Early in 2001 I told a colleague that the American people had made a big mistake in electing that moron George W. Busch. (At the time I did not call him “that moron,” he later earned that sobriquet.) My friend, a Republican, agreed that the new president was not as qualified as some, but he pointed out that the job description for President is vague. “He will rise to the occasion,” my friend said, “he will be a great president.”
Yes, there is no job description for President USA. To get some idea of who is qualified, I looked to see who we have hired in the past. Are there any who are especially qualified? Do some merely rise to the occasion? I studied the 18 presidents who served during the 20th Century. Here is what we know.
Education: Nine (Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Ford, Busch, Clinton, Busch) are Ivy Leaguers. Only Truman, had no college education. What might be called tier one schools, served Coolidge (Amherst), Hoover (Stanford), Eisenhower (West Point), Noxin (Duke law), Carter (Annapolis). Harding attended Ohio Central and LBJ, Southwest Texas State, that traitor Raygun attended Eureka College. There are a number of advanced degrees. JFK, attended The London School, and Clinton, Oxford. The best educated overall is probably Wilson. There are a couple of double Ivy Leaguers. TR, Harvard, then Columbia Law. The Moron, Yale and then Harvard MBA.
Military Service: Three were certifiable war heroes (TR, JFK, GHW Busch). (LBJ had a silver star, which biographer Robert Caro says is bogus.) Five others, Truman, Eisenhower, Noxon, Ford and Carter had military experience. The heroes and Truman and Ford were shot at. Carter served in the peacetime Navy. I am not counting LBJâ€™s service, or the Traitor Raygunâ€™s service in the Hollywood brigade, or The Moron George W. Buschâ€™s use of his fatherâ€™s influence to get in the National Guard and thus get out of serving in Vietnam.
Occupation: Carter was the only farmer who relied on farming for a living. TR and LBJ had hobby farms. There were a number of law school graduates but only four, Taft, Nixon, Ford, and Clinton (as Attorney General of Arkansas) actually practiced law. Wilson was a University President, Harding a publisher, LBJ a school teacher, Raygun the traitor was an actor and that moron George W. Busch was a failure in business. Hoover was a civil engineer.
Government service: We have a number of governors: both Roosevelts (NY), Wilson (NJ), Harding (Ohio), Coolidge (MA), Carter (GA), Clinton (AR), and The Moron, (TX). U.S. House of Representatives included LBJ, Noxon, Ford and GHW Busch. U. S. Senators include Harding, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and Noxin. Vice Presidents include Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Johnson, Noxin, Ford, GHW Busch. Appointed government posts include: Asst. Secy, Navy (both Roosevelts), federal judge, administrator of the Philippines, Secretary of War (Taft), Director, U.S. Food Administration, member, Supreme Economic Council, Director, American Relief Administration, Secretary of Commerce (Hoover); Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the U. S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, and Director of the CIA, (GHW Busch). Truman served as county judge (chief executive) to Jackson County MO for many years.
Only one resume automatically rises to the top. Eisenhower. The Supreme Allied Commander ran the largest international conglomerate in the world from 1942 to 1945, and did it with distinction. For foreign affairs, GHW Busch has pretty impressive credentials. I might put him second on the list.
The VP job is not worth spit, but it is probably a good recommendation to the presidency. Only one of the seven, Coolidge, would rank in the bottom quarter of the class (along with Busch, Harding, Hoover and Kennedy). Truman and Johnson and possibly Teddy Roosevelt, were outstanding.
Governors are presidents in the minor leagues. So both Roosevelts and Raygun come to the top, since they governed the most populous state with the biggest budget in their time. The Roosevelts also have Federal administrative experience (Asst. Secy. Navy) and are Ivy Leaguers.Â WilsonÂ managed one ofÂ the nation’s premier universities.Â Â Of course, three of the bottom five were governors. Ironically, The Moronâ€™s resume stands out. A captain of industry (resumeâ€™s donâ€™t tell you much about failures), fighter pilot, a double Ivy Leaguer and governor of the largest state in the union!
Senators donâ€™t get points for administrative experience. Truman is clearly the best of this lot, although Johnson and Noxon, both serious policy wonks, were creditable presidents. (Hindsite, and some learning about how bad a president can be, allows me to say that now about Noxon.) Kennedy was all flash and, the missle crisis aside, no substance.
California governor aside, the one resume you would only pick for president in a science fiction movie is That Traitor Ronnie Raygunâ€™s. Mediocre actor, turncoat President of the Screen Actorâ€™s Guild, barely educated, puppet of the right wing ruling class. Here is a great plot twist…the candidate, urged on by his billionaire handlers, cuts a deal with Islamic radicals to embarrass the sitting president and win the election!
Taft and Hoover both have good credentials. Taft was a highly respected lawyer and jurist, and held a lot of important government posts. Hoover … something of a hero in the Boxer Rebellion, likewise.Â Neither held elected office prior to the presidency.
If you compare performance to preparation, there is not much correlation. FDR is without a doubt number one. His resume would be in the top five. Truman comes up as No. 2 in performance, his resume would not make the top 10. Taft has a great resume, as a president he was mid tier. Hooverâ€™s resume looks like a very likely prospect. He was one of the worst in history. Harding, a businessman, governor and senator looks promising. Until the advent of that Moron Busch, he has been correctly viewed by many as the worst president in history.
So the resumes tell you nothing. As head of HR America, I might not hire either McCaine or Obama. (Bill Richardson had the best resume in the field.) Their claim to leadership is based almost entirely on Senate membership. McCaine was a naval air squadron leader (in peacetime, when he returned from Vietnam, not in wartime) and a prisoner of war. His experience is akin to that of Noxin or JFK. He is no GHW Busch. None of them were Eisenhower. McCaine gets hero points for being a POW. Kennedy (a poor president) and Busch (a mediocre president) had Hero points. Six years out of touch with the world will not necessarily prepare you to lead it.
Obama has no military experience. He is well educated, being a double Ivy Leaguer (Columbia and Harvard). He was Magna Cum Laude at Harvard Law and President of Law Review. He is a constitutional scholar, having taught the subject at the University of Chicago Law School. He was a professional community organizer, (Director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a Catholic church-based community organization). This may make him the only candidate since Hoover who has spent a large part of his career in humanitarian endeavors. (Hoover was feeding Russians. Obama was solving learning about America.) Obama may prove to be the second candidate in History (Taft was first) to fill a Supreme Court seat after having served as President. (But I am getting ahead of myself).
Given the choice between the two, the decision is obvious. Both candidates need to grow into the job. How much growth does a 72-year-old have left? Barack Obama will grow into it.