Robert Bennett: A look at the best US presidents of the past

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  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    July 18, 2014 6:25 p.m.

    Kent C. Deforrest: what is your solution to supply-side-economics? If it is redistribution of wealth, how will you do it when all of the people realize that the government will provide for their every need even if they don't work? Who will provide all the goods and services that society will give to all the needy when those who work realize that there is no benefit, or should I say reward, to them for their work? One of the other posters mentioned that Reagan wasn't such a good president and what it was that brought down the wall was technology and the Russians access to what the west produced that showed there was a better life. Wouldn't that have fallen under the mantel of 'Free Enterprise'?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 16, 2014 12:03 p.m.

    Best or worst... seems to be 100% subjective. And based on the brand of partisan coolaid you drink.

    Some insist Reagan was the worst. Others insist Obama was the worst. Neither having anything Objective to base their assertions on.

    It would be nice if there were a more OBJECTIVE way of determining if a President did a good job or not (other than popularity polls). If popularity polls are an indicator... Reagan is the best President

    Google "United States presidential approval rating - Wikipedia"...

    Obviously Obama's approval ratings are NOT near the top. They are actually very low (the lowest average approval rating since Carter).

    But approval ratings are so SUBJECTIVE (and influenced by media hype and partisan blinders). If they are to be trusted... Bush had the highest approval rating of all Presidents on the list 90% (Sept 21 2001). Obama's highest so far is 69% (January 21 2009). Not even close. But popularity polls are so subjective.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    July 16, 2014 10:56 a.m.

    It is pretty obvious now that to the left Obama will always be a great President. No matter what he does, or doesn't do, it won't matter. After all, he got the Nobel Peace Prize, didn't he? That in and of itself says it all about Obama. He is a great peacemaking President only because his followers want him to be. His actions and results have nothing to do with the truth in their eyes. They have already anointed Obama the Great with the same evidence as the Nobel committee had for Obama before he even became President. Amazing to watch adult human beings being so deluded about an icon. And some of them claim we believers in Christ are the deluded ones. Why don't you guys just start a church worshiping Obama as your savior. You've pretty much done that anyway, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    July 16, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    I would actually see Reagan and Romney somewhat similar on the political spectrum. But Reagan and say Rand Paul and Rick Santorum are not exactly in the same place politically.

    To be fair, most people are not critical of the President because of race, but let's face it, some are. Or maybe it's more likely, the President didn't have a chance with some because of race.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    July 16, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    Kent C. DeForrest

    "What's so odd is that although Republicans still worship St. Ronnie, if he were to run for office today, he would be run out of town by the tea party, er, I mean GOP"

    That is clearly not true - it is, however, a great example of left wing hysteria; similar to claiming Obama criticism is motivated by race, rather than character and policies. It is a lie designed to justify left wing prejudice. (A modern Reagan would fare just fine)

    I suspect the only reason history may be kind to Obama is because academia is left-wing biased, yet in the age of the Internet, where truth has a way of getting out regardless, perhaps Obama will fare worse in having his blatant failures glossed over by history.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    July 16, 2014 1:06 a.m.


    I have to give you credit for looking at the bright side of things, not sure I'm there.

  • Hugh1 Denver, CO
    July 15, 2014 7:31 p.m.

    Can't resist. Best president, Kennedy. Most of the 60s adoration was hype, but the more firsthand accounts I read of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this guy is poised for sainthood. In defiance of his militarily advisers, much of his staff, he and his brother cut a backroom deal with the Russians to remove Thor missiles from Turkey in return for nuclear missiles from Cuba. We were about one minute to midnight and nuclear conflagration. Amazing, his judgment probably saved millions. The next two tied, Reagan and Johnson; each was flawed in the area of the other's strengths. Regan doomed the Soviet empire with his defense policies, yet his domestic policies lagged. Johnson was a visionary and transformational president on civil rights, but his foreign policy was defined by Vietnam. Both were great presidents. Truman, right man, right time - solid (ended WWII). Eisenhower, oversaw post-war economic development that was stunningly successful - solid (identified dangers of military industrial complex.) Bush 41 & Clinton, both sound. Carter, moral at least. Nixon was seriously flawed in his moral judgment, overwhelming a sound foreign policy record - too bad. Bush 43 & Obama, time will tell. We've had a pretty good run overall.

    July 15, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    I want to add just two words: Iran. Contra.

    Why does the adulation of Ronald Reagan never include the most despicable act ever by a US President?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 15, 2014 4:16 p.m.

    Re: "Talk about impeachable offenses"...

    Problem is... Nobody was talking about impeachable offenses in this thread... just you.

