I probably should have worked something up yesterday for this, but, you know, three-day weekend.  Those pointless analyses of blockbuster films don’t create themselves, you know.  Instead, let’s have a pointless analysis of the American presidents.  I’d like to know what you think about the 45 men who have served as the heads of state of the home of Le Big Mac.

This is a Discourses post.  I’m not interested in partisan motivations.  You shouldn’t feel like you have to attack or defend a particular president’s record because (R) or (D).  These types of conversations are all about saying what you think without getting bashed or feeling like you’re playing for a particular team.  It’s just you and what you really think.

Intellectual freedom.  When do you ever get to do that?  Think of it as a “safe space” except your honest opinions are welcomed, not pushed out.  I moderate these threads aggressively to promote high-quality discussion, so don’t be an asshole.

Let me offer some good conversation-starter questions.  You don’t have to answer any of them to take part in the discussion.  You can jump in with whatever you like as long as it’s on-topic.

  1. Who were the best and worst US presidents and why?
  2. Which president had the most impact on our world today?
  3. Which president do you think had the best understanding of his role?  You can interpret this in a few ways.  Think about which president was most faithful to the job description in Article II of the Constitution.  Maybe which president applied the powers of the presidency in the way you think was wisest?  The position has evolved so much over time that I’m not sure we really understand what it is supposed to be anymore.
  4. Which president do you think is the most misunderstood?  This could be either presidents who were unpopular in their own time but made the right decisions or presidents who we get wrong today, for good or bad.
  5. Let’s play Alternate History.  You don’t like the president you got?  Fine.  Let’s talk about what would happen if the other guy (or gal) won.  How does Al Gore respond to 9/11?  What happens in year one of the Hillary Clinton presidency (spoiler: endless Congressional hearings and investigations)?  What if Lincoln didn’t win the 1860 election?  Nixon won in 1960, so what happens in Vietnam?  Endless possibilities.

For what it’s worth, I think Franklin D Roosevelt is still the most impactful on the present day.  He engineered a breathtaking expansion of the role of the president and the federal government with it.  He pushed us into involvement into World War 2 and by the time it was over, the US had begun its “imperial” superpower status it has today.

Gun control is a hot topic this week and it was FDR who signed into law the first federal gun law that restricted certain classes of weapons.   He ended Prohibition and I get drunk at least once a week.  Finally, he was the first president to effectively wield electronic media to communicate his message directly the American people.  Had Twitter been around, he’d have used it too.

What do you think?

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I’m not as enamored with FDR as you are. He was the Hillary (riding on the coattails of a beloved relative) before Hillary. He ran (and got elected) as a free market capitalist; promising a 25% across the board tax cut, a lowering of the national budget, repealing both Prohibition and Smoot-Hawley, he was one for four. He did massively raise taxes, increased spending, introduced large amounts of new regulations and never served a day as President when unemployment was below 10%. And that whole Japanese Internment episode, 100,000 plus thrown into concentration camps, property forfeited. Those I admire; Washington-… Read more »

I like the Mount Rushmore trifecta for your favorite choices, but why no love for Teddy Roosevelt?

Ha, I didn’t even think about that…………nice. OK, Teddy, ummm, how about this, he was the only President to actually deserve his Nobel Peace Prize.

Worst presidents? I think James Buchanan ranks up there. Best: Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Eisenhower (also for #3) Harry Truman (#2) Most misunderstood: I think Nixon would fall into this category. He was actually a moderate as President, ended the Vietnam War and helped create detente with Russia and open trade with China (it would have happened sooner or later no matter who was President) and was fairly proactive on the environment. Also maybe Woodrow Wilson. Many conservatives hate him because of the League of Nations and liberals aren’t fond of him because of the racism of his time, but America… Read more »

1. best Washington, he set a number of great precedents, and did not fuck to much up. Worst FDR. vastly expanding the governments role in the daily lives of citizens, making the dsepression last longer, forcing us into the European war, interment camps threats against the Supreme court via packing, gold confiscation laws… sucking up to the russians.. ect ect.. 2. FDR again. for many reasons you cited. 3, Jefferson probably… 4 Nixon is a good choice for being misunderstood i agree with WVR’s points. 5 oh darn i was gonna pick What if Wallace had stayed on the Democrat… Read more »

What if Nixon had lost in 1968?

WI Dole had won in 1996?

Misunderstood-Herbert Hoover?


Interesting timing considering.

My favorite…Washington’s an easy one. The guy could have been a King. He’s the type we need running the country regardless of political affiliation.

