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The Fix Political Hall of Fame

The Fix loves two things almost as much as we love Mrs. Fix and Fix Jr.: politics and baseball.

Our twin passions have much in common: scads of statistics, personalities galore and an unending number of past versus present comparisons -- is Ted Williams or Albert Pujols the best hitter ever, who would win in a race between John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, and so on and so forth.

And, both baseball and politics tend to attract junkies who can recite the most obscure of facts and figures (the starting lineup for the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, every detail of the 1984 North Carolina Senate race between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt) even while demonstrating utter ineptitude at such basic tasks as changing a tire. (Maybe that's just the Fix.)

All of those similarities got us to thinking about why baseball has a hall of fame and yet there's no place to enshrine the best politicians of all time.

So, with the induction of baseball's class of 2009 -- base-stealer extraordinaire Rickey Henderson and Red Sawx great Jim Rice -- coming up in July, we thought now would be a good time to start our own political Hall of Fame, which we are calling, ever-so-creatively, The Fix Political Hall of Fame.

Just like the baseball HOF, the Fix Hall of Fame will include an inaugural class -- politicians whose presence in the hallowed halls is beyond debate. (Click through to get profiles of the first three members, and make a pilgrimage to the Hall.)

And, just like at Cooperstown, we will have a voting process -- this is where the Fixistas come in -- to decide future members.

Once a month, we'll accept nominations from the comments section and Twitter feed. We'll narrow the field to three candidates, write a post arguing the case for his or her inclusion and another against it. Then we'll put it to a vote. It's that simple.

For our purposes, we'll largely be focused on the last 100 years or so of American politics because as fascinating as the debate is over whether Andrew Jackson deserves a spot in the Hall or not, we leave those sorts of historical discussions to our betters -- like Newsweek editor Jon Meacham.

And so, without further ado. . .

THE INAUGURAL CLASS OF THE FIX POLITICAL HALL OF FAME

Bill ClintonClinton emerged victorious from a crowded Democratic field in 1992. (Ronald Zak -- AP)
Bill Clinton: When Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas for the second time in 1982 (at age 36), Michael Barone wrote the following passage about the boy governor in the Almanac of American Politics: "He presumably will avoid his earlier mistakes and not seek the national spotlight." Um, no.

Clinton used the next decade to formulate his political philosophy, which would come to be encapsulated in the phrase "New Democrat," and hone his "aw shucks" charm and skills on the stump. Fast forward to 1992. Clinton, still relatively unknown on the national stage, is given little chance at the party's presidential nomination in a field that included bigger names like former Massachusetts senator Paul Tsongas and former California governor Jerry Brown. Dogged by allegations of infidelity, Clinton somehow finished second in the New Hampshire primary, declared himself the "Comeback Kid" and ultimately took the nomination and -- with an assist from Independent candidate Ross Perot -- the presidency.

Recounting the next eight years is worth a book -- we recommend "The Survivor" by John F. Harris -- but through all the ups and downs, Clinton always managed to persevere, the sign of a consummate politician.

During his wife's campaign for president in 2008, Clinton showed signs of wear and a lack of familiarity with how quickly an off-color comment could become national news in the Internet age. But, in spite of those awkward growing pains, Clinton still showed flashes of brilliance. An example: days before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, Clinton arrived nearly an hour late to a speech in a high school gymnasium (the Fix was there). He took the stage and proceeded to speak for an hour without break to an enraptured audience. A remarkable performance that few politicians could ever hope to duplicate.

Lyndon JohnsonLyndon Johnson's three-decade run in politics began with a win in a 1937 special election. (AP/File Photo)
Lyndon Johnson: Even before he took over as president of the United States following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, LBJ had a strong argument to make for inclusion in the Fix Hall of Fame. As Robert Caro has detailed so brilliantly in the first two books of his three part series on Johnson's life, the Texas Democrat had two traits that all great politicians possess: vast ambition and an ability to convince voters and his colleagues of the rightness of his positions.

Johnson's political career began in 1937 when, at age 29, he won a special election to Congress campaigning as a solid vote for President Franklin Roosevelt. Four years later Johnson lost a Senate special election when, in the words of the Senate historian's office, he "announced his vote tallies too soon, allowing the opponent to 'find' enough votes to defeat him." Johnson never forgot that lesson -- winning a 1948 Senate runoff (the Democratic primary was the whole kit and caboodle in those days in Texas) over well-known and well-liked former governor Coke Stevenson, a race that gave us the famed "Ballot Box 13" and handed Johnson the narrowest of victories. Seven years later he became Senate Majority Leader -- thanks to his affiliation with behind-the-scenes power player Richard Russell (D-Ga.) -- a position that he defined for all future leaders with an aggressive, cajoling style that is his legacy.

Johnson's service as vice president and then president were marked by tremendous policy accomplishments (passage of the Civil Rights Act) and policy failures (his inability to bring the Vietnam War to a successful conclusion). His decision not to seek another term in 1968 ended a three-decade run in politics that was as influential -- for both good and bad -- as any in modern history.

Ronald ReaganPresident Reagan took 49 states in the 1984 election. (AP Photo/File)
Ronald Reagan: Ronald Reagan spent his early professional years as an actor -- not exactly the the most logical training for one of the best politicians in American history. (Or, in retrospect, maybe it was.) Elected head of the Screen Actors Guild in 1947 (he was nominated by Gene Kelly!), Reagan served in that role until 1951 -- a period dominated by the investigation of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) into alleged communism in Hollywood. Reagan became steadily more conservative during that time and increasingly interested in the political game. A decade later, he delivered an impassioned -- and televised -- speech in October 1964 on behalf GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater that catapulted him into the national political spotlight. Two years after that, Reagan was elected governor of California, beating then Gov. Pat Brown.

By 1968, Reagan was a big enough player on the national stage to contemplate but ultimately decide against, a run for the GOP presidential nomination. After winning a second term as governor in 1970, Reagan turned down the chance to run for a third in 1974 and turned his attention to re-shaping the Republican Party with a more conservative bent. He brought that new ideology to a surprisingly strong primary challenge to President Gerald Ford in 1976. Four years later, Reagan was the odds-on favorite for the nomination and, even though George H.W. Bush pushed him harder than expected in the primaries, Reagan won the nomination and then swamped President Jimmy Carter in November 1980 by winning 489 electoral votes. Reagan one-upped himself in his reelection bid, winning 49 states in a crushing defeat of Walter Mondale.

Reagan's second term was far less smooth than his first --- due in large part to questions over his involvement in Iran-Contra -- but he left office popular enough to see his vice president elected to the top job. Reagan, who departed from public life in 1994 following an announcement that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, continues to exert considerable influence on the Republican party; during the 2008 presidential primaries, the aspirants for the GOP nomination fell all over one another to profess their love and admiration for the Great Communicator.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 15, 2009; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  Hall of Fame  
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Next: Morning Fix: Six Senators To Watch On Health Care

Comments

I nominate Gov. Sarah Palin who came out of no where last year to the #2 spot on the GOP ticket -- she is still a force to be reckoned (sp?) with -- no modern-day American politician has ever risen that fast and high.

Posted by: JakeD | June 22, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Hall of Fame---
Disagree with Mr. Lorenzo about Washington. Although he was our greatest president, he was the anti-politician---despised partisan politics (as did his VP Adams). He was elected because he was a great man, not because he was a great politician (although he was an extraordinary political general and could infight with the best of them).