    I didn't read ALL of the posts, but I didn't see ANY claiming Obama committed impeachable offenses. So why go there?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 15, 2014 2:16 p.m.

    My first political memory is of the Kennedy funeral. I don't remember what kind of President he was, but I will never forget how moved the country was, so he must have been good (I was 5).


    I don't know if Reagan was a great President... but there's no doubt Reagan helped create a safer, freer world, and he took an America suffering from 'malaise'... and made its citizens believe again in their destiny. (I know, some will give him zero credit for that. It was all either Thatcher, Kissinger, or Gorbachev, but Reagan just slept on the couch during the whole time and took credit for what THEY did).


    The one thing I know for sure... Some people who defend Obama a lot (you know who you are) will think Obama was the BEST President ever... no matter what historians say, or what public opinion polls of the American people say. They know everything...

    Maybe after time has passed... the rest of America will join them in their rose-colored-glasses view of the Obama Presidency.

    I don't think he's as terrible as some people think... but the best ever? No way.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 15, 2014 12:32 p.m.


    Obamacare a net plus? Interesting math you are using. My math says the original projection by Barack was 800 billion and it now is approaching 3 trillion - I think that's a net negative by a couple trillion. Also no new wars. I guess by that measure then FDR would be a BAD president ...correct? Cutting and running away leaving Iraq and Afghanastan in ruins and in the hands of new terrorists more dangerous than the previous is not something to add to your resume as a president. There is a way to exit a war and doing a Viet Nam style dump the helicopeters in the ocean and run away is NOT an exit is abandonment and that is EXACTLY what Barack has done. Finally Barack took a bad economy ....and made it MUCH worse!!!! Our GDP has declined - our credit rating has been degraded - our unemployment has stayed high - food stamps and welfare are at all time high - black unemployment is at record high and China is set to pass the US for the first time in history this year as the worlds top economy. Barack Obama - by the numbers - is the WORST ever.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 15, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    RE: JSB Your list of presidents in your lifetime matches mine, but with a few modifications:

    Roosevelt—Saved American capitalism - for good and ill.

    Eisenhower—Nuclear tests in Nevada that sickened and killed thousands of citizens. But the interstate was a great idea.

    Kennedy—committed troops to Viet Nam. Playboy president.

    Johnson—Vietnam, but gave us Medicare (thank God).

    Nixon—Watergate, nearly destroyed the U.S. Constitution.

    Ford—Pardoned Nixon, not much else to say.

    Carter—For good or ill began deregulation wave, continued by Reagan.

    Reagan—“Tear down this wall;” began the great stall in U.S. wages.

    Bush I—Knew how to get out of a war. Not much vision.

    Clinton—handled Balkan crisis WITHOUT U.S. casualties, retired a lot of federal debt, but did not arrest the decay in the middle class.

    Bush II—Inept. Iraq quagmire. Economic disaster.

    Obama—No new wars, but questionable drone use. Obamacare - a net plus. Dealt with worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    I am not as obsessed their respective sex lives as you.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    July 15, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    Just curious - which president authorized the sale of weapons to Iran - in violation of federal law - to win the release of hostages and to fund Nicaraguan rebels? Was that Reagan or Obama? Talk about impeachable offenses.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    July 15, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    My 401K loves Obama.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    July 15, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    What's so odd is that although Republicans still worship St. Ronnie, if he were to run for office today, he would be run out of town by the tea party, er, I mean GOP.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 15, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    When I posted: "FALSE. Rode the coat tails of a Polish Pope and thousands of very courageous Polish and Hungarian labor union members."

    I omitted an important additional fact. I should have included, " . . . while trying to destroy American labor unions."

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 15, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    "Reagan—“Tear down this wall;” wouldn’t buckle to Russian pressure. Probably best president in my life time. "

    FALSE. Rode the coat tails of a Polish Pope and thousands of very courageous Polish and Hungarian labor union members.

    A much more accurate description would be: "Reagan -- Increasingly senile B-movie actor who knew how to sway an audience and was clever enough to latch on and take credit for efforts of others."

  • intervention slc, UT
    July 14, 2014 10:01 p.m.

    It is truly a sad measure of were the state of our politics are when bob benetts article is far more moderate then any of the comments that follow it. I remember a time when benett was considered very conservative. The worst part is I don't think he is the one that has changed.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    July 14, 2014 4:26 p.m.

    "I think Obama will be remembered as a great president."

    If so, it will be because Big Brother will be watching you. Beware thoughtcrime.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 14, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    there is no such thing as a perfect president - all preidents have flaws but I think a good president would at least have the following measureables.

