“The Toughest Times Any President Has Ever Faced” ?

In his farewell speech on Friday, Rahm Emanuel said that the Obama Administration had faced tougher times than any previous President. That is a fundamentally absurd idea.

Both Ed Driscoll and Peter Wehner picked up on something Rahm Emanual said during his farewell address on Friday:

“Mr. President, I thought I was tough. But as someone who saw first hand how close our nation came to the brink and what you had to do to put America back on track, I want to thank you for being the toughest leader any country could ask for in the toughest times any president has ever faced,” Emanuel said.

Leaving aside Emanuel’s hagiography for Obama, the idea that the past eighteen months have been “the toughest times any president has ever faced,” is simply absurd.

Just ask George Washington, who was charged with the task of leading a new nation, or Abraham Lincoln, who dealt with a war that tore the country in two, or Franklin Roosevelt, who dealt with the twin crises of an economic depression and a World War, or John F. Kennedy, who spent some time in October 1962 contemplating the possibility of nuclear war.

Even beyond those examples, however, one could also point to the Presidencies of James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Andrew Jackson, and even George W. Bush as presenting circumstances that were arguably more serious for the nation than the economic crisis that the Obama Administration has, quite honestly, done very little that could be considered innovative to alleviate.

Wehner thinks it’s a sign of a seige mentality inside the White House:

What these comments useful highlight, though, is the mindset that has taken hold of the president, his closest aides, and some of his remaining supporters. They really seem to believe that the scale of problems they face is unprecedented in American history, that the hand they have been dealt is worse than any who have come before them.

I worked in the White House during the worst attack on our homeland in history, two wars, a recession, and one of the worst natural disasters in our history (I had left the White House by the time the financial collapse of 2008 occurred) — and neither I nor any of my colleagues entertained, even for a moment, the thought that what we faced held a candle to what Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt (to name just three past presidents) confronted. If we had, it would have rightly elicited ridicule.

And so should Rahm be ridiculed. The past eighteen months have been hard for many reasons, but the idea that they are historically unprecedented and that only Barack Obama can save us is both absurd and dangerous.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    A bit of hyperbole perhaps but that’s hardly unknown in valedictory settings. However it’s hard to deny the last 18 months haven’t been fairly tough by any standards. Two wars and the worst financial crisis/economic recession since 1933 aren’t exactly chopped liver. By comparison with some of the more ridiculous political hyperbole of recent times (the war on terror = WW 2, Islamofascism presents an existential threat to the US) not to mention a daily diet of grotesque exaggerations about the greatest stars in history or BP has ruined the Gulf forever, it seems fairly mild to me and hardly worth getting excited about.

    ” that the Obama Administration has, quite honestly, done very little that could be considered innovative to alleviate.”

    Really. I’d say (along with others) that if there is one thing the events of the last two years have demonstrated it’s that Keynesianism has won hands down.

    “Wehner thinks it’s a sign of a seige(sic) mentality inside the White House:…and neither I nor any of my colleagues entertained, even for a moment, the thought that what we faced held a candle etc”

    Now since this reliable and (objective ho ho) source Wehner was one of the peope peddling the notion that the war on terrorism was equivalent to WW 2, one could perhaps be forgiven for taking his claims with a tiny pinch of salt.

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    As an addendum to this I was lead to read Wehner’s piece at a mag called Contentions/ Commentary that I was unfamiliar with. Oh boy, if you want see some serial rhetoric inflation take a trip over there.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Tough times. But not exactly Great Depression or Pearl Harbor or the Confederate Army half a day’s ride from Washington.

    Still, not exactly a walk in the park.

  4. john personna says:

    A politician engaging in hyperbole is a classic “film at 11” moment. Just the same, this one was particularly dumb, and has the potential to follow the guy, should he run for office soon after.

  5. ponce says:

    “A politician engaging in hyperbole is a classic “film at 11″ moment. ”

    I agree, who cares?

    How about posting about Rasmussen’s latest generic ballot that has the Republican’s lead down to 3?

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    “How about posting about Rasmussen’s latest generic ballot that has the Republican’s lead down to 3?”

    Typical Ras polling management. As the moment nears he has to get closer to reality because records are kept in the immediate run up to the polls. He does it every time.

  7. mpw280 says:

    Tough times for a president to be sure, extremely tough for an ill prepared orator from the Illinois Senate. I love that Rahm’s plans to run Chicago may be in the sewer due to the fact that you have to have a residence that you can live in for a minimum of a year to run for mayor of the city. Too bad he was too cheap not to rent a studio to keep his residency in Chicago. mpw

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    mpw280 says:
    Monday, October 4, 2010 at 17:32

    ” love that Rahm’s plans to run Chicago may be in the sewer”

    This based on any particular legal expertise or is it just wishful thinking?

  9. sam says:

    ” I love that Rahm’s plans to run Chicago”

    Why don’t you visit this https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/rahm-emanuel-not-eligible-to-run-for-mayor-of-chicago/, to see some genuine discussion of this issue, or can’t you take time out from the bar exam prep?

  10. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Since municipal regs in Illinois require residency in the area one plans to run in for one year and Rahm has lived in Washington D.C. for the past 18 Months. The question seems moot to any reasoned individual. But here in the rarified atmosphere Outside the Beltway words are often translateded into leftese. The end justifies the means and laws really mean nothing when they are applied to liberals.

  11. JKB says:

    Who’s up for golf?

    Has there ever been a better example of the self-esteem culture? Why didn’t he just say “You truly are the greatest wizard of your generation”?

  12. Tano says:

    ‘And so should Rahm be ridiculed. ”

    Why?
    Is there something wrong about saying nice things, even if somewhat of an exaggeration, about your friend/colleague/boss at these type of events? Why does that deserve ridicule?

    “the idea that they are historically unprecedented”

    As unconstrained as he said it, sure. But unprecedented within the lifetime of 95% of the people alive today – maybe. An exaggeration no doubt, but not absurd.

    “and that only Barack Obama can save us is both absurd and dangerous.”

    Now where did he say that “only” Obama can “save” us? If you have to start playing those types of games distorting what he said, then its just like admitting that you have nothing more of interest to say.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    Tough times? for Obama? hahahahahaha, all this dude does is, talk ****,blame Bush, go on vacation, have parties, and eat lobster…. wtf……

  14. Pete says:

    Hey Joe, if there is one thing the events of the last two years have demonstrated it’s that Keynesianism has won hands down.

    Joe, perhaps you could use some enlightenment: http://mises.org/store/Where-Keynes-Went-Wrong-P633.aspx?gclid=CJS4xf_PuqQCFcpS2godj3qL1A

  15. Wayne says:

    Re “Is there something wrong about saying nice things, even if somewhat of an exaggeration”

    It is a little more than “somewhat of an exaggeration”. It is about like Tebow or his agent standing up there saying Tebow is the greatest player of all time and has face more difficulties than any other player in history.

    Even if it was true which it isn’t, it is inappropriate to say so. Saying something nice is not the same as making way over the top claims.