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Question of the day

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From Sneed’s column

A top associate of Gov. Blagojevich claims the controversial governor, who seems to run against the wind, thinks he is President Andrew Jackson — who also went against the grain.

Compare Gov. Blagojevich to other presidents in American history. Explain your rationale.

posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:46 am


  1. Perhaps he is Andrew Jackson
    From Wikipedia

    When Jackson became President, he implemented the theory of rotation in office, declaring it “a leading principle in the republican creed.”[11] He believed that rotation in office would prevent the development of a corrupt bureaucracy. In addition, Jackson’s supporters wanted to give the posts to fellow party members, as an incentive to continue and support the party, and as a reward to strengthen party loyalty. In practice, this meant replacing federal employees with friends or party loyalists.[12] By the end of his term, Jackson had dismissed less than twenty percent of the original federal employees.[13] While Jackson did not start the “spoils system”, he did indirectly encourage its growth for many years to come.

    I would however go with Harding… (Also from wikipedia)

    However some other appointments proved to be corrupt. In foreign affairs, Harding signed peace treaties which formally ended World War I, and led the way to world naval disarmament at the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22. Harding died in San Francisco, California, 27 months into his term, at age 57 from a heart attack.

    Due to multiple scandals involving others in his administration, Harding is ranked by most scholars as the worst President ever to serve. Indeed, Harding himself is often quoted as saying, “I am not fit for this office and never should have been here.”[1]

    Comment by OneManBlog Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:51 am

  2. President, please, that’s a bungy-cord stretch. Let’s name a dictator he most resembles.

    Comment by The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:02 am

  3. Fun exercise here. I think the most appropriate comparison hinges on the question, “Which President used the bully pulpit as ineffectively as Blagojevich?” Having the center stage with both D chambers, G-Rod was in the driver seat– yet he has totally blown the opportunity. I am no history slouch, yet my answer is very anticlimactic: George W. Bush.

    Comment by Ambulance chaser Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:03 am

  4. I think he just got the last nmae wrong.

    He’s Andrew Johnson, the only President to be legitimately impeached, but not convicted.

    Or,if as many in this blog speculate, that Patrick Fizgerald may have something to say about Blago’s tenure in political office, as well as his future politcal aspirations - maybe Rod is really Spiro Agnew, the only Vice- President to be removed from office for political corruption, while he was a governor.

    Comment by Captain America Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:06 am

  5. I would have to say that Andrew Johnson is the closest match. He constantly fought with members of his own party and either vetoed or threatend to veto most legisation that came down the pipe.

    I think Blago also resembles Bush 43. He never listens to any dissenters and trogs ahead with unpopular ideas and programs. His budget numbers don’t add up and his advisors and press people are quick to tear down opposing legislators and groups.

    Andrew Jackson was a true man of the people. Blago does not fit that description.

    Comment by Team Sleep Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:07 am

  6. Benjamin Harrison: 1889–1893. His legacy was his irrefutable failure to convince the country of his leadership capabilities and his congress handling which lead to the loss of his party leadership support.

    Comment by Just an observer of history Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:10 am

  7. I knew Andy Jackson. Andy Jackson was a friend of mine. Rod is no Andy Jackson.

    Comment by Cogito Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:12 am

  8. I’d have to throw in another vote for GWBush. How loud do the people have to yell for one thing but you constantly keep giving them another?

    I’d say Blago is making most of his decisions top down… I think Bush on the other hand his often handed his decisions… that’s for another topic though.

    Comment by michael k Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:13 am

  9. Lyndon Johnson. Both Democrats, at odds with certain factions of their own party. Both trying to achieve massive change in health care costs while at the same time giving up large amounts of political capital to wage the war for said change. Both had to deal with scandals of close friends. (Rezko, Bobby Baker).

    Comment by Fire Ron Guenther Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:15 am

  10. Johnson is a good comparison. So is Bill Clinton. Again, the concern for health care. Re-elected for a second term despite some allegations of ethical problems.
    Disliked and harrassed by members of his own party.

