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The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President was a triumph for progressive Americans who had elected the most progressive/liberal president since LBJ in 1964.
The fact that many of us have experienced some disappointment in the President during the first 2.5 years of his tenure does not mean that he hasn't been a very good president.

As this great week for the President comes to a close, I have begun to think not just about 2012 but also about our expectations of him.  Yes, we want him to be tougher with Republicans and tougher with Wall St. but he is not our local Congressman.  For me he is not Rep. Jerrold Nadler whom I agree with 99.5% of the time.   How could a President ever be like your Mayor, Governor or any other elected official.  We can only judge Presidents by comparing them to other Presidents.

On that score I can comfortably say for myself that Barack Obama is the best president we have had in the White House in my lifetime (LBJ onwards).  Obama has certainly been better than the Bushes, Reagan, Ford, and Nixon.  As far as the Democrats go, LBJ lost it big time after 1965 with Vietnam, Carter was ineffective which leaves us with Bill Clinton.  

If Bill Clinton had been either a great President or a good progressive president then his wife would have been handed the nomination in 2008.  But he was neither.  Obama gave us health care reform, while Clinton failed.  Clinton gave us  DADT while Obama repealed it. Clinton had Mogadishu while Obama got Bin Laden.  And Bill Clinton got himself humiliated and impeached through his own personal conduct--something that I doubt Barack Obama is inclined to do.    Perhaps in the 1990s we couldn't have done better than Bill Clinton as the politics of that time were much more conservative.  Obama has had much more room coming on the heels of the catastrophic conservatism of Bush.

So for me, with all the tension and agony and triumph of the past 2.5 years, Barack Obama is the best president (so far) in my lifetime.  If we judge him by the standards of other presidents than it becomes clear just how good he is and hopefully after 8 years we can say how great he was.

What do you think?

Poll

Is Obama the best U.S. President since 1964?

59%70 votes
11%13 votes
5%6 votes
0%1 votes
5%6 votes
0%1 votes
0%1 votes
16%20 votes

| 118 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm not a kazillion years old like you are... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psilocynic, Anton Bursch

    So it's a bit easier to say he's easily the best POTUS of my lifetime.

    :P

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sun May 08, 2011 at 09:33:47 AM PDT

  •  Obama is a better president. (4+ / 0-)

    But Bill Clinton was a terrific president. He grew the economy while shrinking the deficit and then creating a surplus. In Bosnia he showed the world that military action can save people victimized by an evil dictator. He was respected around the world and elevated the reputation of the United States. Your diary does not present a very balanced view of his administration.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Sun May 08, 2011 at 09:37:57 AM PDT

    •  Clinton was a C- for Neocon-ness (4+ / 0-)

      He benefited by being on the right side of the dot-com bubble. He signed NAFTA and GATT "free" trade deals which had disastrous affects down the road.

      We shouldn't have been in Bosnia or Somalia either. Or Iraq (either time). Or Libya.

      Support Fair Trade. Buy American! Keep jobs at home. I am a populist who is non-interventionist on foreign policy.

      by John Lane on Sun May 08, 2011 at 09:42:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ditto with DOMA and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allergywoman, Bob Love

        the destruction of our social safety net.  Only a Democrat could have done that.

        I'm sick of Democrats carrying out the Republican agenda when they are in office.  Republicans do that just fine for themselves when they are in control.  If they are going to be Democrats they need to stand for democratic ideals and stop being Republican-lite.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Sun May 08, 2011 at 11:01:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  In terms of your response Clinton is better (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, doc2, Bob Love

      but Obama has time left. Withdrawl from Afghanistan and a round of defense cuts would do it for him.
      As for your Clinton surplus - true, but people talking about Clinton positively have a 10 ton elephant - NAFTA. If Al Gore had been allowed to take his rightful place in the White House we would be talking today about Gore's response to the Clinton Depression the way we are now talking about Obama.
      Of course except that the 2000 recession was nowhere as bad as it became after W and his arsonists, and in even more fairness the 2000 recession started in 1982. When I claim that Clinton only really took advantage of the DotCom boom to make it look like his economy was better than it was, I am being unfair. except for "ending welfare" he was doing the right things. Maybe he just got lucky with the DotComs, but he deserved that luck. Compare that with Obama's stimulous - again  Obama responded to a similar but far worse situation by doing the same thing as best he could.

      •  I know the left likes to knock (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego

        NAFTA, but there have been multiple studies done by academics on the impact of NAFTA, and much of the blame put on the act by the left is not substantiated. The studies consistently show a mixed bag of effects. But one thing that is clear is that globalization was going on long before NAFTA, and would have continued apace whether or not NAFTA ever happened.

        I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

        by doc2 on Sun May 08, 2011 at 10:42:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Jerremy Rifkin wrote about a GM factory (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          doc2, AaronInSanDiego

          It hired 20,000 people and made 1.2 million cars a year. It closed and moved to Mexico. Ten years later GM closed the factory in Mexico and opened one in Tennessee. It hired 2,000 workers and made 1.4 million cars. Rifkin asked whether "free trade" cost 20,000 jobs, or did automation cost 18,000. In this context I think that's the wrong question; did we lose 20,000 jobs or only 18,000? But if we exonerate Clinton on accellerating globalization then we still must condemn him for not responding to the losses.
          I agree with you that it is not entirely fair to condemn Clinton on "free trade", but the consequences are indisputably, overwhelmingly negative.
          I could add the indirect consequences such as the '94 elections. I could pile on onto poor Bill. Bad idea and bad history. He ranks well on this list, and in a better era he would have been better.

