Good and Bad Presidents — America’s Happy-Unhappy Index

[NOTE: This was originally written in November of 2014 as a Facebook Note]

Everyone loved the days of Camelot when John F. Kennedy was president. America was fully employed, unions were strong, taxes from corporations meaningfully helped pay the cost of government and working Americans kicked in their fair share.

The father worked while the mother cared for the kids, widespread education came into focus, eradicating poverty became a realistic goal. And the price for a standing room only ticket at a profession sports stadium was only a buck or two.

Things got so good JFK had the luxury of time to advocate physical education and health programs for young and old Americans. And just about every American community of 25,000 or more had its own municipal or regional hospital. Yes, there was the downside of The Cold War and nukes, but the space program, started in ’58, kept getting better and better. We put a man on the moon! There was a lot to look forward to in America!

Americans also had it pretty good throughout the Eisenhower Administration which set a nice table for JFK. In those days it was all Leave it To Bever and Father Knows Best. The only teenage problem were Eddie Haskell types. At worst we saw a rumble or few between competing towns, usually related to the big football game.

Both Kennedy and Eisenhower benefited from the work of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Program and Truman’s effective follow-up. In general, except for racial and sexual inequality, communities were strong, Americans were happy, holidays were traditional and people felt like they could succeed. America’s middle class proudly purchased products proudly made in America. Our economy was robust and sound and there was hope for gainful employment for anyone who sought a job.

Yes, eventually Vietnam took its terrible toll but it might not have become a problem had Kennedy lived. Prior to his assassination he was working on ending America’s then small involvement in the region.

Unfortunately, Lyndon Johnson, although good on Kennedy’s promise for Civil and Voting Rights, had too much hawk in him. Johnson expanded Vietnam. Young people from the ’60s, raised from a nuclear standoff with the Russians and with a Vietnam disaster became the first generation to realize it might not have a future. And the Nixon-Agnew Administration made it all worse.

From Johnson’s blunder and increased death counts from Nixon, Americans became very divided as the seeds of discontent deepened. It got to a point where no one was happy. How can you be happy when your children are dying? Against the advice and wisdom of Eisenhower, Nixon’s America had moved into a war economy with a military-industrial complex raging forth. Other nations needed weapons too — and America was only too happy to sell ‘em.

It got all got bad!

President Nixon’s administration was extremely corrupt! Sabotaging Johnson’s Paris Vietnam Peace Talks in order to get elected, Nixon severely escalated Vietnam and the war dragged. The US supported dictators far and wide, especially in Latin America. Domestically, Nixon kick started the Drug War.

Meanwhile, he woefully used his administration to spoon feed the corporate side of America, making military-industrial oligarchs very wealthy. Nixon’s corruption could not be denied. Later his “plumber” political operatives later went to jail for breaking into the National Democratic Headquarters at Watergate. Although jail would have been perfect for Nixon, he resigned instead. Too bad. Had he gone to jail many of us would have been happy!

Another Nixon horror was his chief political operative, Lee Atwater, who implemented a new political strategy for winning the White House. The racist Southern Strategy became a political art form and this continues to haunt us today! Using the south’s deep-seated racism for political advantage, turning the ‘Dixiecrat Democrats’ into Republicans, the GOP became the White People’s Party. With help from the NRA, which became a political wing of the Republican Party, gun issues brought the Prairie states into the GOP fold. Next in the GOPwinger pecking order were anti-abortionites, religious zealots and family value freaks who whipped up anti-gay and anti-birth control hysteria, among other things.

It was all real bad! America had become a completely divided nation!

To counteract this new Republican strategy the Democrats backed Jimmy Carter, a Southerner, who got nominated and elected. But he won mostly due to Nixon’s disgrace! Nixon’s replacement, Gerald Ford, seemed pretty numb from the presidency and clearly couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t mount a meaningful candidacy and he lost Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer!

In a sense, President Carter represented happiness again. With the war now finished, he could concentrate on the domestic front and not send America’s treasure to die in foreign lands. Yes, people got happy again with Carter. Unions were still strong, Americans had purchasing power, there still was a solid manufacturing base. A scientist-politician, Carter was progressive on developing alternative energies — he installed solar panels in the White House! It even seemed like marijuana could become legal. Except for some inflationary problems with the economy, people comparatively from Johnson and Nixon were getting happy again!

All was going pretty good for Carter until the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Shah of Iran, a US-installed dictator who got power from a CIA-backed coup in 1953. The Iranians kept 60 American hostages and the Carter Administration couldn’t get them free. The very well Lee Atwater-trained GOPwinger political propaganda machine kicked in and Carter lost his bid for re-election.

The happiness and progressive development, particularly with respect to developing alternative energies, America could have gotten from a second Carter term instead turned into gloom and doom as the Reagan-Bush team came into play. Time to become unhappy again!

