Mirroring a recent Gallup poll in which six in 10 respondents say Reagan and Clinton will be judged the best contemporary American presidents, an informal one-day poll of Seark Today readers on Facebook indicated that Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the favorite presidents of 62 percent of those who responded.
Clinton received the most votes, followed by Reagan.
Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, George Washington, Barak Obama, and Calvin Coolidge also received a few votes.
Though Democrats obviously prefer Democratic presidents, and Republicans favor Republicans, party labels didn’t necessarily guide the judgments of Seark Today readers. Two respondents named both a Democrat and a Republican as their favorites.
Rick Donham, a teacher at Drew Central High School in Monticello, said Clinton and Lincoln are his favorites while Erin O’Neill, of Monticello, named Clinton and Reagan as her favorites.
O’Neill chose Reagan because he restored pride in America, domestically, and respect from the world internationally. She chose Clinton for balancing the budget, leaving the country with a surplus, and for his ability to relate to people from all walks of life.
“Bill much like Reagan left an endearing legacy amidst all the trials and tribulations,” she said. “I wish we had them now as I am not impressed with our current choices.”
Jim Edens, a state Parks Department employee from Crossett who now lives in Bismark, pretty much echoed McNeill’s comments in his selection of Clinton.
Edens said he was financially more comfortable during the Clinton administration than any other time in his life and the “classes” of people weren’t “split” as much as they have been over the last decade.
Brenda Snow, of Jefferson and formerly Dumas, also chose Clinton.
“Clinton got the USA out of financial difficulties and kept us financially secure during his entire reign,” Snow said. “Then, after he left office, everything went to a big hole that is almost impossible to dig our way out.”
Chris Bass, the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in McGehee, and Scottie Harrison, a paramedic who lives in Dumas, were among those who chose Reagan.
“He is the only president in my lifetime that has stood up for the truth and symbolized the power we have in the U.S.,” Bass said. “There is a reason why he was one of the only presidents that won his election by a landslide.”
Harrison named Reagan for much the same reason.
“Reagan represented the United States with great morals and character,” Harrison said. “He was a strong leader who symbolized a strong country.”
Reagan was third among Diana Harton’s three picks. Harton, head of the Drew County Republican Party, named Washington, Coolidge and Reagan as her three favorites.
“George Washington is my number one favorite because he was the most honorable and noble man I’ve ever studied. Next would be Calvin Coolidge because he stuck closest to the Constitution and tried to hold true to the founding principles, and third was Ronald Reagan because he was a man of honor and integrity,” Harton said. “Now my least favorites are Woodrow Wilson because he started our country down the path of socialism, Bill Clinton because he has no moral compass and taught people that it is ‘ok’ to lie, and now Obama because he is trying to continue what Wilson started and destroy what our founding fathers intended this country to be.”
Chad McGriff, a political consultant from Southeast Arkansas and a self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal, said Clinton was the best president of his lifetime because of his economically sound principles.
“In the first two years of the Clinton Administration, he created 6 million jobs,” McGriff said. “Now, I don’t credit it all to him, however, he did build a bridge to somewhere and bridged gaps that created these jobs and brought Congress together.
“In 1994, the country had the lowest combination of unemployment in the 25 years before Clinton,” McGriff said. “Clinton cut taxes on low-income families approximately 15 million, made tax cuts for about 90 percent of small businesses, and raised taxes only 1.2 percent on the wealthy, which to me means he was pulling for all Americans, helping the poor and rich and striving to build up small business, which should be the power-driven economic boost for America, because corporate America does not. There are most likely 1,000 more reasons why President Clinton is my favorite President, however as a Democrat, Clinton didn’t go over the edge of being with his party fiscally. He made the country balanced when it came to finances.”
Karen Caldwell, of Monticello, chose Clinton and John F. Kennedy. “To me (they) were very similar, except back in JFK’s time period the press did not pry into the President’s business,” she said.
Ming Henry, a Wilmar native who lives in Indiana, said Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are her favorite presidents.
“Obama has opened up the eyes of many African-Americans to see that anything is possible if you have faith and believe in your dreams,” she said. “He is also the president that took part in getting rid of Osama Bin Laden. He brought home our troops to their families and I’m forever grateful for that.
“Clinton was great because when he was in office there were plenty of jobs and people didn’t have to worry about losing everything,” Henry said. “He was also great with the wars across seas. I was a teenager then but was proud to say that Clinton was my president.”
Cathey Griffin, of El Dorado, didn’t pick a favorite, but she’s no fan of the current president.
“Anyone except for Obama,” Griffin said. “He talked a good game about getting the country back on track to get elected, but it has gotten worse.”
While he doesn’t agree with Barack Obama on all issues, Josh Troy, a print journalist who lives in Clarksdale, Miss., says Obama is his favorite.
“Obama is the best President of the United States because his vision entails evening the playing field for everyone, he sticks with his convictions and he is willing to compromise at the same time to make those things happen,” Troy said. “This doesn’t mean I agree with President Obama on every single issue, but I do support the overall vision and direction he is taking this country. President Obama understands change does not happen overnight, but he has demonstrated a tremendous amount of patience through all of the false and outrageous accusations against him and scrutiny. When it came to healthcare, President Obama didn’t get everything he wanted. While President Clinton gave up on healthcare and triangulated nearly two decades ago, President Obama compromised as a way of meeting his overall goal to provide seniors the best coverage possible. With Clinton, it was all or nothing. Obama recognized he had to have small and reasonable goals to make things happen.
“Another time Obama compromised was when he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts toward the end of 2010,” Troy said. “Obama was not giving in, he was just doing what he had to do to continue his vision to help the lower-income and not put an unnecessary tax burden on them. That type of leadership shows someone who is dedicated, principled and cares about the United States.
“On a personal note, since I have changed my lifestyle and lost approximately 160 pounds I am very happy to see Obama signed a child nutrition bill in 2010 championed by First Lady Michelle Obama,” Troy said. “Keeping kids healthy is very important and should be a bipartisan issue!”
Rebecca Spencer, speaking on behalf of her 9-year-old “history buff” son Jacob, a home schooled student, said Jacob’s favorite presidents are George Washington, John F. Kennedy and Thomas Jefferson.
“George Washington because he was a brilliant military leader, JFK for his innovative thinking, and Thomas Jefferson for his belief in what America could be and implementing that in his presidency,” Spencer said, adding that Jacob is not very satisfied with any of the presidents who served after JFK.
Thomas Jefferson was also the choice of Andy Shaw, a Little Rock attorney who grew up in Crossett.
“Not only was he a Founding Father, Jefferson served as a minister to France, Secretary of State to Washington and Vice President to John Adams,” Shaw said. “He helped the formation of the Democrat-Republican party as a counter balance to the Federalist Party. Just imagine if America had remained a one party system and the potential abuses that it would’ve caused.
“Jefferson was opposed to imperialistic thoughts, but, was intelligent enough to realize the need for the Louisiana Purchase and was a firm believer of states’ rights as opposed to the dominant Federal government we now have,” Shaw said. “He was our best and brightest.”
I found it surprising that none of the respondents named Teddy Roosevelt. While he isn’t my favorite president, he did give what is probably my favorite presidential speech. Here’s the best part of Roosevelt’s inspiring “Man in the Arena” speech:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.