Comments about ‘Join the discussion: Is it impossible to be a successful president?’

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Published: Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:10 a.m. MDT

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Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Sure it is...

Look at Abraham Lincoln.

In his day --
1/2 of the Country loved him,
1/2 of the Country hated him...to the point of Civil War,
He was even SHOT for it.

History is the ultimate judge of their sucess -- NOT talk radio.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Is it impossible to be a successful president?

If you are incompetent, inexperienced, and your only qualifications are your ability to campaign and sow division, like our current POTUS it is impossible.

Open minded,
“sure it is…”
You are saying Lincoln was unsuccessful?
By what definition?

Maybe you need better filters.

Mark B
Eureka, CA

It may be even harder to define just WHAT constitutes a "successful" president.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

First need to define "Succeed".

If "success" = "be popular in the polls"... then the answer is "no".

As OMM pointed out, even Abraham Lincoln was not popular with about 50% of the country at the time. And they didn't even have "talk-radio" back then!

The President will usually be un-popular with a percentage of the population. I don't care if it's Bush or Obama. It's just the way it is. Hard-core partisans even hated Ronald Reagan, and he's the most popular President we have had in my generation.

I don't think you need to be popular to be a successful President. But we better define what we mean by "successful" before we get too far. Just to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.


If the trend continues... Hillary Clinton won't be a "successful" President either.

I don't know what could change this trend. NOBODY seems to have been able to do it in my generation (Except Bush for a few months after 9/11).

Maybe we need a 9/11 in each Presidency to bring us together?

Sugar City, ID

"Successful" is in the eyes of the beholder. Calvin Coolidge was considered by some to be successful - he had enough digits to sign what was placed before him.

Orem, UT

Bill Clinton was largely disliked by the right because of his personal moral failings.

GWB was largely disliked by the left because of the wars he waged against terrorism.

Obama is largely disliked by the right because of his "winner-take-all", uncompromising attitude. The country is very divided ideologically with about 50% on each side of many issues. The party in power should get its way more than the party which lost the last election. Something like 60/40 is a fair split of the political spoils. But Obama seems to think that because "elections have consequences" that his ideology should prevail 100% of the time and the opposition should bow to his every whim. He has yet to yield to any of the demands from the 50% of the country that disagrees with his leftist agenda.

Hopefully, the next president (GOP or Dem) will be the president of all of us instead of just their base.

Cleveland , OH


Getting us into two foreign quagmire wars designed to enrich the military industrial complex, implement and oversee a massive expansion of spying on American citizens, citizens in other countries, our friends and ally governments and, incidentally and sometimes, bad guys. Also, tank the economy and enrich the bankers...

Yep, Obama has some way to go to be successful in the eyes of the GOP.

Heber City, UT

No... As long as 50% of voters become convinced (thanks FOX and MSNBC) that a President who disagrees with them is an enemy (even evil), our representatives will not compromise with him/her or allow the POTUS a "victory." All agenda items must be stopped at all costs -- even if voters agree with some -- because potential successors will use party victories to stay in power.

Provo, UT

Popularity is only part of the formula for "success" of a President. The Constitution of the US is an ambitious ideal toward which we continue to strive, and provides the criteria by which every President (and public official) must be judged:

"to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity".

Lincoln was not successful because of his popularity numbers; he was successful because he did more than most to preserve the Union while establishing justice (and equality) and securing those blessings of liberty to a generation of Americans and their posterity.

Sure, Domestic tranquility suffered for a time, but surgery on any patient temporarily disturbs tranquility in order to save the life of the patient.

IMHO, President Obama has done a good job "promoting the general welfare", establishing justice, and providing for the common defense in the face of divisive partisan gamesmanship, even at the expense of some unity and tranquility. With some immigration reform, he can be a partially "successful" President despite approval ratings.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT


I don't know if you are aware of this but... Obama attacked more nations than Bush did. So you're probably going to need to get off that high-horse.

The red-lines and military attacks Obama authorized weren't as big as Bush's, but he used the US Military as much as Bush did during his Presidency (in nations other than Iraq and Afghanistan).

IMO Bush was unlucky to be President when all that 9/11 Terrorist stuff happened. It clearly was started and almost ready during the Clinton Administration. They had already attacked us several times (USS Coles, WTC Bombing, Attacks on our embassy's in Africa, etc) but they didn't do their BIGGEST attack until Bush was in office.

But Clinton sent cruise missiles into Baghdad before Bush did. And Kosovo, and military attacks in Somalia, etc...

But the high-horse on the wars... kinda doesn't work with me. Clinton started wars. Obama got America into wars. If you take the partisan glasses off... that pretense that only Bush got us involved in wars... doesn't work in the clear coolaid-free light of day.

