Not connected to writing in any way.  But we have had some interesting historical discussions in this place.  Was FDR the greatest ever President of the USA?  And what would Fox (or the Murdoch owned media) have broadcast against him if they had been around in the 1930s and 1940s? 

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America survived the Civil War, and there are still some things money can't buy. 

What we need is a constitutional amendment limiting the use of money in political campaigns, and full public financing of all campaigns. That will do a lot to return power to where it belongs: in the hands of the people.

Yes, but such amendments must be passed by congress and congress depends on money from special interest groups.  They would not do nearly as well if this were all open, aboveboard and equal for all candidates. Let's remember that most people run for office in order to enrich themselves or because they love power. In fact, the very people you don't want to run your country.

Well, not around here. It may be true for the Republican states, but here in New England public service still means something.

Let me ask you this: What was the alternative to FDR's approach to the problems in the USA in the '30s? Hindsight is always so wonderful. Consider: Lincoln and FDR; both conducted wars to save the union, but for different reasons. And both were considered great presidents. Not suggesting you're taking a side here, just interested in your view.

Both faced extraordinary situations, and both realized the same thing: bold and decisive, and forward-thinking action had to be taken. In Lincoln's case, the Civil War had been coming for years, and it's likely he knew a conflict couldn't be averted. This gave him time to do some thinking.

In FDR's case, the Great Depression proved beyond all doubt that the labor movement had a point: unrestrained capitalism proved to be a very bad idea. The New Deal was necessary to at least stabilize the country until the economy could recover. Without World War II, of course, that might have taken at least 10 years.

They're considered great because they were willing to take bold gambles and both were willing to put the country's interests first.

Very well put, Stephen.  Although, as been pointed out, I am not a US citizen, but his influence was not limited to your country.  When the Nazis had conquered most of Europe "lend-lease" kept my country from starving and enabled it to continue the fight against fascism.  I am surprised that there is no statue to honour him in Manchester...although we do have one of Lincoln (see previous civil war posts).

Many would say FDR was Satan himself... and said so at the time.

Frankly, I think one of the best Presidents, certainly in my lifetime, was Eisenhower.  He has a reputation as a golf-playing layback, but that's mostly just a reflection of his genius for organizing and delegating.  He commanded the D-Day operation, after all.  Probably the single biggest event ever done.

After actually winning and actual war (the last time that happened, actually), he took over as head of Columbia University and brought it back from leftist hysteria.  His Presidency was marked by major breakthroughs in Civil Rights--he was the one who sent the National Guard to integrate southern schools.  He was honorable, self-effacing, and efficient and his administration was marked by peace, prosperity and international prestige.

Since then it just gets progressively worse.  The last two have been the absolute nadir.  We don't seem capable of recognizing and electing "presidential timber" any more.

Obama doesn't get half the credit he deserves, and if there were any grownups in the Republican party, this country would be much better off.

Two unrelated items. I don't really convert discussions of statesmanship into partisan labels.

Not sure what the guy has done to deserve credit for anything.  Let's see: he didn't get us out of the Mideast wars--in fact made them worse--or shut down Guatanamo, as promised.  His actions (or lack thereof, of whatever you'd call the worst American diplomatic/military fiasco ever) brought ridicule and embarrassment. 

He didn't start up the shutdown thing, but he certainly did everything he could to make it worse, draw it out, and maximize its effects.

He appointed a bunch of ulta-lefty political whores that got forced into resignation once their nature was revealed.  Has been embarassing every time he spoke at UN, drawing worldwide derision.

Totally screwed up every environmental project he laid hands on, and not just he Sempra disaster.

Used his own majority to force through a deeply flawed medical bill that is just a repaint of the Republican's "make people pay insurance companies" plan (at a time when such a program is dangerous to the shaky economic recovery) without a single GOP vote.  Then watched it fall apart online.

Messed up so bad his first two years that he got shellacked in the midterm election--including the rise to power of those Tea Party dingbats.

Is basically the first anti-American President, with a career-long record of those sentiments.

Presided over the IRS and NSA scandals--currently adding to our international embarrassment and loss of pretige and leadership.

He was given the Nobel peace prize just for getting elected--doing absolutely nothing.  His contributions to peace are non-existent.  In fact, he squandered his prestige and national credibility trying to start up a war in Syria.

So I think most people, certainly any objective observer, would conclude that he's actually been given far too much credit.

But maybe I've missed all the wonderful and successful things he's done.  Please fill us in.

I liked him at first, probably would have voted for him if I could vote. He had to earn my disgust.

Still not as bad as Bush, though.

I have to admit, I'm reaching some of the same conclusions (which doesn't mean that I didn't simultaneously develop an even worse view of Republicans. The Tea Party is repulsive enough, but it seems to have the whole party by the scruff of the neck, forcing them to obey their demands.

But then I didn't start out with a very good opinion of American politics.

Come to think of it... and it pains me to say it since I consider the man himself absolutely disgusting... the only relief in the degeneration of the American presidency since Ike and/or Kennedy was Bill Clinton.

We don't even seem capable of NOMINATING anybody worthwhile any more.  We'd have been no better if Kerry or Romney or Tweedledum had won.

Clinton has regained quite a bit of esteem. And Hilary, granted I don't know what to make of her, may offer a practical alternative next time. I do expect she'd have handled the internatioanal brouhaha over our spying on our friends better.

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