    1. The unemployment rate is around 5-6% AND there is a very noticable trend of hiring high pay jobs in the country that continues to grow. Take a look at the job boards ...that will tell you alot. Having lots of low pay part time openings is NOT a positive sign - quite the opposite.
    2. The president is seen as a beliebable and respected leader both domestically and internationally. I would look to Reagan as an example.
    3. People in the country are reasonably united and proud of their country.
    4. People feel reasonably good about the direction of the country.
    5. There is an obvious notion of patriotism in the country and at least a basic trust in government.

    Obviously Obama scores a solid F on every one of the above five items.... Check the polls!!

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    July 14, 2014 4:03 p.m.

    @ Esquire

    Way to stay un-biased. lol

    @ Irony Guy

    "I think Obama will be remembered as a great president."

    I think so too. It isn't his fault that the general populous voted him in when he had little to none leadership experience.

    He is just doing the job with the amount of leadership experience he had and what he's gained since he has been on the job.

    @ 10CC

    Washington was known for being aloof as well. I think it might be one of the lesser known characteristics needed of a great leader.

    Let others fight it out and then when a decision needs to be made take the reins and make it.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    July 14, 2014 3:31 p.m.

    Hey JSB -

    "Reagan—“Tear down this wall;” wouldn’t buckle to Russian pressure. Probably best president in my life time. "

    WRONG. Reagan was this nation's very WORST president, at least since Warren Harding.

    "Tear down this wall?" Do you actually think Reagan came up with that? He didn't. He was primarily and actor, who PRETENDED to be Presidential. His Plutocratic Handlers gave this Alzheimer's-ridden President lines to recite, and he obediently recited them. He was good at it.

    It's quite telling, don't you think? . . . That the the best president in history, according to "Conservatives," couldn't remember to put his pants on in the morning.

    Reagan was in actually a HORRIBLE president. He set this nation back, and we have never recovered.

    He set the Precedent for deficit spending by TRIPLING the debt.

    And his policies were moronic. Only through blind luck did the economy rebound during his Presidency, thanks to the fact that the price of world oil dropped to less than 1/3 of what it had been during the Carter administration.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    July 14, 2014 2:09 p.m.

    Shane333: You spoke my mind exactly. Thank you!

    And, no one president has divided this country politically, economically, and culturally as Obama!

    We need to turn to God and pray for the Constitution and America!

  • Black Knight American Fork, UT
    July 14, 2014 1:02 p.m.

    Owen: Then why are there statues of Ronald Reagan in Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, and Prague? I have seen all four of them. He is a genuine hero to the people of these former Soviet satellites.
    In addition, I was in Poland this past April. Obama has very little respect among Polish citizens, and because of his lies, he is greatly distrusted.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    July 14, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    The ongoing coronation of King Obama on the comment boards.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 14, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    The ongoing coronation of St. Ronnie.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    July 14, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    No one outside of Reagan cheerleaders believes he had anything to do with walls coming down or the collapse of the Soviet Union. Read a history book from any western European (friendly) nation. We inflate our role. Reagan isn't even mentioned. The fact that technology allowed people behind walls to see that their leaders were lying to them about the other side of the wall brought the walls down.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    July 14, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    It is hard to defend Obama because he has no experience to prepare him for the job and his only way of solving problems is deliver speech and demonize those that He suppose to with with.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    July 14, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    "The American people know nothing about history..." when they disagree with your personal opinion.

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    July 14, 2014 9:57 a.m.


    Please turn off Faux News and conservative talk radio. It's obviously affecting your perception of reality.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    July 14, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    I suspect that 20 to 30 years down the road, when the ongoing Republican tantrum is largely forgotten, history will be kind to Obama. That he was able to push health-care reform through despite an opposition party sworn to destroy him, and that his policies helped stabilize an economy in free-fall will rate high. So will his efforts to get us out of two idiotic wars.

    A comment on Reagan. He was a fine actor, but his abysmal understanding of economics has saddled us with the mess we now enjoy. Supply-side economics was and is a disaster, but the GOP can't seem to find an alternative. They keep beating the same dead horse. Last Friday, for instance, the House passed a bill that would cut taxes on corporations to the tune of $287 billion, with no offset at all. Their theory? This will induce corporations to create jobs. Really? Corporations are already sitting on piles of cash. They don't hire because there is insufficient demand. No amount of supply-side subsidy will fix this.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    July 14, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    Senator Bennett's thesis is accurate.

