There was a time when Americans could justifiably take pride in their Presidents, because America has had, at times, some serious bad-ass Presidents who stood tall, spoke their mind and meant what they said. These were men who made the world spin just a little differently on it's axis, and no one wanted to mess with us when they were in the White House.
President Andrew Jackson was such a man. He began his career as a militia officer who excelled at solving "Indian problems" in the American South. Basically, when Indians got out of line and killed settlers, Jackson went down and whipped their asses until the survivors had enough and promised to behave or move west. Then he led a volunteer band from Tennessee and Kentucky down to New Orleans, assembled a pick-up crew that included farmers, shopkeepers, riverboatmen, naval sailors whose ships were sunk, freed blacks, and even pirates, and he cleaned the clocks of a professional British invasion force at Chalmette, Louisiana, killing over 2,000 of them for a loss of about 12-14 Americans.
When not killing Indians or the British, Jackson fought duels with pistols, suffering two serious gunshot wounds himself as a result of these fights but also killing one his opponents in return. He was also the subject of the first assassination attempt against a US President with a crazy house painter by the name of Richard Lawrence ran up and tried to shoot him with two pistols, both of which misfired. Jackson then proceeded to beat Lawrence near to death with his hickory cane before others intervened. How do you not admire a man like that? Even his inauguration was such a rowdy affair when his former soldiers and other frontier supporters showed up at the White House that the White House was nearly destroyed after the free booze caused things to get out of hand. Old Hickory was a President that no one here or abroad ever wanted to mess with.
A bit later, we had Theodore Roosevelt. He was an accomplished big-game hunter, a boxer, and a military man who, among other things, assembled a volunteer cavalry unit made up of cowboys and the upper-crust of Yale and Harvard's sports teams, and led them to Cuba where they kicked Spanish butt all the way up San Juan Hill and back down the other side. "Speak softly but carry a big stick," he said. And America did just that. He brought a lot of Central America under control and got the Panama Canal built. He was a man's man and no one wanted to mess with him. Like Jackson before him, he was the subject of an assassination attempt while campaigning in 1912. A man named John Schrank shot him on the chest, but Roosevelt decided that he was not in any danger of dying from the wound since he wasn't coughing up blood, so he went on to deliver his campaign speech, speaking for 90 minutes while bleeding.
Following World War Two, America elected it's former Supreme Commander in Europe, Five-Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the Presidency. Again, this man knew how to take care of business. Graduating West Point in 1911, he rose to the General Staff by the time that the US entered the Second World War and his decisions helped bring it to a successful conclusion. He went on to become the first Supreme Commander of NATO, and as President, he was responsible for the development of both our nuclear weapons program and our rise to the challenges of the Space race. He gave is the interstate highway system that we all know and use today (Originally intended to help move military traffic across the country quickly) and he implemented the Eisenhower Doctrine, under which the US would be prepared to respond with force against any aggression committed by a communist country. And the world understood that he wasn't playing.
And then there was President Ronald Reagan. He started out playing tough guys in the movies, and he ended up a real tough guy on the world stage, serving two terms as President. His credentials, like those before him, were not questioned by America's enemies. The Iranians had been punking America's prior president, Jimmy Carter, by holding our embassy staff hostage for 444 days. But they released them on the day that Reagan took office, because they knew that Reagan, unlike Carter, was a man who would have rolled up his sleeves and settled that Iranian problem with military muscle.
The eight years of the Reagan Presidency were bad years for communists and assorted bad guys everywhere.
He suppressed a communist-launched coup in Grenada, he called on Russia to tear down the Berlin Wall (and they did), he authorized US combat aircraft to intercept terrorists who had hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered US citizen Leon Klinghoffer, and he sent other combat aircraft to bomb targets in Libya in retaliation for Libyan President Khadaffi's support of other terrorist acts in Europe and the Middle East. Reagan's policies brought the Cold War with Russia to a stunning end as the Soviet economy collapsed, and he also brought about the fall of the Nicaraguan Communist government despite the best efforts of the Communists and the Democrats in Congress to stop him. Because of President Reagan, millions of people around the world knew freedom by the end of 1988.
America lost her way for a bit, as demonstrated by the election of Bill Clinton. Under Clinton, terrorists and dictators like Iraq's Saddam Hussein felt free to constantly kick our country in the nuts abroad and even here at home. The World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, and when nothing was done about it by the Clinton Administration, Osama bin Laden came back for another whack at it on September 11, 2001.
But he erred grievously, because America had just elected another President who was cut from better cloth. George W. Bush, a former military fighter pilot, took decisive action like a real man would. Afghanistan's terrorist-supporting Taliban was hit hard and Saddam Hussein was removed from power, brought to trial, and executed by the new democratically-elected government of Iraq.
I may not have cared for much of what President Bush did domestically during his time in office, but as Commander-in-Chief, he rocked.
So what do we have in office now, during a time when real leadership is required and our military is fighting two wars? Do we have a Jackson, a Roosevelt, an Eisenhower, a Reagan or even a Bush to make the tough decisions and support our troops? Do we have a man with a backbone, a firm jaw, and the first-hand understanding of what it means to fight?
No, we don't. We just have Obi Wan Ke-dopey:
Where did the iconic "Manly American" presidents that the free world once admired go?