Sunday, September 6, 2009

Presidential Q&A

Miller, from Henderson, Nevada, writes:

Q: Hey Charlie. I am 80, so your politics and mine agree well. I am curious about who your top five presidents are in history. You like Jefferson and Truman, I’ve read that. But who are the others? Tell me whom your best presidents were and what they did for the country?

A: Miller, I’ve mentioned more than 5 great Presidents, but here’s my list, in chronological order.

1) George Washington

Father of our country, and winning general in our War for Independence against the Brits—‘nuff said.

2) John Adams

Leader of our Declaration of Independence, and designer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Constitution which was incorporated in our 1787 Constitution. As second President he had a heavy hand in designing and building Washington D.C., and temporarily kept us out of a devastating new second war with the Brits during our vulnerable infancy, when we were financially bankrupt (before Alexander Hamilton); a small navy; and no standing army.

3) Thomas Jefferson

Drafter of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, and as third President purchased our Louisiana, Midwest and Northwest lands from Napoleon for a song - tripling our country overnight. He was the truest revolutionary genius our nation has ever known.

4) James Monroe

Gave us the Monroe Doctrine, which told European powers to stay the hell out of “our” Western hemisphere—gutsy stuff, considering our very weak Navy and Army. Well, he bluffed it through and they stayed away from any further “New World” conquests until Spain tested us unsuccessfully at the turn of the last century in the Spanish-American War.

5) Andrew Jackson

Winning front-line general at the Battle of New Orleans, the definitive death knell for the Brits, who had razed D.C. and were otherwise winning the War 0f 1812. “Old Hickory” founded the Democrat Party and started the “spoils system”, which gave Presidents the power to kick out the old guard and replace them with loyal supporters—a quantum leap in Presidential power, which was sorely lacking at the time.

6) Abraham Lincoln

Forced to adopt Caesarean powers to save our Union, the greatest of which was voiding Constitutional States’ Rights, including secession. “Honest Abe” settled that issue at the cost of more than a million Yanks and Rebs killed or maimed—gutsy guy, above and beyond the abolition of slavery, which played little practical part in our Civil War, and would take another century to implement, in the form of 1960's "desegregation."

(7) Theodore Roosevelt

Combat Captain in the charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War, and later as President, "Teddy" didn't take any shit from anyone. "Walk softly and carry a big stick" was his mantra, and this advice has served every other President for the past century (except for battle wimps like Obama).

(8) Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Teddy's cousin, stricken in his prime by polio, but otherwise a giant among our Presidents - not because of his Great Depression Socialist programs, which in hindsight relieved relatively little social pain amongst Americans with 25% unemployment during the 30's.

FDR's lasting glory is in winning World War II, the greatest threat we have known since Revolutionary and then Civil War times. He had to use every subterfuge and every guile in his quiver to defeat Hitler and Tojo as well as the conservative isolationist U.S. Congress, when he decided to back Churchill and the Brits to the hilt.

(9) Harry Truman

Came to power as a lost puppy, but quickly became a ferocious German Shepherd by dropping a couple of A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All of a sudden, Tojo was out and Emperor Hirohito back in as historical god/commander of 90 million Japanese. Hirohito surrendered forthwith, and Harry assigned Pacific Commander Doug MacArthur to rule Japan - he had already assigned European Commander "Ike" Eisenhower to rule Europe, and Patton to rule conquered Germany.

But Harry's lasting legacy is his Midwestern tenaciousness against a New Republican conservative Congressional majority and a new enemy which Patton was ready to march against - Soviet Russia. He started off with his "Truman Doctrine" regarding American supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea, which meant absolute protection for Greece and Turkey; including C.A.R.E. packages and Marshall Plan financing for Europe; and a 24-hour airlift for the cut-off Berlin in the Winter of 1948, which might have touched off WWIII. Harry played the same bourbon-backed poker cards in the Summer of 1950, when he told Doug MacArthur to stop the North Koreans and their Chinese allies - gutsy stuff against 4 to 1 odds, which might have touched off WWIII, had he not canned MacArthur and Doug's plan to nuke China back to the Stone Age.

(10) Ronald Reagan

Our most elderly President, he took the 50-year Cold War and ran with the football - just as he had on film 50 years earlier as Notre Dame's "Gipper." No question where this President stood - "full speed ahead and damn the Russkies." Ronnie knew the heart of America like no President before or since - he came eyeball with Gorbechev, and "Gorby" blinked, as they had once before when Jack Kennedy stared down Kruschev in Cuba.

Bottom line, Ronnie won the 50-year Cold War - as great a victory as Yorktown two centuries earlier and then WWII, and gave us command of our small planet in no certain terms.

Miller, we don't get these guys every time around - they are relatively few and far between. But not to fret, they have always been there when our country needs them most, and they always win, backed by our indomitable spirit.