Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010

     Gallup has been asking Americans how they rate our presidents over the past half-century or so--nine them, from John Kennedy through George W. Bush--the current president, Barack Obama, not included.
     Well, surprise, surprise, Kennedy finished first.  I can understand most glamorous, the most photogenic, and all that--especially since the Obamas weren't on the ballot.  But performance in office?  Kennedy has one big loss--he backed the Cuban exiles' Bay of Pigs invasion, aimed at overthrowing Fidel Castro--and one big win--getting the Soviet Union to withdraw its missiles from Cuba instead of landing us in World War III.  That's .500 ball, but JFK was first with an 85% approval rating.  It was just 58% when he was killed.
     Second?  That would be Ronald Reagan, at 74%.  He had some high points, to be sure--the Cold War ended on his watch and people may remember that, more than, say, the 1982 recession or Iran-Contra.
     Bill Clinton--yes--was third.  I still remember being called back to Washington from an assignment in Cuba--the Pope was visiting Castro--with a plane load of reporters all saying things like, "An intern was it?  Monica who?"  But apparently people thought he was a good president, whatever he was up to on the side.
     And last?  Well, sure, Richard Nixon, the only president ever to resign the office, which he did, of course, to avoid impeachment.  No surprise there.  No indeed.

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