Q&A – Where Does President Trump Rank Historically? Pt. 3

Let's take a look at the last three administrations, include President Trump.

W. Bush (5)

  • Defense: Neutral 3 – George W. Bush’s defense policy is the hardest to rate of any president. In the aftermath of 9/11, his administration’s creation of the Department of Homeland security and effective response to gut Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, while keeping Bin Laden on the run kept Americans safe. Conversely, there’s the expansion of the War on Terror into Iraq. After initial success in toppling Saddam Hussain, it was clear there was a miscalculation in the ability for Iraq to self-govern without US support which led to years of ongoing conflict resulting in hundreds of billions in tax dollars being spent and thousands of lives of American heroes.
  • Economy: Poor 2 - Bush’s economy was a tale of his two different terms in office. Led by tax cuts in his first year in office, the economy rebounded from the recession he inherited and managed to quickly overcome the economic harm done by the 9/11 terror attacks. A housing boom ensued and with light regulation over mortgages, most lenders engaged in irresponsible loan activities creating a bubble resulting in the housing crisis which led to the Great Recession.

Obama (4)

  • Defense: Poor 2 – President Obama’s top achievement, the killing of Osama Bin Laden by Seal Team 6, was meaningful yet largely symbolic as new terror cells had risen up in the middle-east. Called the Muslim brotherhood and ISIS, these organizations thrived under the Obama administration. In fact, at one point during a visit in Egypt, he called on the Muslim Brotherhood to rise up. They did and became an elite terror group that seized control of Egypt and created widespread instability. This instability was seized on by ISIS which made it known they intended to carry out a caliphate, which they accomplished during his administration. The rise of ISIS also led to frequent attacks in the US by those radicalized by the terror organization. There was also the misguided toppling of the Libyan government followed by the subsequent tragedy which the Obama administration allowed to happen at our consulate in Benghazi and subsequently lied about.
  • Economy: Poor 2 – Led by a significant increase in regulations, tax increases via the allowed expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, economic growth proved to be challenged during his eight years. He became the first President in American history to serve at least a year and not have at least one year of 3% plus economic growth. The average economic growth rate during his eight years, at 1.8% is the lowest in American history.

Trump (9)

  • Defense: Outstanding – 5 – While President Trump and President Reagan’s personalities and approaches were vastly different, their handling of defense and national security measures was similar. President Trump authorized highly successful missions to crush the ISIS caliphate during his earliest months in office making the US and entire world safer. His administration featured a net de-escalation of military conflict around the world, with fewer troops deployed today, than on the day of his inauguration. He reached historic peace deals in the middle-east with the Abraham Accords as Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates now recognize Israel for the first time in history. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy there as well. President Trump successfully built over 400 miles of border wall, prioritizing the highest impact areas which contributed to a greater than 50% decline in illegal immigration at our Southern Border last year. All of this doesn’t include the discussion of the Space Force or the Afghan peace deal.
  • Economy: Good 4 – Had this been a year ago, prior to the pandemic, his economy would have been a 5. Prior to COVID, on back of massive tax cuts, the elimination of egregious regulations, and a renewed emphasis on trade deals with a focus on American manufacturing, his policies fueled a return to 3% economic growth, which most economists and former President Obama said was no longer possible. It led to record low unemployment rates for every minority group and record-high wages for all Americans, regardless of demographics. Additionally, the stock market set a series of new record highs, despite the impact of the pandemic. The S&P 500 has averaged 17% annual appreciation during President Trump’s four years in office creating unprecedented prosperity for the greater than 50% of Americans who own stocks.

As I’ve evaluated all post World War 2 Presidents, here are the seven tiers of leaders I’ve identified:

  1. Ronald Reagan
  2. Tie: John F. Kennedy & Donald Trump
  3. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  4. Tie: Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford,
  5. Tie: Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton
  6. George W. Bush
  7. Tie: Jimmy Carter & Barrack Obama

While one may question the point system I assigned, the underlying facts remain. Objectively President Trump was one of the most effective post-War War 2 presidents we’ve had and had it not been for the pandemic, we might be talking about a presidency that would have rivaled the success of Reagan’s.

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