The president’s approval ratings are low; I have heard many people describe George W. Bush as the worst president this country has ever had. I even know Republicans who feel this way. David Gergen, a professor at Harvard and editor-at-large for U.S. News & World Report, said in a speech I heard a while back that he considers Franklin Roosevelt to be the best president of the 20th century.
Without commenting on the effectiveness of either the Bush or Roosevelt presidencies, it strikes me that these two presidents are remarkably alike.
Consider that they both served multiple terms, shortly after periods of unprecedented commercial prosperity. The American public had grown familiar years earlier with the names of both men in preceding presidencies held by relatives with the same name.
Roosevelt and Bush both led the country into unpopular wars following a cataclysmic attack on American soil. Neither was able to lead us out of war. And each vastly expanded the size of the federal government.
It is difficult to ignore the similarities between the institution of social security and the prescription drug benefit, both passed, at least in part, to win political favor. While both offer benefits with populist appeal, both will ultimately undermine the financial integrity of the country.
You never really understand the impact of a presidency until long after the man has left office. Years from now, as historians consider the American presidency, I wonder if more people will examine the similarities of these two leaders, who today are rarely linked.
tMichaelB is the web site for Tom Bengtson, who writes about business, religion, family and politics.
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