How American Decline Led to the Rise of an American Caudillo
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A couple weeks ago we elected a president who graduated the top of his law class at Harvard, Barack Obama. When President Clinton was running he was cheered as a brilliant Rhodes Scholar and Ivy League graduate. But what of those more dim-witted politicians that have made the national scene? I list ten of the more memorable politicos eligible for a ride on the proverbial short bus.1. President Richard Nixon.Any political imitator worth their pay can do the “I am not a crook” of Nixon. This guy rolled into office after President Johnson decided not to run for re-election after a slew of bad luck. After four years of minor successes, like ending the Vietnam War and re-establishing relations with the Communist Chinese, Nixon was re-elected. But like anyone who wins by breaking the rules – “cheater, cheater, chicken eater” – Nixon was forced to resign.
President George H.W. Bush.This Texas oilman from Maine rode the coattails of Reagan into the Oval Office in 1988. Originally a Yale athlete and WWII buzz-boy, he made his name in the Texas oil business before turning to politics and had been in Washington in one role or another from the mid-60s until he left office. He is most fondly remembered for vomiting on the Japanese prime minister, but history also still remembers him for defeating Saddam Hussein in Iraq and liberating the tiny country of Kuwait. Bush 41 was dumped by the angry American public in 1992 because of a supposedly “cyclical” recession and his broken promise of “Read my lips: No new taxes.”
Senator Jack Kemp.This pretty boy spent a bunch of time in Washington D.C. using his notoriety as a pro football star quarterback to gain access to Congress, a Cabinet post, and eventually land on Bob Dole’s presidential ticket in 1996. He made his name as a staunch fiscal conservative and strong proponent of supply side, or “tinkle down”, economics. This ex-jock couldn’t complete the hail mary pass and has been side-lined ever since.
President Abraham Lincoln.This tall lanky guy was the first Republican president, and prototype for many of them to come. In many ways he is indistinguishable from the current president, Bush 43, except for the cool beard. Lincoln is sometimes remembered for saving the Union and freeing the slaves, but he is best remembered for suspending habeas corpus and for his detractors’ anti-war slogan: Lincoln lied and men died.
President Gerald Ford.President Ford is a unique story. A mild mannered congressman and ex-college football player from Michigan who landed in Congress, became House Minority Leader, and then nominated for the vacant Vice Presidency left by Spiro Agnew’s departure. Then guess what? President Nixon abdicated and Ford became the President of the United States! Known best for pardoning Nixon and for being a stumbling fool for falling down Air Force One’s stair ramp. The statistics are still coming in on how many times he fell while in office, but consensus is it was in the millions.
Senator Joseph McCarthy.McCarthy wasn’t so much dumb as he was scary. During a particularly sensitive time during the Cold War with the Soviet Union he ran a witch hunt aimed at outing Communists from the government bureaucracy, the Army, the media, and Hollywood. He died of hepatitis, most likely brought on by heavy drinking, while still in office, never understanding how ridiculous it was to think that the socialists and radical liberals would ever have any significant power in the United States.
Vice President Dan Quayle.This boy of a politician was nominated to be George H.W. Bush’s vice president in 1988. His relative youth and inexperience caused the media to question whether Bush had properly vetted him before the nomination, and whether he was qualified to be “a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.” He was a strong supporter of space exploration and family values, but is best known for his many speaking gaffes and his debate with the fictional television character “Murphy Brown”.
President George W. Bush.This draft-dodging, coke-sniffing, Yale cheerleading, National Guard flying, Harvard MBA’ing, Texas businessman and son of Bush 41 was named President by the Supreme Court when they denied Al Gore’s request to keep recounting the Florida ballots until he won. The “Bush Tax Cuts” lead to recessions just before he got into office in 2000 and then again just before he left in 2008, wiping out some of the record growth in between. He will long be remembered for being the President on September 11th when he collapsed the World Trade Center so that he had an excuse to invade Afghanistan to secure the poppy harvest that year to bolster his growing heroin habit. He also invaded Iraq to kill Saddam Hussein for his dad as well as make his vice president, Dick Cheney, and himself rich with Halliburton money.
Governor Sarah Palin.The only governor in this list, she is included because of her recent campaign as Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. Her relative youth and inexperience caused the media to question whether McCain had properly vetted her before the nomination, and whether she was qualified to be “a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.” This unapologetic “Outsider” didn’t speak the “Insider” lingo, leading to daily embarrassment for herself and McCain. From bloggers to media people to McCain staffers have blasted Palin for being a simpleton for not knowing Africa was a continent or that the moon wasn’t made of cheese. Though all the claims of her dumbness have been disproven that doesn’t change the fact that this little minx got her degree at some state college and not in the prestigious Ivy League like Hillary and Barack.
President Ronald Reagan.An ex-cowboy actor, Reagan napped his way through two terms in office as President, but is still considered by some as the greatest president of the 20th century. Media experts have theorized that most day-to-day decisions were actually made by the First Lady’s astrologist, as this oldest U.S. President was too senile to lead. Under his command the tiny country of Grenada was liberated and the Star Wars missile defense program was begun after a sci-fi movie night in the West Wing. On election he instituted an economic program egotistically named after himself, Reaganomics, that quite coincidently led to the greatest growth in American prosperity ever. Reagan is also often credited with defeating the Soviet Union and winning the Cold War, though history has proved much of the credit should go to Tom Hanks for his efforts in Afghanistan.