Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Barack Obama"

44th President of the United States (2009- )

Full Name: Barack Hussein Obama II
Born: August 4, 1961, Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii
Political Party: Democratic
State Represented: Illinois
Term: January 20, 2009-
Age at Inauguration: 47 years, 167 days
Administration: 56th and 57th
Congresses: 111th, 112th, and 113th
Vice President: Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden, Jr. (2009- )
Age at Death:

2012 Dead Presidents Ranking: 28 of 43 [↓2]

In 2012, I ranked Barack Obama at 28th but noted that he probably would have been ranked two spots lower if I had written my rankings two weeks earlier, before Chief Justice John Roberts had cast the deciding vote to uphold Obama’s landmark health care reform legislation. I also wrote that if he were reelected later that year, he’d probably climb even higher in the next rankings because if you get reelected, it means you must be doing something right, and a second term allows Presidents to really build a legacy. Two years later, I have Obama two spots lower than he was in 2012, and I think that I still might have him ranked too high. And I worked for Obama in 2008 and nearly took another job with his campaign in 2012. But Obama’s second term has been disastrous — the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was botched; Guantanamo Bay is still open; troops are still fighting in Afghanistan; Iraq is falling apart; the economy hasn’t rebounded; and if the Republicans win control of the Senate on the first Tuesday in November, Obama will become the lamest-duckiest of lame-duck Presidents on the first Wednesday in November. Now, not all of these things are Obama’s fault — he inherited a mess from George W. Bush and he’s battled an obstructionist Congress almost since Inauguration Day. But politics require compromises, compromises require cooperation, and cooperation requires relationships. The relationship between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch is perhaps at the lowest point in history, and even when factoring in how awful many of the members of Congress (on both sides of the aisle) are, a big part of the poor relationship between the White House and the Capitol IS Barack Obama’s fault. It’s always difficult to rank recent Presidents and almost impossible to rank incumbent Presidents, but Obama’s legacy is heading in the wrong direction.

1948: Schlesinger Sr./Life Magazine:  Not Ranked
1962: Schlesinger Sr./New York Times Magazine: Not Ranked
1982: Neal/Chicago Tribune Magazine:  Not Ranked
1990: Siena Institute:  Not Ranked
1996: Schlesinger Jr./New York Times Magazine:  Not Ranked
2000: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  Not Ranked
2000: C-SPAN Public Opinion Poll:  Not Ranked
2005: Wall Street Journal/Presidential Leadership:  Not Ranked
2009: C-SPAN Survey of Historians:  Not Ranked
2010: Siena Institute:  15 of 43
2011: University of London’s U.S. Presidency Centre:  Not Ranked

George Bush isn’t just a President who promoted the ethic of service long before it was fashionable. He’s a citizen whose life has embodied that ethic…He could easily have chosen a life of comfort and privilege, and instead, time and again, when offered a chance to serve, he seized it.
Barack Obama, honoring George H.W. Bush’s life of service, at the Thousand Points of Light 20th Anniversary at Texas A&M University, October 16, 2009
I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush.
Barack Obama, on George H.W. Bush, to David Brooks, New York Times, August 1, 2008
Finally, we recognize our last recipient, not simply for the years he spent as our 41st President. We honor George Herbert Walker Bush for service to America that spanned nearly 70 years. From a decorated Navy pilot who nearly gave his life in World War II to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; from CIA Director to U.S. Envoy to China to the Vice Presidency — his life is a testament that public service is a noble calling. As President, he expanded America’s promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. He reduced nuclear weapons. He built a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from Kuwait. When democratic revolutions swept across Europe, it was the steady diplomatic hand of President Bush that made possible an achievement once thought impossible — ending the Cold War without firing a shot…I would add that, like the remarkable Barbara Bush, his humility and his decency reflects the very best of the American spirit. Those of you who know him, this is a gentleman. Inspiring citizens to become ‘points of light’ in service to others. Teaming up with a one-time political opponent to champion relief for the victims of the Asian tsunami, then Hurricane Katrina. And then, just to cap it off, well into his 80s, he decides to jump out of airplanes — because, as he explains, ‘it feels good.’
Barack Obama, awarding George H.W. Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, February 15, 2011
Asker kray814 Asks:
Are you up for a pop quiz??! Here's your question: The POTUS has to pay for all the meals he eats at the White House with his own money, what are the exceptions in which the POTUS doesn't pay and the tax payers pay for his meal?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Nice try, but since I’ve written pretty extensively on the perks and realities of being President, I have to admit that it’s not really a pop quiz for me.

Anyway, the First Family pays for all of their own food for their personal meals, or when they have guests.  It doesn’t matter whether the food is purchased as part of their groceries for the kitchen in the Residence or if it’s food prepared by the White House kitchen and ordered by the First Family — they have to pay for every meal.  They don’t have to pay for the food for state dinners or gatherings where they entertain members of Congress or diplomats, and there are expense accounts which help pay for different things like entertainment or luncheons/dinners connected with various events or ceremonies.

