THE BLOG
01/03/2017 03:19 pm ET Updated Jan 04, 2018

From Classy To Crazy

Policy aside, Barack Obama leaves a legacy of pure class, a tenure without rendering scandal, debilitating conflicts of interest, dangerous lapses of judgement or embarrassingly shameful conduct. All the more notable because of who follows him.

I first heard Mark Shields, many years ago, observe that American voters continuously elect presidents who starkly contrast their predecessors.

After the imperialism and corruption of Richard Nixon, everyman Gerald Ford cooked his own breakfast.

But Ford had been a career politician for 25 years, so along came Carter, who had never met most of the Washington establishment, even some leaders of his own party.

Carter comes to office intelligent, conscientious, carrying his own bags -- but he seems to change his mind a lot -- so in 1980 in comes Ronald Reagan, who hadn't changed his mind since 1964.

George Bush Sr. was certainly flexible, raised taxes after promising not to. His principle argument for election in 1988: I was VP for eight years, went to every meeting, never took a note, never asked a question -- it's my turn.

Bill Clinton was the faux populist response to Bush elitism.

George W. Bush presented a no-nothing response to Clinton's wonkiness.

And then Obama brought intellectual reason back.

Now there's Trump, apparently an experiment in stark raving madness.

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