YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Trust at stake in 2008 race

January 27, 2007

Re "Anyone but a Bush or a Clinton," Opinion, Jan. 22

I like Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who has just joined the Democratic slate for the 2008 presidency. He's not a woman or an African American. He's sufficiently brown (like most of the rest of us), a wonderful and willing negotiator (what we need now more than ever) and as far as I can tell, hasn't failed at anything he has done politically.

James Burkee writes that we need a Gerald Ford-like president "respected by both Republicans and Democrats who can restore trust in politics." It could happen with Richardson.





Burkee makes a strong sentimental case for opposing a third Bush or a second Clinton presidency -- namely that the founders were vehemently opposed to hereditary aristocracy.

However, from an academic standpoint, the rest of his argument is simply false. In response to his claim that strong and successful presidencies are the result of large electoral mandates, I present two counter examples.

First, John F. Kennedy came to office having won the 1960 election by only a few thousand disputed votes.

Second, Richard M. Nixon won reelection in 1972 with a higher share of the popular vote than any postwar president save Lyndon B. Johnson.

However, although Kennedy is regularly ranked by historians as one of our nation's best and most beloved presidents, Nixon has gone down in history as one of the worst and most reviled.

Ironically, in his Op-Ed, Burkee argues that we need another Ford. Yet, by his own measure, Ford was the weakest president in American history. His share of the popular vote? Zero. Having been appointed to fill Spiro Agnew's office, Ford was our sole unelected president.



Los Angeles Times Articles