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Who was the most misunderstood president of the 20th century?

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UpsideDownFlag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 01:31 PM
Original message
Who was the most misunderstood president of the 20th century?
i'm gonna go with Truman. He gets a lot of flack over Korea and the bomb dropping, but he also was key in the reconstruction of Europe, and creating the Truman Doctrine.
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Maddy McCall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. FDR--he's viewed by non-historians as the epitome of liberalism...
But it was during his administration that any hope for true, structural reform to capitalism was forever lost, and the culture of consumerism was born. During his administration, social liberalism became THE liberalism--which isn't a bad thing--but liberals gave up on altering the most basic problems with capitalism that caused stratification and poverty. FDR's economic policy instructed people to spend, spend, spend, and not to save. Thus--rampant consumerism.

Plus, if it weren't for Eleanor, FDR would not have backed many socially liberal policies. For instance, when anti-lynching legislation was introduced, FDR refused to throw his weight behind it, and it died in congress. Eleanor had her finger on the nation's pulse--as far as social concerns--and she was FDR's moral compass. SHE is what made him a great president.

(If you want to know some of the bizarre facts about FDR's private life, and his suspect relationship with his own mother, read Blanche Weissen Cook's two volume Eleanor biography.)

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UrbScotty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 03:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. Three words: William Jefferson Clinton.
Edited on Mon Nov-22-04 03:54 PM by ih8thegop
"Impeachment," "the stain," blah, blah, blah.

22 million new jobs.

A high worldwide opinion of America.

Less crime.

Welfare reform.

A balanced budget.

Fewer teen pregnancies.

Fewer abortions.
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orpupilofnature57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Tell-it like they wont (slick Willie) was the most dogged,accused yet
Productive president in modern times.shrub couldn't endure one tenth the scrutiny, its fact bill Clinton was more culpable about his mess than shrub is about a mess TRULY ON US ALL!
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SwampG8r Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-22-08 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #4
27. i have to agree
the guy just has a knack for slipping things that would and have destroyed others carreers.
i often wondered if the sideshow was a distraction he managed, so his administrations policies could be furthered with less scrutiny.
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cruadin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. I think Teddy Roosevelt would also have to be considered as one..
who is widely misunderstood.
He is often caricatured as a jingoistic, saber-rattling cowboy, but his domestic agenda as president included prosecution of corporate monopolies,and mediation of coal strikes that demonstrated a genuine concern for both labor and consumers.
In his second term (in his first term, he had succeeded to the presidency in 1901 when McKinley was assassinated) he launched what he called the Square Deal. Many historians consider this the underpinning for his cousin's New Deal, thirty years later. The Square Deal introduced the Pure Food and Drug Act to protect consumers from unscrupulous companies. He started the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate unfair manipulation of transportation costs and consumer prices. He continued as a "trust buster" breaking up corporate monopolies that worked against both labor and the consumers and he was instrumental in preserving undeveloped lands through the National Parks System.
His later formation of the Bull Moose Party (which was the progressive wing of the Republican Party), after he had vowed not to seek re-election as a Republican, adds to the confusion about his legacy.
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justa Donating Member (90 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 03:57 AM
Response to Reply #3
13. not to mention being able to give a 2 hour speech...
with a bullet lodged in his chest. Let * try that.
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Tangledog Donating Member (312 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-04 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #3
16. Theodore Roosevelt was brilliant
A couple of years back, I read a bio of him by Nathan Miller; that book got kind of "lost in the crowd", as there have been several recent full-length studies of TR, but I enjoyed it a lot.

My impression was that he was the most intellectually substantial of any 20th century president, just in the sheer volume of different things he was interested in. He wrote useful treatises on Long Island wildlife, and kept up that interest with the National Park Service.

I got the impression, too, that he did have a bullying side to his character, and that I wouldn't have been able to work for him or even spend a lot of time with him.

The jingoism was real, too. I didn't get the idea that he was especially racist (by the standards of the time, when it was almost ingrained), but there was a certain disdain for anything that didn't look like America. Overall, he was a highly unusual mix of progressivism and social Darwinism -- a lot more complex than that, but not a combination you'll find very often.
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Shredr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-14-05 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. I'm so glad to see other DUers defend TR
All of what both of you said I agree with. He must have been an amazing man to know. Flawed, yes, but passionate, brilliant, bull-headed and strong.

My favorite quote:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
5. Herbert Hoover ...

