The Washington Post

Obama is up there with Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Johnson, says Obama

He’s no Barack Obama, that’s for sure. (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

He’s got all the approval he needs from Barack Obama.

In fact, the only reason his rating has stayed in the double digits is because the president so strongly approves of himself, driving up the national average by sheer force of will.

But apparently, this is common knowledge. This was left in the online-only outtakes of a “60 Minutes” interview.

“The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments,” he told the program’s Steve Kroft. “As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R. and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”


And the funny thing is, he’s right.

George Washington was a hack. Remember how he bungled that Whiskey Rebellion? Thomas Jefferson? Sure, he got us all that Louisiana Purchase land, but that’s just been one hassle after another! And so many of those are red states now.

Perhaps Obama is shooting low. Lincoln? Johnson? Roosevelt? Amateurs.

Abraham Lincoln was no Barack Obama. He didn’t even try to pass sweeping health-care reform. And he gave many, many fewer speeches than Barack Obama, using many, many fewer words. In fact, Abraham Lincoln once gave a speech that lasted fewer than ten minutes. Remember the Gettysburg Address? Barack Obama would have run circles around that, given the chance, with a speech ten times the length and with more, uh, motifs.

“And don’t forget, Abraham Lincoln never got Osama bin Laden,” President Obama points out.

Johnson? Well, depends which Johnson. Andrew Johnson managed to get himself impeached, and he squinted a lot and wore ill-fitting suits. Forget him! Lyndon Johnson allegedly went around the White House unscrewing the bulbs, earning himself the nickname Light Bulb Lyndon. Barack Obama has presided over the implementation of new energy standards that will unscrew everyone’s light bulbs. Or something. Ask Rand Paul about it, and he will tell you.

F.D.R.? F.D.R. was a very bad golfer.

Some say the interview was full of leading questions, questions that ran something along the lines of: “Would you say that you’re the greatest president ever, or the greatest president of ALL TIME?” But that’s no excuse, and it made for a peculiar comparison. And what’s worse is no one seemed fazed, with the possible exception of Comedy Central and a few right-wing bloggers.

“Oh yeah,” everyone else said, shrugging. “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. Maybe he’s just practicing in case he winds up running against Newt Gingrich, who has converted self-aggrandizement from a lifestyle into an art.“


This behavior reminds me less of Johnson or Lincoln, though, than of Jimmy Carter. Carter likes to go around calling himself the best ex-president America has ever had. And humblest too, no doubt.

But if he keeps saying this sort of thing, Obama might soon be battling him for the title.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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