Which Political Greats Don’t Get the Upgrade?

 

shutterstock_191343719One of my guilty pleasures is listening to Bill Simmons’ “The B.S. Report” podcast, especially when he dials up his college buddy, John O’Connell. O’Connell, aka “Jacko”, is a devout New York Yankees fan. Simmons is a diehard Red Sox fan, so they know how to push each others’ buttons. Including the other day, when Simmons poked fun at the notion of past Yankees Andy Petitte, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams having their numbers retired this year.

All were very good players during the Yankees’ return to baseball royalty. But they’re borderline Hall of Famers at best. And hardly in same class as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, or Mantle. Figure it this way: if you filled an airplane with past great Yankees, who’d get the eight seats in first class? Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle? Absolutely. Toss in Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, both first-ballot Hall of Famers once they’re eligible. That leaves two seats. Feel free to debate who deserves them (Whitey Ford, one of the managers — Stengel, Torre, Huggins, Martin — The Boss or Colonel Ruppert, and so forth). Anyway, let’s take this concept of who boards the plane and gets to turn left and apply it to the GOP. Again, with eight first-class seats for everyone standing at the gate and praying for an upgrade.

Three are obvious: Lincoln. Reagan and T.R.

The other five: let the debate begin.

Richard Nixon had a 20-year run in national politics. Does he get a seat?

Dwight Eisenhower?

George H.W. Bush? Imagine the difference today if he’s not on the ticket in 1980.

What about Barry Goldwater, whose influence is felt to this day?

And Newt Gingrich? Leader of the first congressional takeover?

And what about Robert Taft — aka, “Mr. Republican”?

Should a seat be saved for Roger Ailes? He never ran for office, but did help get three Republican presidents elected — and, oh by the way, changed the face of television news.

Speaking of changing the face of media: Rush Limbaugh.

Finally, the thinkers. William F. Buckley?

By the way, you can also play this game with Democrats. Andrew Jackson, FDR, Harry Truman and JFK all get a seat, in my opinion. As probably does Woodrow Wilson (it’s a short list of multi-term Democratic presidents).

That’s five seats — only three left.

Obama? And one or both Clintons?

That leaves out a lot of congressional Democrats (like Hubert Humphrey and Teddy Kennedy), plus at least one martyred Democrat (Bobby Kennedy) and another who’s sainted (Eleanor Roosevelt).

As well as “Mr. Democrat”, the late Robert Strauss.

And don’t forget Lyndon Johnson. Complicated guy, huge policy impact.

Food for thought — if your flight’s stuck somewhere on a frozen tarmac and you have time to kill at the airport, waiting for that upgrade.

There are 15 comments.

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  1. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart
    @MrDart

    Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.

    As for 8 Republicans, since I would only take 1 of the 3 you designate as “obvious” I better not play this game.

    • #1
  2. user_340536 Member
    user_340536
    @ShaneMcGuire

    Mr. Dart:Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.

    As for 8 Republicans, since I would only take 1 of the 3 you designate as “obvious” I better not play this game.

    Please tell me you think Lincoln is obvious.

    • #2
  3. user_435274 Thatcher
    user_435274
    @JohnHanson

    There is no way that Teddy Roosevelt is an obvious choice.  He was far too much the progressive for my taste.  Nixon was also not a conservative, besides Watergate, he started the EPA.  Eisenhower was a New Deal apologist, Both Bushes were not small government conservatives, and HW was really a Rockefeller republican, and more of an elite than I like, I likely would give a seat to Goldwater, but late in his life, he learned a bit too much from the left wingers.  I would seat Silent Cal Coolidge, Taft, and likely Buckley, not sure Roger Ailes is real conservative either, good businessman yes.  I would also seat Mark Levin if we are talking radio personalities over Limbaugh.  So I guess I have  seven of the 8 seats filled, and one left to give whoever convinces me this year they are truly a small government conservative.   No one has won that seat yet.

    • #3
  4. user_157053 Member
    user_157053
    @DavidKnights

    No way TR gets a seat.  Nixon either.

    RR, Coolidge, Buckley, Lincoln.  I’d leave the other 4 seats in first class empty.

    • #4
  5. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Reggie Jackson and Bill Buckner.

    • #5
  6. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    John Hanson:There is no way that Teddy Roosevelt is an obvious choice.

    Like. Like. Like.

    • #6
  7. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    One disadvantage for the GOP is that the party started almost 100 years after the Democrats. There are fewer people to work with. So, can we please completely abuse our position in history and hijack the Federalists so as to add Washington and John Adams to the list?

    • #7
  8. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Petty Boozswha:Reggie Jackson and Bill Buckner.

    Buckner? He is talking about the Yankees, not the Mets.

