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Bilifuduo (98.18)

Polk.

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November 21, 2011 – Comments (6)

Today the supercommittee officially admitted defeat, leading to fears of drastic cuts to domestic and defense budgets as well as of further downgrades to the U.S. credit rating. It seems as if the committee members and both political parties are more concerned with pinning the blame on each other than actually solving the crisis. I know I'm sounding cynical, and there are some productive aspects of Congress (such as deciding pizza is a vegetable), but its 9% approval rating says it all. 

 

There has always been political bickering, slandering, mudslinging, and finger-pointing in American politics ever since the beginning of American democracy. In perspective, the slandering of our time is relatively tame compared to that of our democratic history, but this didn't stop the efficiency of many of our past leaders. Most notable of these leaders is Polk, whom I consider to be one of the greatest Presidents of the United States.

 

Polk was probably the only president to accomplish all of the goals he defined, with astounding efficiency and in the face of heavy Whig opposition. He was able to expand the U.S. into a transcontinental force, increasing its landmass by a third (over 800,000 square miles of western territory) in four years. Polk pressured Great Britain into giving the U.S. the Oregon Territory up to the 49th parallel in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, and promptly launched the Mexican-American War, forcing Mexico to cede half of its territory (including New Mexico and California) to the United States in the Treaty of Guadulupe Hidalgo. He also lowered the tariff and reestablished the Independent Treasury System, but most of all, he made good on his promise that he would only serve as president for one term. After his four years were up, Polk declined to run for presidency again and returned to Tennessee.

 
Our political "leaders" today, especially in the in the supercommittee, can learn a lot from Polk. They need to be leaders who focus on getting the job done regardless of political mudslinging, not bickering politicians who are primarily concerned with covering their own behind at the sake of others.

 

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 22, 2011 at 6:02 AM, dbtheonly (< 20) wrote:

"Polk, whom I consider to be one of the greatest Presidents of the United States."

 Sigh.

"promptly launched the Mexican-American War"

A war that was deemed unjust and unwarranted by a large segment of the population including Abraham Lincoln & U. S. Grant.

" forcing Mexico to cede half of its territory (including New Mexico and California) to the United States" (in 1848)

Fortunately in time to seize the gold in California, but raising the issue of the extension of slavery into those recently seized territories. Extension of slavery into the territories was an issue that wouldn't be settled until 1865; and could easily be seen as the proxiamte cause of the war. Lincoln was elected in 1860, Lincoln had no authority to interfere with slavery where it then existed, but was pledged to stop the extension of slavery into the territories. Southern Stated seceeded. Unpleasantness ensued.

"After his four years were up, Polk declined to run for presidency again and returned to Tennessee." Where he died shortly thereafter; hated & reviled by many.

"Our political "leaders" today, especially in the in the supercommittee, can learn a lot from Polk."

Start an unjust war? (Been there. Did that.) Go home? Die?

Sigh.

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#2) On November 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM, PeteysTired (< 20) wrote:

dbtheonly +1

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#3) On November 22, 2011 at 1:36 PM, Bilifuduo (98.18) wrote:

Those are extremely good and valid points, dbtheonly; in fact I was wondering if it was just a matter of time before someone brought those up. However, the broader message I was meaning to convey was that Polk did what he set out to do- even if it resulted in undesirable circumstances.

He was efficient, and yes he did start an "unjust war," but there are two sides to every coin- the "unjust war" is just as much proof of his unrelenting conviction to fulfill his goals as it is representative of misguided belligerence to Mexico. Hate him or love him, you must admit that Polk accomplished all of his presidential goals as he defined them, and that is something to be commended.

That aspect of his presidency is what our current political leaders should take from Polk. As I had stated in the post, our current leaders need "to be leaders who focus on getting the job done regardless of political mudslinging, not bickering politicians who are primarily concerned with covering their own behind at the sake of others."

If my post had insinuated or implied that our leaders should completely emulate Polk and the unfavorable aspects of his presidency, I am sorry for that confusion. I meant to focus on the sole aspect of Polk's efficiency- note I did not delve into his personal matters, the ethical repercussions of his actions, or strive to paint a comprehensive picture of Polk. The purpose of this post was to simply note the fact that Polk accomplished all of the presidential goals as he defined them. Please do not take it into a broader context and misconstrue this post as anything more or anything less.

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#4) On November 23, 2011 at 5:59 AM, dbtheonly (< 20) wrote:

Bil,

 Thank you.

We are still going to disagree on the definition of "greatest". To quote the Philosopher, "Wars not make one great." Equally, gallantly accomplishing goals with disasterous consequences would label Franklin Peirce among the "great" not the "worst".

Washington accomplished much, there was much he left undone; doesn't make him any less great in my mind. I doubt, seriously, if Lincoln came to office planning to hold the Union together. Still he did it & deserves his place on the Greatest Presidents List.

The Motley Fool is not the palce to debate the "legitimacy" of the Mexican War. It is enough to say that the was was not universally popular.

For myself, I see President Obama focused on getting the job done in the face of much Congressional opposition of a personal & political nature. In this I think his close equivalent would be Andrew Johnson.

 

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#5) On November 23, 2011 at 10:02 PM, Bilifuduo (98.18) wrote:

dbtheonly,

We agree to disagree on Polk, but I definitely understand where your viewpoint is coming from. And yes, I absolutely agree that Obama is doing the best he can, especially considering the current level of partisan incompetence in Congress- lets just hope that voters will see it the same way come re-election day.

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#6) On December 28, 2011 at 1:35 PM, Bilifuduo (98.18) wrote:

Just read an interesting article by Daniel Feller, a professor of U.S. History at the University of Tennessee. He seems to share the same thoughts as I do on the issue of efficiency and slandering throughout Congressional history:

"There have been plenty of times when the rhetorical heat has been high, sometimes higher than now. What’s most amazing today is not fiery words, but the inability to do necessary business."

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