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'Catastrophes' for Past and Future Presidents

By Ben Pershing
Orderly transitions of power being the American way, President Bush has been working hard of late to smooth the path of Barack Obama. Forty-three plans to host 44, 42, 41 and 39 at a White House lunch in January, and Josh Bolten had a jocular meeting with his predecessors as chief of staff for Rahm Emanuel's benefit earlier this month.

In that spirit of cooperation with his successor, Bush said of the auto bailout yesterday "that good policy is not to dump him a major catastrophe in his first day of office." So what exactly will Bush be dumping on Obama in January? On one hand, the current administration is now at least "considering" the possiblity of letting GM and Chrysler go into bankruptcy. On the other hand, Bush is also reportedly mulling a plan that would give the two auto companies enough loans to stay afloat until March, with bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler seen as a bad move because it "would put Ford at a competitive disadvantage." So under that scenario, Obama wouldn't face "catastrophe" on his first day of office, but rather in his second or third month in office.

Speaking of "catastrophes" in office, the man perhaps most responsible for the fall of the Nixon administration died yesterday. Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat," passed away three years after his identity was finally revealed to the public. He outlived the president he helped bring down by 14 years.

Staying on the subject of ex-presidents: The Clinton Foundation donor list, which would have been hailed by journalists as the Rosetta Stone had it been revealed during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, is now instead seen as interesting and newsworthy but only temporarily so. For all the talk that this might "complicate" her confirmation as secretary of State, it's hard to see her nomination really being put at risk unless a massive new scandal oozes to the surface in the coming weeks. And the eight-figure donations from Saudi Arabia -- enjoyable as they are for the New York Post's headline-writers -- couldn't really have surprised anyone, given the kingdom's long and well-known courtship of American politicians of all stripes. Again, why else would George Tenet be drinking Scotch and cursing neoconservatives by Prince Bandar's pool? (Allegedly.)

Continue reading at Political Browser»

By Ben Pershing  |  December 19, 2008; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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In addition to The Reagan Diaries, try reading a couple books that directly looked into the topic:

Ronald Reagan by Peter J. Wallison

Reagan, in His Own Hand edited by Kiron K. Skinner.

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

You've read my writings on this blog. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me, can you honestly say that you think I have an I.Q. between 100-105?

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse


I have read Reagan's writings, in his own hand, and those are not the writings of someone with 100-105 I.Q.

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Jake D.-
Judging from your reaction, I guess you are a fan of Reagan's and that you believe he has an IQ well above 100. I'm interested in any evidence of above average intelligence you have on him.

When he became a politician he was still an actor. He simply had his script written by business leaders instead of screenwriters. Sure, he was a true believer, and uncurious. He seemed not to regard Russians as real people like himself until he got to know Gorbachev.

Posted by: rooster54 | December 19, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"Bailing out the car companies must come with the precondition that these companies will retool, build us a decent mass transit system"
Requiring the auto industry to build us mass transit systems is like handing them a shovel and telling them to dig their graves.

I am all for mass transit but good luck getting the auto industry to feel the same way.

Posted by: JRM2 | December 19, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama has named an Hispanic congresswoman from California as Secretary of Labor. Is there something funny about a friend of illegal immigrants becoming Sec. of Labor?

Posted by: ravitchn | December 19, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"under a narcissistic spell?" Things are happening around the world everyday that have absolutely nothing to do with the U.S.
Disease, famine, war, political unrest..etc.
It is extremely naive and tainted to think we (United States) are the cause of and the cure for most of it. It the U. S. closed every embassy, every overseas military base, put our Navy to port, to importing, stopped exporting and just stopped being a world player you think it would it alright. If you think America succeeds because we strong arm everyone else you need to re-examine world history. We are not the "Roman Empire of the New Age." Freedom in our homeland has made us a success, not oppression imposed by us on others overseas.

Posted by: star_key2 | December 19, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I admit to being wrong occasionally, but calling me "idiot" may be overstating it. Aside from that comment, I think you're good debater, with more time than I have for that sort of thing.

I enjoy discussing these things with you, but that comment hurt a little.

Posted by: rooster54 | December 19, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

We'll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"Nothing scientific."


Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, My last comment was based on my having skimmed your reference too quickly.

Helen Thomas, who has communicated substantially with every president since JFK, said in a recent interview with Amy Goodman that Reagan had an IQ of around 100. I have paid a lot of attention to him over the years, and based on what I've seen, I think she's right about this. Nothing scientific. I would be interested in a verifiable objective analysis, if one could be found.

Anyway, Reagan put the country under a narcissistic spell, which has caused the world a lot of problems.

As for the auto industry-
Overconsumption of automobiles is causing all kinds of problems worldwide. Now the industry is faultering, which could be a case of self correction. This is an opportunity, however, for a major shift of the same industry into things we need more than cars. If government doesn't help, this could be an economic disaster, with no benefit whatsoever.

Posted by: rooster54 | December 19, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's recall that this was your "learned" conclusion:

"I guess he was the 'Great Communicator' because he was incapable of speaking over anyone's head."

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Idiot, is DEBUNKING the claimed 105 I.Q.

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Greetings Jake D-
I said "about 100". Your cited source. snopes, lists Reagan @ an I.Q. of 105, which is quite close to 100.

Posted by: rooster54 | December 19, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse


Do you have a link to any credible source that Reagan's I.Q. was 100?

Posted by: JakeD | December 19, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The Reagan Revolution led us into this mess. To believe that a market will ALWAYS correct itself and get back on the right path without intervention requires a level of ignorance and naivete which should not allow one to graduate from high school. Reagan's I.Q. was about 100, which makes him less intelligent than nearly every president, including G.W. Bush. I guess he was the "Great Communicator" because he was incapable of speaking over anyone's head.

Government by and for the people is our way of countering the power of those who stripped us of the wealth we created, and we have the right, and a duty, to use it to correct this economic anarchy called "the free market".

Having said this, market forces have now told us we don't need so many cars. Scientists and the environment have been telling us the same long before the genius free market figured it out.

Bailing out the car companies must come with the precondition that these companies will retool, build us a decent mass transit system, and introduce more sustainable technologies. If they refuse, they can let the market correct itself while they get a minimum wage job somewhere else.

Posted by: rooster54 | December 19, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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