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Both Jeter and Rivera are severely overrated. Apparently a career batting average under .275 (in the case of Posada) is enough to warrant a number retirement. What a joke. They’re going to have to go to three-digit numbers pretty soon.

    The same goes for politics. You fall into the practice of bestowing adulation on guys who don’t deserve it. Just because you have first-class seats open doesn’t mean you fill them with men undeserving. Eisenhower was great? George H.W. was great? What’s the criteria for a great president? Don’t run the country into the ground?

    • #9
  10. Matty Van Inactive
    Matty Van
    @MattyVan

    Hey, this is not a list of people we like, right? It’s people who have been great players for the team. Absolutely impossible to leave Lincoln, TR, or Reagan off the Republican best eight. I’d designate Whigs as proto-Repubicans and include Clay and Webster. And then three more from the twentieth century, where I’m a little weak. Taft and Eisenhower for starters? Not Nixon. He’s the A-Rod or Pete Rose of the team.

    Democrats: Jackson, Van Buren, Cleveland, William Jennings Bryan, Wilson, FDR, JFK, Johnson.

    Admittedly, my list is still a bit random. But the rock solid players would be…

    Republicans: BW got it, Lincoln, TR, Reagan

    Democrats: Jackson, Van Buren, Bryan, Wilson, FDR

    John Adams doesn’t make either team. Too iconoclastic. Neither does Washington; his job was building the presidency, not a team. But if we’re going to go back that far, I’d nominate John Marshall as an all star for both teams. Jefferson and Madison would have made the Democrats if W J Bryan hadn’t completely reconstituted the team, making it into something completely different.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @DadDog

    Heresy warning: I would NOT include Lincoln. It has been argued — accurately, I believe — that Lincoln did more to INCREASE the centralized power and authority of the federal government — to the derogation of the states — than anyone beside FDR. If it happened today, his consolidation of federal power over things previously reserved to the states would make any conservative cringe and howl.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    If we were simply looking at Great Men who were Republicans, than Grant, Sherman and Ike would have a place for what they did as soldiers.

    And how about a seat for Frederick Douglas.

    • #12
  13. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Can we upgrade them to the guillotine?

    • #13
  14. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Dad Dog:Heresy warning: I would NOT include Lincoln.It has been argued — accurately, I believe — that Lincoln did more to INCREASE the centralized power and authority of the federal government — to the derogation of the states — than anyone beside FDR.If it happened today, his consolidation of federal power over things previously reserved to the states would make any conservative cringe and howl.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I question the notion that federal intervention is never warranted. Surely the government exists to protect each person’s life, liberty, and property. Does the abolition of slavery fall under its purview? I tend to believe so. Process matters, surely, and one can make the argument (as Douglas did, I believe) that this matter belongs to the states or the people themselves to solve. Speaking in terms of lives lost, what would be the cost? Perhaps Douglas was right in thinking slavery would become obsolete and rare as the issue was subject to popular sovereignty, yet I don’t see how that’s defensible in any sense.

    • #14
  15. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @DadDog

    Brayden Smith:

    Dad Dog:Heresy warning: I would NOT include Lincoln.It has been argued — accurately, I believe — that Lincoln did more to INCREASE the centralized power and authority of the federal government — to the derogation of the states — than anyone beside FDR.If it happened today, his consolidation of federal power over things previously reserved to the states would make any conservative cringe and howl.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I question the notion that federal intervention is never warranted. Surely the government exists to protect each person’s life, liberty, and property. Does the abolition of slavery fall under its purview? I tend to believe so. Process matters, surely, and one can make the argument (as Douglas did, I believe) that this matter belongs to the states or the people themselves to solve. Speaking in terms of lives lost, what would be the cost? Perhaps Douglas was right in thinking slavery would become obsolete and rare as the issue was subject to popular sovereignty, yet I don’t see how that’s defensible in any sense.

    Brayden: Like many others, it appears (from your comment) that you believe that to Lincoln, abolishing slavery was his ultimate goal.

    However, Lincoln himself admitted that the Emancipation Proclamation was merely a means to <b>his</b> end: preserving the Union.  In other words, he freed the slaves <i>less</i> because he believed they should be free, but rather because he believed that doing so would help win the war.  If I recall correctly, before the war, he waffled on the issue of slavery, and said that it should be left up to the states.  Before the war, it was widely understood the secession by a state was permissible under the Constitution; like many other common understandings — and even precedents — about the Constitution, that went by the wayside during Lincoln’s quest to preserve the Union . . . at all costs.

    In retrospect, preserving the Union may have been a good thing, but there has been a naive — disingenuous? — tendency to retroactively whitewash the damage that Lincoln did to federalism and state’s rights.

    • #15

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