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Monday, February 17, 2014

My Favorite Presidents

February 17, 2014: In the White House cabinet room, it's tradition for the president to pick portraits of his/her presidential heroes.  Four paintings are selected and they normally represent the values, leadership style, and outlook the new president hopes to emulate.

It's likely, I will never get to be president but if I were elected commander-in-chief here are the four portraits I'd select.

Thomas Jefferson:  More than any other president, Thomas Jefferson articulated the values and ideas for which the country hopes to achieve.  When he penned the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson likely couldn't imagine how those words have come to embodied all peoples, all races, all genders, and sexual preferences. But it does not matter, for we are unlikely to imagine how far the value "created equal" will be extended in the future.  The point is that we do our part today to move the debate forward.
Theodore Roosevelt: Like Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt was always looking to the future.  How would the decisions we make today, affect those to follow?  Roosevelt set foreign and domestic policy that still impacts our lives today. However, its his views on conservation that have the most impact upon modern America.  Roosevelt lived at a time when the frontier was closing.  The belief that more resources could always be found over the next hill was coming to an end.  America, like every other country, would have to live within its means, use its limited resources more efficiency and effectively, and finally put some aside for future generations.  Under Roosevelt's leadership the national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges were created laying the foundation for a system of public lands and waters that are the envy of the world.

Harry Truman:  President Truman is the consummate every man. Even as commander in chief, Truman insisted on going on walks off the White House grounds, paying his own bills, and taking his own mail to the post office.  Truman understood the power of the White House and what it meant to be president, but never let that power go to his head.  He knew that while he occupied the oval office, he was president. As soon as his term was over, he would return to private life.  This understanding helped to keep Truman grounded and focused on what was important. 

William Clinton: It might seem strange to have Bill Clinton on this list.  Only the second president to ever be impeached. However, what set Clinton apart from other chief executives is that he both understood and enjoyed the game of politics.  Clinton excelled at knowing what his friends and enemies wanted. He then would do everything in his political power to grant or deny their desire. Clinton bucked conventional wisdom, and avoided compromise as much as possible.  Rather, he focused on moving his agenda forward, by nearly any means necessary.  He wasn't always successful, but he definitely won more battles than he lost.

Who are your favorite presidents?

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  1. Without expounding at your length:
    James Madison - for his role in authoring the Constitution (yes, I know, prior to ascending to the White House).
    James Knox Polk - Manifest Destiny and winning the Mexican-American War (1845-48)
    Harry Truman - having the guts to do what was necessary to win WWII and save American lives by dropping the atomic bombs on Japan; desegregating the military; and recognizing Israel minutes after her declaration of independence in 1948 amidst much American objection.
    Ronald Reagan - restoring America's place on the world stage, winning the Cold War, restoring American's confidence in America.

  2. Abraham Lincoln - When the "last, best hope of man on Earth" was fracturing and destroying itself, Lincoln saved the union and gave it a "new birth of freedom."

    Theodore Roosevelt - Gave a voice to unborn generations, by making conservation a national value. "Keep it, for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after."

    Dwight D. Eisenhower - The Allied Supreme Commander won the war, kept the peace, and began our exploration of space.

    And just for fun ... Martin Van Buren, whose 1840 campaign (unsuccessful though it was) popularized the term "OK."