By most misunderstood, I mean that Hoover gets blamed for the Great Depression when in fact the seeds of the Depression go back decades, was already under way in parts of the country before Hoover took office, and that Coolidge, not Hoover, putting the final blocks in place that almost guaranteed the crash would happen.

Hoover's political principles didn't allows him to take effective measures to help stem the tide, but that's not to say he wasn't qualified nor that he couldn't have done so had he not been constrained by those principles. Hoover was the architect of the relief effort in post-WWI Europe, and by all accounts, he was superb at the job. Ironically, he didn't have to follow his political principles as strictly in the context of European relief.



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LSdemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 11:39 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Perfect man for anything but the top job
Give him a seemingly impossible task, such as feed millions of starving children in Europe after World War I, and he'd find a way to get it done, but once he reached the White House he no longer had a mission and didn't have the vision to figure out what his mission should be.
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-23-04 12:03 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Exactly ...

I put him in the same class as Presidents like Carter or JQ Adams.

Brilliant men, very good at what they did, genuinely compassionate men. When achieving the Presidency, they failed.

Adams and Carter are, I think, the best ex-Presidents we've had. Hoover is one of the better pre-Presidents. :-)

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David Zephyr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-24-04 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. Pre-Presidents
I like that. It's true.

For what it's worth, I hold John Quincy Adams in very high regard. I think that he would have adapted quite well to our current times as well and wonder what he would have to say about our world today.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-08-07 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #8
24. I agree.
Hoover was greatly respected as an engineering genius, brilliant administrator of government agencies, and a compassionate humanitarian; but when he was in the White House during one of the biggest crises in history his ideological stubbornness proved to be his undoing. FDR was just the opposite, his philosophy was "try it, if it doesn't work admit it frankly and try something else." What is popularly blamed on Hoover should really be blamed on the supply-side economic policy of Calvin Coolidge and Andrew Mellon; Hoover was actually somewhat closer to the progressive wing of his party then to economic royalists like Mellon, and many of the programs of the early phase of the New Deal was heavily based on the programs Hoover started.
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Socialist Dem Donating Member (363 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-24-04 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #5
10. Also
Truman used Hoover's experience for the relief effort after WW II. Before he was elected, Hoover was the "rising star" in the party, and generally viewed as a genius for organization.

The depression wasn't his fault, and his downfall was not being innovative enough in helping ease the depression before it became overwhelming.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-05 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. I am also a fan of Hoover's
and I'd even go so far as to say that he did innovate in fighting the depression. His RFC went further than any government programm before him. It's true of course that FDR went much further, but if you judge Hoover against those who went before him, he went much further than they did.

He was maybe the most qualified man ever to become president. An honest, and honorable man who did more than many thought he should. He was overwhelmed by conditions he inheritted.

I think he's our most under-rated president.
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dflprincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #18
29. I was at the Hoover Library in May
- it wasn't until my friends and I were planning our road trip that we found out it was in West Branch, Iowa (near Iowa City). It was very interesting and gave me a different view of Hoover - though it didn't entirely redeem him in my eyes (He never did agree with the New Deal).

I had also never known much about his wife, Lou. She was quite a woman and a head of her time in many ways.

Here's a link to the library site: http://hoover.archives.gov/visiting /

We've decided for our next road trip to try and get to the Eisenhower and Truman libraries.
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LSdemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-22-04 11:40 PM
Response to Original message
7. Taft was also quite misunderstood
In many ways, especially trust-busting, he was more progressive than TR.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-08-07 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #7
25. Taft was an interesting charachter.
The only president who later became a Supreme Court justice.
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SemiCharmedQuark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-23-04 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
9. Truman is also responsible for the Marshall Plan.
Edited on Tue Nov-23-04 08:29 AM by SemiCharmedQuark
He inherited the bomb project and was rather forced into it. Regardless it haunted him until the end of his days.
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leyton Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-02-05 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #9
23. I'd say Truman was one of our best Presidents.
He gets a lot of flak for Korea, and while he may deserve a portion of the blame, he was also undermined by General MacArthur. As I understand it, when the United States was pushing north, Truman ordered MacArthur to halt at the 38th parallel (the original border before the North Korean invasion) but MacArthur disobeyed orders and pushed on to the Chinese border. This brought China into the war, and then MacArthur complicated matters by publicly advocating sealing the Chinese border and the 38th parallel with nuclear bombs. Basically, Truman was attempting to pursue responsible containment and was undercut by a trigger-happy jackass of a general.

