How Bad Is ‘Worst’?

The New York Post reported today that a plurality of respondents in a recent poll (33%) named President Obama as the worst President since World War II.  George W. Bush came in second with 28%, and Richard Nixon was a distant third at 13%.    So now I’m somewhat comforted to know that it’s not just me.

When I used to rail at Bush, I would call him derisively  ‘Our Fearless Leader.’  But I can’t call Obama that: he isn’t fearless, and I’ve never seen him actually lead.

People used to say that Jimmy Carter was our worst President.  B’ut his problem was that he was once a naval officer, and approached the Presidency the same way: address problems forthrightly, and take the necessary measures to deal with them, even though it may be difficult or painful.  Obama, in contrast, seems perfectly happy kicking the can down the road.

But if he’s that bad of a President, can we do something about it?  Some of the conservative Web sites that I read suggest that Obama should be impeached.  Its a charming thought, but, alas, I don’t see it happening.

We began the process of impeaching President Nixon because it appeared that he was using the power of his office to subvert our democratic system.  (Nixon resigned at that point, and we never got to the bottom of what actually happened.)  We impeached President Clinton (but failed to convict him) because of alleged personal crimes (he lied under oath).   While these crimes had no discernable impact on his ability to govern, they were nevertheless crimes.

We can reasonably say that President Obama is not respecting that part of the Constitution that requires him to ‘faithfully execute the laws.’  But the Constitution is deliberately vague on that point.  The Founders expected that a President might have to deal with conflicting constraints, and anticipated that he might have to use some professional judgement in executing the laws.  So the requirement is more of a guideline.

Moreover, impeachment was never meant as a remedy for policy decisions that one might disagree with, or alleged disrespect for the office, or lying to the American people (which for the typical politician comes almost as easily as breathing).  For those, the appropriate remedy is not to re-elect the man or his party.  But we did re-elect Obama in 2012, and by a substantial margin.

Some have suggested that the President could be charged with treason.  But that won’t work either.  In the absence of a declaration of war, the executive gets to decide who the enemy is.

In brief, our Constitution was never designed to deal with the case of a President who pursues his own agenda, with apparent disregard not only for the Constitution and the rule of law, but for common sense.  The Founders presumed that such a man would never become President.

But we elected him, not once but twice….

3 thoughts on “How Bad Is ‘Worst’?”

  1. A lot of what happens in Washington D.C. Occurs behind the scenes. I did a little work in local politics, and that is how I know this. President Obama does things in an understated way. I call it the ‘Rope -A-Dope’ strategy of politics. He certainly has a lot of dopes to contend with. He is the best president we have had since President Reagan. But, like all the other Ivy League grads we have had since President Reagan, he has no understanding of economics. Steve Balmer’s mismanagement of Microsoft proves that been able to use knowledge is separate from been able to gain it. A Harvard , or Yale degree does not imply competence in the real world. As for President Carter, he did not understand economics, either. President Reagan was the only president in my lifetime who did. Competence is everything!!!

  2. Economics is 90% common sense, which, perhaps, is why so few people understand it these days. Jimmy Carter understood the economic issues very well: what he did rottenly was to present his case to the American people. (He assumed that he was dealing with an audience of responsible adults.) And the vaunted Reagan tax cuts that everyone thinks were so wonderful barely budged the needle (I wrote about that a while ago): Reagan led us to feel good about ourselves and our country, and while it may seem silly, it’s what we needed at the time. (But this was back when we worried about Japan, and before we shipped all of our industries off to China.)

    Yes, I can think of some Obama accomplishments, but I don’t think they’re good accomplishments:

    – In Obamacare (leaving aside for a moment the issue of actual health care), he set his opposition to tilting at windmills to get it repealed. When people say that ‘Obamacare is the law of the land,’ I like to remind them, ‘So was Prohibition.’ But the case for repealing Prohibition was so clear-cut that even though it was a Constitutional amendment, it was repealed; all Obama has to do is say, ‘How dare you deny health care to…’ and the opposition gets outvoted. And repealing Obamacare is one of several quixotic missions the Republicans have set for themselves.

    – His handling of the ‘government shutdown’ led Congress to abdicate its Constitutional mandate to manage the nation’s debt. We don’t have a ‘debt ceiling’ anymore: instead Congress authorizes the Treasury to borrow however much it needs.

    – His executive action to defer deportation for illegal immigrants who arrived here as children propagated the notion that if a child arrives here, he’ll be able to stay. And even if our government denies it, the people smugglers–shrewd businessmen that they are–will use it in their marketing efforts. And now we have a ‘humanitarian crisis’ on our hands, and we ‘have’ to do something, starting with $2 billion, which will barely suffice to address the most immediate problems. Yes, we need immigration reform, which will necessarily take the same form that it did in the 1980s: a path to residency and citizenship for those already here, together with better border enforcement. We did the first part in the 1980s, and not the second. The problem is that nobody trusts the government to do any better this time around. And with Congress chasing its tail, the door is open to ‘immigration reform’ by executive fiat.

    So yes, Obama has accomplished a lot in (relatively) quietly consolidating his power. Is that good for us as a nation? I don’t think so. Is that good for me? Heck, no: all I can see are yet higher taxes, more economic misery masked by phony statistics, and a police state emerging from the shadows to grind me–and those I know and love–under its boots.

  3. I forget whether I told you about the PBS documentary about President Carter which aired on The American Experience series, and which you may be able to watch at the PBS website. I would like your observations about it. Also, you should watch the Economics USA episode titled:Inflation. I think it is episode 7? I think you can watch it at the Economics USA website. I found it very enjoyable when I watched it back in the 1990’s. I look forward to reading your comments about both videos.

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