Elections Have Consequences

The election of 1856 put James Buchanan in the White House. He is generally viewed as one of the worst presidents in the nation’s history. Buchanan won the election by carrying every slave state except Maryland while the rest of the country split their votes between Republican John Fremont and Know-Nothing Millard Fillmore. Buchanan understood who elected him.

Buchanan intervened in the Supreme Court to gather majority support of the pro-slavery decision in the Dred Scott case. He supported the Southern attempt to bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state, angering both the Republicans and also many Northern Democrats. Finally, he failed to take action to stop Southern states from seceding during the last months of his administration.

That’s the sort of thing that happens when the Democrats win an election and come to believe that their grasp on the reins of power is so absolute they can act with impunity.

History doesn’t repeat itself in the sense of actual do-overs. Indeed, it does a very poor job of rhyming. But certain themes do reoccur, and one of them in impatient overreach by wannabe elitists.

The next couple of years may be quite ugly.

LARPing at Leadership

One on the most effective political cartoonists of the middle of the 20th century was Herbert Block who drew under the name of Herblock for the Washington Post. He always gave his caricature of Richard Nixon five o’clock shadow. Herblock clearly despised Nixon, but the day after the 1968 election, he published the cartoon on the left as a way of congratulating Nixon on winning the election. It wasn’t long before the five o’clock shadow reappeared.

Here at Hogewash!, I run every new president’s name through the spell checker for one post.

I’ve seen comments to the effect that Donald Trump was the most divisive president in history or at least in recent history, and that Joe Biden has an opportunity to bring the country back together again. Unity seems to be a big buzzword on the Left these days. I don’t have much hope for such healing.

First, trying to paint Trump as a particularly divisive president is counterfactual. Trump was elected as a response to the divisive politics of the Obama administration much as Nixon was elected in response to the divisive politics of the Johnson administration and Lincoln was elected in response to the divisive politics of the Buchanan administration. BTW, an argument can be made that while Lincoln was among our greatest presidents, he was THE most divisive. His election triggered the Civil War.

But back to 2021.

At least 74,000,000 Americans voted against Joe Biden, and many, perhaps the majority, of them don’t believe that Biden actually won. The Left’s making lists of Trump supporters and talking of reeducation camps isn’t going to help depolarize the country, and it’s up to the new president to show some leadership by engaging respectfully with his political opponents and insisting that his supporters do likewise. I don’t see any indication of such behavior.

Indeed, his initial round of personnel appointments and some of his acts on his first day of the job lead me to believe that he’s the same Joe Biden who has spent almost fifty years as a hack pretending to be a political leader.

Because I want America to be successful, I wish Joe Biden and his administration success in doing well for the country. I wish I had more hope.

Was Obama a Better President Than Buchanan?

Da Tech Guy weighs them in the balances and finds that, yes, Barack Obama really wasn’t our worst president.

However while Obama’s failures might have lead to civil war Buchanan’s actually did.

Also,

In both cases Obama’s actions and Buchanan’s inaction were consistent with their worldviews.  Buchanan’s sympathy to both Slavery and the south and Obama’s dislike of America and embrace of our enemies made any other result unlikely. Obama suffers because in comparison because of the high expectations the people had of him but Buchanan suffers because unlike Obama he actually had years of experience in both the House and Senate as well as being Secretary of state to an ambassador to both Russia and England.

Read the whole thing.

Those of use who said that a Jimmy-Carter-like presidency was a best-case scenario for Barack Obama were right.

Presidential Approval

The President’s approval rating is tanking. It’s now running in the same territory as Richard Nixon’s during Watergate. The rubes are starting to catch on.

Back in 2008, I was one of the folks saying that the best case scenario for the Obama Administration would be Carter II. It’s pretty clear that was an accurate assessment and that Barack Obama has missed the mark.

OTOH, it’s unfair to Jimmy Carter to make direct comparisons between him and Barack Obama. Obama/Nixon is more appropriate concerning transparency. Obama/Hoover is better concerning economic recovery, although Hoover did the better job. And when it comes to enabling a potential enemy to be prepared to make war on the United States, an Obama/Buchanan comparison is apt.

We have three more years of this. Fasten your seat belts.

UPDATE—Stacy McCain offers his analysis of the President’s popularity here.

He’s Reagan. No, He’s Carter

American Glob notices that Democrats always seem to cite a Republican president when they want to compare Barack Obama to someone successful. (H/T, Instapundit)

The only Republican I would put in the same league as Barack Obama is Herbert Hoover, and I see him as more like other Democrats such as Jimmy Carter or James Buchanan.

Nixon Lite

Roger Simon suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom the former president with whom Barack Obama has the most in common is Richard Nixon rather than Jimmy Carter. He does point out some important similarities, and misses one. Enemy Lists.

The tie to Jimmy Carter comes more from the initial expectation that the Obama Administration would be “Carter’s Second Term,” but that has turned out to be an unachieved best case scenario.

May I suggest two other former presidents whose single terms fit somewhat with what we’ve seen of Barack Obama?

Herbert Hoover–a Progressive who did all the wrong things during an economic recovery.

James Buchanan–a weak president whose lack of leadership contributed to the Civil War has a parallel in our current president’s “voting present” on issues such as deficit reduction which are leadings toward a possible economic train wreck.

Is it November yet?

UPDATE–Hoover and Buchanan were the presidents who immediately preceded significant discontinuities in how the society/government interface worked, the Civil War and the New Deal.

Hmmmm.

UPDATE 2–A commenter at Mr. Simon’s original post suggests Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Could be …