The Obama Great Depression

16 01 2016

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1][2]

Soon after the presidency of Barack Obama began—on April 8, 2009—the  McClatchy-Tribune News Service published an article of mine entitled, “Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”[3]  In it, I wrote:

Barack Obama is euphorically optimistic, but neither he nor the leaders of other countries can hold back an economic tsunami, just as mankind is helpless to stop the wrath of natural tsunamis in the oceans.

. . .

According to the Rasmussen Reports, most Americans—53 percent, in fact—believe the United States is at least somewhat likely to enter a 1930s-like Depression within the next few years. If so, the repercussions are unfathomable.

. . .

Years from now, economic historians may look back at this era and conclude that the world’s central bankers were overwhelmed and Depression-era “safety nets” did not work; and global market forces ultimately determined the depth and duration of the economic meltdown, not the politicians in Washington or anywhere else.

The tsunami that was released when the housing bubble finally burst may not run its course until about 2017-2019; and its effects will be devastating worldwide. There are no legislative solutions or quick fixes to the problems. The carnage between now and 2019 will approximate the Great Depression. . . .

. . .

America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times. Also, the limits of godless secularism and paying homage to the false gods of materialism may become self-evident.

It is interesting to reflect on these comments and others contained in the article, as well as those in an companion article that I wrote for the American Banker—the daily newspaper of the U.S. banking industry—and in an interview that I gave on these subjects.[4]  Today, it is as though the economies of individual countries are “careening,” creating a “cascading” effect.

This is not 2008 all over again. It may be much worse, even eclipsing the Great Depression of the last century.  A “perfect storm” has been gathering for a long time now; and when it hits with its full force and fury, 2008 may seem like a “blip” by comparison.  America’s Fed and the other central banks of the world will be overwhelmed; Depression-era “safety nets” will not make any difference; and panics may ensue.

The biggest worry in Washington for many years has been that there would be runs on the big funds, which are uninsured, and that a “liquidity crisis” of unfathomable proportions would occur—which would be unstoppable.  Americans and people of other countries have lost trust in their governments, which will only compound the problems.

Hold on tight. Things will get very scary between now and the end of this decade.[5]  Whatever happens will be attributable principally to Barack Obama’s failed presidency.  Indeed, there are so many tragedies he has spawned that it is impossible to do justice to each of them in a short article like this one.

For example, he has set back race relations in the United States by years if not decades. He has been a divider, not a healer.[6]  With respect to his so-called major policy “accomplishments”—such as Obamacare, limited gun control, and the Paris man-made “global warming” accords—they can and probably will be undone by executive orders on Day One when the next American president takes office less than a year from now.  Americans are clamoring for this to happen.[7]

Obama may go down as the worst president in American history, even eclipsing Jimmy Carter, which is a remarkable feat unto itself.  History may record that Obama became a “transformative” or revolutionary president, which is not what the majority of Americans wanted. Perhaps because he was not raised on the U.S. mainland, his perspective is not that of most Americans . . . even blacks.[8]

With the global economy imploding, and Obama being an impediment to the U.S. growth that has occurred, his place in American economic history may rank next to or below that of Herbert Hoover.

Today, Barack Obama is like a minstrel wandering the land, with respect to whom no one will listen.

© 2016, Timothy D. Naegele

Obama-gone

_______________________________________________

[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search: Timothy D. Naegele

[2] Note: This article is an expansion of earlier articles and comments at this blog.  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/ (“The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally”) (see all of the comments beneath it) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/#comment-8016 (“Barack Obama: A Failed American Presidency”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-8011 (“Helter Skelter Is Arriving With A Thud, Sell Everything”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-7614 (“Doomsday Clock For Global Market Crash Strikes One Minute To Midnight As Central Banks Lose Control“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/poverty-in-america/#comment-7646 (“The Surging Ranks Of America’s Ultrapoor”) and  https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-8006 (“The EU’s Collapse In 2016?“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/global-chaos-and-helter-skelter/ (“Global Chaos And Helter Skelter”)

[3]  This article has been republished by RealClearPolitics, and can be found at the links that follow.

See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html (“Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”) and http://www.naegele.com/documents/Commentary-EuphoriaortheObamaDepression.pdf (“Commentary: Euphoria or the Obama Depression?

