The Answer About the Presidents I Dislike

Among the presidents in the photos, the one I dislike the most is. . . drumroll. . . JFK. There are several reasons why I can’t stomach the guy:

1. The horrible mismanagement of the Cuban missile crisis that put the world on the brink of World War III. For Pete’s sake, folks, Khrushchev turned out to be smarter than this guy and Khrushchev was never the sharpest tool in the drawer.

2. The entire situation with Cuba became one huge mess in a great part due to Kennedy’s pig-headedness. This is not just about Cuba, of course. Kennedy’s complete refusal to develop some understanding of what was going on in the region inaugurates the history of the tragic blunders of the US in Latin America that characterize the second half of the XXth century.

3. In my opinion, JFK also begins the sad tradition of what I call “the debased presidency.” Maybe I’m just imagining this, but I think that there was a point in time when the office of the President of the US carried some dignity. It wasn’t supposed to be the prequel to the Kardashians. And then the incredibly vulgar Kennedy family moves into the White House, and the insanity is unleashed. It’s no wonder that the popular imagination has associated (whether falsely or not remains to be discovered) Kennedy with Marilyn Monroe and even named him as the cause of her suicide. This is his fitting place: Hollywood, melodrama, soap opera, vulgar starlets dropping off in mysterious circumstances like in a cheap Dashiel Hammett novel.

Even when Kennedy is assassinated there is no respite from the vulgarity since his widow considers it a good idea to degrade herself with a very public sale of her body to an ugly old millionaire. And then the hugely vulgar children are inflicted upon us, so that the entire embarrassment never goes away. How can we be surprised when the media dedicate thousands of pages to the discussion of Michelle Obama’s forearms as if it were a normal topic of discussion? What else can we expect after Jackie Kennedy’s flaunted sale of herself performed in such a public way?

The tradition of a debased presidency where a president is frankly stupid, uneducated, and common as dirt yet gets elected precisely because of these qualities is continued by Nixon and George W. Bush. The latter is the culmination of the trend. When the McCain campaign tried to milk it by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, the trend finally backfired. This is good news because finally the American people are getting tired of political leaders who wink, smile, giggle, look cute, and think they know Russia because they can see it from their window. Maybe now the tragic Kennedization of the US politics can slowly begin to get reversed.

So: JFK, Nixon and Bush Jr. are the presidents I really dislike. They are all known for messing up the foreign relations, too.

Some people have suggested that I dislike FDR. This is not true. I actually respect him more than most American presidents. I can’t say that I know all that much about him, to be honest, so maybe I will change my opinion once I get to his presidency in my history textbooks. For now, however, I like him a lot.

As for Truman, yes the guy was a loser. However, as much as I hate him for being the only politician in the world to unleash a nuclear Holocaust against people, I can’t blame just him for it. I haven’t yet found a single person anywhere who would be as horrified by this act as I am. Normally, even the most progressive, enlightened folks tend to “Yes, but” it to death. And if even today, after the horrible consequences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been revealed, after everybody has seen the pictures and read the accounts, people still don’t widely condemn this, then the responsibility lies on them, not on a politician who only does what he has been hired to do.

25 thoughts on “The Answer About the Presidents I Dislike”

  1. “Khrushchev turned out to be smarter than this guy and Khrushchev was never the sharpest tool in the drawer.”

    What’s the old joke? “Khrushchev showed that an idiot could run the country. Brezhnev showed that not just any idiot could run the country.”


  2. Well I guessed JFK and Bush II but missed Nixon! 🙂 ……. If it makes you feel any better, I absolutely think that dropping the atomic bomb was horrible and inhumane–on par with genocide. Moreover, it was unnecessary: all signs were pointing towards a Japanese surrender. But the Japanese surrender was immaterial. The US wanted to establish itself as the foremost world power in the nuclear age and it did so by unleashing the first (and so far only) nuclear weapon. So even though Truman accomplished a lot that I believe on the domestic front, I find his nuclear involvement despicable and he remains one of my least liked presidents. Like you, I understand that he wasn’t acting unilaterally and that he can’t be solely blamed. Still, he was the president and commander-in-chief: so I think the decision to bomb ultimately rests on his shoulders.