    Comment by Bill Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:22 am

  11. Captain, why do you say Johnson was “legitimately” impeached, and why do you exclude Clinton?

    Comment by steve schnorf Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:28 am

  12. It pleases me to know that GoverNOT Speechify will never hold the office of US President? However, I would have to put him in the exact same category as George W. Bush. Both house and senate are of Speechify’s party (same for W); the citizens of Illinois narrowly elected him to a second term (without Speechify getting a 50% majority); he dances to his own beat, never bothering to listen to the wishes of his constitutents (same for W); there’s talk of impeachment for Speechify (same for W) which will go nowhere for both. And to quote Bill, “Disliked and harrassed by members of his own party.”

    Comment by Little Egypt Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:39 am

  13. I don’t know which is weirder: the comparison itself, that Blagojevich is comparing himself to a president, or that Blagojevich is smart enough make that sort of comparison in the first place.

    Does Blagojevich still think he’s going to run for president someday? Is that what all this is about?

    Comment by Macbeth Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:47 am

  14. Mac,
    Wait and see!

    Comment by Bill Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:50 am

  15. Nixon - they will both resign because of scandal

    Comment by 45 Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:56 am

  16. More than any other president, Rod reminds me of the president in “Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story”

    – SCAM

    Comment by so-called "Austin Mayor" Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:57 am

  17. George W. Bush undoubtedly. Neither listen to their constituents and both are disliked and distrusted by their party.

    Comment by Indpendent One Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:13 am

  18. I thought Bill was going to say that Governor Blagojevich has the policy platform of Franklin Roosevelt and the physical energy of Theodore Roosevelt.

    Comment by Gus Frerotte's Clipboard Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:25 am

  19. Not in terms of ideology, but in terms of his attitude to work, Calvin Coolidge appears to be another model for Rod.

    Comment by ZC Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:25 am

  20. George W. Bush. Duh.

    Surrounds himself with sycophants.

    Makes his friends rich at taxpayer expense.

    Stands on dogma, not for solutions.

    Ignores the law when it inconveniences him.

    “Reform & Renewal” = “Compassionate Conservatism”

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:30 am

  21. George W. Bush. Duh.

    Surrounds himself with sycophants.

    Makes his friends rich at taxpayer expense.

    Stands on dogma, not for solutions.

    Ignores the law when it inconveniences him.

    “Reform & Renewal” = “Compassionate Conservatism”

    And there’s a big parallel between Rod’s “Illinois Covered” plan and Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug Program. Neither was well thought out, but both provide a windfall to the health care industry at taxpayer expense.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:32 am

  22. GW Bush is a good one, both are poor leaders and final members of both of their parties are starting to realize it. Both proposed expensive unneeded medical program that are or would be a fiasco.
    LBJ is a good one to, LBJ pushed throu large spending programs that coupled with taxes and other events that helped lead to economic stagnation of the 1970s and high inflation. The Governor proposed a large increase in spending coupled with an economy damaging tax increase.

    Comment by RMWStanford Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:38 am

  23. Herbert Hoover.
    Who always gets the historical bad wrap for the Great Depression, but Blago fills his shoes well.
    Your not telling me there isn’t plenty of depression in Springfield. Let’s talk about how his health plan will banrupt the state. Oh I forgot…. We are already banrkupt.
    So yea…Herbert Hoover.

    Comment by Mark Johnson Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:48 am

  24. Bush. The irony are those that defend the one of their party and blast the other one.

    Comment by ArchPundit Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:54 am

  25. Excellent point, ArchPundit. Excellent.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:56 am

  26. YDD, nice parallel. I think Part D is a good program but it is pricey, confusing and puts too much control in private companies.

    As a side note, has anyone watched “Lil’ Bush” yet? Hysterical.

    Comment by Team Sleep Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:59 am

  27. I’m surprised no has yet said Ulysses S. Grant.

    Came into office with a lot of promise, turned out to be a disaster, in large part because he let his buddies run the government as their own personal piggy bank.