Reagan’s political operatives went on to make a second illegal deal with Iran when it sold weapons in exchange for new Iran’s hostages. The profits from these weapons sales were diverted to fund a CIA-attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Nicaragua. Meanwhile the nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were a mess as propped up dictators helped US oligarchy to rape these nations of their resources.

Liberal Republicans began bolting the GOP as the party evolved more and more into the primary political party for America’s corporate oligarchy. Unfortunately, Nixon’s henchman Lee Atwater had trained Roger Ailes (only news-director ever at FoxNews) and Karl Rove (“Bush’s Brain”) as political proteges. Behind them came Cheney, Rumsfeld and lots of Bush operatives of CIA influence. Atwater eventually went to his death bed begging forgiveness, knowing what he’d done.

With Reagan-Bush now cozy to the corporate vault — energy, insurance, pharmaceutical, military and, yes, media — the lobby money took control of our government. CEO payoffs became sweet and trickle-down was promised to everyone who was working for a small wage. Republican Party politicians assumed a Sheriff of Nottingham status and pursued draconian policies like greater calls for capital punishment, killing unions, deepening the drug war, reducing voter participation and strenuously pushing for corporate, especially media, deregulation which more and more gave the edge to the rich in terms of new wealth creation.

Indeed, it was getting more and more difficult to afford to bring the family to a ball game, and families were lucky to get a hot dog!

Domestically, President Reagan propaganderists invoked and soaked images of ”welfare queens,” “angry white men,” goblins of taxation, this while steadily allowing corporations to have their way. Reagan, in deference to Big Oil, even removed the solar panels Jimmy Carter had installed into the White House. There was to become no progressive change in America. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer and America’s once-proud middle class got smaller and smaller.

Political issues like guns and god were designed to distract voter attention away from economic issues, and they dovetailed perfectly with the southern and prairie state strategies for retaining the White House. The GOPwingers went on to win three terms of the presidency with former CIA man George Herbert Walker Bush finally at the helm. It didn’t matter that the middle class was caving in, Republican rank and filers had their respective hot button issue to placate the electorate, they had their Hollywood candidate in Reagan with Bush on his coat-tails.

Republicans were in bliss and they took full advantage and offshore jobs and banking became plentiful. Rich Republicans were happy and poor Republicans were doing the legwork for them, without even realizing how they were being used.

Sadly, America became a bully nation like it had been under Nixon. With enormous defense expenditure build-ups and weaponry sales disrupting peace in many regions of the world, the Masters of War — similar to those who appeased Hitler when he built his war machine — hit bingo and jackpot and pocketed obscene amounts of money.

The municipal hospitals became privatized, the cost of health insurance went through the roof and prescription drug prices left too many people both in need and in wanting. Americans became unhappy yet again! As the dark clouds gathered we saw more war, more corruption, more economic despair and too much of our citizenry becoming alienated and entrapped in a growing and increasingly militarized drug war.

When Bush’s greed pushed too far and the US economy collapsed via Wall Street and the Savings and Loans Scandal, among other things, the door to the Oval Office opened for yet another Southern Democrat, Bill Clinton. By now, liberal Northern progressives were locked out of the game.

The question became: How did Republican political operatives get working people all throughout the nation to vote against their own best interests? The answer is because the hot button issues had been defined and political operatives were capable and willing to pull off dirty electioneering tricks. Thanks to the Atwater-trained Roger Ailes, founder of FoxNews, the GOPwingers developed the capability of manipulating the media by first telling us that the media was a “liberal” media.

Intelligent people, which writers are, tend to think liberal and prefer progressive change rather than relying on same-old greed-filled politics. So, yes, common writers and reporters have tended towards liberal thinking. As was true of most smart people. According to a recent Pew Poll, five percent of scientists are Republicans, 32 percent are Democrats and 55 percent are independents. Similar numbers could likely be found among college professors, doctors and lawyers.

But it is the owners of the media, not the writers, who hold all of the power of the media!

The journalist does not make the decision as to what gets covered, headlined or how to present the slant. This comes only from the media’s top brass and their stewards who know and sense full well what the top brass wants. When it comes to media influence the managers are at the top of the pecking order, not the journalist. So now comes FoxNews with rockstar new age graphics and plenty of blonde bimbos to tell us how to think and make outlandish claims that America’s media is liberal when in fact it is owned and managed by wealthy conservatives who are getting richer and richer.

Anyway, Democrat Clinton comes in and people begin getting happy again. Clinton’s economy grew strongly as he helped to pull us out of the Bush mess. Except for the UN-mandated war due to the genocide in Bosnia, America stayed out of war. Jobs improved and the Clinton Administration attempted many social gains. Had Clinton not lied about pot we might even have seen marijuana legalized under Clinton. But, generally, people were getting happy again. All seemed well, everything was improving …

… until …

… the impeachment!

Again, using dirty political tactics, Republicans impeached Clinton his second term. This took away anything progressive he could have accomplished. It certainly ruined Senator Kennedy’s attempt to bring forward national health care. The impeachment, as he now fought for political survival, also influenced who Clinton appointed to positions of government, the courts and diplomatic corps. The impeachment greatly hindered his ability to govern and the very threat of it made him beholden to the GOPwingers.