Let’s play Alternate History. What if Crooked Hillary had won in 2016? Before taking office, Cooked Hillary needs to clean house, so she settles a class action lawsuit against her that alleges that she committed fraud, breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation of bad faith. Conservatives say they are looking forward to having a President that is different from all those lying politicians. She was also the subject of 16 separate sexual harassment claims, which she claims are all lies, despite being caught on tape admitting she likes to force herself on men and ‘grab them by the dong’. One… Read more »

I’ll run with the premise, but leave aside the un-Discourseslike partisan point-scoring.

My bad – I actually forgot it was a discourses post. So I humbly admit my nomination for best president as Alexander Hamilton because he has the best rhymes. #lowinformationvoter

For what it’s worth, I think that your assessment is correct – maybe not as far as civil war, but definitely as divided, if not more so.

Don’t forget that there are a bunch of people on ‘my side’ (me included? Maybe? I dunno) who would be just as pissed off.


So in a discourse thread we can’t actually have discourse. This is the kind of shit that makes me want to quit reading.

I told you Thrill, you can play the nice guy card and only want to “have honest debate” but that only works when both sides agree to it.

Good luck with all that.

One area that would be identical with a Hilliary win, the outright delays and obstruction Nunes has so far received from his document requests. I swear, the glacial speed at which a supposed Trump Executive branch has moved in co operating with a lawfully mandated congressional subpoena, who’s side are they on, forchrrissakes.

Firstly, apologies – I saw the opportunity for a wisecrack and took it. Happy for the post to be deleted if needs be. Your presidents discussion was way beyond my A Level History education and the fact that I read Dan O’Briens book. If it’s true, then how much do presidents really matter, in the grand scheme? What’s their role? Maybe it’s a bit more esoteric than simply legislating. This may be my perspective from outside the US, but the President basically IS America’s brand. And the brand matters in terms of getting things done without spending any money or… Read more »


Meh. I responded before I read the rest of he thread. No need for deleting posts and what not. I’m just really hopeful we can have discussions without over the top partisanship BS all the time. I’m all for fun threads to poke each other at times, but when it’s actually called out to tone it down it’d be awesome for that to actually happen. Over the top partisanship ruined (among other things) RTFTLC and I’m hoping that doesn’t happen here.

This is worthy of exploration and it even ties in to the Discourses topic I almost went with this week: how much does the president even really matter? The point being is that the Constitutionally mandated separation of powers demands that each branch respects the other and complies with lawful requests and subpoenas. The Trump judicial arm (both A.G. and FBI) has delayed, stonewalled and outright ignored lawful requests from Nunes and other heads of congressional committee’s for documents they have a perfect right to see. I wouldn’t like it if Hillary did it and I certainly don’t like it… Read more »

We are still suffering the effects of Andrew Johnson’s failed Presidency. In another time he may have been a better President but the same could be said of many Presidents. They play the hand that they are dealt just like the rest of us.


That’s an interesting question. Other than Lincoln, which President was handed the biggest shit storm, and dealt with it the best?


Conversely, which President left the biggest shit storm for his predecessor to clean up?


I’d give it to Truman on the grounds of whether to drop the atomic bomb or not…not that that was the previous President’s fault per se, but what a thing to face in your first few months of an unexpected Presidency.

Zurvan, was about to suggest Truman. I can quibble with the decision, but he certainly was left a pile of shit in the tail end and aftermath of WWII.

Rich: Your tongue-in-cheek comment about Nobel Prizes was funny, but a cheap shot. Gee, I didn’t think so, but OK. I didn’t name him by name, most of his own party saw how ludicrous it was to award such an important achievement to a new guy just for being him, and for over a hundred years Teddy’s ancestors and those American’s that were aware were proud that a sitting US president won the Nobel Peace Prize for actually brokering a peace between 2 Waring nations. It was a big deal. But like Cress, now that I know what the rules… Read more »

This is also your reminder that I’m technically the subject of a 91 year old Queen

Cress, OT but what do you think of Prince Harry marrying an American?

Strong evidence suggests (we don’t know for sure until the IG report comes out) that an unsubstantiated opposition research dossier was the “probable cause” used to secure the Page FISA warrant. Conflicting statements by those in the room say McCabe either said that a warrant would have been impossible without the dossier or he didn’t, again, the IG report will tell us for sure. The congressional investigative committees have jurisdiction as well into these areas. They want to know what the basis was for the Page warrant and how was the illegal Hillary server investigation compromised by later found out… Read more »

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