Truman also deserves credit for launching our efforts to contain communism in Eastern Europe; the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949; continuing the progressivism/liberalism of Wilson and the Roosevelts; and adopting civil rights for the Democratic Party.

So I'd say Truman ranks right up there with TR and FDR. I'm not sure how he stands in relation to Kennedy and Clinton, since I don't know much about them.
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Socialist Dem Donating Member (363 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-24-04 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
11. W
Edited on Wed Nov-24-04 10:17 AM by Socialist Dem
because 51% of those who voted think he's qualified to be President. Harding may have set the low-standard bar, but at least when his buddies plundered the national wealth while he was busy screwing secretaries in the White House closets, no one was getting killed.

TR because he was more progressive than history gives him credit for. Taft, because he was more interested in the law than being an administrator. Coolidge because he was funnier than you think he was. FDR becasue he always wanted so much more, and wasn't afraid to rely on others to help him. Truman because he gave no quarter and expected none, but also knew the importance of working together and also because he had to make the one decision that none of us could even think of making. Eisenhower because he did to more than play golf and have grabbers. He did recognize the comming of the current corporate state. Kennedy because he had the instincts to be President. LBJ because he had the legislative savy to pass some great reforms. Nixon because "only Nixon could go to China" In other words, it would take someone with Nixon's background to convince Mao that we were ready. Ford, because at least he wasn't obsessed by power. Carter because he restored integrety. Reagan because he exposed the danger of being "asleep at the switch". Bush the elder for NOT being dogmatic and resolute. Clinton because he worked a 18 hour day and did his job well.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-05 10:33 PM
Response to Reply #11
19. I thought of W too
but he didn't fit in the right century.

I think he must be the most misunderstood because I sure don't understand him.
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Endangered Specie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-04 01:02 AM
Response to Original message
14. Several, with varying degrees...
TR and Truman top that list, but ppl have already mentioned that

People often forget that Nixon created the EPA and passed some pro-environment stuff.

LBJ too, if he hadnt gotten us into the whole Vietnam War mess he would have been a damn fine president.
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Tangledog Donating Member (312 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-04 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. My take on Nixon
There was a tendency, I think, for him to go along with some forward-looking policies (you mentioned the EPA; affirmative action happened under his administration, as did lowering the voting age) and then to sabotage them somehow, through neglect, misadministration, or bursts of rhetoric that seemed at cross-purposes with what was being accomplished. I'm not sure that Nixon's administration ever attracted good policy administrators, or that available talent was hired and/or put to work effectively.

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JohnLocke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-04 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
17. Herbert Hoover (nt).
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Kerrytravelers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-05 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
21. Shrub. I don't understand a damn thing he says/mutters/stammers
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Lefty48197 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-28-05 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
22. Jimmy Carter
because of the right wing's 25 year slanderous assault, many of the American people just don't have any idea what a great man he is.
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-08-09 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #22
31. Ironically, every time Carter reduced his popularity, it was the result
Edited on Tue Dec-08-09 05:22 PM by Ken Burch
of right-wing policy decision:

1)The insistence of backing nuclear power to the bitter end, rather than committing to a major program of develping alternatives.
2)The insistence of backing the Shah of Iran to the bitter end(despite the fact that doing so was a betrayal of the human rights focus of the administration).
3)The insistence on increasing war spending after 1979.
4)The insistence both on fiscal conservatism and austerity and on putting the objective of low inflation before the progressive goal of full employment(this allowing Reagan to invent the "misery index").
5)The insistence on supporting the right-wing political status quo in Central America.

Had President Carter(whose reelection I supported in my first general election vote in 1980)made the progressive, instead of the conservative, choice on the five issues listed above, he would have retained his popularity and Reaganism would never have had its big break in show business.


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Rhiannon12866 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-19-11 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #22
33. +100
Very well said. You're absolutely right. :( :patriot:
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-12-07 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
26. George W. Bush
Because even now, most people think he is merely "incompetent" and don't understand that he is a murderous, lying traitor.
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damyank913 Donating Member (595 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-14-11 06:58 AM
Response to Reply #26
32. Dubya's up there...
...fool me once shame on me; fool me twice, um ,er ...
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terrya Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 06:37 AM
Response to Original message
28. Eisenhower n/t
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hasbro Donating Member (258 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 04:33 AM
Response to Original message
30. Woodrow Wilson
I am not a fan. Especially his failures at the peace table.
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