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Nominating Time for Fix Political Hall of Fame

Top Row, L to R: FDR, Bob Dole, Strom Thurmond, Michael Madigan, Al Gore
Bottom Row, L to R: Newt Gingrich, Tip O'Neill, Richard Nixon, Ted Kennedy, Tom Delay

The Fix Political Hall of Fame is up and running with our inaugural class of former presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson inducted last week.

Now, it's time for Fixistas to sound off with their nomination for the next politician who should be considered for the Fix Political HOF.

Offer your nominees and, as important, why you think they deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame, in the comments section below, or via Twitter. We are open to inducting anyone from state legislators to presidents but are slightly biased toward the modern era (1900 on) since debates over whether Millard Fillmore or William Henry Harrison deserve a spot might be a little, how should we say it, boring.

The nominating period will last until Saturday evening at 5 p.m. ET. After that, we'll sort through the nominees and pick out the three best and/or most interesting. Each of the three nominees will get their own case for/case against their inclusion in the HOF starting next week on the Fix.

Then we'll put it up to a final vote with one of the trio making the cut and entering the hallowed halls.

Go to it!

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 25, 2009; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  Hall of Fame  
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Well from the other side of the atlantic I would like to second those who are nominating Al Gore. His work has had a global significance (not to say that others mentioned have not had a global influence).

My other two nominees are not american and thereofre may not qualify, but I am a big fan of hers and would like you to consider if a political hall of fame should just be american, or is there a space for politicans from other parts of the world:

Aug San Suu Kyi - a woman of real priciple, need I say more.

Gro Harlem Brundtland - former PM of Norway, who has since gone on to have a highly successful international career with the UN. She has been a princpled leader, and who can't love a woman who in her resignation speach from Norwegian politics said she 'thought it was time for someone else to be PM since she was worried there would be a generation of Norwegian boys growing up who thought you had to be a woman to hold political power.'

Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick and I missed that they have to be American, but I think these two women deserve spcial consideration.

Posted by: dhg1 | June 26, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The three nominees (ideology aside) are obvious:
Richard Nixon -- No one dominated politics as he did for two plus decades.
Tip O'Neill -- He of "all politics is local" fame was the best Speaker ever.
FDR -- That only his initials identify him says everything. In addition to his crafty political skills, one of the great presidents ever.

Posted by: ddozier | June 26, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Tip O'Neill - Probably the last Democrat politician of well-known and accepted significance who was still able to see and do what was necessary to work both sides of the isle.

Posted by: NeilKo | June 26, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Newt Gingrich - Leader of Contract with America | brilliant political play backed by sound policy at a time when it was greatly needed.

Posted by: NeilKo | June 26, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Harry Truman and Gerald Ford do not belong in a poltical hall of fame, John F Kennedy does not merit being in the top ten.

Harry Truman had his accomplishments to be sure, but his disastrous decsions include, as many historians have described, his role in the beginning of the cold war, his simplistic black and white perspective similar to Bush II, allowing MacArthur to invade North Korea, support for the French attempting to maintain their control over Indo-China, instituting the loyalty program for federal employees, one of the factors leading to McCarthyism, refusing to maintain diplomatic relations with China after the Communists defeated the Nationalists.

Many continue to exaggerate the accomplishments of Kennedy, overlooking his major mistakes. Yes, he did great during the Cuban missile crisis, but he was also lucky. Had the Soviets not backed down the most, the results could have been disastrous for humanity. Still a major achievement for Kennedy. Yet there were also the unnecessary, very costly nuclear arms race largely the fault of the Kennedy administration and sending about sixteen thousand "advisors" to Vietnam, a significant escalation of Eisenhower's intervention there.

Ford, he had no notable accomplishments and could not win against an outsider, Jimmy Carter, with limited government experience.
His pardon of Nixon was unpardonable, nullifying the basic principle in the supposed rule of law, that no one, not even monarchs or presidents, are above the law.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 26, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

madison, Eugene Victor Debs and teddy roosevelt

Posted by: BlindfoldedDirtfarmer | June 26, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

BillSwinford ‘s comment is seconded. William J. Brennan jr is STILL amazingly influential. Love him or hate him you must respect his place in history. Please remember that Aall Justices (and Judges, for that matter) are political animals. Whether Goldberg v. Kelly, Furman v. Georgia, Texas v. Johnson, or any of the numerous others opinions he penned or was a part of, he influenced (and I feel strengthened) our democracy. His type of intellect and genius was in brining divergent views together for the best and most lasting judgements from the Court that he very much revered.

He wasn’t bombastic like Douglas (accepting his and Marshall’s complete opposition to capital punishment). The only public disagreements he seemed to have were his distastes for McCarthyism and the Original Intent argument. The Regan Administration, through Ed Meese, took Brennan on publicly, but the philosophy brought into debate by Ed Meese and Robert Bork was the subject of Brennan’s attack. Brennan called the philosophy what it was: An intellectually dishonesty masquerading as judicial philosophy. Note that he did not engage in character assassination but still engaged publicly. A towering figure in the latter half of 20th century America.

