February 20, 2006, - 2:07 pm

In Honor of Presidents’ Day: Are These Top Blunders Correct? NO

By Debbie Schlussel
Happy Presidents’ Day. (I know it’s supposed to be for George, but Abe is lumped in, too–sort of.)
Check out the biased top ten Presidential mistakes, according to a survey of presidential historians organized by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center. Bill’s Monica is #10.
Missing from the list: Jimmy Carter ushering the Shah of Iran out, in favor of extremist Islamic “democracy.” Given the danger of Ahmadinejadian nuclear doomsday, we’d put it at #1.
And we’d disagree with about half the others, like #3, Lyndon Johnson’s alleged failure by allowing the Vietnam War to intensify. Nope. The blunder was that he and his defense secretary (McNamara) didn’t go in and finish the job. They sent the troops to their slaughter, didn’t back them up, or finish the job–because they didn’t have the backbone. At least President Bush does.

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Then, there’s their #5, Nixon’s alleged Watergate cover-up. No less than liberal Sam Donaldson, who covered the White House, said he never saw any evidence that Nixon knew of Watergate.
Their #8: John Kennedy allowing the ill-fated Bay of Pigs Invasion to overthrow Cuba’s communist government that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. We’d say JFK blundered because he 1) didn’t back up those who got caught in the failure, and 2) allowed the Castro Communist problem to fester, and THAT was the mistake with which we still live today.
Their #9: Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair, the effort to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance an armed anti-communist group in Nicaragua. Well, Nicaragua is free (until Daniel Ortega returns to power, this year, because we allowed him to), and we got rid of Communist despotism in Nicaragua. The means were not ideal, but when you have the Red wing of Congress stopping our efforts to stop Communism, other ways must be sought to defend our shores. And, again, whose dealings were the worst vis-a-vis Iran and brought America the most heartache? That would be Jimmy Carter, not Reagan.

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13 Responses

The U.S. entry into the War of 1812 was a diplomatic failure that James Madison had nothing to do with and had no control over. He just cleaned up the mess. Interestingly, the downfall of his Federalist rivals was when they bordered on treason during that war, which was the last war up until recently in which an enemy actually attacked on U.S. soil. I think maybe the Left should take a lesson from that instead of siding with the traitors.

KnightoftheImpaler on February 20, 2006 at 3:15 pm

“President Bush” and “backbone” are as incongruous as “Bush Administration” and “conservatism.” A man child who ran away from a war he supported, who believes that businesses who are too stupid to survive on their own should be bailed out (maybe because his businesses were), who believes that our military should be castrated fighting a war against a country who was no threat to us and handing our kids the bill, who believes the best man for a job is whoever did him a favor, who purports to be a Christian but refuses to educate himself about his own religion, who can’t speak full sentences, who seems to despise our soldiers by not forcing Rumsfeld to make sure they were all equipped with proper protection, or firing Rumsfeld. and who helped Iran to be rid of their arch enemy without them having to spend a dime, and empowering Iran’s friends in that country too.
Totally agree on JFK. I partially agree regarding Johnson and Vietnam, but I do believe finishing the job was far easier said than done, even if ignoring public opinion. The planet’s record in successfully fighting terrorism or guerrilla warfare using military force is very poor, and I don’t think a strategy has yet been devised to do this reliably.
On Iran-Contra, to say the ends justifies the means is just weak. Should I teach that lesson to my daughter? Hey, GW Bush can only fantasize about being a tiny fraction of the man Reagan was, but Reagan was just wrong on that one.

hqsbud on February 20, 2006 at 3:35 pm

If it’s a desperate situation then I think the ends do justify the means. Not if the ends are just having more power, but if it’s protecting yourself or your people from the kind of people who won’t stop until they have everything, in the real world sometimes you have to use bad guys or act like bad guys yourself. It’s not something to teach little kids who don’t fully understand that because they’ll get the wrong idea, but in the real world of adults, it’s just how it is. Reagan understood that, and he crushed the Soviet Union and spilled as little blood as possible. The fact that he sometimes bent the law to do it shouldn’t be glorified but it shouldn’t be attacked because the Communists were the real criminals.

KnightoftheImpaler on February 20, 2006 at 3:49 pm

Somehow i don’t think Ronnie & George the First’s deliberate act of treason qualifies as a *mistake,* but i think the number one slot should go to Lincoln, who caved into his yenta wife and got popped as a result!!!

