DOF dropped me a note the other day about a pseudo-meme he’s developed wherein he lists off his five favorite politicians, and five not-so-favorite and has invited others, including yours truly, to do the same:
Make a similar list on your own blog and send me a link to it. Choose your 5 favorite and 5 least favorite American politicians dating back through your parents’ generation. Give a short explanation – about three sentences – for each one. The politicians need not be well-known. If you’re really an incurable political junkie, you can go 10 and 10 with the same limitation on explanation length. I’ll probably go with 5 and 5.
When you get your post ready, email me, or leave a link back to it in the comments this post. I’m looking forward to reading what everyone comes up with! Hope several people will decide to participate.
So I’ve been mulling this over in my head and it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be because I have to admit to the fact that I only really started paying attention to politics during the Clinton years. Most of what I know about previous administrations, including the ones I lived through in my youth, come from history books and documentaries. Having said that, here’s my stab at this meme:
- Bill Clinton – Looking back I feel that overall Bill Clinton did a pretty good job as President. The whole Monica Lewinsky affair aside, Clinton seemed to be able to handle both domestic and foreign issues quite well given that for a good portion of his presidency he was up against a hostile Congress. He wasn’t afraid to use his veto pen when he felt it was necessary and he helped to usher in the first budget surplus I can remember. It doesn’t hurt that I personally, and the country as a whole, seemed to prosper pretty well during Clinton’s time in office.
- Carl Levin – A Michigan Democratic Senator, Levin has been in office for as long as I can remember. He was elected in 1978, I was 11 years old at the time, and he’s managed to hold onto his job ever since. He’s probably the politician I know best and his work on government transparency — he has pushed to have many documents declassified — and his votes against sending troops to Iraq and to have a timetable for withdrawal declared are just some of the reasons he’s a favorite. There’s very few issues on which he and I disagree.
- Al Gore – This one might seem obvious considering I made Bill Clinton my top choice, but the truth is that I only voted for Al when he ran for president because he wasn’t George W. Bush. My appreciation for Al Gore didn’t come about until after he lost the election and started touring the world as a public speaker. Several of his speeches since then along with his documentary An Inconvenient Truth made it clear to me just how much we lost out on by not having him as President.
- John Edwards – Not because of any particular policies he has, but because of how he handles himself. Perhaps it’s just an act, but he’s one of the few politicians who, to me, seems to actually be sincere when he speaks. I thought he was an excellent choice for VP when John Kerry made his bid for the White House and I voted for Kerry as much because Edwards was on the ticket as I did because, again, they weren’t George W. Bush.
- Dwight Eisenhower – Mostly for his vision in building the Interstate Highway System. I-75 here in Michigan played a big part in my youth as we traveled it often going up north to visit grandparents and cousins and down south to North Carolina to visit relatives there. His work on Civil Rights, though criticized by some liberals as weak, was a good start for the time.
- George W. Bush – This one was easy. Arguably the worst President this country has seen for reasons ranging from his efforts to increase the power of the Executive branch at the cost of the other two branches, to civil rights, willingness to ignore the law, the war in Iraq, squandering of the budget surplus, and on and on and on. Most of my complaints are in the archives so there’s no need to go into greater detail.
- Joe Lieberman – Joe initially came to my attention because of his crusade against video games and the fact that he didn’t become Vice President when Al Gore lost is the one good thing to come out of that election. While there are a few issues I agree with him on by and large we are of differing opinions on most of the bills that cross his desk.
- Sam Brownback – He’s an Evangelical Christian who claims former Senator Jesse Helms as his role model. Enough said.
- Tom DeLay – There’s so much about Tom DeLay to rant about that it’s hard to know where to start, but a good place would probably be the Terri Schiavo fiasco. From there we can jump to Jack Abramoff and from there to a seemingly endless parade of ethics violations and fund raising scandals. When DeLay resigned on June 9th, 2006 I did a little happy dance.
- Trent Lott – From his part in the impeachment of Bill Clinton to his love of pork spending there is a lot to dislike about Lott. His opposition to a number of civil rights bills is my biggest problem with him.
Not surprisingly coming up with the list of non-favorites was a lot easier than coming up with the favorites. I don’t often know what I like, but I always seem to have a good idea of what I don’t like. It’s probably telling that one of the greatest achievements a politician can hope for with me is to avoid my attention altogether as more often than not if they catch it it ends up being negative.