[4]  See http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.naegele.com/documents/GreenspansFingerprints.pdf (“Viewpoint: Greenspan’s Fingerprints All Over Enduring Mess”); see also http://marketshadows.com/2012/05/21/greenspans-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/2951-market-shadows/31177-interview-with-timothy-d-naegele and http://www.naegele.com/documents/InterviewwithTimothyD.Naegele-ilene–SeekingAlpha.pdf (“Greenspan’s legacy: more suffering to come”)

[5]  Not factored into these comments explicitly are the effects of (1) the terrorist strikes on Paris and elsewhere in the world; (2) the immigration issue that is tearing Europe and the Middle East apart; (3) the military implosion that is taking place in the Middle East, with much worse yet to come; and (4) the effects of our adversaries (e.g., China, Russia, North Korea, Iran) on peace, and on the American and global economies.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/we-are-all-parisians/ (“We Are All Parisians”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ (“EMP Attack: Only 30 Million Americans Survive”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/china-is-americas-enemy-make-no-mistake-about-that/ (“China Is America’s Enemy: Make No Mistake About That”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-next-major-war-korea-again/ (“The Next Major War: Korea Again?”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/islamophobia-is-un-american/ (“Islamophobia Is Un-American”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/is-israel-doomed/ (“Is Israel Doomed?”)

[6]  See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/#comment-8016 (“Barack Obama: A Failed American Presidency”)  and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ (“Is Barack Obama A Racist?”)

[7]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-34-trillion-swindle-the-shame-of-global-warming/ (“A $34 Trillion Swindle: The Shame Of Global Warming”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/ (“Abortions And Autos Kill More In America Than Guns”)

[8]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/edward-w-brooke-is-dead/#comment-7434 (“Disappointment In Obama Leads Some Blacks To Ask Whether Voting Is Worth It”)





The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally

27 09 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the EU entitled, “Currency Union Teetering, ‘Mr. Euro’ Was Forced to Act,” which is worth reading and reflecting on seriously.[2] It represents an excellent discussion of what has happened in the past.  However, its conclusions are sobering and ominous:

[F]our months later, the root causes of the Greek crisis remain: There is no central authority to even coordinate national tax-and-spending policies.

In the past month, financial markets have turned their sights on Ireland and Portugal. Doubts remain over the solvency of banks on Europe’s stricken fringe. That leaves them dependent on [the European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet]’s largesse, in the form of “temporary” lending facilities introduced by the ECB when the crisis first hit.

Despite Mr. Trichet’s assurances that the bond-buying program is a stop-gap, it not only continues but has also increased in recent weeks—with no end in sight.

Put succinctly, Europe is still on the brink. It is foolish to believe otherwise. The “green shoots” that have appeared recently are an “illusion” and merely a brief respite in the midst of a maelstrom, which economic historians will describe as the “Great Depression II” (or by some similar name) 20-40 years from now.

Americans and their counterparts around the world have lost faith in their governments, and rightly so[3]; and the governments have come closer to exhausting all of their viable economic options. As this becomes increasingly clear, and as governments thrash about trying to find solutions that do not exist, and as politicians continue to lie—which after all is what they are most proficient at doing—the economic tsunami will continue to take its toll and run its course worldwide during the balance of this decade.

It will get very ugly, economically, socially and politically. Barack Obama will be swept out of office in the United States, and this process has begun already. It will accelerate with November’s elections. He is caught in the twin pincers of an economy in decline that he cannot influence except negatively, and an Afghan war that cannot be won. Republicans and Independents do not support him now; and his own Democrats are deserting him.

The slippery slope out the White House door will follow, like it did for Lyndon Johnson prior to the presidential election of 1968, when the political consequences of the Vietnam war made him unelectable.  Obama will return either to Chicago or Honolulu to lick his wounds and set up his presidential library, and assume an “elder statesman” role—similar to Bill Clinton—after only one term in office.

The efforts of Jean-Claude Trichet, or “Mr. Euro,” will prove similar to measures undertaken to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Trichet is not “Superman,” and he will lack the necessary skills; and the policy options will have been exhausted. Panics may ensue in the financial markets; and the recent crises may seem like child’s play by comparison to what is coming. The “Band-Aids” that Trichet, America’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and others applied will be ripped asunder as the economic tsunami continues its relentless and unforgiving advance globally.[4]

Hold on tight. It is apt to get very ugly. The euro zone will unravel, which is likely to be a relatively small but critical part of what will be happening worldwide; and financial turmoil will engulf the euro-zone nations. There will be nobody of consequence in charge economically or politically in the United States or other countries. And the human suffering and chaos will be unfathomable.[5] Throw military and national security issues into the mix, and the results may be explosive.

 

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.comand http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/CurrencyUnionTeeteringMr.EuroWasForcedtoAct.pdf; see also http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467004575464113605731560.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLETopStories

[3] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/washington-is-sick-and-the-american-people-know-it/

[4] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/are-afghanistan-iraq-and-pakistan-hopeless-and-is-the-spread-of-radical-islam-inevitable-and-is-barack-obama-finished-as-americas-president/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/will-the-eus-collapse-push-the-world-deeper-into-the-great-depression-ii/

[5] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/#comment-750 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/#comment-745





Will The EU’s Collapse Push The World Deeper Into The Great Depression II?

