In my opinion, President William Jefferson Clinton qualifies as the best president in my life time. Although he did not always stay on track morally, Clinton served his country admirably as president. Here are my reasons for his success.
1. During his administration, US had the longest economic expansion in American history. Accomplished through fiscal discipline, open foreign trade and investments, the government was on the road to economic stabilization.
2. Lowest unemployment in years, with 22 million new jobs created during his two terms.
3. Higher incomes at all economic levels with the bottom of the income levels growing the most.
4. Lowest crime rate since 1973 during his time in office.
5. Education standards were raised by doubling education and training investment.
His time in office provided a stabilizing effect for most Americans. Regardless of his party, his plans worked. I have to include this information as well.
His cabinet was the most diverse up to his time. He appointed more African Americans, women, and Hispanics than other President. He had the first woman Attorney General, the first female Secretary of State, and the first Asian American cabinet Secretary ever.
Probably most notable is that the national debt was drduced by $360 billion ---the largest debt reduction in American history.
Thanks, Mr. President!
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How LBJ can be lauded when he escalated the Vietnam War with the infamous Robert McNamara and was responsible for the senseless deaths of tens of thousands of American soldiers and created the "Great Society" that is the welfare state is incomprehensible. Looking back at US history, Dwight David Eisenhower had administrations of great economic prosperity and there were no problems with foreign countries. Ronald Reagan was such a strong president that Iran immediately released the hostages that they had kept for 100+ days under the Carter administration; he improved the economy and restored patriotism and pride in America. He got people working and off the welfare roll; furthrmore, he convinced Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" of Berlin and Communism.
Ronald Reagan was the best. He helped dismantle the Soviet Union and spread democracy. He ended the Cold War. The economy was better under his policies. Also, he instilled pride in America and helped our image improve globally. I thought he was a terrific speaker and I agreed with all his views. Less government bureaucracy and involvement in the personal lives of people!
I was born in 1955, so I believe Eisenhower, Kennedy and Clinton were probably the best presidents during my lifetime. Bill Clinton probably accomplished the most: He rebuilt the American economy devastated by the first President George "Read My Lips, No New Taxes" Bush; reestablished international respect for both the position of president and America itself; and promoted a scholarly, intelligent persona missing in the two previous presidents and his successor.
Domestically, I think Lyndon Baines Johnson was the best president in my lifetime. (I was born in the Truman administration. ) While the war in Vietnam was LBJ's undoing, he was a consummate politician and managed to get legislation passed that ushered in the Great Society and that formed the basis of our civil rights today, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Voting Rights Act. For a southerner to have been responsible for that legislation is remarkable in and of itself. Medicare was enacted under his administration, and education and public housing got meaningful funding. LBJ did not spend much time discussing consensus or going on about "both sides of the aisle." He was an old-fashioned horse trader who knew how to get people on board with what he wanted to do. He knew where all the bodies were buried, too, and used his knowledge to get people to do something about poverty, the plight of African-Americans, and other disenfranchised people. Sadly, because of Vietnam, his administration has been severely underrated and under-appreciated.
I agree with Post #3 that this is an inherently partisan question. It is very hard to define "best" without regard to your opinions of the policies the president got passed.
If we are looking simply at some sort of non-partisan test of which president was most skillful, I would have to say that Reagan was somwhat better than Clinton. Unlike Clinton, Reagan did not make what might be seen as strategic mistakes in his first 100 days. He didn't pick fights (gays in the military) that distracted from his main goals.
It's a close thing, though, because both of these men were very good at reaching out to the other party. They both did well with Congress controlled at least in part by the other party. So it's a bit of a toss-up.
There is no way not to make this a partisan question. I do think that Clinton was a better president than Bush. Bush led us into a war that we didn't really need to be in. The economy did well under Clinton, and suffered under Bush. That being said, I don’t think we can completely credit or blame a president for the economy.
I have to agree that the Clinton presidency was the best of my lifetime (I was born during the Nixon presidency, for a bit of perspective.) Some people roughly my age will argue for Reagan, I'm sure, but Clinton, despite his very public personal dalliances, was an effective administrator who dealt by and large skillfully with a partisan atmosphere that was at least as rancorous as it is now. For the record, Clinton and Reagan have fared about the same in polls of historians, with Clinton finishing 18th, and Reagan 16th in a Siena poll in 2002.
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