Check Out the Book by Gil Troy

Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents

From George Washington to Barack Obama

America's amazing political overlap
Campaign rhetoric paints each party as more extreme than it is -- but in the middle we find a rather surprising overlap.

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan—most would agree their presidencies were amongst the most successful in American history. But what made these very different men such effective leaders? According to presidential historian Gil Troy, these presidents succeeded not because of their bold political visions, but because of their moderation.

They used the best ideas from both sides

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America's surprising

Political Overlap

by Bob Shepherd

Our messy American democracy

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. (Churchill)

If America might be described for its temperamental political disposition, we might well go back to what Europeans thought of our political feistiness back when few of their historic regimes even so much as dared democracy, let alone the rather unkempt American version of majoritarian showdowns every election season. Americans seem to almost tear each other to pieces, verbally, polemically, emotionally. Passions run at fever hot intensity. Rare is the election that there is not occasional or even frequent excess of "hardball" -- even sometimes vulgarity, exaggeration, name-calling.

It is almost surprising when after the battle is over, and a winner is chosen, that a kind of healing or forgiveness usually takes place. "Up to a point." Or perhaps we are just so emotionally drained it is inevitable that the "warring spouses" kiss and make up -- till it's time for the next family quarrel to begin.

But there is an amazing political irony beneath the polemics and electoral warfare that appears on the verge of rending our nation apart -- our "left" and our "right" seem to exhibit an enduring, almost perennial characteristic of a considerable substantial overlap -- right square in the middle. For all of Obama's campaign attacks on his predecessor as a right wing warmonger and defender of greedy capitalists bent on destroying America, as President, Barack Obama not only wound up imitating Bush on much of his foreign policy, but reiterated his resolve to save capitalism by focusing first on Wall Street and the "too-big-to-fail." Obama emulated Bush by continuing the bail-outs and stimulus, but accomplished a significant "liberal" departure from Bush when he reinstated regulations that Bush had relaxed. But guess what. Bush had seen the need for doing so, once the devastation of the 2008 melt-down hit home.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr, observed there is an essential conservatism to American liberalism. For all their leftist rhetoric at election time -- and sometimes afterward -- our liberals have been remarkably centrist. We contrast our American left with Europe's and our liberalism is incredibly moderate, even mild, compared to the version Europeans seem stuck with. Consdier, most all our Democratic presidents have been far less hostile to capitalism (as shaped using the ideas of Hamilton -- and England's Adam Smith, the Scot -- and others.) Jackson alone came close to giving capitalism a death blow, but even his destruction of the bank, and elimination of the national debt in its entirety, was only temporary.

Why so moderate? I wonder if the practical centrism of America (historically) might have something to do with the moderating effect of American religiosity -- both our blessing and our curse. Henri Bergson saw the middling effect of religion as essential in a democracy. He identified the right with "liberty" and the left with "equality" -- and the force or influence of something like faith or religion with "fraternity." It is the middle that moderates the extremes. Just as inland temperatures can be pushed to extremes, coastal climates suffer highs that are less high, and lows that are less low -- as a direct result of the moderating effect of the ocean.

Of course our salvation may simply be the fact that the middle or swing voters are the least politicized, the most "bored" with politics, often somewhat less informed, and there is their genius. They bring the fresh outlook of an "outsider" -- neutral almost, in a way that intense and overly informed partisans (whether left or right) are not. They have had it with the violence of the "sides" and wish only for respite. In frustration they may be thinking, a "pox on both your houses." Or, the silent wish, "Can we all just get along?"

Republicans rally on behalf of Bush to defend him against the merciless jabs of liberals who paint him as the ultimate conservative, a man without compassion, a buddy of greedy billionaires and heartless fatcats. Yet here again, campaign portraits painted by either side are often sheer caricature and exaggeration. George W. Bush had been known as a peace-maker and a moderate in Texas. He campaigned in 2000 calling for "compassion" (a word which made Rush Limbaugh and other real conservatives quite uneasy. Uh oh, a secret liberal. Bush highlighted his close friendship with Colin Powell, a moderate with a conscience, he was known. A Lincoln Republican, or big-tent Republican. Limbaugh was horrified that Powell not only delivered the keynote address for the Republicans, but was awarded the top cabinet post in the Bush administration -- Secretary of State.

There was a battle underway almost at once. A president who vowed to "close the gap of hope" and be an "education president" sure did not sound like the sort of conservative that Rush Limbaugh liked to declaim about. It looked like he would start in on Bush as he had done to his father, removing the mantle of conservative (and placing it on himself). Limbaugh has always regarded himself, and proclaimed himself, the REAL conservative, perhaps the heir to Reagan (little realizing Reagan's deep New Deal affections, and roots).

In hindsight, it would appear that Dick Cheney had more than a little to do with conciliating Limbaugh, or encouraging him to deflect his attacks on Bush to other targets (Colin Powell possibly?) But perhaps there was a price the administration had to pay. Certainly there were compassionate goals that were enacted, spending on education, a significant progress on the eradication of AIDS scourge in Africa, and perhaps most expensive of all, a long-overdue patch in the healthcare safety net -- prescription drug benefits for seniors was carefully added to supply a lacuna in Medicare.

Obama-care may seem like a bold innovation and trail-blazing by the far-sighted Democrat (Obama), but a sizable piece of credit actually goes to the beginnings made by Bush and his administration, seven years previously.

Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents: George Washington to Barack Obama - by Gil Troy

Clinton's economic stroke of good fortune - using conservative ideas?