Posted by: BlindfoldedDirtfarmer | June 26, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Their doing this was largely thanks to Gingrich, whose Contract with America has become the gold standard for communicating with voters & is still cited today as a model to follow.


Uh, this is supposed to be a Hall of Fame, not a Hall of Shame

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 25, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe you would list Tom Delay in the same prospective as FDR. That's just horrifying, like the People Magazine Rock Hall of Fame listing Tina Turner as a "rock" artist (but omitting The Who).

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 25, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

JFK (also an acronym).
This past election should remind us of the influence a "rock star" politician has. JFK was the first such politician. He was also the first Catholic President, something that endeared him to millions (and still does). As far as accomplishments go, his handling of the Cuban Missle Crisis, while controversial was both innovative (creating ExComm) and gutsy (bucking military leadership, blockading Cuba). He was a GREAT (though not the best) civil rights President. In addition to tangible accomplishments, he was a fantastic orator and campaigner. The 1960 Presidential Campaign is one for the books - from his primary win in West Virginia to the first TV debate to the election night nailbiter. To my knowledge, he was the first politician to defeat Nixon, which hurt Tricky-Dick so bad he lost the California Governor's race two years later. He made so many speeches that will be quoted and remembered forever - his inaugural, putting a man on the moon, and Ich Ibin Ein Berliner to name a few. Sadly, he was assasinated, but that should count in his favour as only a few Presidents have been cut down by an assasin's bullet. The controversy surrounding his private life and the conspiracy theories inspired by his death prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Kennedy legacy extends beyond the (almost) three years he spent in the White House.

Posted by: timmerq | June 25, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

My 3rd nominee is FDR.

You know you've hit the big time in politics when you can be identified by an acronym! FDR had an enormous effect on the political sphere, which is still seen to this day.

His enormous election win in 1932 was regarded as a realignment, as he won all bar 6 states. He then went on to win re-election 3 times, becoming the only President to win more than 2 terms.

His tenure in office was marked with a number of changes which are still felt to this day:
- his fireside chats started the trend of Presidents directly talking to the American people
- his emphasis on "the first 100 days" is still felt today, with each Presidential candidate talking up what they will do in that time, & media attention on the milestone when it occurs
- the New Deal, to reinvigorate the economy, a pertinant subject after the latest recession
- created the minimum wage
- re-armed and entered WW2, resulting in an eventual victory for the Allies over Hitler, and starting a period of US military ascendency (enabling future Presidents to intervene militarily in numerous conflicts).

Posted by: JayPen | June 25, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

armpeg: I find it my sacred duty to immediately refute people like you who won't bother to learn anything about the Viet Nam War. Should you bother to look up the Viet Nam Service medal,(the green and white one) you will note a scroll like device with the number 1960 and a dash on it. That date comes from the date that James Davis, a USASA 05H was killed in a roadside ambush. The war is always dated from his "First" death in the conflict. (There were several advisers killed earlier, but his was unmistakeably a KIA in direct combat). The Viet Nam war was Eisenhower's creation, the advisers sent over the first of many combat troops. All subsequent actions were Kennedy and Johnson trying to fulfill Eisenhower's promises and commitments.

Sort of like Bush trying to tie Obama's hands in Iraq.

So, repeat after me, Kennedy didn't start the Viet Nam war, Eisenhower did. It's written in pewter on the chests of several million of us who served there.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 25, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

My 2nd nominee is Newt Gingrich.

The Dems had been the majority party in the house for 40 years when 1994 rolled around. They were reeling from Clinton taking the WH in 1992 after 12 years of GOP rule. Yet somehow they managed to win 54(!) seats, taking control of the House.

Their doing this was largely thanks to Gingrich, whose Contract with America has become the gold standard for communicating with voters & is still cited today as a model to follow.

He was Speaker of the House for 4 years, a time notable for the government 'shutdown' in late 1995.

His influence since he left elected politics continues to be felt with him taking active policy positions and promoting various policies (e.g. tax breaks to deal with the environmental crisis). He was/is actively courted for Presidential runs in both 2008 and 2012.

Posted by: JayPen | June 25, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I would nominate Al Gore.

His contribution to American politics has been immense. His influence includes:

- His time in both houses of Congress where he was one of the few Dem Senators to vote for the first Gulf War, he also started the climate change ball rolling and actively promoted the internet.

- he then became an extremely powerful Vice President under Clinton, developing the "chief advisor" model for VP's & inadvertantly paving the way for the continued elevation of the VP under Cheney. His advice was seen in numerous policy initiatives including the Kyoto Protocol.