    1. ” If it makes you feel any better, I absolutely think that dropping the atomic bomb was horrible and inhumane–on par with genocide. Moreover, it was unnecessary: all signs were pointing towards a Japanese surrender. But the Japanese surrender was immaterial. The US wanted to establish itself as the foremost world power in the nuclear age and it did so by unleashing the first (and so far only) nuclear weapon.”

      – You are pouring balm on my wounds. 🙂 Seriously, I have almost despaired of hearing a normal point of view about this. One of the biggest fights N. and I ever had was precisely over this. One should be very careful when dismissing a nuclear catastrophe in front of a Ukrainian person. So thank you for the support!!!


  3. I agree with you about JFK and W. Your judgment of Nixon as being stupid is way off the mark. He was highly intelligent. Also, he opened the US door to China, a major reason why the USSR eventually collapsed. He lied to the people and that is a good reason not to like him. But so did Clinton. Nixon did not lie under oath, whereas Clinton committed perjury.
    JFK most likely had sex with Monroe, but Robert Kennedy, who also bedded her, most likely had her murdered.

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! So in the era of the Imperial Presidency we should not be surprised to find it lurking in the White House!


    1. Nixon lied about something important while Clinton tried to conceal what nobody had the right to know. I could never understand why everybody is still so traumatized by Clinton’s sad little act of oral sex, yet the same people adore JFK who had more extramarital sex than a herd of bunnies.


  4. I would have never guessed JFK, but after reading your article on him, you are exactly right. The guy was a foreign relations disaster. Overrated president indeed.

    I was also the guy who asked you about Nixon. Thanks for the thoughtful response back via this post. I also believe Richard Nixon was the president that took the country off the gold standard, which is still a controversial issue over 40 years later in parts of the economics community.

    Bush Jr. was an incompetent fool who pretty much inherited his father’s money and legacy, much like Nancy Pelosi and ilk. I don’t like any of those kinds of scumbag, spoiled politicians whether they are Republican or Democrat. Never elect sons of presidents period.


    1. “Never elect sons of presidents period.”

      – I agree! This feels like a throwback to monarchy and that’s icky. I’m wondering if the Republicans will really consider nominating Jeb Bush the next time. That would be a fun election!


      1. I heard that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have considered running in 2016. Marco Rubio has also been talked about a lot. God.

        I know you don’t like him that much, but Rand Paul seems like the best they’ll possibly have in 2016 and he might not even win given the nature of the Republican establishment and how guys like Allen West lost their elections, so I’m assuming the party is already sunk and that someone like Elizabeth Warren or Hilary Clinton will seize the presidency in a possible landslide unless Obama’s approval ratings go really down the toilet, which they probably won’t anytime soon.


        1. ” that someone like Elizabeth Warren or Hilary Clinton will seize the presidency in a possible landslide”

          – “They tell me I’m a dreamer. . .
          But I’m not the only one.” 🙂 🙂


  5. IMO, Kennedy learnt from the Bay of Pigs Invasion how not to do certain things (avoiding groupthink, etc). At least the CMC didn’t turn out like that. And I think that whether we think the CMC was handled successfully or not, at least it was better than the Bay of Pigs.


    1. The Cuban Missile Crisis would not have taken place if the US had not planted nukes on the backdoor of the USSR in Turkey. The failed US sponsored invasion of Cuba in April 1962 was just an excuse for the USSR to step in and get some bargaining power to have those nukes removed.

      Whilst publicly extracting a humiliating promise from the US never to invade Cuba the more humiliating part of the deal which Khrushchev allowed to be kept secret (because he was the smarter politician) was that the nukes in Turkey were withdrawn.

      IMO you have Eisenhower to blame for placing the nukes and JFK for allowing the comedy of errors that was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Khrushchev just did what he had to do to stop US aggression running unchecked.