Richard Nixon the surprise liberal - right wing rhetoric, liberal policies

Big Tent Republicanism - the first President Bush - unfairly blamed by both left and right

Can women save the Republican party? - tough love and world peace? ('peace through strength' backfires?)

Colin Powell - closing the gap of hope - a kinder, gentler face to Republicanism? Not if they immolate the moderates.

Building Capitalism - the dirty business of money and wealth - how Hamilton (& early Federalists) paved our eventual rise as economic superpower

baggage of history
Friends of Diversity

The Founders didn't mention political parties when they wrote the Constitution,
and George Washington in essence warned us against them in his Farewell Address.

[Marianne Williamson]

Tarnished Hero for the Republican Party

Rush Limbaugh -

foremost voice of the hard right wing

The GOP's biggest self-inflicted wounds ~

and the future healing almost within reach

Rush calls himself the one true conservative, and has portrayed himself from time to time as if he were the real "heir" of Ronald Reagan. If you love the sound of confidence without the slightest doubt, Rush is the perfect know-it-all.
Ross Douthat ( says Limbaugh maintains a "totemic role in conservative discourse"

Women are so strange. No matter how many times Rush has used the b-word, or mocked multiculturalism, hasn't he always issued a nice apology?
Over the years he must have apologized dozens of times to whatever group takes offense. So why won't these women believe his latest apology
is sincere? Rush guarantees that THIS time, he really, REALLY, REALLY means it.

Rush Limbaugh has so much more to apologize for

By David Horsey,
March 5, 2012, 5:00 a.m.

Rush Limbaugh’s lame apology to Sandra Fluke does not even come close to getting him off the hook. He needs to apologize to America for pushing political discourse to the level of drunk good ol’ boys shouting crude epithets in a topless bar.

In case you missed it, a few days ago Limbaugh went after Fluke for supporting the inclusion of contraceptives in employee health plans. The 30-year-old Georgetown University law student jumped into the controversy over a new Obama administration rule requiring even institutions run by religious organizations to provide insurance coverage for birth control. She asked to be added to an otherwise all-male panel testifying on the issue before a congressional committee. When she was turned away, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, set up a non-official forum where Fluke was given time to speak.

Limbaugh, like anyone who disagrees with Fluke’s position, has every right to challenge her ideas, but he didn’t do that. Instead, he gleefully engaged in character assassination, calling the young woman a “prostitute” and a “slut” who expected the government to pay her to have sex.

“She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception,” Limbaugh told his vast audience of angry white males. “She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Following up this lie, Limbaugh went on to say women who want their birth control covered by insurance should clamp a couple of aspirin between their legs, instead. Then, he titillated his fans by suggesting that, if Fluke wants to get her pills paid for, she should videotape herself having sex. “We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch,” he said.

I’d like to state right here that I try to be mostly wry and analytical when I’m writing about the world of politics, so here’s my wry analysis: The childless, four-times-married Rush Limbaugh is a loathsome, misogynistic pig.

If this were some aberration in Limbaugh’s behavior, fair-minded people might be tempted to accept his grudging and very limited apology. But it is nothing new. This is how he has “entertained” day after day for years. He doesn’t debate. He doesn’t inform. He vilifies, insults, smears, slanders, distorts and misleads. Rush is a schoolyard bully who specializes in picking on girls – or “feminazis,” as he loves to call them.

Limbaugh has led the way in destroying civility in politics. It’s bad enough that his overbearing pseudo-patriotism has been emulated by other right-wing radio and TV commentators; worse is the fact he has become the oracle of the dominant wing of the Republican Party. Gone are the days when William F. Buckley spoke for conservatism in an eloquent, reasoned voice or when Ronald Reagan could share a drink and trade jokes with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill. It is now cool for conservatives to talk trash and act like 14-year-old louts harassing the gay kid in class.

Rush Limbaugh puts the vile in juvenile. He puts the men in mendacity. He puts the repugnant in Republican. He is an arrogant thug. He is what’s wrong with American politics.


GOP is too old, too white, too male and too strident

Blaming woman - the role of male-dominated religion

Obama uses best ideas, regardless
President Obama has gleaned the best ideas, regard-
less of source, whether "Democrat" or "Republican"

Those who Tear Down But Don't Build Up

Bob Deitrick & Lew Goldfarb write that the 2007 movie documentary entitled Heckler by Jamie Kennedy provided "insights into the relationship between hecklers, comedians, and their audience. The movie delivers the message that heckling truly is an unproductive use of time, often ruining the comedic performance for both the comedian and his or her audience. We think today's politicians can learn from this message, not because their performance is comedic (which it sometimes is!) but because their behavior is unproductive and stifles the progress for our country and its people.

As we have seen during the Obama presidency, Republicans in particular have learned how to play the role of cynic, heckler, and Monday-morning quarterback all too well, but in reality, what good does heckling do for the future of our country and its people?

Furthermore, we ask, when did it become an acceptable American valuer to heckle and chide the president of the United States every single day and root for him to fail, no less. This is a new phenomenon in the past twenty years and needs to be repudiated and done away with. We believe that regardless of who our president is, whether that individual is Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama, we should support our president and hope that he or she succeeds, period.

Let's pray our leaders succeed

Though force can protect in emergency,
only justice, fairness, consideration and
cooperation can finally lead men
to the dawn of eternal peace.

[Dwight David Eisenhower]

We All Wish for a Peace Dividend
(But not at the price of forgetting those who served)

Mitt Romney

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