    From wikipedia:
    Although Grant was personally honest, he not only tolerated financial and political corruption among top aides but also protected them once exposed. He blocked civil service reforms and defeated the reform movement in the Republican party in 1872, driving out many of its founders. The Panic of 1873 pushed the nation into a depression that Grant was helpless to reverse. Presidential experts typically rank Grant in the lowest quartile of U.S. presidents, primarily for his tolerance of corruption.

    Comment by Anon Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 12:07 pm

  28. Andrew Johnson…because he wasn’t big enough for the job or the challenges he faced.

    The Bush comparison is weak, but not unexpected.

    Comment by Abe Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 12:38 pm

  29. Not sure about one particular President. I think it’s more of a composite. I think those listed about work, but add Jimmy Carter. Carter had a lousy relationship with Congress (even though his party controlled it).

    I don’t he’s at the Nixon level because he’s not walking around the Executive Mansion talking to paintings (insert funny comment here).

    Comment by jwscott72 Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 12:42 pm

  30. OK, sorry for not proofreading my post. I meant to write above instead of about and I should have written “I don’t THINK he’s at…”.

    Comment by jwscott72 Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 12:47 pm

  31. President Andrew Rooney - Can you imagine living in a state where the governor spends all of his time resting up to be president?

    Comment by A Citizen Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 12:56 pm

  32. Woodrow Wilson -

    Since people are quoting Wikipedia - “… He refused to compromise with the Republicans who controlled Congress after 1918, effectively destroying any chance for ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. …”

    Comment by Huh? Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:08 pm

  33. William Henry Harrison who died a month after taking office. Blago has been nearly as accomplished in his legislative efforts.

    Comment by S. Illinois Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:24 pm

  34. Alfred E. Neuman
    Opps, he wasn’t president
    But neither is Blaggo

    Comment by Mr. W.T.Rush Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:28 pm

  35. It has to be GW Bush.

    Both lazy. Both got where they are because of family.

    Both convinced of their moral “rightness”.

    Both fitness nuts.

    Both intellectual dullards.

    Comment by irishpirate Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:51 pm

  36. James Buchanan - his administration was plagued with economic trouble AND investigated for evidence of impeachable offenses! He is remembered as one of the two or three worst presidents ever.

    Comment by Jimmy crackcorn Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:56 pm

  37. It is tempting to say Nixon because we know that Blago admires Nixon, Chicago Magazine even ran that photo of the young Blago chasing him down for an autograph once. However, I have to agree with YDD - as usual. Bush and Blago are very similar.

    They both started off with ideas that appealed beyond their base. But very soon, scandals and mismanagement got in the way of what they thought they could accomplish. In the end, there is a small chunk of the base that is still loyal (or blind) to their many flaws and lack of leadership. The difference is that there are no national Republican leaders who defy Bush and provide cover for smart Republicans who want to break ranks. Thank goodness we have Democrats here who speak out and provide leadership against Blago’s cabal.

    Comment by Napoleon has left the building Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:06 pm

  38. This Gov reminds me a lot of Dan Walker who reminded me a lot of Jimmy Carter, and like Walker, years from now, we’ll find the unknown and forgotten Blagojevich flogging his book.

    Comment by Bill Baar Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:34 pm

  39. I would say Millard Fillmore. Fillmore was part of the “Know Nothing” movement, accomplished little, and is but an irrelevant footnote of history.

    Comment by Lincoln Lounger Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:37 pm

  40. Jimmy Carter–he didn’t get much done either, and blamed everyone else, including his constituents, for his lack of success.

    Comment by ChampaignDweller Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:12 pm

  41. Wikipedia says “Although Grant was personally honest…” That pretty much stops any Elvis/U.S. Grant comparison now doesn’t it.

    Comment by Little Egypt Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:22 pm

  42. Well, President Fillmore and Governor Blagojevich both have great hair. I guess that is also a parallel.

    Comment by Team Sleep Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:41 pm

  43. John Quincy Adams.

    Didn’t get along with his party and is only known because of to whom he was related.