16 05 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

“For want of a nail . . .  the kingdom was lost.”[2] Will Greece’s debt crisis lead to a Greek debt default and the collapse of the euro and an ensuing collapse of the 27-member European Union (or EU), and trigger the next round of crashes that will be described by economic historians decades from now as “the Great Depression II”?[3] The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, Serbia brought the tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to a head.  In turn, it is said this triggered a chain of international events that embroiled Russia and the major European powers; and World War I broke out in Europe.[4] Will Greece’s debt crisis set a series of events in motion that sends the world into a downward economic spiral of unfathomable proportions?

For years, I have wrestled with the question of whether the Europe would collapse economically, politically, socially and militarily.  Sounds absurd, you say?  The countries are too interwoven and mutually dependent now for that to happen, and at the very least they will muddle along, making the worst of the best situations, and achieving the lowest common denominator?  The United States of Europe, they are not and never will be, but they have achieved a degree of cohesiveness that I never thought was likely years ago.

I believed jealousies and rivalries and, yes, the hatreds of the past would linger barely beneath the surface, coming unglued at the most inopportune times when it really mattered the most.  When the chips were down, I felt the EU would splinter and fall apart; and that its participants and the world would write it off as a noble experiment that failed, much like the League of Nations.  After all, its successor—the United Nations—is considered to be a colossal joke by Americans, many of whom would love to see it shipped to Europe, and its building on the East River in Manhattan bulldozed and turned into a park, or made into co-ops or condominiums.

The bitter hatreds of the past seem to have subsided in Europe though, and it has become a cultural melting pot, more and more.  Airbus was the first tangible sign of economic integration that I never thought would be possible.  To see the Germans and French working together, and genuinely enjoying each other and producing competitive aircraft on a global scale, was something to behold.  The economic interdependence and booming economies covered up a myriad of sins, mistakes and weaknesses.  It all looked very rosy until the economic tide in Europe and worldwide began to turn.  Then, potholes showed up where there had been rose gardens; and recriminations began to occur that had been buried beneath the surface.

Today Greece is teetering, and anger is intensifying over proposed cuts that are to be made as part of the EU deal to save the country’s economy.  It is the age-old battle between the haves and have-nots, and between those who will bear the burden of the cuts and the wealthy who will escape them.  However, anti-American sentiments are growing because the International Monetary Fund (or IMF) is viewed as a tool of the U.S., which is carrying out American policies.  Like the U.N., the IMF has taken on more powers and responsibilities than were ever envisioned; and it needs to be curbed, and its U.S. support diminished.[5]

Perhaps a recent editorial by the Wall Street Journal best captured the “contagion” that began with Greece:

It hasn’t been a week since the terms of Athens’s . . . bailout were set, and already the reviews of this latest Greek drama are saying it’s a flop.  Yesterday the euro sank to its lowest level in a year.  Stock markets across Europe fell nearly 3%, and the carnage spread to Wall Street and beyond.  Greek interest-rate spreads climbed higher again, and market players have turned their attention to the euro zone’s other weak sisters as everyone tries to figure out who is most likely to follow Greece down the road to national insolvency.

The bailout, in other words, hasn’t stopped the much-feared contagion. If anything, it has spread it.[6]

The Archduke revisited—and hardly encouraging to a world that is in the process of revisiting the Great Depression.  And reason enough for panics, with many more to come.[7]

In another editorial, the Journal added:

The real gamble is being made by politicians who are calculating that, by taking the risk of sovereign default off the table for now, they are giving the global economic recovery time to build and making it easier to address Europe’s fiscal woes.

. . .

In the euro’s first serious test, the political class blinked.  The resulting moral hazard will haunt the single currency for years and reduce the incentive for governments to keep their fiscal houses in order.[8]

Even more troubling is the prospect that the 16-nation (out of the 27-EU member states) shared euro currency may be headed for disintegration.  “The euro is doomed,” said one market analyst.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel observed, Europe is in a “very, very serious situation”; and the U.K.’s new Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, may have major problems keeping the left wing of the Liberal Democrats and the right wing of the Conservatives (or Tories) in line, and a new election may be called before year-end.[9] Also, it is predicted that “China’s economy will slow and possibly ‘crash’ within a year as the nation’s property bubble is set to burst”—which may have troubling implications for whether China will continue to buy and hold our government debt.[10] In turn, this is a major economic and national security risk.