- he was on the wrong side of the historic race for the Presidency in 2000, but after his loss he continued to shape the political scene. His early critisicm of Iraq would shape future Democratic talking points, leading to the rise of Dean in 2004 and Obama in 2008. His promotion of the environment is still being felt today with the latest climate change bill going through congress. And his promotion of the internet has revolutionised politics, as seen by the numerous politicians using the internet to raise funds & promote themselves (e.g. Twitter, MySpace). Obama in particular used the internet effectively in 2008, and built a groundswell of support that would take the Presidency.

So there's a few reasons why in my view Al Gore should be in the Hall of Fame.

Posted by: JayPen | June 25, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse


I don't question Arnold's generalship. I do think that his ego led him to betray his command. But, I'm not a historian by any stretch of the imagination. I'm happy to discuss this somewhere else -- just name the place.

Or, if you prefer, I'm @gmail.

Posted by: mnteng | June 25, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

FDR obviously deserves a spot. He was a masterful politician who was able to maintain overwhelming popularity in very dark hours. He was without a doubt one of the most influential politicians in American history. And he built an amazing coalition that stuck together for quite some time.

While you indicated a desire for modern politicians, I would like to say that Abe Lincoln is more deserving of being the exception then anyone. (Yes, even Henry Clay, that's right, I said it!) It's not just his role as a wartime president nor his transformational role, though those both were immense accomplishments. He also accomplished a very ambitious on other issues such as railroads. And his capacity for standing up to a torrent of disagreement and turning the waters back is simply amazing. His role in preventing war with England or the Antietam address are some examples but most amazing was the fact that he forced a forgiving reconstruction policy upon the public, even though he did not live to see that happen.

In more modern history, I think that Newt Gingrich is clearly deserving of a place. While he wasn't alone in creating the movement, he certainly knew how to control it like none other. Slick Willie might have been able to wriggle out of Newt's grasp, but he was himself very skilled in that regard. Despite his setbacks, from 94-2004, Newt's control of politics was incredible. Even with the enormous setbacks of the 2006 and 2008 elections, his legacy is strong.

Posted by: theamazingjex | June 25, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

To the Hall of Fame: Rick Perry, Gov. of Texas

To the Hall of Shame: Ted Kennedy, Sen. Mass.
The coward who ran away after running his car into the bay in 10 ft. of water in the middle of the night with Mary Joe Kopeckney in the passenger seat after a drunken party. Mary Joe Kopeckney drowned, and cowardly Ted didn't report it till the next day accompanied by a whole slew of lawyers, who he called in to protect him from a DUI charge. Not surprisingly, Ted got away with it.

To the Hall of Shame: Pres. John F. Kennedy. He started our involvement in the Viet Nam War when he ordered that all 658 US peacekeepers stationed in South Viet Nam there then, could start carrying weapons for the first time and could fire back if fired on. He ordered 3,000 helicopters and their crews to be sent there to back up the peacekeepers. He then increased the number of US military combat troops to nearly 16,000, tripeled military assistance to South Viet Nam to engage in covert raids against the North, launched the ill-conceived strategic hamlet program, approved the introduction of defoliants and herbacides into the war, and rejected the advice that the US seek a political solution in the conflict. This JFK instigated VN War caused 8,744,000 serving (including myself), 211,005 casualties, 47,321 deaths in action, 10,700 other deaths, 153,303 non-fatal wounds.

Posted by: armpeg | June 25, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

mnteng: In some other appropriate forum I would enjoy disputing your reading of Arnold, who is a most complex man, and mostly still beyond easy cognizance. He felt entitled, because he had ended a very bad British plan by making two of its three elements go away. (the third, Howe in Philly, was smart enough to stay out of that disaster entirely.) He scared St Leger off without any army at all, teamed with Morgan to win Frazier's Farm and bring Burgoyne to a screeching halt. With Montgomery he invaded Canada, and THAT scare may have done more than anything to convince Britain that the war was a bad idea. I sometimes suspect that Arnold's real device, in "betraying" West Point was to draw Clinton's fleet north of the chain so he could raise the chain and trap Clinton's entire supply line up there on the Hudson. Maybe if Washington had been two days later Arnold would have been able to present him with the end of the war in one sweet double cross.

But as a master politician? Yeah, but he is one for the old timer's committee.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 25, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Franklin Roosevelt is my first nominee.

Pro: He was a transformative President; He (actually at Eleanor's prodding) worked towards helping African-Americans to achieve some degree of equality--a task furthered by Pres. Truman; He reformed the country's financial system; He established the Social Security System.

Anti: He is rumoured to have had advance news of the attack on Pearl Harbour--if true, this w/b a grave slur on his legacy; At Yalta, he basically let Stalin have his way, thereby casting much of Europe into Stalinist darkness for 4 decades.

Richard Nixon is my next nominee. Although deeply flawed personally, he was a canny politician and had a farseeing world vision.