    Comment by BIG R.PH. Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:18 pm

  44. Kim Jong-il affects American history and shares almost the same self-centered style of government as Hair-man.

    Comment by i d Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:19 pm

  45. In yahoo search when you type in “worst president” the site comes up as third. According to wikipedia, the worst president ranking goes to Warren Harding, based on “personal scandals and misuse of government funds…”

    Comment by hollyringo Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:21 pm

  46. Ronald Reagan for the showmanship and senility.

    Comment by ids Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:28 pm

  47. There are many similarities between Jimmy Carter and Blago. Carter thought negotiating and bargining with the Congress was distasteful and shady; he often took stands and made proposals that had no chance of passage but pushed for them anwyay. That was all well and good, but whatever legislative successes he had came as a result of Tip O’Neill’s negotiating skills. Even so, he could not get along with his own party in Congress, despite huge majorities (There were over 290 Dems in the House and over 61 in the Senate). In many ways, Carter was just not up to the task of being President, just as Blago is simply incapable of being an effective Governor.

    Comment by some former legislative intern Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 5:06 pm

  48. Schnorf,

    I can’t find my history book with the Section on the post-assassination reconstruction era. I took the course 6-7 years ago. My history professor, an ardent Republican, left me with a strong impression that Andrew Johnson was something of a looney. My vague recollection is that Johnson blatantly failed to execute certain laws passed by Congress - whether these were good or bad laws I can’t recall. Generally, I also learned that his acquittal was positive as a precedent in maintaining the authority of the Presidency.Sorry I can’t be more specific.

    Republicans and Ken Starr went on the Whitewater wich hunt - spent millions of dollars and came up with zilch.

    I don’t think Paula Jones should have been allowed to pursue her case against the President while he was in office. Clinton defintely lied in his Paula Jones testimony about Moncia Lewinsky.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe perjuring himself in a trial related to a tawdry sexual proposition that occurred before his Presidency constitituted a “high crime and misdeameanor” as intended by the framers of the Constitution. I recall speifically the Republican rhetoric about how the impeachment was about the “rule of law.”

    Now the shoe is on the other foot. Real crimes of perjury and obstruction were committed by Scooter Libby regarding the disclosures of the identity of a covert CIA agent, as payback for Joe Wilson’s exposure of the lies inteationally promulgated to market the war. The same Republicans who were hot and heavy to uphold the rule of law in the Clinton perjury case are advocating a pardon for Scooter Libby. I think Libby will get a Presidential pardon eventually,and probably rightfully so, since he took the fall for Cheney.

    So although the impeachment of Clinton was constitutioanlly permissable, it was essentailly illegitimate because it really was not a “high crime and misdemeanor” in my unhumble layman’s opinion.

    Even though I believe both Bush-Cheney have committed multiple genuinely impeachable acts, I am completely opposed to their impeachment simply becsauw it would be counterproductive. Let the political process and history be the judge.

    I think that many of the Caoitol Fax bloggers are correct in seeing similarities between Bush and Blagojevich in terms of incompetence.Both got re-elected despite very poor first terms in office because of weak candidates opposing them and masterful campaign strategies. Topinka was admittedly a lot more likeable than Kerry, but Rod successfully portrayed her as a lightweight.Kerry was branded as a “flip- flopper” and never recovered.

    Comment by Captain America Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 5:37 pm

  49. Calvin Coolidge. Blago talks just as little as “Silent Cal” did.

    Comment by Ron Burgundy Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:04 pm

  50. “other presidents in history”…I’d have to go with Al Gore…he was elected…No? And the reason I say Gore is that they both have about the same to show for their time in office…

    Comment by Fed-up Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:39 pm

  51. The difference between Rod and Cal is that people didn’t want Cal to do anything (that is what conservative meant a long time ago), and Blago is incapable of doing anything. He has all the qualities of Truman. But now some argue that it was a good thing that Truman was not interested in what his constituency thought, was reelected because of the other party’s lackluster candidate, and failed at most policy objectives even though both the House and Senate were in Democrat control. And Truman absolutely hated Nixon… one of Nixon’s few endearing traits…. But somehow I guess that democrats would still hand Rod the nomination if he wanted it again… unlike Truman… (It makes you think that democrats were smarter back then…)

    Comment by Lovie's Leather Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:56 pm

  52. There is no President bad enough to compare Rod to.

    Rod Blagojevich is the worst Governor in the history of Illinois.