      1. The Cuban Missile Crisis was used as a case study concerning decision making in a textbook for a business course on “Organizational Behaviour” (a business course I had to take – turned out to be an excellent soporific, [way better than French in High School]). The point was that groupthink caused bad decisions to be made in the lead up to (the examples from the book) the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Challenger Disaster, and the Iraq War; it used Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a case study in avoiding groupthink and therefore preventing bad decision making.


  6. On #2, the first clandestine action against Lat Am was Guatemala 1954, undertaken by Eisenhower. And one must look at W. Wilson and other presidents earlier than him re Lat. Am. Why do you think JFK in particular started a tradition / what did he start in this regard with the Cuban missile crisis?


    1. I don’t believe the CIA had any decisive influence in Guatemala. They threw around some leaflets, but who cares? The very first instance of egregious (and, what’s most important, egregiously messed up) interference is that of the Kennedy era. The completely pig-headed “our way or the highway” begins then. I have not been able to find anything similar in the US foreign policy before him. Don’t get me wrong, obviously the US started interfering way earlier, but there was at least some logic behind it. The complete arrant idiocy starts with Kennedy. And doesn’t really stop.

      I think that Kennedy was not a very healthy person and that made him unstable. Didn’t he have some neurological disease?


  7. I am not a Truman fan, but I support his decision to use the atomic bomb to end the war with Japan. Estimates suggest that as many as 2 million additional US armed forces would have died if the war had dragged on to a stubborn conventional end. The Japanese were not on the point of surrendering, not least because surrender had to be unconditional, and because their culture could not tolerate the shame of surrender. And they stupidly believed that the Emperor was a God. Indeed, evidence shows their unwillingness. They refused to surrender even after Hiroshima. It took a second strike to bring them to their senses.The pity was that the US bombed two outposts, rather than Tokyo, where the trouble really germinated.


  8. At the time of the Cuban missile crisis I thought like you — I thought Kruschev had save the world from a war-mongering Kennedy. But quite recently I’ve started reading revisionist accounts — that Kennedy was actually killed because he departed from the CIA script and the CIA vision of reality that had led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban missile crisis in the first place.


  9. Your attack on Truman is unworthy. You really, REALLY should read the history of that period. Unless you simply have an irrational dislike of nuclear weapons that cannot be argued against (which, given that you’re a Ukrainian, may be the case), perhaps you’ll lay out your reasoning in a future post, which i look forward to seeing. Lay out what you think his options were, and what the likely consequences were had he chosen differently.

    Evelina is correct in part though. Dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unnecessary. We had already beaten Japan. The question was how many more people would die before the Japanese reached that conclusion. Of course, by that standard, Japan lost World War II on June 6th, 1942, and the next three years of killing and bloodshed was simply a matter of sealing the deal and trying to get the Japanese to realize it.

    Research the overall military, logisitical and economic situation in August 1945. Explore the gap between US intelligence estimates (prepared for the invasion plans) of Japanese military resources and the reality discovered after the war. Look into the US plans for “preparing the battlefield” for the invasions, and what the repercussions would have been.

    Last, remember one thing about Truman. He may have been the first man to order the use of an atomic weapon, but he was also the first man to refuse to use it.


    1. Cruising Troll who is not really a troll but a legitimate commenter: when you use the word “troll” in your nickname, that automatically places your comments in the Spam and they have to be rescued from there. Just thought you would like to know.


    1. Let’s not exaggerate. The Japanese would have surrendered very soon in a couple of months or less. Hiroshima had zero to do with fighting against japan. It had everything to do with Truman’s pathetic attempts to intimidate Stalin. That attempt failed completely.


      1. August Storm (the Russian invasion of Manchuria) was also a factor contributing to the Japanese. Truman was aware that Stalin was keeping up his end of the bargain and was going to attack Japan. Clarissa, do you think that Truman could have ordered the atomic bombings in part as a means to quicken the end of the war, so as to deny the Soviets a piece of Japan (more than S. Sakhalin and the Kurile’s)?


        1. “Clarissa, do you think that Truman could have ordered the atomic bombings in part as a means to quicken the end of the war, so as to deny the Soviets a piece of Japan (more than S. Sakhalin and the Kurile’s)?”

          – I’m sure that was the case.


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