No, Hamilton is our man. Hamilton was also the first US politician caught in a sex scandal. (Jefferson, true to his sleazy nature, never admitted that he lived in sin with a slave, unlike Hamilton, who publicly apologized to the public after he was caught---another pioneering first.) Hamilton create modern party politics as we know it, and was the ultimate realist, essentially giving the presidency to his enemy Jefferson to foil his arch-enemy (and eventual killer), Burr.

Posted by: maris9 | June 17, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Chris-- Great concept. Good nominees, realizing you can never please everyone.

I urge you to consider this guy for your next class of nominees: William Jennings Bryant. If not on your next list, then eventually.

He just makes it into your "100 years or so" criterian. In 1896, 1900, and 1908 HE RAN (unsuccessfully) AS DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE 3 out of 4 STRAIGHT ELECTIONS. I know of no other politician, at least in the last
century or so, who has accomplished such a feat. That's not easy, or it would have been done on other occasions.

This makes him the Buffalo Bills of US politics! He HAS to be considered at least.

Posted by: bmckenzie46 | June 16, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Cooperstown is a place to honor the best of the best in baseball as determined by their peers and scribes. So too should your HOF be a place of honor for the best of the politicians.

The only test of a successful politician is 'was he/she re-elected' and no one was more successful at that than Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was elected and re-elected President of the United States 4 times. That is the mark of a successful politician and even if you do not agree with his policies you have to respect his political success as the best there ever was. Without him in your HOF would be like not having Babe Ruth or Tris Speaker in Cooperstown. It would be a meaningless place without him. I believe that not including him in the inaugural class was an oversight that you will never be able to justify but that is already done. Don’t leave him out of the next class.

Posted by: jbelcher61bellsouthnet | June 16, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

100 years or so...There is only one - and I am going to give you clues to see if yu know who he is...I am his number one fan and have been since 1994 when I found his name in a dusty old Congressional book at a Federal library at Yale University. He intrigued me because he oppposed the IRS and believed the government should live within its means. He ia the best kept secret in America and most do not know his name - yet it is on GED tests. He dedicated his life to reforming politics and took down Boss Tweed and the Corrupt Canal Ring. He advised Presidents starting with Martin Van Buren to Cleveland, and helped Lincoln win the Civil War by using the railroads he was heavily invested in to get food and amunition to the Union soliders...He opposed slavery being spread from the South into the new terriorties... He was one of New York Cities most famous residents and the Manhattan drink was named after him. He was a New York Governor and he won the Presidency by it was robbed from him because a managing editor at the New York Times hated him and got the ball rolling to steal his election win by one electoral college vote. His mansion still stands in Gramercy Park and is now the home of the National Arts Club -his other mansion in Yonkers is the home to St. John's hospital- there is a small park with his name on it. A bronze statue, which he paid for it out of his own pocket was supposed to be placed on 34th and Park Ave. but it has been hidden under the trees way on the upper west side where no one can see it. He left the bulk of his money to build the New York Public library, his gift to New Yorkers and now a Real Estate Mogal on the BOD donated 100 million dollars to have his name carved into every entrance of the building which will make it look like it was the founder. This politician has had numerous books written about him by some very famous authors, including our former Supreme Court Justic William Renquist and yet people have no interest until they read a story I wrote about his stolen election. I am hoping to change your mind and beg you at the Political Hall of Fame to consider my nomination; Samuel J. Tilden.

Posted by: noldaker | June 16, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

In world politics, Golda Meir stands out because she gave up her life in America to help Israel become a state and led them through their formative years and wars. In American politics, FDR led a depressed nation out of economic woe and through WWII. Although confined to a wheelchair, he showed great compassion and skill as a world leader. He was also smart enough to let his wife become an integral part of his administration as she helped form public policy leading to welfare reforms not previously known.

Posted by: rita0509 | June 16, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Johnson?

While I think he was a fantastic guy for civil rights legislation, he kinda oversaw the dismantling of the democratic party and that was with the dead hand of JFK blessing him.

If we're going with Johnson, then we might as well throw in Dubya too.

Posted by: theamazingjex | June 16, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Baseball HoF discussions are a whole nother thing. There's at least one blog that often touches on this, but I won't repeatthe link, because the discussions there are uniformly civil, and I'd like to see it stay that way.

If you go beyond presidents, you have to include Mayor Daley and Huey Long, who might be the Willie Mays of pols (he could do it all). Also, the Fightin Little Judge from Montgomery. But again, you HAVE to include Obama. First black President, first avowed lib to win in 44 years (and the second since FDR), beat the Clinton machine. And as for LBJ, the prime directive of a pol is to retain power, so that you can continue to wield it. By not running in 68 (because a campaign would have not been politically viable), LBJ failed to retain power.*

*then there's that little matter of his accused complicity in JFK's assassination, if Howard Hunt's deathbed confession is to be believed.

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 16, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The new Kindle absolutely rocks. That is all.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 16, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you really ought to specify. I presume, given your choices, you are proposing a Hall of Fame for the best AMERICAN politicians of all time. Those you have named are undoubtedly extremely talented, but probably no more so than Churchill, Nehru, or Mandela. And how would one classify people who parlayed a small political platform into global influence, such as Nkrumah or Tito? Or people with economic achievements that any of your nominees would kill for, like Lee Kwan Yew? Or those with enormous influence that was purely evil, like Hitler, Mao, Khomeini, or most notably of all, Stalin?

Posted by: qlangley | June 16, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

"Pete Rose, however was the best hitter."

Anyone with a career OPS less than .800 and a career BA lower than Kiki Cuyler's is not allowed in the "best hitter" conversation. (DDAWD: Rose did lead the league in batting a couple of times -- .348 in 1969). Williams, Pujols, Bonds, Cobb, Ruth all belong there.

Maybe CC can come up with specific metrics by which we can measure "greatness" in the political arena (elections won/different offices held, legislative achievements, influence, etc.).

Posted by: mnteng | June 15, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:

Unit chief here.

You should have stopped with "You are nuts."

This is not statecraft. Report in -- NOW.

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 15, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Your lame psy ops betrays the concept of statecraft.

If you continue to embarrass the unit, the extreme prejudice typically reserved for self-described truth-tellers like the individual you have publicly libeled may have to be employed in the instant case.

You have been warned. Have a nice day.

==

Can someone translate this for me please?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

scrivener: you are NUTS

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

LIBEL VIA TAXPAYER-FUNDED BLOG-MOB PSY OPS?


To the (apparently) paid blog mobber chrisfox8:


Your lame psy ops betrays the concept of statecraft.

If you continue to embarrass the unit, the extreme prejudice typically reserved for self-described truth-tellers like the individual you have publicly libeled may have to be employed in the instant case.

You have been warned. Have a nice day.


***


PS -- Please re-read Scrivener's article, so that you may make more effective use of neurolinguistic programming techniques in your ongoing assignment. The link:

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is again purged from this blog):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener


Posted by: scrivener50 | June 15, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

"Ty Cobb, there was a mean bastid"
-- Francis Phelan "Ironweed" (William Kennedy)

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Please add David Palmer and Josiah Bartett.

Thank you.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | June 15, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Hall of Fame
_____

FDR
JFK
LBJ
BHO
_____

Best hitter: Barry Lamar Bonds

Posted by: broadwayjoe | June 15, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Dave caved and apologized today to Mrs. Todd Phalin (I'm sure an omission from Chris's HoF list). A sad day for the Republic.

