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Compare Trump to modern predecessors

Posted by John T. Reed on

When you compare Trump to perfection, he looks bad. But that’s a waste of time.
Try asking yourself who would you rather have, Trump or each of his predecessors since, say, 1960:
JFK—Stood up to USSR in Berlin and Cuba, tax cut, moon, affirmative action, Bay of Pigs
LBJ—Vietnam, War on Poverty, entitlements, Civil Rights Act
Nixon—Vietnam, China, Watergate, price controls, abandoned gold, likely impeachment, resignation
Ford—Whip Inflation Now buttons
Carter—Israel-Egypt peace treaty, “malaise”
Reagan—Iran Contra, tax cuts, Tax Reform Act of 1986, deregulation of S&Ls and resulting S&L debacle, won Cold War, Amnesty, Arms treaties, ended inflation
Bush I—Desert Storm, “read my lips” tax increases, Mr. Ruling Class Establishment
Clinton—Mogadishu, Osama bin Laden, dot-com boom, sex scandals, Whitewater, Ken Starr, impeachment, NAFTA, welfare reform, bribe to North Korea
Bush II—9/11, more coddling of North Korea, Afghan war, Iraq War, banned incandescent bulbs, Subprime crisis, 
Obama—apology tour, America is the problem, Obamacare, red line, Stimulus package, turn out the black vote with Jim Crow accusations
When I look at that list and reflect on difference with Trump I see, tentatively because it’s still the first year, strong foreign policy, strong refusal to cave into various foreign pressures on global warming and immigration and NATO freeloading on the U.S. Trump is wrong on trade and talks like a Democrat union demagogue on that subject. He gets an E for effort on Obamacare repeal—stopped by McCain, et al.

Tax reform looks like it may go through.I expect he will not be as easily moved by government-shut-down threats of Democrats as his predecessors, is better about keeping campaign promises than any predecessor. His tweets are an embarrassment, but no ground war or sex scandal (while in the Oval Office) or Watergate or Mogadishu or Bay of Pigs. I think Trump deserves much credit for the greater optimism on Wall Street and Main Street. But it can flip the other way and I doubt he will accept blame if it does.
His closest competitor is Reagan. They each have their good and bad points. Looking at the hard facts rather than gauzy images, I would say Trump has thus far done better than Reagan other than in getting legislation passed. Yes, Reagan was much more of a people person and a great schmoozer and had a high Q rating. But he also had a mixed bag of instincts in both foreign policy (Iran Contra) and economics (TRA 86 and S&L Debacle). Trump may have better policy instincts because Reagan was a politician and actor rather than a businessman.
But my main point is not to quibble about Reagan versus Trump. It is to stop comparing Trump to perfection. Trump has been one of the strongest in terms of doing what he thinks is right and damn the torpedoes.
The only president on that list whom I voted for is Reagan in 1980. In 1984, I went back to voting for the libertarian.

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