Pro: He (obviously with Kissinger's enormous help) ended the Vietnam War; He normalised relations with China; He worked out the Republican Party's 'Southern Strategy'--as we view it now, this could just as easily be an 'Anti', but we need to view it in the context of the times--and it shows what a shrewd strategist he was.

Anti: Do I really need to spell it out?

Al Gore is my final nominee.

Although we know he wasn't fated to become President (thereby subjecting the country to 8 years of Geo. W. Bush), he went on to bounce back as a real American-style success story.

Pro: He brought Global Warming to the forefront as a mainstream issue, not as a 'crackpot' fringe issue (apologies to Sen. Inhofe); He was one of the very first to denounce Pres. Bush's Iraq War policy (incidentally, although it's almost never mentioned, HE went to Vietnam as a reporter, while Pres. Bush was playing tin soldier in the Tx Reserves).

Anti: He lost the 2000 election--the tendency in this society is that only winners are properly valued; He hasn't got the knack of being 'likable', despite being extraordinarily knowlegeable.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | June 25, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse


Benedict Arnold was indeed instrumental in the victory at Saratoga, but in reality, the colonists had significant numerical superiority by the end of the battle, so they might have won anyways. Even if Gates had gone down defeat, I would argue that the French would still have eventually joined forces with the colonists. They were already helping in a semi-serious manner and they had quite a bit of interest in seeing the Revolutionary War becoming a protracted engagement for the British. It might have taken a bit longer, but I think eventually an American victory would have convinced France to form an alliance with the Americans. Remember, von Stueben started training the Continental Army at Valley Forge during the subsequent winter.

Gates did try to take most of the credit for the victory at Saratoga and had the chutzpah to try to challenge Washington for commander-in-chief status. But Arnold was a piece of work too. He always seemed to feel owed -- both by promotion and by money (trying to make money off his position as commander in Philly, for example). And he certainly deserves his bad reputation for not only giving West Point to Clinton, but for taking up arms against the colonists as a British officer. For money.

Posted by: mnteng | June 25, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

L. Johnson, Reagan and B. Clinton should be impeached from the Fix Political hall of "fame," at least as the first three members.

They should be replaced by George Washington, whose political skills created numerous precedents, established the cabinet system, kept the country out of war and following Hamilton's advice in beginning to stablize the young nation's fiancial system.

Next is Abraham Lincoln for leading the North to victory and his indispensable leadership in the passge of the 13th amendment.

Third is Franklin D Roosevelt, whose New Deal transformed this country more than any other president since Lincoln. This was more important than his leadership, important as it was, during the war because after Germany invaded the Soviet Union and declared war on the United States, the defeat of the Axis powers was inevitable, no matter who had been president.

The next three would be Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and either Alexander Hamilton or Teddy Roosevelt. Franklin was very adroit in persuading the French government to help those rebelling in the thirteen American colonies and he was an indispensable voice for moderation, as well as compromise at the Constitutional convention. Withour French help the British would have won the American revolution, without the skillful compromises engineered by Madison and Franklin, there probably would have been no Constitution.

Teddy Roosevelt was the first moderately progressive president who sought, within limits, to control irresponsible trusts and corporations, as well as expanding conservation policies.

Alexander Hamilton was indispensable in creating a stable financial system for the United States during its infancy. He sought to promote a more modern economy and a strong central government.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 25, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan.

While The Fix concentrates - rightly - on the branches more traditionally understood as "political", there can be little question that the Court is a political entity. As Justice Brennan noted, the most important thing to know about the Court is the number five.

Thru 34 years and 1,360 opinions, Justice Brennan convinced, cajoled, compromised, and lobbied as he crafted Court majorities that give foundation to much of current American law. In the early years he teamed with Chief Justice Warren to create and solidify the modern understanding of American law in general and the Bill of Rights in particular. Warren was the leader, but Brennan was the political tactician. In the later years, despite numerous conservative appointments to the Court and countless predictions of the decline of Warren Court holdings, Justice Brennan worked his same political magic to coble together majorities necessary to see that those decisions remained largely intact.

Agree or disagree with the direction Justice Brennan helped lead the Court, there can be little doubt about his influence on the Court and his consequent impact on American law, and thus American society.

And he did it as a politician in the finest sense.

So how about a member of the Political Hall of Fame from the "Least Dangerous Branch" ?

Posted by: BillSwinford | June 25, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: opp88 | June 25, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Nixon and FDR. Their cases have been made. I'm just adding my votes.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 25, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Why not create a Political Hall of SHAME. Wouldn't that be so much more fun for the chattering classes? Sex, sleaze, corruption, racism, you name politicians have done it.

Posted by: Why_Not1 | June 25, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse


Just to clarify, you are not nominating Benedict Arnold for Political Hall of Fame, right?

Posted by: JakeD | June 25, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse


That's what some Dems thought about a certain B-movie actor from Hollywood ...