==

Yeah it really is a shame that that caterwauling was rewarded with an apology.

Letterman should have told her to take it and stick it.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Although I agree with all those who believe FDR deserves a spot in the inaugural class, I see where you're comming from with the first three inductees. Along with FDR, I would add the following:

JFK - innovation (ExComm, West Wing), Cuban Missle Crisis, first Rock Star Pres
Nixon - Watergate, China, three Pres elections
Ted Kennedy - Legislative Lion

I would add RFK for his historic 1968 campaign, but that would be a lot of Kennedys.

Posted by: timmerq | June 15, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"Lincoln was a so so politician, but more than competent to grow into the leader that held on until the North produced the Generals he needed to win. In any hagiachracy he certainly belongs, but more as Wee Willie Keeler than Rose or Gwynne or Williams."

I guess the distinction is hard to make. Should Lincoln get bonus points for being willing to lead the nation into an unpopular war as opposed to say someone like Reagan who told the country that the US will actually MAKE money by cutting taxes?

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"...So its settled. Neither Sarah Palin nor David Letterman get inducted.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 7:48 PM"
_____________

Agreed, d.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | June 15, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

"The first class to be inducted should have been Washington, Lincoln and FDR the three greatest presidents. One from each of the centuries. I thought that this would be obvious.... I am an ex-POL. Sci. Prof.Posted by: isart "

Well, perhaps your history is a bit weak, but Washington, a great President and a great leader, wasn't much a politician, and when Congress, ESPECIALLY the Senate took a political cut at his early attempts at "advise and consent" GW got insulted and sulked, leaving the politics from then on to Adams and Jefferson, who went at it with great relish.

The classification is POLITICIAN, not great man or principled person. Jeanette Rankin was a failure as a POLITICIAN, whatever the value of her principles because she created no coalitions, accomplished no significant feats of legislation, or even opposition there to.

Lincoln was a so so politician, but more than competent to grow into the leader that held on until the North produced the Generals he needed to win. In any hagiachracy he certainly belongs, but more as Wee Willie Keeler than Rose or Gwynne or Williams.

FDR was politician par exemplar, and right there in the first class, but he rally did his best work within his own party, in opposition to the Republicans, rather than with both parties in opposition to an (unholy) alliance of parties as well. Granted there was as much warfare within his cabinet as sometimes occurs between administrations and their less than loyal camera obscuranta opposition, but his political skill was in getting Democrats to work together.

LBJ got CONGRESS to work together.

It is POLITICIANS we consider here, not necessarily great men. Eugene v Debs was a great man. Norman Thomas was something of a politician.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 15, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

"Dave caved and apologized today to Mrs. Todd Phalin (I'm sure an omission from Chris's HoF list). A sad day for the Republic.

From HuffPo:

"David Letterman apologized to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on Monday night's show, saying he takes "full responsibility" for a "beyond flawed" joke in which he had quipped that Palin's daughter had been "knocked up" by Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez.

Just after his monologue, Letterman sat behind his desk and apologized to Palin's two daughters, Bristol and Willow, Palin and her family and "everybody else who was outraged by the joke."

Letterman continued, "I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception.""


Meh, people lied about the perception. The only ones I'll give the benefit of the doubt to are Sarah and Todd Palin. The rest of the world knew damn well which daughter was being referred to.

That being said, it wasn't a great joke and nothing wrong for apologizing for it. If somehow he managed to poke fun at Sarah Palin's sanctimoniousness, THAT would have been great.

So its settled. Neither Sarah Palin nor David Letterman get inducted.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Dave caved and apologized today to Mrs. Todd Phalin (I'm sure an omission from Chris's HoF list). A sad day for the Republic.

From HuffPo:

"David Letterman apologized to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on Monday night's show, saying he takes "full responsibility" for a "beyond flawed" joke in which he had quipped that Palin's daughter had been "knocked up" by Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez.

Just after his monologue, Letterman sat behind his desk and apologized to Palin's two daughters, Bristol and Willow, Palin and her family and "everybody else who was outraged by the joke."

Letterman continued, "I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception."

Posted by: broadwayjoe | June 15, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

The first class to be inducted should have been Washington, Lincoln and FDR the three greatest presidents. One from each of the centuries. I thought that this would be obvious.

For the next round I nominate the least obvious candidate Jeanette Rankin, Republican of Montana, THE FIRST WOMAN to serve in the US Congress. Elected in 1916 from one of the few western states which allowed women to vote before the 19th Amendment she was a devout Pacifist and was one of a small group to vote against Wilson's entry into WW I.

She was turned out in 1918 after helping to introduce the Amendment to allow women to vote nationwide.

Still the Pacifist she was elected to a second term in 1940 and was the only member of both houses of Congress to vote against the declaration of war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

She was the only American to vote "NO" on entering both World Wars and the last politician to vote against a formal Declaration of War.

Shortly before her death she led the Jeanette Rankin Contingent in the March for Peace to protest the Vietnam War which terminated at the Pentagon.

I am an ex-POL. Sci. Prof and cannot think of a politician more true to his/her code than Jeanette Rankin.

Peter Lorenzo, Jr.
Lt. Col. (ret.) USAF
Sun City Roseville, CA

Posted by: isart | June 15, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"" "Pete Rose, however was the best hitter."
Really? I could rattle off ten better hitters without even thinking about it. Good hitter, yes, but the best ever? Not with those low home run totals. Posted by: DDAWD "

That's HITTER, not home run hitter. Williams was the last 400 HITTER, (but again, not against Paige, and not well against Feller.)"

I guess you could say this is semantics, but to me, being a good hitter isn't just about amassing singles. It's about hitting for power. It's about taking walks. Rose could hit singles, he could walk at a decent pace. Those two things make him a Hall of Fame player. His lack of power prevent him from being the best hitter ever.

But even if you use the ability to amass singles as the only measure of hitting, then how does Rose surpass Tony Gwynn? I don't think Rose ever had a season where his average surpassed Gwynn's career average.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

For his stand on Civil Rights, knowing full well he was severely handicapping his own party for taking that stand, LBJ gets first place in any such pantheon.

==

Well in the short run LBJ handed the south to the GOP, but in the longer run it was their undoing, as we are now seeing all around the country as the rural south is all the GOP has left.

Agreed with your point, LBJ put the national good above the short-term fortunes of the Democratic Party and in the 35 years since we have become a nation where a single unguarded remark is enough to "take out" a Republican annointed prince like George Allen.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

" "Pete Rose, however was the best hitter."
Really? I could rattle off ten better hitters without even thinking about it. Good hitter, yes, but the best ever? Not with those low home run totals. Posted by: DDAWD "

That's HITTER, not home run hitter. Williams was the last 400 HITTER, (but again, not against Paige, and not well against Feller.)

And it is POLITICIAN, as in a practician of the art and science of pulling together disparate bodies to get the best work out of diverse workers. LBJ got two amazing results as President, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act by bringing Ev Dirksen on board, as well as lots of other pols not ordinarily in his camp. To do it he needed ALL of the years of favors he had stored up from his time in the Senate.

Clinton managed to get things done IN SPITE of the Newt, partly by staying ten to twenty moves ahead of him. Daley made Chicago work. Metzenbaum stood so well against the Reaganite wave that after a while Republican Senate leadership had a checkoff on proposed legislation for Metz to decide whether they wanted to take him on.

