Rooney: Celebrating Our President

<B>Andy Rooney</B> Looks Back At America's Past

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.
President's Day came and went last Monday and I hardly noticed it. If you don't have kids in school, holidays aren't as noticeable.

We used to celebrate Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's birthday separately, but someone in charge of holidays decided that we shouldn't take a day off every time it's a president's birthday, I guess.

We've had 42 men who were president. Fifteen of them were elected twice. One of them, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was elected four times, but we decided that was a bad idea, and made more than twice illegal.

It seems wrong that we've never had even one woman president.

We haven't had a lot of really great presidents either, though. We've had some good ones, some bad ones and some mediocre ones, but very few great ones.

I was trying to think of great presidents we've had in modern times. Teddy Roosevelt, maybe. Woodrow Wilson, because of his idea for the League of Nations.

No one ever accused Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover of being great.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt wasn't popular with everyone, but he'd be up there with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. FDR probably made more difference to our country than any president we ever had.

Sometimes a president seems greater after he's gone than he seemed while he was in office. That's true of Harry Truman.

There have been times when we didn't need a great president, of course. Dwight Eisenhower wasn't great, but we didn't have a lot of big problems like the Depression, or a war, so Ike was just what we needed: a hands-off president. Ike patted us on the head, told us everything was going to be all right, and went out to play golf.

John F. Kennedy could have been on his way to Mount Rushmore, but he was assassinated. People are murdered. Presidents are assassinated.

We were never going to get a day off on the birthdays of Richard Nixon, or the first George Bush.

Ronald Reagan divided us down the middle the way President Bush has. Half of us loved him; half of us hated him.

I liked Jimmy Carter.

Bill Clinton screwed up any chance he had of going down in history as a great president.

I often wonder whether President Bush thinks he's great or not. I bet he doesn't. He probably thinks he's OK, but not great. Maybe anyone smart enough to be great is too smart to want to be president.

The real smart people who could be president do something easier and for more money.
Written By Andy Rooney
  • Rebecca Leung

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