EminemsRevenge on February 20, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Lyndon Johnson’s alleged failure by allowing the Vietnam War to intensify. Nope. The blunder was that he and his defense secretary (McNamara) didn’t go in and finish the job. They sent the troops to their slaughter, didn’t back them up, or finish the job–because they didn’t have the backbone.
The problem with Vietnam was that our troops were in a completely defensive posture. The Viet Cong were fighting for victory over the South while we were fighting for a stalemate. The goal was to make Ho Chi Minh give up the fight agree to a truce ala the Korean War. The only option would have been to go on a march to Hanoi and overthrow the communist government. But then the Chinese (not to mention the war protesters) would have had something to say about that. I mean, Nixon couldn’t even attack Viet Cong camps in Cambodia without people screaming that he was “widening” (read: “winning”) the war against Viet Cong aggression.
Then, there’s their #5, Nixon’s alleged Watergate cover-up. No less than liberal Sam Donaldson, who covered the White House, said he never saw any evidence that Nixon knew of Watergate.
There’s no evidence that Nixon knew of the Watergate break-in before it happened. He was, however, briefed on the details over the weekend after he returned from the Soviet Union the day after the break-in. It was in a tape made on Tuesday, June 21st, 1972 (four days after the break-in) that Bob Haldeman opens a discussion about Watergate with the words “we’re back in a problem area”. Nixon was very hands-on about the cover-up from that first week-end onward.
And, as for Jimmy Carter and the Shah of Iran, I’d contend that Carter’s blunder was in giving the Shah safe passage from the Islamist revolutionaries without first evacuating our own folks at the U.S. Embassy. The 444 day-long hostage crisis that followed could end only one of two ways: a) Handing over the Shah, thus giving in to terrorists (bad), or b) Electing Ronald Reagan president (good).
As a side note, the Shah died about mid-way through the crisis. (Interesting timing, that.) But, rather than releasing the hostages, the Iranians simply changed their demands. To what? Sheesh, I don’t even recall. I think it had sometihing to do with us giving them a formal appology for supporting the Shah in first place.

Tuning Spork on February 20, 2006 at 7:27 pm

Drat. HTML doesn’t work here. Debbie’s text should be in blockquotes. :(

Tuning Spork on February 20, 2006 at 7:28 pm

All in all I’d say Jimmy Carter is an excellent poster child for abortion rights.

shleppy on February 20, 2006 at 8:47 pm

Let’s see where I agree/disagree:
1) Jimmy Carter vs. Iran should’ve easily been in the top 10 there, definitely a liberal bias.
2) Nixon knew NOTHING about Watergate? To quote you, PUH-LEEZE! I can accept that perhaps he had nothing to directly do with it and it was his advisors, campaign team at hand in it all, but he almost certainly had to know and was probably protecting his “friends” not realizing that he was making it dirtier for him, if he really was completely “clean” or at least “not in the know” why would he go so nuts to cover it up. Ironic that anyone even thought it was needed to be done as McGovern never had a chance; hippies generally thought voting would help get them caught for draft evasion so most of them didn’t.
3) I think Monica-gate should be higher. Not say in the top 3, but higher. He had to either feel pretty inadequate or indestructible to make such a blunder given his popularity at the time.
4) I agree with Turning Spork’s assessment on Vietnam and think as such maybe it switches places with the Monica Lewinsky stuff.
5) I agree with you Deb on Bay of Pigs and Iran-Contra though. Of course, looking back maybe selling arms to Iran was a blunder :-)

hairymon on February 20, 2006 at 9:16 pm

I think the election of Jimmy Carter should be the #1 Presidential mistake. I think Carter is easily one of the worst presidents of all time, maybe the worst…and he’s even worse as an ex-president.

The_Man on February 20, 2006 at 10:22 pm

TOP 10 PRESIDENTIAL BLUNDERS

My nominations: Liberals sacred cow, FDR, and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Bill Clinton and how he allowed Al Qaeda to grow into America’s biggest enemy as he said we had no enemies.

THE GALVIN OPINION on February 21, 2006 at 4:31 pm

Jimmy Carter deserves number one for the Panama Canal give away and turning the middle east of to the radical Islamic.
He should have been tried for treason on both of these issues.

ScottyDog on February 22, 2006 at 3:09 pm

“Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair, the effort to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance an armed anti-communist group in Nicaragua.”
And how exactly was that a bad thing?
Clinton allowing China to acquire missile guidance technology (Loral supercomputers) and North Korea to acquire light water nuke reactors should be on the list. Did Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs ever accomplish as much for the Communists?

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