The ultimate HOF Politician uses, in the better sense, both his friends and his enemies to pass great legislation, and sometimes he does KNOWING that passing that legislation will hurt his own party, but sees the need and passes the legislation anyway. For his stand on Civil Rights, knowing full well he was severely handicapping his own party for taking that stand, LBJ gets first place in any such pantheon.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 15, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

arrg note to self: turn off VPSKEYS when posting ... mibrooks, not mibrơks

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I second mibrơks' recommendation of Eisenhower. And in addition to the reasons he named I would add Eisenhower's prescient warning about the military-industrial complex and his willingness to leave tax rates so very high for the wealthiest Americans, political courage sorely lacking now. If we still had a tax code that rose as steeply we would not have so many billionaires with the ability to shape policy to personal advantage.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"As a pure hitter you would be hard pressed to find anyone better than Ken Griffey Jr. I saw him, years ago, when he hit game winning home run against the Yankee's in the final game of their playoff series. It was art! Look at him on television, even today. This is a great and gifted athlete that has been largely ignored."

He wasn't ignored before he went to Cincinnati. The problem is that once he went there, he was injured all the time. When he did play, he was moderately productive, but nowhere near as good as he was in Seattle. And now, he just stinks. Only the very, very, very rare athlete can garner attention once he stops being good. He certainly wasn't ignored when he was hitting 50 home runs every year.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"

No to LBJ. Only national election he won was in wake of JFK assassination. Wouldn't stand for re-election. No also to Clinton. Should be FDR (man won four national elections) and Obama. As the first black President, Obama IS the Jackie Robinson of politics; he won without really moderating his campaign and he beat the Clintons. These two reasons are why Clinton can't go in ahead of Obama; a brilliant politician would not have made the missteps he did in 2008. Posted by: gbooksdc"

Since we are talking Politicians here, and not just Presidents, LBJ definitely makes the first five, along with FDR, Bill Clinton, Sam Rayburn, and someone like Richard Daley and/or Huey Long. They made their marks, each of them, by their political acumen and their particular style. Reagan never had much style, being an actor in a role somebody else wrote for him, and may indeed not qualify in the top one hundred. As we are looking for style, some where in the top twenty put Ev Dircksen, and Ed Koch, and, for his ability to stand against the incoming tide and slow it to a manageable flow, Howard Metzenbaum.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 15, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

As a pure hitter you would be hard pressed to find anyone better than Ken Griffey Jr. I saw him, years ago, when he hit game winning home run against the Yankee's in the final game of their playoff series. It was art! Look at him on television, even today. This is a great and gifted athlete that has been largely ignored.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 15, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"Pete Rose, however was the best hitter."

Really? I could rattle off ten better hitters without even thinking about it. Good hitter, yes, but the best ever? Not with those low home run totals.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

mark_in_austin _ your's ought to win some sort of reward for the most thoughtful analysis here today. I just wanted you to know that I read it and went away for a while and thought about it. I would, with respect, add Eisenhower to the first tier because of Brown v. Education, the interstate highways, and his expansion of the national parks. I would actually place him ahead of FDR and tied with TR.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 15, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, Clinton and LBJ, two of the deepest politicians ever, and Ronnie, one of the shallowest, are safe picks.

Pete Rose, however was the best hitter. Williams best years were right before integration, so he never had to hit against the Juan marichals, Bob Gibsons, J. R. Richards, and Fernando Valenzuelas of his day. Take that collection of pitchers out of Roses stats, and replace them with the almost was es from the white pitchers Rose would have faced, and his hit stats get even better. Then again, if Mayes had had County Stadium and Fulton County Stadium, instead of the Polo Grounds and Candlestick park for his home stadiums, Aaron would be third or fourth on the all time Home Run list, well behind the Kid.

Now, as for Pols of the last hundred years, RR doesn't get in anywhere above about number fifty, behind men like Mr. Sam, Hizzhonna (The ORIGINAL Mayor Daley), and even Huey Long. He may not even rate above Wendel Wilkie.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 15, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

"DDAWD:

More importantly, who were the 17 idiots that didn't think The Rickey was a first-ballot HOFer? They should have their voting privileges revoked."

Yeah, seriously. It's always baffling at the people who aren't unanimous picks. I guess some people never vote for a player on his first year, just out of principle. It seems stupid to me, but whatever.

And I think its criminal that Alan Trammell isn't in. In fact, he isn't even close. I don't think he has broken 20% in his years on the ballot. Yeah, he wasn't the best shortstop of his time, but coming in second to Cal Ripken is absolutely meaningless. Just because a once in a decade talent plays alongside a once in a generation talent doesn't mean the former shouldn't be enshrined.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Dear Fix,

While I do enjoy your facination with politics, I do not share your interest in baseball. I want to tell you, too, that there is actually a sort-of hall-of-fame for politics, too. It is called "Crooks and Liars." Try to Google it and you will see. I check your blog almost every day.

Posted by: bobwhitenks | June 15, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD:

More importantly, who were the 17 idiots that didn't think The Rickey was a first-ballot HOFer? They should have their voting privileges revoked.

By analogy, getting elected to state or national office is more like scoring runs than drawing walks -- all the talent in the world won't get you home unless your team is good.

Posted by: mnteng | June 15, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"I'm glad LBJ made the list, but I think FDR easily outranks Reagan and Clinton."

Yeah, I'm not sure how Clinton makes the list. At least Reagan had momentous change during his presidency. Whether or not he was responsible is arguable, but I can't think of anything close that occurred during Clinton.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Much though I admire Señor Cillizza and devotedly read his blog entries daily, this list reminds me of the People Magazine Rock Hall of Fame, which includes Tina Turner but not The Who or Jethro Tull. Others have noted that all three come from the last 50 years.

I'm glad LBJ made the list, but I think FDR easily outranks Reagan and Clinton.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Also, Nixon cannot go to this hall anymore than Joe Jackson can go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you cheat, you're not a hall-of-famer.

Posted by: stpaulsage | June 15, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmm,

I agree w/artigiano that both Roosevelt's are near the top of any list of "recent" political giants. And Harry Truman, too, for the Marshall Plan and winning the 1948 election alone.

But I nominate Hubert Humphrey. His decency and joyfulness defined a different kind of politics and his unabashed liberalism was a potent force in US politics from 1948-1978. He also remade the Minnesota democratic party (uniting the Farmer laborites and the Democrats - two regular losers before that - into the still dominant party in MN and clearing out the communists).

His speech about civil rights in 1948, including the line "let's step out of the shadow of state's rights and into the light of human rights" was a key step of thelong journey that led us to President Obama.

This should be fun, thanks.

Posted by: stpaulsage | June 15, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

bsimon and chrisfox, although from reading history of the talks I give primary credit to George Schultz and secondary credit to Colin Powell on our side, and primary credit for overall success to Gorby, I believe you underestimate RWR when you give him no credit for the success of the treaty talks. He performed poorly at first, thinking he could good 'ole boy Gorby. He realized it, after 6 hours or so, and before Schultz could light into him he hung his head and said "I failed America today and it will not happen again." It was then that he took his schooling by the diplomats and the joint chiefs seriously. He buckled down. He did the hard work. Over time, Gorby's opinion of him rose sharply, as RWR no longer seemed like a happy cowboy, but rather an engaged and gracious diplomat. The exchanges Gorby later recalled are telling. They came to trust each other. The treaty was a success in all meaningful respects.