Posted by: JakeD | June 25, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Realistic2, The slaves were free by the North winning the Civil War, Lincolns emacipiated only the slaves in States that were in rebellion, not the northern or neutral states.

Posted by: vbhoomes | June 25, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

@jake D: Palin does not have what it takes to be POTUS.Even if no one else ran for the office, she would still come in last place, after all the write-ins names are tabulated.

Posted by: Realistic2 | June 25, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

And none of that sitting down stuff. Moynihan drank standing up.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | June 25, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

What are the standards or criteria for the Hall of Fame? It's your HofF, so let us know!

Posted by: fairfaxvoter
Exactly. Are we looking for folks who loved the political action? Wiley dogs who got further than they should have? Stealth politicians with long careers marked only by steady work? Firecrackers who flamed out magnificently? Go along guys who got things done? Controversial geniuses? We don't even know if they have to be national figures.

I have to agree about Moynihan, bless him. I'll only add that he regularly had 3 pints of beer for Sunday brunch at the Man in the Green Hat. No food, just the beers.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | June 25, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I nominate: Sarah Palin. No other modern-day politician has risen as far in as short of time. She may still become the first female POTUS.

Posted by: JakeD | June 25, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I nominate:

John F.kennedy: The reason I nominate JFK is because during the most dangerous time to Americas survial JFK proved to be a skilled leader.During the Cuban missle crisis JFK remained calm and in control.If JFK would of attacked Cuba as most military officals wanted, We wouldn't be here.We were very close to a nuclear war and one error on his part, nuclear war would of started. We did not know the Russians in Cuba had the codes to fire their long and short range nuclear missles, without obtaining permission from Moscow.We did not know they had two nuclear submarines around the waters of cuba with nuclear tipped torpedoes.He saved millions of people and stopped the destruction of the planet.His naval quarantine, his restraint, his leadership skills saved America.His new frontier program, the space program and many others must have him considered to be in the Hall of fame.

Washington: Led the revolution for freedom and when offered to be crowned king{As some historians suggest}He refused. What would America be now if he had said yes.He presided over the drafting of the Constitution. The unanimous choice for the first President of the United States, he oversaw the creation of a taxation system, the first national bank, and the first Supreme Court Justices. he is considered the Father of the U.S.A.

Abraham Lincoln: He defeated the Confederate Army and managed to keep the fledgling nation from collapsing during the Civil War. He freed four million slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. He unified the National Military.

Posted by: Realistic2 | June 25, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

While each of the three initial inductees into The Fix Political Hall of Fame were consummate politicians, I found the absence of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the inaugural class a stunning omission.

No President since Abraham Lincoln did more to shape history than did Roosevelt. The longest-serving President in U.S. history led the nation out of the Great Depression and through World War II. While WW II was a time of great sacrifice and atrocity, the Allied victory marked a great triumph for humanity. In the process, he expanded the concept of the public good and united a nation.

I think Roosevelt is a must as your next inductee.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | June 25, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

What about TR? He revolutionized the presdiency through his activism.

Posted by: tgreenwo | June 25, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

FDR should have been a first-rounder for reasons that are beyond obvious, as should have JFK for the mystique if nothing else and Woodrow Wilson for setting so much foreign policy. How LBJ got in as a one-term president who only got into office because JFK died and who stood no chance at a second term because he sunk the country into Vietnam is beyond me.

And then Truman probably deserves mention, too. Dropping a nuclear bomb, overseeing the rebuilding of Europe and Japan in the immediate post-war years, presiding over the start of the Cold War, and fighting the Korean War...all pretty significant stuff.

Teddy Roosevelt earns a place, too, for reshaping Republican politics and for starting the National Park system.

Newt Gingrich deserves a spot, too. He, more than anyone, engineered the Republican revolution in the 1990s, and today's Republicans, whether they realize it or not, are living as much or more in Gingrich's shadow as in Reagan's or Bush's.

Posted by: blert | June 25, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Let me put in a good word for Benedict Arnold, without his able military leadership, we would never had won the Battle of Saratoga with that incompetent and coward, Horatio Gates. If we had not won that battle, France would had never jumped in, and our history and world history would be totally different. I would love to sit down and talk history with Mark_in_Austin, because its evident he's well read in this regards and history is also my passion.

Posted by: vbhoomes | June 25, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

All politics is local. The consummate local politician was Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. His cunning manipulation was matched only by his corruption.

Posted by: sage5 | June 25, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Of course, FDR should have been included in the inaugural class. The fact that he wasn't kind of makes me think this whole exercise has been a farce.

Posted by: Bondosan | June 25, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, post for "Rahm" below was intended for "44" blog one tab over... RE: "Gestapo USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 25, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I second the nomination of Everett Dirkson, the Sen. who said, among many, many other bot mots, "There comes a time to rise above principle."

For Governors, Huey Long must be nominated--he was probably the closest we ever came in the US to being taken over by a demagogue. And, come to think of it, his son Sen. Russell Long deserves a nomination, too, if only because he was basically in control of the US tax code for many years.

