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Which Former President Does Barack Obama Most Resemble?

Now that we are deep into a presidential election year that promises to be a referendum on the direction of our nation, possibly even of the world, it seems appropriate to examine similarities between our current president and past presidents to see what that reveals.

Which former president most closely resembles Barack Obama? I have my theory. You may feel differently. Whoever the choice may be, the discussion of the subject may tell us important things about what we should be looking for in leadership.

The conventional wisdom, especially on the right, is that of all past presidents Barack Obama most closely resembles Jimmy Carter. Both men, after all, presided over parlous economic times and chose ultra-typical liberal solutions that did not work, apparently worsening the situation and leading to, in Carter’s own term, national “malaise.” Both men also had to deal with serious challenges from Iran and did so, to say the least, ineffectually.

So the case for Carter -- who, as we all know, was not reelected -- is strong. But I have another candidate, one who to me resembles Barack Obama more, especially in personality and style.

His name is Richard Nixon.

Now I realize the comparison is unfair to Nixon who, other than Watergate of course, was a pretty decent president. He and his cohort Henry Kissinger opened Red China and effectively changed history by triangulating the Soviet Union. What those two men did helped lead to the diminution of Maoism as well and probably saved a huge number of lives.

Tricky Dick also ratified the first, and ultimately most significant, U. S. environmental legislation, the kind that actually had a positive effect on the air and water, as opposed to the destructive self-regarding nonsense we have today.

Unfortunately, Nixon, for all his political brilliance, was an overly suspicious, many have even said paranoid, man.

And therein lies the similarity to Barack Obama. Call Obama “Nixon lite.”