  • Shane333 Cedar Hills, UT
    July 14, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    History will be even less kind to Obama than the present polls.
    His administration:
    *Ran guns to Mexican cartels
    *Used the power of the IRS to suppress political opponent groups
    *Abandoned Americans, including an Ambassador, to die at the hands of militant terrorists in Benghazi and then blamed the attack on a video when he knew it wasn't true.
    *Pushed socialized medicine on Americans when the majority of Americans never wanted it, and also lied blatantly to Americans about being able to keep their doctor
    *Used the NSA to spy on Americans at unprecedented levels.
    *Created a "kill list" of people targeted to be killed by the government.
    Had he been a Republican instead of the media's darling, he'd have been impeached and run out of office in disgrace long ago.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    July 14, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    Presidents during my lifetime:

    Roosevelt—Adulterer; imprisoned thousands of innocent Japanese Americans; Yalta disaster.

    Eisenhower—Nuclear tests in Nevada that sickened and killed thousands of citizens. But the interstate was a great idea. Also, got us out of Korea.

    Kennedy—Adulterer; committed troops to Viet Nam. Playboy president.

    Johnson—Adulterer; Viet Nam.

    Nixon—Watergate cover-up cost him the presidency. But in other ways he wasn't too bad.

    Ford—Pardoning Nixon was wise but it cost him the presidency.


    Reagan—“Tear down this wall;” wouldn’t buckle to Russian pressure. Probably best president in my life time.

    Bush I—Knew how to get out of a war. Not much vision.

    Clinton—Adulterer; liar. Who knows how much damage was done to the general character of the American people especially our youth because of his awful example.

    Bush II—Inept. Republican house and senate but did nothing about gay marriage or abortion. Iraq quagmire. Economic disaster.

    Obama—Liar; Obamacare mess; Benghazi cover-up; provided guns to criminals; border is now a conduit; horrible cross-party relationships; arrogant; still blames his mistakes on others.

    No wonder our country is a mess.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    July 14, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    Excellent insight by Senator Bennett. Outside of talk radio and Fox News the recent poll holds little relevance. It just served as raw meat for the anti-Obama crowd to feast on.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    July 14, 2014 8:24 a.m.

    I think Obama will be remembered as a great president.

    He surmounted overwhelming odds from his childhood. He piloted us out of the worst economic disaster (Republican-caused) in nearly century. He extricated us from stupid, wasteful, disgraceful wars (Republican-caused). He presided over a historic rise in market values after the market collapsed (Republican-caused). He is making affordable, modern health care for all a reality (unlike Republicans, who have done exactly nothing to make that happen). And he has done all this in the face of horrendous, racist, mean-spirited opposition from the worst of the worst in this country.

    I admire him and I think future generations will, too.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    July 14, 2014 8:14 a.m.

    Jimmy Carter should be very grateful to Barack Obama for taking over his spot in the rankings.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    July 14, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    I concur that public opinion polls are a miserable way to measure effectiveness. I suspect that the example of Truman will also apply to Obama. Obama faced the second worst economic disaster in over 100 years, inherited, like FDR, from a Republican, hyper-business friendly administration that did poorly in handling excesses. Foreign policy, two wars, was also unprecedented. But one thing no prior President faced, as far as I know, was the opposition party irrationally swearing to ensure the defeat of the incoming President, perhaps the only promise that the Republicans have kept the past 5 1/2 years. Never have I seen a political party subvert the interests of the nation as I've seen with the GOP. In the past, I've supported people in both parties. But the past few years has put me solidly in the camp of the anti-GOP. And they are only getting worse. In the end, history will judge Obama well due to the mess he faced, despite the hyper-partisan screaming we are hearing now.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 14, 2014 7:33 a.m.

    The father of a close friend of mine was in Eisenhower's cabinet, who described Eisenhower as aloof, uninterested, unwilling to make decisions, "a successful military general who was a terrible president".

    Lincoln dithered and was very indecisive while the southern states seceded from the union, until a Union general named Benjamin Butler repeatedly queried Lincoln about what to do with escaped slaves who wanted sanctuary in a union fort.

    Unable to get a response from Lincoln, Butler invented the term "contraband" and gave refuge to the slaves because he feared they would be used against his men if/when hostilities broke out. Lincoln eventually acknowledged the Civil War was about slavery, and the rest is history.

    Being president is a very, very tough job. Reagan may have been so successful because - as we learned in hindsight - he really wasn't fully "there".

  • The Reader Layton, UT
    July 14, 2014 6:55 a.m.

    The recent poll suggesting Obama was the worse president is worthless. That poll could have been taken of almost every president sometime during their term or terms. Give it 20 years and then a more definitive poll can be taken. Polls all depend on how the questions were asked. With all the negativity the republicans are spewing out right now and the gullibility of our population it is not surprising that the results are what they are. FOX news is probably the most biased of all the news organizations. The truth is not in them.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 14, 2014 1:57 a.m.

    The American people know nothing about history, which they demonstrate when asked their opinion on historical matters.