After a President leaves office, he’s able to cash in by signing a nice book deal and getting paid to make speeches, but Presidents aren’t exactly stacking dollars while they are in office.  They don’t have to pay for their own travel, rent, or security, obviously, but they still have personal expenses and have to take care of a lot of incidentals that many people would find surprising.  As an example, despite all of the amenities that the White House has, the President still has to send his clothes out and pay for dry cleaning.  There used to be a White House barber who cut the hair of the President and other White House staff (they were charged for it), but that was eliminated years ago.

A lot of people don’t realize that the President doesn’t really get paid all that much.  I mean, his salary of $400,000 is obviously way better than what most of us make, but considering the responsibilities he has, the amount of time he spends working, and everything else that comes along with the job, I think that the President is underpaid.  Consider this: the President’s annual salary is less than the minimum salary of every player in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.  If the very last player selected in last month’s NFL draft — the 256th overall pick (chosen in the 7th round and annually nicknamed “Mr. Irrelevant”) — signs a contract with a team in 2014, he’ll make more money than the President of the United States.  The lowliest scrub in Major League Baseball has a better annual salary than the President.  How crazy is that?  The lowest-paid BASEBALL player (!) makes $100,000 more per year than the President of the United States!!!  

Pride in our country, respect for our armed services, a healthy appreciation for the dangers beyond our borders, an insistence that there was no easy equivalence between East and West — in all this I had no quarrel with Reagan. And when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, I had to give the old man his due, even if I never gave him my vote.
Barack Obama, on the strengths and leadership qualities that he admired about Ronald Reagan, The Audacity of Hope, 2006
I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it…he tapped into what people were already feeling, which was that we want clarity, we want optimism and a return to a sense of entrepreneurship that had been missing.
Barack Obama, on Ronald Reagan, to the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal, January 14, 2008

So, USAID covertly funded and created a “Cuban Twitter” called ZunZuneo in an effort to “destabilize” the Cuban government. Obviously worked out really well…oh wait…USAID ran out of money and it sputtered.

By the way, covert actions by federal agencies require Presidential authorization. Apparently, President Obama has learned nothing about the resiliency of the Cuban Revolution from his TEN IMMEDIATE PREDECESSORS.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Which presidents would you say had the most successful post-presidencies?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

There are four whose “retirements” stand out heads-and-shoulders above the rest:

•John Quincy Adams: Defeated for re-election in 1828, but elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1830 and spent the last 17 years of his life in Congress as a passionate opponent of slavery. He was also a major advocate of what became the Smithsonian Institution and continued his fight for internal improvements throughout our growing country while also opposing Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian-era Democratic Party.

•William Howard Taft: After losing his bid for re-election in 1912’s three-way race against Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, Taft spent the entire Wilson Administration as a law professor at Yale. More importantly, just a few months into President Harding’s term, Taft finally got his dream job — Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Taft’s term as Chief Justice was undoubtedly the happiest and most fulfilling time of his professional life and he stayed on the Court until just a few weeks before he died.

•Jimmy Carter: Carter forged an entirely new role for an ex-President with his humanitarian work around the world through the Carter Center. His efforts at personal diplomacy have not always been welcomed by incumbent Presidents, but much of what Carter has accomplished during his 33+ years of “retirement” (the longest post-Presidential life of any POTUS in history) has been remarkable. It’s also set the tone for the modern post-Presidency.

Bill Clinton: Following Carter’s lead, the work the 42nd President has done (and continues to do) since 2001 via his Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative has helped millions around the world. Because of Clinton’s popularity, domestically and internationally, as well as the fact that he’s the best politician alive and likely married to the next President of the United States, he is in a unique position in comparison to every other former President in American history. There’s really no ceiling for what he can accomplish other than his personal health and the 22nd Amendment.

It will be interesting to see how active George W. Bush and Barack Obama decide to be and what they focus on during their post-Presidential life. Bush 43 obviously is not as interested in being as visible as Clinton, but he has continued the extraordinary work in sib-Saharan Africa that he began as President. I’m not sure what Obama’s focus will be, but I don’t think he’s going to just retire to a beach house in Hawaii. I’d like to see him focus on domestic poverty and income inequality. I think all of our former Presidents from this point forward will follow the Carter model to some extent. I’m sure they’ll still cash in on some paid speeches (which I have no problem with), but Carter set the standard for post-Presidential public service.

The best part isn’t even something that they SAID! It’s the lower-third with Obama’s title!

And #42 continues to be the coolest President ever.

In Dreams From My Father, I don’t remember Barack Obama mentioning that his father was Brother Mouzone from The Wire, do you?

I mean, I know Obama and his father had a complicated relationship, but you’d think he would have mentioned that his dad and Omar (whom President Obama has mentioned is his all-time favorite television character) killed Stringer Bell.