Posted by: Dan4 | June 25, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse


Who's the next victim of the ONGOING "extrajudicial targeting and punishment vigilante network" spawned under Bush-Cheney?

When will Team Obama wake up to federally-sponsored vigilante injustice?




• Anti-Vigilante Journalist Assaulted by PA Cops: A Set-Up?

OR RE: "Gestapo USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 25, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

FDR. Redefined the role of US government in American life. Led massive war effort. Re-elected four times. Reshaped the Democratic party from something few today would recognize, into something quite close to its present form. If there ever was a politician with a legacy, it's him.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | June 25, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I nominate Hubert H. Humphrey. This great man organized three political parties into one in Minnesota, steered the country towards civil rights in 1948, and was one of the most loved Senators in history -- Having a senate post created just for him, Deputy President Pro Tempore.

Posted by: jackkoepke | June 25, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

THREE nominations: All obvious, all giants in there own time and all giants for all time. All P O L I T I C I A N S.

FDR. Obvious. EVEN scrivenor#** wouldn't be allowed the column inches needed to do him justice. NOT Eleanor. Great Woman, great Person, great operator, but not a politician. never ran and never had to build a coalition.

Mr. Sam Rayburn. To be a truly great man in D.C., someone needs to build a truly ugly building and name it after you. The Rayburn Building is massive enough and ugly enough for Rameses himself.

For the third, so many giants, so little room, but we do need a Republican, SO

Everett McKinley Dirksen, (R, marigolds). Stood with LBJ, mostly, on the civil rights bills. Spellbinding orator upon the rightness of marigolds to be the national flower. Spoke in their favor once a year throughout his career. Voted down in the Senate once a year to Give ole' Ev something to orate on next year. When we ran out of Ev it was never the same.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 25, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm somewhat stunned, Chris, that Richard Nixon was not included in your "inaugural class."

Nixon's rise and fall were the stuff of Shakespearean drama, and as this is a POLITICAL Hall of Fame, there's no one who can compare. No one even comes close:

After getting into office via Red-baiting and going on to serve two terms as Ike's VP, he lost his bid for the presidency in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. He then lost his bid for the Governorship of California and was completely written off.

Six years later, he won his party's nomination for the second time and went on to win the presidency in another razor-thin election.

Four years later, at the height of his powers, with his reelection ensured by a vast lead in the polls, the Watergate break-in occurred, leading to his near-impeachment and ultimate resignation.

And let's not even begin to discuss Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia, the opening up of China, the Checkers speech, trying to use the CIA against the FBI, enemies lists, IRS audits of opponents, and his post-presidency resurrection as a writer and foreign policy "expert."

I mean, come on, in terms of raw politics, Tricky Dick simply has, and probably never will, any peer.

Posted by: Bondosan | June 25, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

If you are talking pure political survival skills, I would nominate Marion Barry. I am not saying he did great things, but there are not too many other politicians that could be caught smoking crack on video with a hooker, be found guilty then get re-elected mayor. Fast forward and he is convicted of tax evasion, and still elected to the city counsel. How many politicians have been brought down by a mere extramarital affair. not our dear old former mayor.

Posted by: dcguy20001 | June 25, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

In case I forget to log in when the debate starts, I argue that Sam Rayburn is a more important and powerful Speaker of the House than Tip O'Neill.

Posted by: btm11 | June 25, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I need to get more sleep. I misread Chris's blog as suggesting politicians for the political hall of shame, which would though be a good idea.

I adhere to my earlier contention, politicians throughout United States history should be considered. The current "modern" era will be considered akin to the Middle Ages by most people within a few hundred years.

Choosing L. Johnson, Reagan and B. Clinton were not tbe best selections, even if limiting possibilities to politicians in one hundred years. Johnson' escalation of the Vietnam war was the worst foreign policy by any president in our history, Reagan left a legacy of huge budget deficits being considered politically acceptable and Clinton accomplished nothing that will be considered memorable by most people fifty years from now.

There is also the troublesome question as to what is the criteria people are using in making nominations. Is it based upon having great virtues, such as being honest, or being elected repeatedly to office, or succeeding in getting legislation enacted, or wise foreign policy and domestic policy accomplishments?

In our entire history, the greatest politicians, far overshadowing the first three selections by Chris, were Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, without whose compromise efforts there would have likely been no Constitution, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, a far more deft politicians than many give him credit for and Franklin D Roosevelt. How anyone could consider L. Johnson, Reagan and B. Clinton over Franklin D Roosevelt is beyond me.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 25, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse





• Anti-Vigilante Journalist Assaulted by PA Cops: A Set-Up?

OR RE: "Gestapo USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 25, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I think Gerald Ford should be included because he is, thus far in Our History, the only person that served as President who was not elected either President or Vice-President.