    Comment by Reluctant candidate Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:56 pm

  53. Definitely Nixon. Both avoid the press when asked about corruption and investigations. Both have “ties” to tawdry characters. Both believed they had the God-given right to do as they please.

    Comment by Anon Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:59 pm

  54. Reluctant candidate: Amen.

    Comment by Reality Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 7:17 pm

  55. Presidential comparisons? Quoting Winston Churchill? He should just stick to citing Elvis and other “pop culture” icons.

    Comment by 312 Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 7:30 pm

  56. Bush (W) is very close. But I hope we never have a president a bad as Blagozo.

    Comment by Papa Legba Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 8:20 pm

  57. Tomorrow’s QOTD - If you were to compare the governor to a previously convicted politician/ office holder who would it be and why? Examples, Walker, Kerner, Powell, Hodge, Ryan etc.

    Comment by A Citizen Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 8:41 pm

  58. He’s most like W, for the reasons cited by YDD and others. He’s also a lot like Nixon, when it comes to dirty (and inept) tricks, such as the Gay Pride Parade fliers. But he’s no LBJ, because Lyndon was nothing if not a mover and shaker with legislators, having mastered that work in US Senate leadership.

    Comment by anonymous Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 8:44 pm

  59. The only American President he reminds me of is the President of ‘the Hair Club For Men’.

    “I’m not only in charge of this tangle; I’m also the cause of it…”

    Comment by OAD Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:19 pm

  60. Pardon me for not answering the question directly, but Blago clearly is delusional. Rather than deal directly with the state’s most pressing issues - govering, some might call it - he consistently invents drama to cast himself as a great leader in the midst of challenging times. Now that he is comparing himself to Andrew Jackson, it’s official: He has seriously gone off the deep end.

    Comment by DeepFriedOnAStick Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:05 pm

  61. You mean like Delusional? Or did you have something more specific in mind from the DMS IV manual?

    Comment by A Citizen Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:17 pm

  62. Citizen, what was Powell convicted of?

    Comment by steve schnorf Friday, Jun 29, 07 @ 12:26 am

  63. Captain, my recollection is that Johnson was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act, legislation passed by a hostile Congress that required Senate approval for the President’s removal of any official whose appointment had required Senate advice and consent. The legislation was clearly unconstitutional. I thought my party was stupid for the Clinton impeachment, but that doesn’t mean it was illegitimate.

    Comment by steve schnorf Friday, Jun 29, 07 @ 12:32 am

  64. Blagojevich during his first term was Warren Harding. Both Blagojevich and Harding came into office with a lot of good feelings from voters. Both men surrounded themselves with crooks and seemed stunned at all the work required of them in office. Neither man was prepared to work all that hard. Harding and Blagojevich were both very charming men and popular with the ladies. As a matter of fact many of the ladies old enough to remember Harding are some of Blagojevich’s biggest supporters. Old ladies loved Rod.

    But in the second term, Blagojevich turned into Andrew Johnson. Both Johnson and Blagojevich believed that holding the top-dog position in government meant that they would be looked upon as top-dogs. Although Johnson came into office upon assassination, he considered himself worthy of respect due to the position he held.

    Importantly, both Johnson and Blagojevich suffer from a misunderstanding of their political victories. Johnson, having sucessfully rebuffed senior party leaders used the occassion of his political victory over them by declaring a level of personal infallibility unwarranted by events. Johnson strongly believed that he was a savior for the common man and that he represented the poor and invisible masses of Americans without a voice in government. Blagojevich also continues to stress a level of personal infallibility and makes similar claims of champion to average voters.

    So, I have no idea when Blagojevich will give up the Andrew Johnson schtick. He was clearly Warren Harding during that first term. As he continues battling and bloviating for his self-righteousness, he gives us historians reflections of the buffoon Andy Johnson was in office.

    Comment by VanillaMan Friday, Jun 29, 07 @ 2:29 pm

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