Primarily, this meant more deregulation, especially for the media. Corporate America became very happy. The impeachment also served as a nice shield to prevent Clinton from raising taxes on the wealthy. The capital gains tax was lowered to 20 percent and the Glass-Steagall law, which had always prevented banks from participating in speculative investments, was repealed. Clinton starved off impeachment by providing perks for the rich!

The impeachment strategy saw Wall Street winning, winning, winning — even without a Republican in the presidency! More cops were put on the streets, prisons and probation departments became privatized and the drug war worked very well to help disenfranchise minority voters who’d normally vote for Democrats. The rich found it easier to put their increasing monetary gains into offshore into tax havens (where much of it still sits today).

America’s oligarchy was very happy. And because job number reports were very high the middle class felt like it had been thrown a bone and they seemed happy also. Although disturbed somewhat over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the public’s prurient interests were served and Clinton survived his presidency. Alas! No war, good numbers for the economy and Clinton left a surplus for the next administration!

So, even though the price of attending a game was now way too high, there was still some happiness when Clinton left office. And there was always a happy scratch card winner or raffle ticket winner somewhere, somehow to help buy the hotdogs at the game!

But Clinton’s impeachment provided a negative media backdrop for Vice President Al Gore. And, worse, the Democratic National Committee by now had completely become taken over by Southern moderate conservative operatives. Also, the impeachment helped to make George W. Bush’s image seem cleaner and better.

So all the GOP needed was for the Bush camp’s political operatives to begin hammering away and distorting the image of Gore. Even though Gore was a founding member of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council, they painted him as a liberal supported by a liberal media. With FoxNews now able to raise any issue — true or false — the other networks followed like lapdogs on blonde bimbos.

Indeed, the quality of America’s media rapidly declined. Important issues like climate change, racial and sexual inequality, national health care, wasteful military spending, a sound and stable economy with fair labor practices, etc. played second fiddle to imagery. America’s media by now had become near completely unregulated and consolidation became the name of the game as six corporations took control of 90 percent of all America’s media.

Republicans — with obscene amounts of corporate money — perfected well-timed political advertising. They even blended their national presidential campaign with controversial statewide referendums on anti-gay/anti-abortion-like issues in order to increase right wing voter turnout in key states. Yes, they played dirty. GOP operatives severely purged Florida’s voter registration list of Democrats, courtesy of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Bush’s Floridian campaign manager).

Even though Gore won the popular national vote and every qualitative analysis after Florida had shown Gore did in fact win Florida, GOPwinger Bush became president as the Reagan-Bush-appointed US Supreme Court ruled against Gore and America was forced into the Bush-Cheney Administration.

Next we saw two wars waged on a credit cart, tax-cuts for the wealthy during a time of war (never done before!), a prescription drug bill which only benefited pharmaceutical companies, a collapsed overall economy, jobs sent offshore and an ever-increasing erosion of constitutional rights and for many their freedom as America became the country imprisoning more people than any other country on the planet. America’s image, from the wars and inherent deceit used to wage them, became lowest ever during our history as a nation.

After Bush-Cheney, everyone, including Republicans and people worldwide, were very, very unhappy.

This paved the path for Democrat Barrack Obama to become America’s first black president. Unfortunately, the shameful and disgusting GOPwingers, on behalf of their rich oligarchs, held a meeting the evening prior to Obama’s inauguration where they decided to not support any initiative put forward by Obama or the Democrats. It’s a shame because had they worked with him, America could have returned to complete happiness. Even without their support America became a better nation!

This writing shows us that the last 50 years were just like the 50 previous years. A pattern showing that working people and poor folks fared far better under Democrat presidents; and the wealthy fared obscenely better during Republican administrations. FDR cleaned up Hoover’s mess; Carter cleaned up Nixon’s mess; Clinton cleaned up the Reagan-Bush mess; and Obama cleaned up the Bush-Cheney mess. This is a clear fact of the past 100 years of history. Of all the Republicans, only Ike Eisenhower was fair and kept Americans happy.

Let’s just say The Happy Index tells all! Now, if we can only get the price of a standing room only ticket to a ball game to come down, and if the hot dogs could only become a bit more affordable … what an America it would be!

[Writer’s 11/24/20 Note: Under President Obama, 95% of all new wealth created went to the fat cats at the top. The Trump Train Wreck Presidency has been no different. Income inequality prevails in America and our presidential elections have, in essence, become The Oligarch Derby!]




Founder of Boston’s Climate Change Band; former NH State Representative; Created Internet’s 1st Anti-War Debate; Supporter of Bernie Sanders & Standing Rock!

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Michael Weddle

Michael Weddle

Founder of Boston’s Climate Change Band; former NH State Representative; Created Internet’s 1st Anti-War Debate; Supporter of Bernie Sanders & Standing Rock!

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