It is possible to say that someone else would have done as well, but that would be a hypothetical construct. I am giving credit for what did happen to a practicing politician who "did the right thing".

I could never regard any twentieth century pols as highly as I do TR, HST, and FDR. Personally, I would rank General Marshall, who served in so many critical capacities from the 1930s to the 1950s next. They had the toughest jobs, and performed under pressure.
Does Marshall not count because he was a general and a diplomat?

I could accept LBJ and RWR in a second tier, with DDE and perhaps some others.

If the third grouping included Sam Rayburn, Arthur Vandenburg, and Robert Lafollette, It would not do great injustice. These were men of great legislative accomplishments.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | June 15, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

“Can you also prove that you have ANYTHING to do with it actually happening?
==
Sure. I gave a couple of speeches about "the Evil Nighttime" before conservative audiences.”

And this, in your mind, is causal?

Had a CAT scan lately?

Posted by: Ichristian | June 15, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean no hall of fame for politicians, don’t you Americans have Mount Rushmore? And I know Only Teddy makes the hunderd year cut off.(if barly)

My picks would be
FDR (Cant bellieve he is not on your list)
then Truman (State of israel, UN, Trumandoctrine and the Marshallplan)(nevermind the two uses of WMD)
then LBJ(Voting Rights Bill and Great Society)

Posted by: jolmer | June 15, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Can you also prove that you have ANYTHING to do with it actually happening?

==

Sure. I gave a couple of speeches about "the Evil Nighttime" before conservative audiences.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Reagan? Thought you needed talent to be a Hall of Famer. Any study of his body of work will show him as an initiator of deregulation that has allowed banking and industry to control 'elected' representatives continuing since 1980 until now; the free market will take care of itself (which only applied to its CEO's not the rest of us) leading to the mess the economy is in now; the 'trickle down' hoax; tax cuts plus deficit spending to impair or destroy the government's ability to fund Social Security (done by socialist FDR) and Medicare (done by socialist LBJ). Give him a little discredit for that, or if you want, credit for destroying government by, for and of the people, and not just for merely being on watch when the Soviet economy finally collapsed after decades of being outspent by us in the arms race since WWII.

The Reagan beat the commies urban legend is just as hollow as someone saying Clinton balanced the budget totally on his own accord. He balanced the budget because Republicans made him do so because they thought it hurt him and help them politically even though it temporarily slowed the deficit hemorraging until they could install a Republican in the Oval Office and reopen the fire hydrants of wasting money.

Posted by: Patriot3 | June 15, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

“I think we put them all in, but didn't go all in ourselves. It's easier for America to play poker as they have a bigger stack than everyone else.”

Yes, it looked like two equally matched players. Turned out they weren’t.

But it was of course an insane gamble (on someone’s part).

Because it worked, he has some amount of honor among some people.

If it had not, we’d be cursing his name in post-nuclear holocaust ruins until the last light went out on this planet.

Posted by: Ichristian | June 15, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, and that’s exactly the point. They smelled that weakness, used phony CIA statistics from GHWBush’s CIA to justify massive ramp-ups of defense spending, and dared the creaking Soviet economy to keep up. They went all in. The Soviets, thankfully, folded without taking the rest of humanity along with them down the drain. (One might ask who was saner.)"

I think we put them all in, but didn't go all in ourselves. It's easier for America to play poker as they have a bigger stack than everyone else.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

“Ichristian: well I stand for the sun coming up so I expect, given your reasoning, to get full cređit for morning.”

Can you also prove that you have ANYTHING to do with it actually happening?

Posted by: Ichristian | June 15, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Ichristian: well I stand for the sun coming up so I expect, given your reasoning, to get full cređit for morning.

Sheesh.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

“Yeah and before Reagan took office the Soviet economy was swimmingly healthy.”

Yes, and that’s exactly the point. They smelled that weakness, used phony CIA statistics from GHWBush’s CIA to justify massive ramp-ups of defense spending, and dared the creaking Soviet economy to keep up. They went all in. The Soviets, thankfully, folded without taking the rest of humanity along with them down the drain. (One might ask who was saner.)
I don’t say there weren’t internal forces within the USSR that didn’t do this or contribute, but the Reagan hawks kept enormous pressure on the USSR, and on the newer breed of (non-Stalinist) leaders, to see if they still wanted to play.
And I don’t say I approve; just that they did it, and we’re all still here to talk about it. Whether that’s due to Gorbachev or Reagan, it’s still something that Reagan stood for. And since this is for American politicians and not Russian Politburo Chairmen, I’d say Reagan at least commanded history’s stage, like it or not.

Posted by: Ichristian | June 15, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

All great picks but where do we stop? Doesn't baseball have some pretty strict qualifications for acceptance? What about the Pete Rose syndrome? If we follow that lead has there ever been a politician honest enough to get the nod?
Posted by: rawreid | June 15, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse
While reading the earlier posts, and some of the objections to the near or real criminality of HOF politicians, it struck me that a certain amount of “scoundrel-ness” seems to be a fairly common characteristic of many of the picks mentioned. I don’t know that it’s essential, but it seems to be present often enough.

As others pointed out, this isn’t about morality. It’s about political success. To use Harry Truman's comment as a template: If you’re looking for a saint, go to a church.

Posted by: Ichristian | June 15, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a fairly cool idea. Though I worry it may be swamped with predominately presidential nominations and we ignore the other key players in history like Goldwater, et al. Can't wait until we can make some suggestions though.

Posted by: mtcooley | June 15, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The difference between the baseball HOF and a political HOF is that baseball players are not elected to their positions. (Can you imagine the Yankees lineup being controlled by fans voting?) The only exception is the All-Star game, and, funny enough, a large number of those all-stars are Cooperstown-bound.

In politics, the people who have won office are already all-stars of sorts. They have already risen to the top, and it's impossible not to include every president, love him or hate him, in a Hall of Fame. I mean, with the exception of Ford (who I think still deserves to be in this HOF for his steady hand after Watergate and overseeing the end of Vietnam), every president has won at least one national election, which means that they were all regarded as MVPs of sorts in their day. Maybe one or two can be crossed off for dismal performances like dying a month into office (granted, that's 19th century), but can we just accept the given that all presidents are on this list?

I tend to agree that we need more governors, legislators, mayors, and the like if this is going to be a serious list.

And although CC stipulates the last 100 years, his picks seem to trend more to the last 50 years. What about Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR? If we are only selecting a few presidents, these seem as important or more important than Johnson, Reagan, and Clinton.

Posted by: blert | June 15, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"All great picks but where do we stop? Doesn't baseball have some pretty strict qualifications for acceptance?"

The only one is that the player must not have played for five years. There are some criteria as to who actually gets on the ballot, but other than that, its just about who gets enough votes (75%). But there's no rule like a player must get 400 homeruns or 2500 strikeouts or anything like that.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Have to agree with Chrisfox and BSimon about Reagan. He was a not too smart B movie actor that got some lucky breaks, All I remember about him is Nancy standing at his elbow whispering to him what to say. Sad but no Hall of Famer.

Posted by: rawreid | June 15, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

All great picks but where do we stop? Doesn't baseball have some pretty strict qualifications for acceptance? What about the Pete Rose syndrome? If we follow that lead has there ever been a politician honest enough to get the nod?

