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Retrospective Voting Appetizer

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I’m sure Erik will have much more about this. Since I agree with the vast majority of decisions I don’t have a great deal to add, but a few quibbles:

  • 1800 and 1804, I’m inclined to favor Jefferson, who was better in office than his rhetoric before or after would suggest.   And in 1800, it would be hard for me to overlook the Alien & Sedition Acts. although Adams did deserve credit for avoiding war with France.
  • The three Cleveland elections would be the toughest call for me.  I guess I could be persuaded that Cleveland was marginally preferable, especially in 1884.   But those elections could turn me into a third-party jagoff.
  • There’s no question that knowing how it turned out, I would strongly prefer the liberal Republican Hughes in 1916 over Wilson, whose second term was marked by little accomplishment and a hideous civil liberties record.  Given the information available in 1916, I’m not as sure.
  • I guess I would support Stevenson in ’52 and ’56, but that’s very marginal.  Eisenhower was OK, and while he was weak on civil rights so was Stevenson.
  • I don’t understand the assertion that Clinton was the worst Democrat except for Kerrey.  Brown was in the Adlai Stevenson tradition of a politician with a reputation of being much more liberal than he actually was, the opposite of what you’re looking for, and it’s hard to see him as an effective president.   Tsongas was a Concord Coalition type who was lying about his medical condition.  Harkin — what can you say but “meh?”  Clinton’s presidency was disappointing but he’s obviously the best choice here.   I wouldn’t give a second’s consideration to Perot in either race.
  • Similarly, I don’t understand the idea that Kerry was a “terrible” primary choice.  I supported Edwards, but given what we now know that was problematic; Kerry was probably the most liberal of the major candidates and since he outperformed the models as a candidate seems like the primary voters as a whole knew something I didn’t.   Dean had appeal because of his opposition to the war, but on balance was squarely part of the Adlai/Moonbeam line.
  • We’ve been through this, but by any standard of presidents under which Obama is “terrible,” the majority of presidents must be slotted under “unimaginable catastrophe.”   Certainly more impressive record of accomplishment than any president since LBJ.

Oh, and of course in 2000 I’m voting Nader all the way; Bush wasn’t quite the moderate Joe Klein, Frank Rich, and Nader assured me he was, but I don’t see how we get the Avakian/Mumia ticket elected in 2004 without his successful long game.   (I keed, I keed.)

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