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From Nixon to Now II




Evening Times Editor

Hopefully you saw part one of this column in yesterday’s edition of The Times Online, but if you didn’t you can still go back and read it in the E-Edition Archives, in case you didn’t know. Also, in case you didn’t know, you can actually go back and read any copy of the Evening Times in the archives going back to 2016. It’s even searchable.

Anyway, this is part two of my take on the Top 10 U.S. Presidents of My Lifetime, which goes back to 1973. Ten through six were: 10) Gerald Ford, 9) Jimmy Carter, 8) George Bush, 7) Richard Nixon, and 6) Donald Trump.

Full disclosure, it was basically a coin flip on #6 and #5, and I decided to go the way I did because of one major issue, how each responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, with that…

5) Joe Biden – Biden gets points for drasitcally reducing unem-


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ployment through job creation and working to improve the naiton’s infrastructure (although he loses points for much of that infrastructure plan getting gutted by Congress but still… But it is the way he managed the pandemic that really helped his showing here, with a safety-first approach.

4) George W. Bush – I will confess to being pretty bummed about Bush’s win over Al Gore in 2000, and while we’re on it, if you think there’s controversy surrounding the 2020 vote, it’s got nothing on 2000, when the U.S.

Supreme Court literally told Florida to stop counting votes, awarding the state, its electoral votes and the presidency to Bush, since he was 537 votes ahead when they were told to stop the recount. But in any event, it was just seven months into his presidency when 9/11 happened and he was the guy we needed in office for that, even if there were some later missteps in Iraq and with the economy in his second term.

3) Bill Clinton – Clinton kind of runs into the same deal as Nixon in that an excellent one-and-a-half terms were almost derailed by scandal. In Clinton’s case, it was an affair with a White House intern, which, let’s be real, is next to nothing these days with Trump’s whole hush money thing. But Clinton oversaw the rise of the modern world, fostering a boom in the economy, progressive social reforms and improving the loves of virtually all Americans over the eight years he was in office.

Even Clinton’s harshest critics mostly attack his character rather than his policies — except the gun rights people. They hate him. But in his defense, he had to deal with violence at Columbine, Waco and a number of other incidents.

2) Barack Obama – If Obama had been white (instead of only half-white in case you forgot), we’d probably be talking about putting his face on the $10 bill or something, but for some, his race, coupled with what woud these days be called “woke” policy, was just too much for some folks. But American saw its greatest period of prosperity and growth since the 1980s (more on that in a minute) under Obama, and legislation was passed (despite an at times hostile Congress) that guaranteed more rights and more access to opportunity for more Americans than any time since the 1960s (more on that in a minute). I know its a touchy subject for some, but same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) were sweeping moves that are still having an impact.

1) Ronald Reagan – For my formative years (ages 7 to 15, Reagan was presiden, and man, what a president. He won the Cold War, he saw the Berlin Wall come down, his trickle-down economics reversed the 1970s downturn, and more.

He even survived being shot, which is some straight-up John Wayne stuff right there.

Reagan reignighted the Space Race with the Space Shuttle program, he pushed for conservative family values, he was unafraid to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats on important reforms and initiatives, and he restored the people’s confidence in the government after a long stretch where Vietnam, Watergate and a recession had really tanked it for years.

But, he did fall short in a few places. That whole conservative family values thing also meant turning a blind eye to the AIDS epidemic, since it was largely considered a “gay” disease early on. He also got caught making deals with Iran and rebels in Nicaragua that would have likely seen many of his underlings go to jail (and even possibly Reagan himself see charges) had his VP George Bush not pardoned them all once he took office.

But still, quite a legacy for a guy who made movies with a monkey in the ‘50s.

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