Posted by: rawreid | June 15, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Disagree about Reagan. Sneer or applaud as you will, he presided over the end of the Cold War (it didn’t just happen), and in fact, pushed it to its (lucky) conclusion by playing a high-stakes financial and military poker game with the Soviet Union, hoping they’d fold their hand rather than shoot up the place, either while playing or after losing. and that is historic.

==

Yeah and before Reagan took office the Soviet economy was swimmingly healthy.

What BS. The Soviet Union would have collapsed just as handily if Carter had been re-elected, and not one second later.

The same president to tried to blame his predecessor for the Beirut barracks bombing that killed over 200 Marines was perfectly willing to take credit for the Soviet collapse on his "watch" despite having nothing at all to do with it.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Reagan is a lock.. Changed the way people thought about government and was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet Union."

"Disagree about Reagan. Sneer or applaud as you will, he presided over the end of the Cold War (it didn’t just happen), and in fact, pushed it to its (lucky) conclusion by playing a high-stakes financial and military poker game with the Soviet Union"


It's as though Gorbachev never existed & the Gipper was the guy taking on the Politbureau, forcing acceptance of glasnost and perestroika.


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | June 15, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"DDAWD:
More important to winning games than walks or SBs is runs scored. And the career leader is ... oh yeah, The Rickey as well."

Yeah, but drawing walks is more of an individual skill than scoring runs. A mediocre leadoff man could theoretically score a lot of runs if the guys behind him were good enough.

But its no coincidence that Henderson is so high up with both walks and runs.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox,

Please do yourself a favor and seek professional help. Seriously man, you're not right in the head.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 15, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I loathed Lyndon Johnson, chanting "hey hey LBJ, how many boys did you kill today" in many an anti-war rally when he was president, but after reading Caro's books I now have a grudging admiration for him, and his was the name that immediately jumped into my mind before reading Chris' actual picks. And let's give Caro proper credit - he has published 3 volumes in the series, with a 4th final volume to come, not 2 out of 3 as cited by Chris.

Posted by: lwieland | June 15, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Disagree about Reagan. Sneer or applaud as you will, he presided over the end of the Cold War (it didn’t just happen), and in fact, pushed it to its (lucky) conclusion by playing a high-stakes financial and military poker game with the Soviet Union, hoping they’d fold their hand rather than shoot up the place, either while playing or after losing. and that is historic.

As for HHH, the tragedy is that he followed LBJ and the nightly news body counts out of Vietnam. An entire generation never really knew his earlier career and his vast political courage and accomplishments. A very capable politician, but don’t know if he makes the first tier.

Posted by: Ichristian | June 15, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. CC has started a Political Hall of Fame, but all the inaugural inductees are former POTUSes. That's kind of like starting the Baseball HOF with all pitchers.

I heartily second the nominations of Hizzoner (Mayor Richard J. Daley) and Tip O'Neill.

DDAWD:
More important to winning games than walks or SBs is runs scored. And the career leader is ... oh yeah, The Rickey as well.

Posted by: mnteng | June 15, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Reagan is a lock.. Changed the way people thought about government and was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet Union. Clintion is more borderline, economic success had a lot to do with Gingrich's contract with America, which included welfare reform and balance budget, still I would add him. But LBJ?? LBJ was a disaster. His handling of the Vietnam war to him making this country a welfare state. Throw in the college uprisings and race riots and he might have been one of the worse ever. Presidents who should be on the list are the 2 Roosevelts, Teddy and FDR.

Posted by: sovine08 | June 15, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Let's also not forget that in retaliation for getting our feelings hurt by Iran the USA supplied arms, including poison gas, to Saddam Hussein. He used the gas on the Kurds, killing thousands, and later we feigned outrage as part of the ginning up of our invasion of his country.

This kind of diplomatic pettiness is completely antithetical to political greatness.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

mattintx: welcome to TheFix, where we have what is probably WaPo's most uh energetic comments sections.

A note of protocol: scrivener50 is some sort of paranoid-schizophrenic, believes in a lot of really crazy mind-control conspiracies. More like "lead whole-body suit" than "tin foil hat." We don't respond to his crazy posts here.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

If it's "obvious," scrivener50, then there's no need to say so. Don't beg the question.

Posted by: mattintx | June 15, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This list tilts to the recent, all three president in the past 41 years; surely someone in the preceding 190+ years of the Republic could have warranted a mention. Andrew Jackson? Non-presidents?

Posted by: CJMiva | June 15, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Hwy Brain -- I've recently seen kicking around on several rightwing sources, the idea of Michelle Bachman as governnor of your state?

I continue to be amazed at the sheer lunacy coming from the rigth.

Posted by: drindl | June 15, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Purely for politics, how about a local politician who for 20 years affected politics at the state and national level? The Honorable Richard J. Daley of Chicago.

Posted by: dr_in_ma | June 15, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

And let’s not forget that the guns Reagan was illegally supplying to the right-wing terrorist Contras were mainly financed by the off-the-books sale of military equipment to Iran, a deal negotiated with the radical Islamists DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN so they would not release their American hostages to the Carter administration.

Posted by: Pokeyboy | June 15, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

THE CASE OF THE VANISHING 'FIX' POST

My earlier post recommending Tip O'Neill, Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and J. Edgar Hoover for the list vanished after I refreshed the page.

Was this because of my recommended picks, or because I tagged the comment with a link to THIS story about the ongoing "extrajudicial targeting and punishment network" -- a Bush administration neo-fascist legacy that is now being enabled by Team Obama?

Is unfettered commentary here now subject to government pressure on WaPo editors and writers?

Are government "fusion centers" using various means to massage the content of mainstream political blogs?

If this is what's happening, it is ironic... since it is obvious that WaPo blogs are spammed daily by what appear to be the work of paid blog mobbers who apparently are not subject to such censorship.


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 15, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

And let’s not forget that the guns Reagan was illegally supplying to the right-wing terrorist Contras were mainly financed by the off-the-books sale of military equipment to Iran, a deal negotiated with the radical Islamists DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN so they would not release their American hostages to the Carter administration.

Posted by: Pokeyboy | June 15, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

And let’s not forget that the guns Reagan was illegally supplying to the right-wing terrorist Contras were mainly financed by the off-the-books sale of military equipment to Iran, a deal negotiated with the radical Islamists DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN so they would not release their American hostages to the Carter administration.

Posted by: Pokeyboy | June 15, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Nixon, two bad losses ('60 and '62) make his HOF resume someone questionable, although his record is otherwise brutally successful. House '46 vs Jerry Voorhis, Senate '50 vs Helen Gahagan Douglas, Checkers speech '52, and of course the Southern Strategy of '68.

Of course, some might argue that his henchman Murray Chotiner deserves the HOF nomination more than the Trickster himself.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | June 15, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The Fix Picks:
"Gov. Michelle Bachmann. It could happen."


Flying pigs. It could happen.


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | June 15, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Hall of Shame nominees:

1. WG Harding
2 AG Palmer
3. Sen. JR McCarthy
4. Alger Hiss
5 J. Edgar Hoover
6. Gen. Curtis LeMay
7. AG John Mitchell
8. Huey Long
9. Mayor Richard Daley
10. VP Agnew
11. David Stockman
12. Addington-Yoo-Cheney
13. Rep. Alcee Hastings
14. AG Gonzales
15. Gen. Douglas McArthur!
16. Mayor Kenney [JC,NJ]
17. Mayor Hague [JC,NJ]
18. Mayor Barry [DC]
19. Harry Dexter White
20. reserved for expansion

Posted by: mark_in_austin | June 15, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"Including Reagan in this list is offensive and looks like another jerk at creating an impression of balance. It's sickening to read all the whitewashing of his presidency we're getting from nostalgic GOPers as their party sinks beneath the waves .. Reagan ran a gun-running operation to terrorists out of the White House basement for God's sake, ran up deficits not to stave off a depression but just to favor the wealthy, lowered our expectations for citizenry from civic participation to simple personal greed, dignified racism and made fun of the poor. Stop the revisionism."

