Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidential Legacies

Time is kind and unkind to the legacies of American Presidents. Washington and Lincoln will forever tower above all the rest. Washington truly is the Father of our Country, embodying all the aspirations and virtues of a new nation. Lincoln was the liberator of millions and the Preserver of the Union.

Other Presidents of good repute find that time allows for criticism and moderating of enthusiasm. Jefferson, Wilson and FDR are huge historical figures, but their achievements came at a price many think was too steep. John Adams and his presidential son John Quincy Adams will never inspire great affection; however, respect for their character and the context of their challenges allows more generous evaluation.

In the 20th century, it is hard not to pine for the solidity of Truman and Eisenhower, especially their ability to work across party lines. Nixon and Carter will continue to earn criticisms, with even Bill Clinton improving his legacy because he was able to work with Republicans and balance a budget.

I am not pleased with recent presidential performances, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Our current administration is not facing the major issues well. This said, there is still time for a positive legacy of achievement. Obama will always be famous as our first African-American President. It would be wonderful for our nation's future and for his legacy if he humbly works with all parties and accomplishes real deficit reduction, immigration reform and brokers some peace accords globally.

We do not have a Monarch. We do have a President that our founders intended to serve with character and competence, cooperating with Congress and respectful of the rule of law. May we find women and men worthy of this historic vocation.

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