Presidential Goofs

Posted: Feb 20, 2006 6:47 PM

  • Here’s another good reason to actually go to class when you’re in college: You can grow up to be a scholar.
  • For those who have closely followed my career you know that I lasted exactly one and one-half semesters at Marietta College, Marietta Ohio, 45750 before the black-robed and stone-hearted “committee on academic standing” realized I was more involved in the social aspects of college than the classroom part and invited me out.
  • Overcoming my sordid tale of 1960’s Kerouac-ian search-for-self, I came across the report of a group of Presidential scholars, meeting at the University of Lousiville, who have determined the ten biggest blunders in the history of the office.
  • Put these in the context of the current projectile-sweat coverage of Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident.
  • Numbers one and two on the Presidential blunder hit parade, according to these folks had to do with the Civil War.
  • Atop the list was President James Buchanan (no relation to Pat as far as we know) who failed to avert the Civil War. Right behind Jim at number two was, according to the Associated Press, “Andrew Johnson's decision just after the Civil War to side with Southern whites and oppose improvements in justice for Southern blacks beyond abolishing slavery.”
  • Lyndon Johnson got the bronze for “intensifying the Vietnam War” (which was the top mistake among non-scholars who were polled on this matter).
  • Among the public, Richard Nixon’s Watergate cover up was number two, but the scholars only put it at number five.
  • President George W. Bush’s War on Terrorism didn’t make the top ten list of Presidential blunders because (a) it is NOT a blunder and (b) if it is still going on, it doesn’t qualify as history.
  • What about Monica? Scholars rated it as number 10 in the most significant Presidential blunders because “it affected Clinton's presidency more than it did American history.”
  • The interesting thing isn’t that the Lewinsky scandal was at the bottom of the top-ten list, but that it made the list at all.
  • Memo to the Hillary-for-President Committee: Please prepare talking points on how to deal with the fact that, in the entire history of the United States of America, your husband’s use of the oval office as his personal No-Tell Motel ranked among the top ten mistakes Presidents have made.
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court didn’t make it. Bill did.

      Eisenhower’s allowing U-2 flights over the Soviet Union in advance of a summit (which was cancelled when one of the spy planes was shot down) didn’t make it. Bill did.

      Jimmy Carter’s impotence in the face of Islamo-fascist elements in Iran (which had a direct impact on riots over cartoons published in Denmark) didn’t make the list. Bill did.

  • One person surveyed say he believed the Clinton scandal deserved a higher ranking because it led to the partisanship which now exists in Washington.
  • As we know, 43 men have held the title: President of the United States. All have made mistakes, most made lots of them. To be selected as having made one of the ten most egregious mistakes is remarkable.
  • Of the ten goofs, eight had to do with foreign policy or the Civil War. Only two: Clinton and Nixon’s Watergate scandal, were wholly domestic and non-military.
  • It tells us something that Nixon continues to be held in, as Churchill once said, “limited high regard” by American historians, while Bill Clinton has pretty much skated on the whole thing.
  • I hope Hillary runs so those of us who completed our undergraduate work in less than 10 years – although not much less than 10 years – can debate (in a scholarly way, you understand) the long term implications of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
  • New Topic: Someone in Nebraska has apparently won the $365 million Powerball Lottery.
  • I was thinking yesterday that if I had won (which was unlikely if only because I didn’t buy a ticket) and had been asked what I was going to do with the money, this was going to be the conversation:
    • “I am going to buy a Pug puppy so my granddog, Titus, can have a playmate”

      “How much does a Pug puppy cost?”

      “About $350.”

      “What about the rest of the money?”

      “I’m going to buy a $364,999,650 house for him to live in.”

  • On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the survey on Presidential blunders; a Mullfoto demonstrating my solidarity with VP Cheney; and a Catchy Caption of the Day which explains why the US is doing so badly in the Winter Olympics.