Nothing revisionist. I agree that RR was a dick, but this is politics, not governance or sensitivity. There's a big difference. LBJ was not a great president and was also a complete a-hole, but he was a master politician. Read Caro.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | June 15, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I think a D-R balance could better be achieved with a Republican president with some smarts instead of one with an attitude. With all the problems of his presidency people tend to overlook Nixon's intellectual greatness. We remember the debacle of Vietnam, Watergate, and the imperial presidency but forget the brilliant statesmanship. Nixon was a Republican who signed the NEPA (no "signing statement" either) and opened the door to China. There was greatness there. Reagan just made people "feel good."

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Reagan ran a gun-running operation to terrorists out of the White House basement for God's sake, ran up deficits not to stave off a depression but just to favor the wealthy, lowered our expectations for citizenry from civic participation to simple personal greed, dignified racism and made fun of the poor. Stop the revisionism."

Well, you have to admit that he is the best at inspiring revisionism. It's more those type of skills than actual policy that gets you on this list.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Anyone trying to throw Obama or JFK into this already is crazy. Then again, I disagree with Clinton's inclusion and would have opted instead for FDR.

The thing to understand here is that these are the greatest P0LITICIANS not those who accomplished the most once they got there.

LBJ's political bag of tricks was deep enough to guide him through any domestic political crisis (though, obviously, Vietnam is another story altogether).

The Gipper, too, was an extremely skilled POLITICIAN who was able to capitalize on existing conditions (Iran Hostage Crisis, anyone?) to advance his own agenda. Though I almost universally disagree with the policies implemented during Reagan's stint as president, it is undeniable that the man knew how to play the game.

As for Kili's call for The Newt's inclusion: the political maneuvering inherent in the GOP's reclamation of Congress in 94 was impressive but not unparalleled. I would argue that Schlafly's role in bringing conservative ideology to the forefront of the GOP is more impressive and earns her a higher spot on the list. Her opposition to the ERA, too, helped consolidate the base and brought a new generation of women into the political realm as firm residents of the right.

And to you, Chris, as a music (and baseball, to a lesser degree) junkie, I'd love to see a "leadership roster" of sorts come out of this that parallels the idea of a fantasy baseball team: Pres, Veep, Chief of Staff, Spkr of the House, Sec State, etc. Now THERE'S an entertaining exercise in political shop talk. :)

Posted by: dixielandpunker | June 15, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see Sarah Palin isn't on this list (*shudder*)

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Including Reagan in this list is offensive and looks like another jerk at creating an impression of balance. It's sickening to read all the whitewashing of his presidency we're getting from nostalgic GOPers as their party sinks beneath the waves .. Reagan ran a gun-running operation to terrorists out of the White House basement for God's sake, ran up deficits not to stave off a depression but just to favor the wealthy, lowered our expectations for citizenry from civic participation to simple personal greed, dignified racism and made fun of the poor. Stop the revisionism.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 15, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Of course, FDR. That's a no-brainer. But allow me to nominate a non-president: Alexander Hamilton. Not only was he instrumental in creating the party system---as the first progressive counterweight to the mossback, right-wing policies of Jefferson---but he later was the power broker behind Jefferson becoming president over Aaron Burr. And, of course, he created the forerunner of the Federal Reserve System, was responsible for supremacy of the federal government when he assumed the debts of the states, and essentially saved the United States from dissolving (see The Federalist Papers, his term as treasury secretary). He was also the leading light in NY politics.

Posted by: maris9 | June 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I agree that FDR should be in the inaugural spot. He's been cited by candidates in both parties in recent presidential elections. His four administrations had a large impact on the direction of the US (domestically and internationally) for decades to follow. His launch of the New Deal has been used as a template for government since its introduction. (And as others have pointed out, his wife had an inordinate influence on the role of First Lady...)

Posted by: RickJ | June 15, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

What about Richard Nixon? Yeah, his career came to a crashing end, but he was elected to two terms and was all over the place politically well before that.

And I didn't even know that Rickey Henderson had retired. At one point he was the leader in career walks, although Barry Bonds has passed him. That's a lot more important than stolen bases.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

No to LBJ. Only national election he won was in wake of JFK assassination. Wouldn't stand for re-election. No also to Clinton. Should be FDR (man won four national elections) and Obama. As the first black President, Obama IS the Jackie Robinson of politics; he won without really moderating his campaign and he beat the Clintons. These two reasons are why Clinton can't go in ahead of Obama; a brilliant politician would not have made the missteps he did in 2008.

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 15, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Chris, Chris, Chris -- How many guys went into Baseball's first Hall of Fame? Five, and the list, which began with 30 or so players, included Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. Cy Young didn't make the cut. Neither did Lou Gehrig., As much as I respect Bill Clinton, the thought that he goes in before FDR or Teddy Roosevelt is ludicrous. I mean, Clinton was impeached, albeit for dumb reasons. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Republican leader Henry Cabot Lodge, John Hay, Barry Goldwater-- the list of political insiders goes on and on. Many of them were the Nap Lajoie's (class of 1937) of their time. I think the nominating committee needs more time to study its selections.

Posted by: bathome | June 15, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

kjff's nomination of HHH is hereby seconded (see 10:19 post).

Posted by: bsimon1 | June 15, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

1. TR defined the modern American presidency and the limits of its power later understood in the "Youngstown Steel" case, when Truman tested those limits.

2. HST. A war weary nation faced the potential return to depression level unemployment as 8+M service personnel shed their uniforms, and an aggressive Stalinist regime bent on expansion. Each of the bold and often unpopular moves - Marshall Plan, Berlin Airlift, GI Bill, VA loans, integration of the military, the USAF [not provided for in the Constitution, btw], the Korean police action, the saving of Greece, the maintenance of the draft, were essentially HST's. The buck stopped there. The man could never make it in politics today, I fear.

3. FDR.

4. LBJ.

5. RWR. His second term negotiations with Gorby were the prelude to the end of the Cold War and must not be dismissed, even by partisan Ds.

JFK never makes the cut. I loved him as a high school graduate and college student, but there are minimal accomplishments there. DDE probably does. Interstate highways alone are a greater accomplishment than any of JFK's. But he really did end Korea, too.

WJC may make it, but down list.

I cannot bring myself to recognize RMN's admittedly positive contributions because for me they were so outweighed by his imperial presidency and what it cost us.

The first non-president on the list, IMO:
General Marshall.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | June 15, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Chris, FDR is a glaring omission. The man who some could argue saved our constitutional form of government during the early days of the Great Depression.
I nominate Dwight Eisenhower to the Hall of Fame. He came into office during an unpopular war in Korea and ended it as he promised he would during the 1952 election. Ike was instrumental in the prosperity of the 1950's by advocating the Interstate Highway System, the beginnings of the space program, and being a very assuring presence in the White House.
Honorable mention should be Harry Truman. History has proved that Harry was right on matters such as Medicare and civil rights. Plus, he managed the most fantastic upset in American Presidential history.

