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Okay, we are having another of those moments where dKos kind of tears itself to bits for awhile. People are upset and expressing themselves rather heatedly. So be it. That's how politics goes.

Now I've been around awhile. My first campaign was McGovern. Yeah, I was a kid, but I wore my buttons and donated my pennies and paid attention. I remember Watergate vividly though honestly I doubt I had a clue what it was about other than Nixon committing crimes.

So I think I have some perspective about American Presidents. Some of you have more perspective than I do. Many have less. So yeah, Obama isn't acting like we would want him to. But answer me this: What president in the history of our country has done better? What Presidential candidate who had a shot of winning could have done better?

Discuss...serious question and one that has many answers worth considering. A few thoughts below.

Intro

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Clinton and Obama seem to have very similar policies to me. I don't think there is much difference there. Nor would Hillary be much better. Bill Clinton was arguably (when his pants stayed on) was better at the game than Obama, but the basic approach seems very much the same. Both had to fix a mess caused by a Bush, so maybe that explains part of the similarity, but I also think both are products of a generation of Democrats who have something of an abuse syndrome after the Reagan years.

Gore would have fit the same pattern. I do think Gore would have handled al-Qaeda and global warming infinitely better than what we wound up with (don't get me started on the fool Nader!) but the basic approach he would have take would be similar to Clinton (Bill or Hillary) and Obama.

Carter was arguably more liberal than either Clinton or Obama, but wasn't nearly as successful at carrying out policy or winning elections for himself or fellow Democrats. I have HUGE respect for Carter and really think this entire world would have been far better had he been re-elected, but in the end he failed where Clinton and Obama succeeded better. Is it possible to have Carter-like policies and political survival instincts of Clinton or Obama? I'd like to think so but have never seen it.

Then we have LBJ. I was alive then but not aware. No question LBJ had many policies far more liberal on domestic issues than Obama. But let's also face facts. The same people attacking Obama would be on the front lines of protest against LBJ's foreign policies. We would not be kinder to LBJ nor more appreciative than we are of Obama.

Truman. A mixed bag if there ever was one. Some brilliance and plenty to be disappointed about. I don't see the people attacking Obama cutting Truman any slack.

People love to worship FDR. He certainly set in motion most of what liberals today look to for inspiration. But look closely. He was even more of a war President than Obama...yes a very different war from our perspective, but WW II, until Japan made it easy for us, was NOT something Americans wanted any part of. FDR knowingly refused to help Jewish refugees, knowingly developed weapons of mass destruction, firebombed cities, stomped on civil liberties if he thought he had to. Our community views him so positively because we are looking at him from a distance. I seriously doubt we would be as forgiving at the time.

Not sure I need to go further back. Point is, what president is better than Obama from a liberal perspective. I am sure arguments can be made for several Presidents or nearly Presidents (the candidates who had a shot but didn't quite make it). But I think an equally strong argument could be made that Obama ranks among the best we have had, warts and all.

To me the key thing is NOT could we do better when it comes to who we elect president. I have no doubt we can envision far better and I have pretty much no doubt that when it comes to President the best we will manage are the likes of Obama, Clinton, Carter, Truman, LBJ...warts and all.

To me it isn't the Presidency that matters and I find it demoralizing to see all the nastiness and ranting focused on just one man. To me the key is every other elected position from school board to port authority to city council all the way up to Congress. Progressive Majority is the organization I spend the most time plugging and anyone who is dissatisfied with Obama would do better working their asses off for Progressive Majority than talking about Greens or checking out of the political process all together. Our Presidential candidates are all very likely going to lean more conservative than we like or are likely to not get very far. Can we change that? Maybe, but I am not optimistic. To me the key way to change things is from the lower levels of elections, not spending all our time hand wringing over the actions and words of one single person, be it Obama, Clinton or whoever we manage to elect to the White House. If more state legislatures and city councils were solidly progressive (a goal of Progressive Majority's), then the policies at the top would matter far less.

So anyone want to weigh in on who your favorite President is, why and why you think he (no shes yet) is better than Obama? And can we also focus a bit more on the enormous amount of critical decisions that are made below the level of President?

UPDATE: foolishly left out Kennedy. I'd argue he was a much more charismatic and intelligent, but less effective version of LBJ, though would be open to other views.

Just my two yens. And I will end with this (someone beat me to it in jbou's diary, but still worth throwing out there). Pie fights can be VERY cool:

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