"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, February 6, 2012

Birthday Today - Ronald Reagan

It's the Gipper's birthday today.   He was born in 1911.   I recently saw an article which said that, among living people in a survey, he was voted the greatest President, but liberal college professor-historians did not rank him among the top 10 Presidents ever.   My own ranking:

1.  George Washington.   Getting the great experiment off the ground was the hard part, and Washington was the only man who could have done it.
2.  Abraham Lincoln.   The miracle of America, that a man from nowhere became the savior of his country.
3.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adama (tie).   Again, getting the miracle of America off the ground was the hard part, and Adams and Jefferson were the intellectual giants of the Revolutionary Era who also, by chance, were both political enemies and personal friends.   The uniqueness of political enemies being personal friends and respectful debaters was matched only by the uniqueness of Adams ceding power to Jefferson peacefully after the bitter 1800 election.   They died the same day, July 4, 1826, fifty days to the day after the Declaration of Independence (just in case you don't think America had some divine intervention at its birth).  
5. James Madison.   Co-author of The Federalist Papers, key framer of the Constitution.   Again, the design of America was the hard part... a miracle of invention that only fools (read: contemporary liberals) believe can be bettered.  (I note with chagrin that Ruth Bader Ginzburg apparently recently told an audience that Egypt should not look to the American Constitution in setting up its new regime.   Bad advice.)
6. Ronald Reagan.   The average American writ large.   He was not an intellectual, but he was very smart, as his now published writings demonstrate, and he was simply right on all the major issues of his time:  social policy (pro-Life), economic policy (pro-free markets and low taxes), foreign policy (anti-communist).  
7. Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt (tie).   Great men, great leaders, especially FDR, whose steady hand saw America through the Great Depression and World War II.   Both men's legacies, to me anyway, marred by their belief in statist solutions to every problem, and their distrust (because of their own lack of experience in business, no doubt) of the free market and capitalism.
9. Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower (tie).   Great men, great leaders in our greatest wars, whose eight year presidencies were less successful (especially Grant's).

In the next group might be James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, Calvin Coolidge, and George W. Bush.   Might be, I say, because in thinking about this list it occurs to me that there really aren't that many great or even good Presidents.   I certainly wouldn't put some of the liberal lions on my list -- Woodrow Wilson, JFK, LBJ, Clinton.  They all did more harm than good.  

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