The economic tsunami that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan unleashed has produced consequences far beyond those that were ever envisioned—and far beyond American shores—which will last through the end of this decade, and possibly a generation.  Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance, has said: “Greenspan was considered a master.  Now we must ask ourselves whether he is not, after [Osama] bin Laden, the man who hurt America the most.”  These words speak volumes; however, they fall short of describing the global dimensions and consequences of Greenspan’s actions and inactions.[11]

The central banks of the world are essentially out of options, and the worst is yet to come.  Hold on tight.  It will not be pretty—and global citizenry anger may be truly mind-boggling![12]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] The proverb, “For Want of a Nail,” states:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Want_of_a_Nail_(proverb)

[3] See, e.g.http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100408/D9EURADO0.html and http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=aL3SiaURK8dQ&pid=20601087

[4] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Archduke_Franz_Ferdinand_of_Austria

[5] As the London Times points out:

Even greater social unrest is expected as resentment simmers among poorer families at being told to tighten their belts when wealthy Greeks can protect their fortunes by moving their money abroad, some of it into property bargains in London.

See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7113941.ece The Times article adds:

Mikis Theodorakis, the 84-year-old musician who composed the score for the film Zorba the Greek, calls for revolt against what he sees as an American plot to turn Greece into a “protectorate”.

[6] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheGreekBailoutFlop_000.pdf

[7] On May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average “ended down 347.80, or 3.2 percent, at 10,520.32, after being down as much as 998.50 earlier, the Dow’s biggest intraday drop on record.”

See http://www.cnbc.com/id/36988229

The CNBC article added:

“We’ve seen a crisis start in a country—Greece—become regional, impact the whole of the Euro zone and is on the verge of truly going global,” said El-Erian, CEO of the world’s biggest bond fund.

. . .

There is simply a growing recognition that Greece has got to default, said Rochdale banking analyst Dick Bove. “The riots in the streets showed the decision to repay the debt was not going to be made by the people in Germany, France and Switzerland, it’s going to be made by people in Greece and they’re not going to repay it,” he said. “Anyone seeing the riots is going to recognize that this government is going to be thrown out and anything replacing this government is going to be far more leftist leaning and they’re going to repudiate.”

See id. A Wall Street Journal article added:

The velocity of the plunge in stocks was breath-taking. Investors fled everything from stocks and risky bonds to commodities and poured money into safe assets such as U.S. Treasurys and gold.

. . .

“You worry about the a domino effect, from Greece to Portugal to Ireland and Spain,” said Richard Schottenfeld, general partner of Schottenfeld Associates, a New York hedge fund. “Pretty soon those kinds of losses are bigger than housing.”

Investors said they were worried about potential contagion from Greece’s ongoing problems, and whether eventual losses could even exceed those of the U.S. housing collapse.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704370704575227754131412596.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEADNewsCollection

[8] The Journal’s editorial added:

The real euro crisis, in short, is one of overspending and policies that sabotage economic growth. Sunday’s shock and awe campaign has merely postponed that reckoning—and at a fearsome price.

See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheRealEuroCrisis.pdf

[9] See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqquuYOAN_sE (“European policy makers last week unveiled a loan package worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases in an effort to contain a sovereign-debt crisis that has threatened to shatter confidence in the euro.  . . .  By resorting to what some economists have called the ‘nuclear option,’ the [European Central Bank, or] ECB may open itself to the charge it’s undermining its independence by helping governments plug budget holes”)

[10] See http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/2010/05/07/Commentary-Fiscal-WMD/UPI-69801273233877/

[11] See http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[12] See also http://www.naegele.com/documents/MatthewKaminski-EuropesOtherCrisis.pdf (“Germans no longer feel obliged to pay for the sins of their forefathers by bankrolling Europe.  . . .  ‘The EU is falling to pieces'”) and http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Spain-debt-downgraded-by-apf-1816859080.html?x=0&.v=27 (Spain) and http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f696c52-456a-11df-9e46-00144feab49a.html (“Soros warns Europe of disintegration”) and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703525704575061172926967984.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read (“Europe is entering unprepared into a serious economic crisis—and the nascent global recovery could easily collapse due to the unsustainable and Ponzi-like buildup of government debt in weaker countries.  . . .  The issues for troubled euro zone countries are straightforward: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (known to the financial markets, and not in a polite way, as the PIIGS) had varying degrees of foreign- and bank credit-financed rapid expansions over the past decade.  In fall 2008, these bubbles collapsed.  . . .  Since these struggling countries share the euro, run by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, . . . they are left with the need to massively curtail demand, lower wages and reduce the public sector workforce.  The last time we saw this kind of precipitate fiscal austerity—when nations were tied to the gold standard—it contributed directly to the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s.  . . .  Ireland’s banks are today probably insolvent. Who can afford to repay their mortgages when wages are falling and unemployment rising?  Irish house prices continue to speed downward.  This is not an example of a ‘careful’ solution—it is a nation in a financial death spiral”) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1250433/Greece-debt-bailout-EU-leaders-split-euro-crisis.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?hp=&pagewanted=all





Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy: A Question of Character

20 03 2010

With the passage of time, America’s greatest presidents prior to the 21st Century are apt to be viewed as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.  Gone from that list most certainly will be John F. Kennedy. Today, few young Americans even know who he was—or care about him—because less than a handful of his positive accomplishments had any lasting significance.

Reagan will be remembered, while Kennedy may be forgotten. This conclusion will surely offend those Kennedy disciples who are still pushing the myth of Camelot until its last gasp. Like William McKinley, the fact that an assassin cut short Kennedy’s life and presidency might be all that Americans recall about him 50 years from now.

It is striking how the death of Reagan . . . made one realize how great he was, and how small and inconsequential Kennedy’s accomplishments were. Aside from some flowery words—mostly written for him by Theodore Sorenson—and what remains of the once-vibrant Peace Corps, Kennedy’s legacy is almost nonexistent today.

Reagan was lucky and blessed to have survived an assassin’s bullet only 69 days after he took office on January 20, 1981, and America and the free world are fortunate that he did.  More than 40 years after Kennedy’s death, the full extent of his life-long medical problems is still being withheld from the American people and conservative scholars; and it is doubtful whether he would have lived to accomplish anything approaching what Reagan achieved.

Kennedy launched this nation into Vietnam; and his secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, was the architect of that lost war and the enormous suffering that it produced.  More than 50,000 brave Americans died, and it impaled this nation’s honor on the horns of a tragedy that still haunts policy makers and citizens alike.

Even before Vietnam, Kennedy was responsible for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, where Fidel Castro humiliated him completely. This led to more than 40 years of enslavement for the Cuban people. The Cuban Missile Crisis, or Kennedy’s confrontation with the Soviet Union, might have given rise to a nuclear winter.

Reagan is remembered for having brought down that “Evil Empire,” as well as the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, and for freeing the people of Eastern Europe. Today, America’s friends in “New Europe” are its partners in NATO and its allies in the EU—as free men, woman and children who are no longer enslaved by communism.

Reagan’s marriage to Nancy was special and they were blessed with love. There was no hiding of mistresses by the Secret Service, which took place during Kennedy’s presidency. His reckless affairs with women were only outdone by his irresponsible and dangerous relationships with mobsters such as Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana.

Reagan was a doer who had style. Kennedy had style; however, the bloom has even gone off that rose. His serial womanizing, relations with Mafioso figures like Giancana—through their sexual liaisons with Judith Campbell Exner, who was used as their go-between—and other serious character flaws marred it.

Reagan was elected and reelected by landslides, while it is doubtful whether Kennedy would have become president in 1960 if the Mob had not helped him in Illinois and West Virginia—and Giancana claimed credit for that. Kennedy was the son of a bootlegger, and the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The discrepancy between Camelot and the man himself has been laid bare; and there is a stark difference between the hype of Kennedy acolytes and the truth. Perhaps the debunking of his myth is similar to what happened to this country after Vietnam. Maybe Kennedy and America’s invincibility before that war both shared a similar fate, and this country’s naiveté somehow ended.

Kennedy was not someone to look up to, much less deify. Many of us came to that conclusion reluctantly, years ago, with a sense of sadness rather than anger. Like the potentate in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the myth about Kennedy and his feet of clay have become clear for all to see with the passage of time.

In a recent Discovery Channel poll, Reagan was chosen as the “Greatest American,” edging Lincoln by a small margin. When he left office, Reagan had fulfilled his 1980 campaign pledge to restore “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.” Also, greatness is often achieved in times of war, and Kennedy never won the war with Cuba, much less the Vietnam War that he started, nor did he win the Cold War—which Reagan won, as he implemented the policy of “peace through strength.”

Reagan will be remembered as one of America’s greatest presidents and a man of character. Kennedy was a tragic Shakespearean figure who may be forgotten and consigned to the dustheap of history. Perhaps this contrast between Reagan and Kennedy—this question of character that Thomas C. Reeves described in his terrific book about Kennedy—is what separates the men and underscores their differences, and ultimately will define their respective places in history.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] This article was published first at MensNewsDaily.com on August 1, 2005.  See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ReaganJFK.pdf