Cedar Hills, UT

Since WWII...

FDR would get an A grade
Truman would get a B grade
Eisenhower would get a B grade
Kennedy would get an A grade
Nixon would get a C- grade
Ford would get a B- grade.
Carter would get a D grade.
Reagan would get an A grade. Probably THE best leader of all.
Bush I would get a B- grade.
Clinton would get an A- grade.
Bush II would get a B+ grade.

Barack Obama would get the ONLY F grade. The man is a disaster in every way. All of the above men (except Obama) were leaders to some degree.

So YES a president CAN be a success - not perfect - but a success none the less IF he has the following attributes...

1. Knows HOW to govern and compromise - has experience.
2. Knows HOW to lead - either from war service or being a governor
3. Puts the country FIRST ahead of his own ambitions even when unpopular to do so.
4. Surrounds himself with smart and competent cabinet members.
5. Has a good understanding of basic capitalistic principles.
6. Is willing to take responsibility and not blame others.
7. Puts the US constitution above all else

Orem, UT

Stormwalker: "Getting us into two foreign quagmire wars designed to enrich the military industrial complex, implement and oversee a massive expansion of spying on American citizens, citizens in other countries, our friends and ally governments and, incidentally and sometimes, bad guys. Also, tank the economy and enrich the bankers..."

I realized by the end of your post that you meant to direct this at GWB, but as I read through this list I thought you might be talking about Obama who did all those things too, but then you would need to add a few items...

...using the IRS to attack his political enemies, using the Senate Majority Leader to block votes on most legislative bills while accusing the opposition as the party of NO, blaming every scandal on anyone and everyone except the real cause...himself, failing to enforce laws mandated by his oath of office....

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

IMO Reagan changed the course of this Nation AND the World more than any President in my lifetime (He Presided over the biggest negative to positive turnaround I've ever experienced). But he had more to work with than any President in my lifetime. I don't know if we could have gotten much lower and still survived (economically, militarily, foreign affairs, the internal strife and malaise was felt by every segment of society in America, we were going down)... But then we turned around just before we nosedived into the ground... it was quite miraculous.

I don't know how much of that Reagan really deserves credit for, but it was the biggest turn around I've ever witnessed.

And even Reagan is considered to NOT have been a success... By many.

Mark B
Eureka, CA

patriot's report card would be more impressive if ALL the presidents who served in the period he described had been included.

Hayden, ID

If you are a welfare recipient, Obama is the most successful president in history. If you are a taxpayer, he is a total failure!

Centerville, UT

"Obama emerged with his stirring 2004 Democratic convention speech, evoking the shared aspirations of red and blue America, and took office embodying convergence and reconciliation".

It is difficult to refer to Obama's speech and honestly believe he has made an attempt to actually compromise and work with the GOP. After all, following Obama's first presidential victory he said "Republicans can come along for the ride, but they'll have to sit at the back of the bus."

I cannot recall much evidence at all that Obama has worked with Republicans. Actually, Obama has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats in Congress for not attempting any type of relationship or communication with that branch of government. Obama has been described as pompous, arrogant, ideological. Hardly characteristics that endear one to others.

Reagan was a great leader. As such, he was able win both presidential elections with landslide victories, drawing from the Democratic party.

With the right leader today the country could be more united. The president can be popular, effective, and great...if he possesses true leadership characteristics. Obviously few do. Also obvious is that our current president does not.

Salt Lake City, UT

Successful president = Keeping us out of depression + keeping us out of war + allowing people to obtain health care

Two out of three ain't bad.

Murray, UT

President 1st term...second term
Dwight Eisenhower 69.6...60.6
Richard Nixon 55.8...34.4
Ronald Reagan 50.3...55.3
Bill Clinton 49.6...60.6
George W. Bush 62.2..35.5
Average for US presidents 1938-2014 53%


All I can say is in my lifetime I have never seen more of a failure that President Obama. I think one of the reasons for that is because he had no experience in Governing. He thinks that the main responsibility of a President is going on Vacations, Golfing, and fundraising. He talks a great talk but does not walk the walk. To me he is a failure of a President.

Salt Lake City, UT

Hold onto those party lines with your life people, what will remain in your wake is a partisan blind mess from lack of compromise and "well at least I'm not as stupid as those who support the _________ Party". In the name of what you call "standing firm for principles and values", our country is struggling and will continue to until voters learn to not defend the people they voted for just because they voted for them. They are people and hence will fail but if you refuse to see the failure and hold them accountable for it, well, we get what we have. Republicans and Democrats are at fault, pretty much equally. Choke on it and change.

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