Posted by: rogden71 | June 15, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for including LBJ Chris! I think it is important to include an accomplished legislator on the inaugural class which LBJ certainly was both before and after he became President. I would echo the sentiments for Tip O'Neill and am sure he will be considered for induction soon. Man of the House is a political must read and side-busting book full of great old Boston stories. Also Sam Rayburn, Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy should be in this feature as well along with a host of other Congressional titans. Can't wait for the next installment!

P.S. Also saw Wilco in Barcelona a few weeks ago! Viva Wilco!!!

Posted by: Halfaworldaway | June 15, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that Reagan was a terrible president, this is the POLITICAL hall of fame, not the PRESIDENTIAL hall of fame. Reagan was the leader of a movement that managed to wreak havoc to the US government for nearly 30 years until it practically collapsed in 2008. For a political movement to last that long with such destructive policy requires great poliical skill. From that standpoint, Reagan earned his place on the list.

One name that nobody has mentioned so far, but who was critical both to Roosevelt and Johnson, was Sam Rayburn. Rayburn was the leader of House Democrats from 1940 to 1961, serving as Speaker for all but four years during that period. His House career began in 1913 and didn't end until 1961. It was Rayburn who taught Lyndon Johnson how to be a legislator.

Posted by: jheath531 | June 15, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Marion Barry has to be in some kind of Hall of Fame, no? I mean, how many politicians can be caught with a hooker in a drug bust and end up being re-elected? And then get caught not paying a decade's worth of taxes and not only not go to jail, but keep his job and, let's be honest, probably get re-elected again? Talk about a Comeback Kid.

I'm not saying it's right (because it definitely isn't), but it does take talent.

Posted by: ASinMoCo | June 15, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Although I think Presidents do deserve to be on the initial list I think you are missing a couple of very politically astute individuals. First of all would be Tip O'neil. Tip was probably one of the finest politicians that went toe to toe with Ronald Regan and had many of his own successes. I also would like to include William Proxmire, the founder of the golden fleece award. Proxmire, although maybe not getting a ton of legislation through was the one politician who ran on his record not on his budget. He did not collect campaign contributions during most of the last 20 years of his term and he ran for office literally by running, or walking. He pressed the flesh of most citizens of the state of Wisconsin. I should his hand once at a state fair in Wisconsin when I was just a child. He one time ran a race for Senate on a budget of less than $200. I wish that would happen in this day and age. Two that would be great inductees into the hall of fame.

Posted by: kbcman | June 15, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Although I think Presidents do deserve to be on the initial list I think you are missing a couple of very politically astute individuals. First of all would be Tip O'neil. Tip was probably one of the finest politicians that went toe to toe with Ronald Regan and had many of his own successes. I also would like to include William Proxmire, the founder of the golden fleece award. Proxmire, although maybe not getting a ton of legislation through was the one politician who ran on his record not on his budget. He did not collect campaign contributions during most of the last 20 years of his term and he ran for office literally by running, or walking. He pressed the flesh of most citizens of the state of Wisconsin. I should his hand once at a state fair in Wisconsin when I was just a child. He one time ran a race for Senate on a budget of less than $200. I wish that would happen in this day and age. Two that would be great inductees into the hall of fame.

Posted by: kbcman | June 15, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

It might seem parochial out here on the prairie but I'd have to nominate Hubert H. Humphrey. He was a major force in Democratic politics for decades, sponsored and advocated numerous great programs -- Food for Peace, Peace Corps (1957), nuclear test ban treaty, food stamps, the list goes on and on. But he belongs in the Hall of Fame if only for his speech to the 1948 Democratic Convention (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/huberthumphey1948dnc.html) which transformed the Democratic party and is listed as one of the top 100 speeches by American Rhetoric.

Posted by: kjff | June 15, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Reagan shouldn't even make the first 100. He was detached and lazy as a president, defered most of the decision-making and all of the administration to others, and during Reagan's tenure it was Tip O'Neil who, as Speaker of the House, largely saw to it that the government ran in spite of Reagan's laisse-faire approach.

FDR, now THERE'S the definition of a hall-of-famer. He had to turn an entire disfunctional government 180 degrees with all of the Supreme Court and half of his own cabinet resisting him. If he hadn't died he would still be president.

Posted by: Stonecreek | June 15, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Let's not forget that Bill Clinton was running a DISTANT third in Colorado and California in May 1992.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/07/us/the-1992-campaign-perot-ahead-of-bush-and-clinton-in-2-polls.html

He caught a huge break in July, when Ross Perot withdrew from the presidential race. Surely it takes more than luck to make the hall.

Posted by: mattintx | June 15, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree that FDR is a pretty big ommission especially when you consider that he invented the mass media market for politics with his fireside chats which live on today in the president's weekly radio address.

I also wonder if some of the real unsavory folks will make it on the list. In particular I wonder if people like George Wallace, who was the face of the Segregation movement in the south or Strom Thurman who basically started the Republican southern strategy with his Dixiecrat split. Although both of these men rightfully ended up on the wrong side of history, they are the reason why the south is reliably Red today.

Posted by: AndyR3 | June 15, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I like the First Lady idea but if you’re going to do that the first has to be Eleanor Roosevelt. Every First Lady since has been measured against her and how incredibly important she was to the country.

And moving away from the Presidents, I would nominate George Wallace, the inventor of the “Angry White Male” voter. No other politician in the late 20th Century played the gap between State and Federal rule better the “Little George.” He came to power as a radical segregationist and in his last elections took the black vote in Alabama by a huge majority. His time on the national stage made the Reagan Revolution possible a decade later. Like him or hate him, he knew how to play the game.

Posted by: TampaSam | June 15, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if like the Baseball hall of fame CC will induct reporters and or campaign/political staff members into the HOF.
If so I would say Bernstien and Woodward would have to go in in the inagaural class. Also you could make a very strong case for Kissinger as well.

Posted by: AndyR3 | June 15, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with each pick- each one is strong and deserves a spot, for better or for worse.

But it's a bit shocking that you would have the inaugural post of this Hall of Fame without FDR. (Or maybe you're saving the best and most influential for later.)

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 15, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I think CC is using, as a rule for inclusion, someone who changed the political landscape in a fundamental and enduring manner. Based on that, I'd nominiate Newt Gingrich for his leadership in the Republican Revolution. I didn't support it, but it did change the rules of the game in a fundamental manner.

Posted by: Kili | June 15, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

FDR, JFK and Teddy Roosevelt.

Reagan -- what a joke. I lived in California when he became governor. We had the best school system in the country. After he destroyed it and left the state in shambles, he moved on to the rest of the country, and began a political movment that has grown steadily more negative, violent and dumbed down.

Posted by: drindl | June 15, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

If we are going back 100 years, then it seems silly not to induct FDR in the innaugural class. He won the presidency 4 times from a wheelchair!

Also, don't forget his cousin Teddy whose name is still invoked a century later by Rep's seeking to burnish their own image. Talk about an enduring brand?

Posted by: artigiano | June 15, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

All solid Picks CC.
I find it interesting that you didn't throw John Kennedy in before LBJ though.

I also wanted to add that you could make a strong case for all of these mens wives on this list too. Hillary, Lady Bird Johnson, and Nancy Reagan are all pretty formidable entities in their own right. Not to mention the role they all played in the success of their husbands careers.

Posted by: AndyR3 | June 15, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

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