they were also hurt by the Internet, where people put it more succinctly: “Get woke, go broke.”
If you thought that Mike Bloomberg’s old comments about minorities and crime were bad news for his presidential campaign, then these resurfaced comments could explain why he opted to skip the Iowa Caucuses.
Speaking at Oxford University’s business school in 2016, Bloomberg described the job of farming like this: “I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer. It's a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.” In contrast, he said today’s information era jobs require people to learn “how to think and analyze, and that is a whole degree level different. You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.”
(FYI: his comment about the low mental difficulty of factory workers’ jobs was hardly any less dismissive.)
Naturally, this is not going over too well with the agricultural community, who, surprisingly, know how to access information on the Internet and how to read. As one commenter put it, you couldn’t ask for a better example of a clueless New York bubble dweller quote – short of saying that ranching is easy because meat comes on little Styrofoam trays so you just have to put plastic wrap over it. I could just as well reply that it’s easy to learn to code because all you have to do is “learn to code.”
There’s an entire literature of jokes built on farmers outsmarting arrogant city slickers, and those stretch back to long before farmers were using advanced technology to plan and time crop rotations, calculate yields, track weather patterns and run giant, Internet-connected farming equipment like this:
I’ve said before that running for President these days is like undergoing a particularly thorough colonoscopy without anesthetic. Bloomberg’s billions can’t insulate him from having all his past statements dug up and parsed. And apparently, there are a lot more to come. His own employees even compiled a book of them, which shows that minorities and farmers aren’t the only people he doesn’t have much respect for (warning: some rough language at the link):
And his reported comments to female employees, particularly about pregnant employees, aren’t likely to endear him to women voters.
Maybe Bloomberg mistakenly thought running for President is easy: you just buy billions of dollars’ worth of ads and order your reporters not to say anything bad about you, only about the other guy. If so, he should’ve had more gray matter than to think that.