Nelson Rockerfeller should be included because he only acceded to the Vice-Presidency on the appointment by Ford, who acceded to the Presidency on the resignation of Nixon. Also, because a life rule, named the "Rockerfeller Principle", states "Never do whatever you would not be caught dead doing."

Posted by: thatGuyinSW | June 25, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

FDR's inclusion is so obvious it doesn't need my recommendation. It is sort of like including baseball record holders in its Hall of Fame.

I also recommend Truman. He was the last and possibly only truly honest President. He never violated his marriage vows, he didn't use the Presidency to amass a fortune, he never lied to or misled the public in order to pursue an unpopular policy he thought (rightly or wrongly) correct.

I also nominate all the less well known courageous politicians Kennedy lauded in his "Profiles in Courage."

Posted by: btm11 | June 25, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Not sure of your procedures but here are my nominations:

Franklin Roosevelt: Pulled the nation out of the Depression with courageous and innovative strategies, led the US and the Allies to victory over Germany, Italy, and Japan in WWII. Without Roosevelt, this would be a radically different nation. Tied with Lincoln as the greatest American President.

Tip O'Neal: Magnificent Speaker of the House -- arguably the best since WWII -- who held the Democratic majority in the Congress together during the "Reagan Revolution" while retaining a sense of dignity, honor, and civility in his dealings with political allies and opponents. We will never see his like again.

Ted Kennedy: The Liberal Lion who may be the most powerful and effective member of the US Senate -- ever. He has played a pivotal role in shaping and helping to enact countless critically important pieces of legislation. He may end his career with enactment of comprehensive health care reform -- perhaps the most important piece of legislation since enactment of Social Security.

Senator Sam Ervin: Evolved from a hard-core opponent of civil rights legislation to a wise and courageous senator who navigated the dangerous Washington political environment taking on powerful opponents such as Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. He Chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee's Watergate Hearings in a folksy and humane manner that allowed the American people to see the truth about the Nixon White House and played a crucial role in forcing the resignation of President Nixon.

Posted by: bob7e | June 25, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

With these potential nominees, I would suggest FDR, Nixon and Tip O'Neill in that order. FDR, for all the obvious reasons and aided by circumstances (the Depression, WWII and no term limits).

Nixon as one of the ultimate politicians, which also ultimately led to his doom. He opened the door to China, which was a one of the momentous acts of the 20th century,and which effectively marginalized the USSR off the main stage and and which led to their dramatic implosion later in the century.

Finally, Mr. Tip should be in for being the last of the politicians that could get anything done with bi-partisan support and who was effectively neutered by a very poor president (Carter), bedeviled by a charming successor in Reagan and the beginning of the extreme partisanship that took hold of our national politic shortly thereafter (which I see the obvious beginning with the Bork nomination, but which really started shortly before when O'Neill lost the will to get down in the gutter with his colleagues).

Posted by: stvcar | June 25, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

So you are not distinguishing "Fame" and "Shame"?
I do.

Your first "Fame" three from the modern era should have been TR [invented the modern presidency], HST [took a war weary country into the Cold War and gave us the GI Bill, the Marshall Plan, the line in the sand for Greece, Berlin, and Korea; the birth of Israel, and was the last president we will ever have who did not give a d--n what his popularity was], and FDR, for all Andy's reasons.

Your first "Fame" three all time should be Lincoln, GW, and Franklin [invented the public school, the public library, the secular university, and "mediated" the writing of the DI, talked France into entering the Revolution, and so much more].

Your first "Shame" three modern era should be Alexander Mitchell Palmer, Attorney General, 1919 [the suspension of the BOR], Warren Harding [worst president of the twentieth century] and Joseph R. McCarthy.

Your all-time Shame list must lead off with the murderous, treasonous, swindler who killed Hamilton in a needless duel, Aaron Burr - as suggested by ProgressiveIndependent. After that? Benedict Arnold and John Wilkes Boothe.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | June 25, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse


Birch Bayh of Indiana, who fought for women's equality in higher ed. by helping pass Title IX. Among Bayh's other accomplishments are the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ensured kids getting shipped off to a war zone would (rightfully) have a chance to vote for whomever was sending them.


Lincoln, our greatest president ever, duh. I'm not sure how you induct Reagan before Lincoln, guys, but whatever!

Trawling the Founding Fathers for skilled politicians shouldn't be too hard, either.

Posted by: brickerd | June 25, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I second FDR both because of the massive way he has shaped the political debates ever since being president, but also because of the shear political skill it took to get elected again, and again, and again.

And on the Republican side, though he's had some troubles with the law, Tom Delay really exemplifies a breed of politico that's unmatched- I mean this guy's nickname was "The Hammer"

Posted by: sfcpoll | June 25, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse


Time for you to right your wrong -- FDR definitely needs to be the next one in. As vbhoomes says, a total no-brainer. I think you just need to announce it by fiat, then pick three more for us to vote on.

