Friday, July 02, 2010

Presidential Scholars Not So Scholarly

Politico reports that a poll of "238 presidential scholars at U.S. colleges and universities" finds Barack Obama at #15 beating out Ronald Reagan at #18 in the "best president" category.

This is why we still quote William F. Buckley, Jr.'s famous statement on governance:
"I am obliged to confess that I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University."
("A Reply to Robert Hutchins: The Aimlessness of American Education", Rumbles Left and Right)
One wonders if Obama's embarrassing Nobel Peace Prize nomination came from bright minds like these.  Here's another honor for having done, well, not much.  With friends like these . . . .

Ronald Reagan as president presided over the ending of the 40+ year Cold War that had bedeviled six previous presidents and had erupted into two "hot" wars resulting in about 90,000 US deaths and a quarter of a million non-mortal woundings.

Reagan also fixed the economic mess Jimmy Carter left. The misery index (inflation + unemployment) under Carter in 1980 was 20.76. By 1982, Reagan's second year in office, it had been cut almost 1/4--to 15.87. By 1984, the end of Reagan's first term, it had been cut almost in half--to 11.81.

Economically, Obama started out with a much smaller misery index of 9.61 left by George W. Bush. As of 1-1/2 years into Obama's first term, the misery index has increased about a fifth to 11.5 (inflation at about 2% and unemployment at 9.5%).

It's perhaps not fair to compare Obama's record in Afghanistan to Reagan's winning the Cold War with superb diplomacy and without firing a shot. After all, Reagan had two terms.

Still, the smashing military/diplomatic victory by Reagan and clear economic progress made in his first two years, and Obama's worsening of an economy half as bad as the one Reagan faced in 1981, leaves one puzzled as to what is in the heads of these presidential "scholars".

It again underlines the wisdom of plain old "first 2000 names in the phone book" democracy over aristocracy--especially "university scholars" aristocracy.

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