By Padraig Joseph McGrath –
Does the claim that Trump is one of the least competent/qualified presidents in US history stand up to scrutiny?
Let’s look at all of the previous 12 post-war US presidents for comparison.
* Truman – hopelessly under-qualified, even for the vice-presidency. A small-time, parochial political figure with zero understanding of the outside world. And he was the one who took the decision to use the atom-bomb against Japan.
* Kennedy – a young, inexperienced senator when he landed in the hot-seat. Zero foreign policy experience. And, while Kennedy was quick-witted, there’s very little evidence of any depth in his intellect. Under Kennedy, the turnover of new congressional legislation was lower than it has been under any other post-war presidential administration. Most of the statutory instruments which Kennedy did sign were things which he was allowed to pass simply by presidential decree. He just didn’t have the skills to get stuff through congress. He was a smarter than average political lightweight – no more, no less.
* Nixon – it’s a matter of some debate as to just how well Nixon understood the world outside the United States’ borders. In Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning account of the 1968 Republican and Democrat national conventions, “Miami and the Siege of Chicago,” Mailer opines that Nixon’s upbringing “had left him in such a state of innocence about three quarters of the world’s experience that it made him an absolute monster of opportunism with regard to the one quarter which he understood all too well…..”
(Sorry if that citation isn’t quite verbatim – I read that book 20 years ago, and most of my library is still housed in Ireland, so I can’t check it right now).
* Ford – lots of congressional experience, at least. It was said he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Nowadays, that falls within spectral disorders. He was more intelligent than he’s often given credit for.
* Reagan – his personal intellectual limitations were shielded by a very savvy staff and cabinet. Alexander Haig was a disastrous short-term pick for SOS, but the same could hardly be said of George Schultz. They were all Machiavellian, imperialist sociopaths, of course, but that’s entirely beside the point – they were still competent. Reagan himself wasn’t qualified, but Team Reagan was for the most part. It would only later be revealed that as former president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Reagan in his early years was a communist sympathizer but his party application was rejected for reasons still unknown. He would then go on to be a national spokesperson for various firms related to the auto industry and military industrial complex, before becoming governor of California.
* Bush the Elder – An utterly objectionable political figure, but still supremely well qualified. Very deep resume. US Ambassador to the UN, US Envoy to China, Director of Central Intelligence (making him very scary indeed), then the vice-presidency.
* Clinton – zero foreign policy experience on entering office, but for all of his monstrous flaws, Clinton was quick-witted and administratively capable. Knew how to work the room, and remembered everyone’s names. Twice used war as a distraction from personal-political embroilment on the domestic front.
* Obama – on one level, similar to Kennedy, insofar as he was a junior senator badly lacking in foreign policy experience on entering the job. Smarter than average, but absolutely zero depth. For that matter, zero worldview or belief-system of any kind. Obama was the archetypical careerist empty suit who literally believes in nothing. A political lightweight. His lightweight resume showed in his egregious mismanagement of foreign policy and security-policy.
So the question would be, is Trump REALLY less qualified than Truman or Bush the Younger or Reagan (who, admittedly, had a much better qualified team than Trump does)?
Of the 13 post-war US presidents, including Trump, 8 of them had ZERO foreign policy experience on entering office.
That’s really quite bizarre, isn’t it?