While reading "Theodore Rex" by Edmund Morris ( http://www.amazon.com/Theodore-Rex-Edmund-Morris/dp/0394555090 ), I cannot help comparing the legacy Theodore Roosevelt left this nation with the legacies of his successors. Roosevelt is one of the few Presidents in this century that has not left a legacy of bad consequences to be suffered by succeeding generations. Lets look briefly at most of the Presidents who followed Roosevelt and their negative legacies:
Woodrow Wilson: Much of the origins of "big government" began on his watch with his blessing. While he was a good war-time President, he helped negotiate a peace settlement that has haunted this world to this day. It helped facilitate a Second World War. Much of our current tension with the Islamic world stems from these negotiations.
Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover: All three practiced a foreign policy which neglected the role of the United States as a world power. The result was that Germany and Japan became convinced their expansionist plans would succeed. And they almost did.
Franklin Roosevelt: The threat to our Constitutional form of government from FDR's New Deal cannot be minimized. It is still not clear whether the American people will resist big government from taking over every aspect of their lives. Roosevelt is to be praised for anticipating the threat from the Axis Powers and for his overall performance as a war-time President. Yet his blunders in negotiating the peace brought on the Cold War.
Harry Truman: Most of his major decisions were correct, but the manner in which he chose to wage the Korean War led to the disastrous model of limited military engagements such as Vietnam.
John F. Kennedy: By his orders, the President of South Vietnam was assassinated. This led to the disintegration of that country. His bungling of the Bay of Pigs allowed Castro to remain in power to this day.
Lyndon Johnson: The only positive aspect of his Presidency was his efforts on behalf of Civil Rights. His gargantuan ego determined his policies and made him one of our worst Presidents. His War on Poverty decimated the lives of those it was intended to help. His conduct of the War in Vietnam brought on national disillusionment at home and caused such foes as the Soviet Union, Saddam Hussien, and Osama Bin Laden to think the United States is a paper tiger.
Richard Nixon: His crimes in office destroyed much of the trust the public held in the office of the Presidency. Not even Reagan was able to restore that trust completely.
Jimmy Carter: Those too young to remember his years in the White House cannot fathom how bad things were during his administration. His handling of the Iranian Hostage Crises made the United States look like a laughing-stock around the world. His bumbling helped bring about the Iranian Revolution. He played a big part in destroying our ability to gather intelligence from around the world. His "Malaise" speech has to be one of the worst, most dispiriting speeches ever given by an American President. We are still suffering from his incompetence to this day.
George H.W. Bush: He allowed Sadaam Hussien to reconsolodate his power after the First Gulf War, which led to the slaughter of many Kurds. (See my article at http://therighthandoffellowship.blogspot.com/2006/12/we-have-been-here-before.html . ) The shallow depth of his Conservative principles alienated his base and led to the election of Clinton.
Bill Clinton: He was one of America's most corrupt political figures; he was a modern day Aaron Burr. He demeaned the office of the Presidency as well as public discourse. His administration allowed the North Koreans to develop nuclear weapons. We still don't know how much sensitive technology he sold to China. His failure to fight terrorism militarily, and his hobbling of law enforcement (especially the rule known as "the wall" which prohibited the FBI and the CIA from sharing information) led directly to 9/11.
Compared to his successors, Theodore Roosevelt's legacy looks better all the time. I will conclude my series on Roosevelt with one more article.