  •  they all underwhelm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allergywoman

    by varying degrees, of course, but they all leave much to be desired.

    GWB is the worst. That is easier than selecting the best.

    National politics/Congress changed in the 70s, so it's hard to compare before and after that point. Our long-standing national problems - energy, de-industrialization, polarization of wealth, outsize influence of the wealthy - have only gotten worse since that time.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Sun May 08, 2011 at 09:49:11 AM PDT

  •  Rating the presidents in my lifetime (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, Timaeus, Bob Love, hlsmlane

    1. Lyndon Baines Johnson - By far. I'd grade him an A-. A+ if it wasn't for Vietnam. LBJ signed Civil Rights. Head Start, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps. He helped people. I'd love to see Texas, or anywhere else give us more LBJ's.

    2. Harry S Truman - 2nd place by far. He made the toughest decision any president had to make. Pushed for national health care, and transformed our country back to peacetime. I was a baby during his time, so I only know from dad's opinion. He loved him.

    John F Kennedy - What could have been.

    Eisenhower - Was right about the military industrial complex. Interstate System. I was too young to follow him and Truman.

    Richard Nixon - Yes. Nixon. He was actually somewhat progressive on economic issues when he was pushed.

    Barack Obama (so far) - Some great, some bad.

    Gerry Ford

    Jimmy Carter

    Ronald Reagan

    Bill Clinton - NAFTA and GATT

    George H.W. Bush

    George W Bush

    Support Fair Trade. Buy American! Keep jobs at home. I am a populist who is non-interventionist on foreign policy.

    by John Lane on Sun May 08, 2011 at 09:57:03 AM PDT

    •  Different order (5+ / 0-)

      I'd place Jimmy Carter well above Ford and Nixon because he set the foundation for prosperity by naming Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve, but Reagan got the credit for it.  Carter was also gung-ho for renewable energy, but the Smiler killed that upon entering office.

      Reagan was quite dire, naming terrible judges and sowing the seeds of theocracy, and Ford was ineffectual at best.  Clinton should get a better ranking because he was first stabbed in the back by Sam Nunn on military issues, then he had to deal with a crazed Congressional right wing.

    •  if not for Viet Nam (0+ / 0-)

      that's a big if though. It damaged the Democratic coalition severely. hardhats fighting hippies = Bad for  America. That's not to mention the evil of the war itself or the great $ cost it imposed.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sun May 08, 2011 at 10:47:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree. I voted for LBJ in the poll. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Val

      For presidents in my lifetime I'd rank them like this:

      1. LBJ.
      2. Carter.
      3. Eisenhower.
      4. Clinton.
      5. JFK.
      6. Obama.
      7. Ford.
      8. Nixon.
      9. Bush 1.
      10. Bush 2.
      11. Reagan.

      It is a calling...to do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

      by Timaeus on Sun May 08, 2011 at 11:03:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My lifetime includes FDR (0+ / 0-)

      and I would rank him as #1, Truman #2.  It's a bit premature to rank Obama against historical figures like FDR and HST, but I'd be inclined to think he's on track for #3.  I don't think you can rank LBJ as high as Mr. John Lane does (have to be specific, as I am Harry Lane) because of Viet Nam.  I would also put Clinton ahead of both Carter and Reagan.  Interesting exercise.

  •  Read Gibbon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    The part of The Deline And Fall Of The Roman Empire  that schools teach - with Nero, et all. You don't have to be Robert Graves to see that Claudius was the best of that lot; but that's the real point. We've had over 40 years of nothing but criminals, lunatics, and helpless lambs.
    I think right now that Obama's place in history will be decided by whether or not the next President will be better or worse than him. If the next Pres is:
    A fascist: Obama goes down like Buchanan, except that the history books will have to be written in another country.
    A DLC: Obama will be just more road kill on the slope to the third world.
    FDR: then it wasn't like the 30's - we needed a transitional President, and Obama fills the role.
    You realize by that analysis we don't know the anwer until after 2016.

  •  Best Since LBJ Could Be Someone Who (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, allergywoman

    significantly damages the country. It's not a high bar to clear.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun May 08, 2011 at 11:06:16 AM PDT

  •  I don't think (0+ / 0-)

    I can fairly assess the current President in this context, his adminstration has not ended. He is extremely likely to be re-elected, so he has more time to establish how "great" he will be ( in your poll, I would have chosen none of the above if you had offered it). That said, I'm a bit older than you. Truman was president when I was born. In that time, the only Republican presidents who approached decency were Eisenhower and Ford. The Democrats were far better. Carter and Clinton were a bit too centrist for me. Truman was a good president and merits consideration. LBJ, while far from inspiring, accomplished great things but that was due to the inspiration of JFK who remains for me the only president I've ever really liked. I am withholding any judgment on the current President until he leaves office. As of rightnow, I find him more in the Clinton mold, although he's a better orator, he seems to be much the same sort of politician. I hope that changes in his second term though.

  •  Clinton wasn't as bad as some (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hlsmlane

    like to paint him but Obama was handed a much more difficult set of circumstances to deal with than Clinton.  Also I feel Clinton was in some ways incredibly lucky with the economy and foreign affairs during his tenure.  Luck has not had as much to do with Obama's successes.  Not that I don't disagree with him on some topics, glaringly his approach on education.  Arnie Duncan was a terrible choice for Ed. Secretary.

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