Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Will He Get a Thank You Note?

Jonathan Rauch appreciates what President Obama must have learned in kindergarten.

Presidents and kindergartners have in common that one of the simplest ways to evaluate them is also one of the best: Do they clean up when they’re finished?

What will Trump leave behind? Hopefully the country and planet in one piece. 

Lyndon B. Johnson (who left behind the Vietnam War), Richard Nixon (Watergate and its aftermath), Jimmy Carter (double-digit inflation), and George W. Bush (economic collapse). Nixon is judged a failure, and LBJ and Carter are seen as tragically flawed, which I believe will also be history’s judgment of Bush 43 (Iraq, albeit a strategic disaster, wasn’t a crisis when he left office). By contrast, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy (although he exited prematurely), Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton left a relatively clean desk, and they maintain strong reputations despite their shortcomings.

Does Trump appreciate how good he's got it?

Fortunately for the country, Obama has governed as a sober realist, pretty much the opposite of the way he campaigned. As Coolidge would have affirmed (perhaps using different terminology), “Don’t do stupid shit” doesn’t guarantee presidential greatness, but it’s the right place to start, and a lot harder than it looks. 

No, he's probably not getting the thank you note.

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