My non-FDR nominee is Mayor Richard J. Daley. He was the definition of a political wheeler and dealer. There has been no mayor more powerful, on a local or national scene. And Chicago politics is still dealing with the remnants of the famed Daley political machine.

Posted by: mnteng | June 25, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I nominate Zouk...

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | June 25, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

You have to go FDR for the next entry. He won four elections from a wheelchair, pushed through the greatest expansion of the federal government since the Articles of the Confederacy were replaced by the Constitution, won WWII, created modern political communication with the fireside chat, and he is a character in Annie.
Who can argue with that!

Posted by: AndyR3 | June 25, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Most influential politicos who never reached the White House:
Democratic: Tip O'Neill, Hubert Humphrey
Republican: Earl Warren, Bob Dole

Posted by: mattfugazi | June 25, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Three nominations to consider:

Sen. John McCain-- One of the most effective and most prominent modern legislators; surely a name and face that will be remembered for years to come.

Sen. George McGovern-- A classic liberal, a tireless fighter, and a hero of the antiwar movement.

Sen. Robert Byrd-- Controversial in some respects, but nevertheless a towering figure in the history of the Senate.

Posted by: drn001 | June 25, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

What are the standards or criteria for the Hall of Fame?

Time's Man of the Year thing is 'most news impact', so they picked several arch villains who had the most impact. The resulting controversy of course sold additional copies.

By contrast apparently the Baseball Hall of Fame excludes people who did forbidden things, such as Pete Rose, regardless of actual talent.

By Time's standard, Nixon deserves to be in, but by baseball's standard, he doesn't. Chris, what is your approach? It's your HofF, so let us know!

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | June 25, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

While he once was “concerned,” seven days of bloodshed and brutality in Iran have led him finally to being “appalled and outraged.” But still it is collective. The “United States and the international community” have been “appalled and outraged,” he said. We can’t even have our own personal outrage without including the Europeans and the Africans and the Arab nations he so loves to appeal to. No, we must seek consensus on all things—including outrage. Once we saw that they were outraged, then we were outraged, too, darn it.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 25, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

My nominee: FDR.

FDR remade American politics forever, and his tenure is widely viewed as the first modern American presidency. He has done more than any other character in the past century to influence the direction of America, through successful foreign engagements and domestic policy overhauls. Even his failures (expanding SCOTUS) helped define the limits of the American president, and the 22nd amendment guarantees him a place in history.

So my vote: FDR.

Runner up:

Nixon (expansive view of the presidency, dramatic highs and lows, illegal acts that ushered in era of reform)

Posted by: jbouklas | June 25, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) should join the Hall of Fame. Rep. Jordan won a seat in the Texas State Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body.

In 1972, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first black woman from a Southern state to serve in the House. In 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

In 1976 she became the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Her speech in New York that summer was ranked 5th in "Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century" list and was considered by many historians to have been the best convention keynote speech in modern history.

Posted by: Coloradem1 | June 25, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I believe FDR is a no brainer. He was a transformative figure who reeligned to dems to a majority party for most of the 20th century. Without his uncanny leadership(he embargoed oil to Japan, knowing it left them little room but to attack us)we may have not entered WW ll when we did, and with a few exceptions he was an outstanding Commander-in-Chief during the conflict.

Posted by: vbhoomes | June 25, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I must say your comments about Millard Fillmore and William Henry Harrison reflect a highly provincial perspective, especially given the media obsession with the soap opera sex lives of contemporary politicians. Hopefully people one hundred fifty years from now will not consider discussions of most of our recent presidents to be "boring."

We should include politicians throughout our history to be honored and shamed. Otherwise we are belittling those of earlier eras and encouraging those in the future to do the same toward this era.

Including all of United States history, I think the worst rascals have been Aaron Burr, for treason against this country in trying to incite separatism, Jefferon Davis for being the leader of a rebellion, based on the defense of slavery, Andrew Johnson, who condoned the worst domestic terrorism in this country by white supremacists in the south and Joseph McCarthy, for being one of the leaders of the witch hunt after World War II, that tarnished the lives and ruined the reputations of many honorable individuals, setting the tone for the ideological hysteria during much of the cold war.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 25, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think any political hall of fame must include Gerald Ford. First for having the political courage to pardon Dick Nixon in the face of certain political suicide and second for the dignified way he assumed the presidency in the midst of a constitutional disaster. A lesser man would not have had the courage to pardon Nixon and help get the country out of a two year nightmare, absolutely my all time political hero even though I hated him at the time for doing it

Posted by: chet_brewer | June 25, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I would nominate Daniel Patrick Moynihan, late Senator from New York. He was a giant in the Senate, an intellectual, an expert in foreign and domestic policy, and bi-partisan. He was thoughtful, analytical, and caring. His kind are rare in politics and we need more like him.

Posted by: milneb | June 25, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

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