Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My favorite presidents

February 20, 2008

One of the most interesting facets of American history is the diversity of men who have served as president of the United States. As I have written many times before, in my opinion, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the greatest leaders to serve our country as president. Many other outstanding individuals have overcome huge challenges while serving as president, yet none matching Lincoln and Washington.

In my mind, the next two presidents in terms of greatness are Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Both men served at times of tremendous stress and both thought outside the box when it came to solutions. The two men were cousins and during his youth, Franklin greatly admired President Theodore Roosevelt for his courage battling to change the economic map of America. Both men came from wealthy backgrounds and both had tremendous social consciousness. Theodore was a Republican and Franklin was a Democrat.

It is hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to Theodore Roosevelt. He was a sickly youth. It is supposed that his devotion to physical exercise helped him conquer asthma and build a strong, muscular body. He spent time in the American west and was a successful writer before entering politics.

He became best known for his heroics during the Spanish-American War. He was a political maverick and the Republican powers hoped to hide him in the vice presidency. When William McKinley was assassinated, Theodore became president and he ignited a whirlwind of changes. He infuriated the conservative Congress yet endeared himself to the common American. He made huge revisions that forced changes in the way big businesses were operated.

He expanded U.S. influence throughout the world and in 1907 sent the U.S. fleet on a around-the-world cruise to improve our national image. He was responsible for the digging of the Panama Canal. He left his imprint on everything from national parks and public health to football.

He was the perfect leader for the times when European nations teetered toward Socialism and Communism. He proved that democracy would work.

Franklin was also the perfect leader for the times. He came to the presidency in the midst of the Depression with unemployment moving toward the 25 percent level. In general, institutions were falling apart in the United States and it took a man who had the drive and creativity of FDR to hold things together.

FDR was unique in that he was crippled from polio, yet it didn't slow him down. He guided the United States through the economically troubled 1930s and there are still many buildings, parks and other institutions which are a tribute to the success of the WPA, PWA and other alphabet agencies which he created to provide work.

Certainly his finest hours were as the leader of the United States and the free world during World War II. He was able to bring the industrial might of the USA to its fullest potential to support troops fighting a war on two fronts. FDR was an extremely dynamic leader who evoked either great love or dislike. He is the only man to be elected to four terms as president. He died in office in 1945, leaving the postwar work to others.

Both Roosevelts left our nation with great legacies and both were perfect for their times. Neither shied away from challenges; both were willing to work for change.

All right, so who was the worst president in my opinion. Well, I have to believe it was James Buchanan who served from 1856 to 1860 and did nothing to stem the rising tide of rebellion in the south.

Well, there you have it my favorite presidents of all time Lincoln, Washington and the Roosevelts. Of course, there were others that I respect including Dwight Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan to name a few. In fact, I really believe that all of the presidents were great leaders, unfortunately some simply weren't visionaries. Whether for good or bad, they left their imprint on our national character.

Now you have heard my list . . . who are your favorite presidents?

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