What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Stupid Statistics

Fridays are usually slow news days, and that's no exception here at What's In Scott's Head. Well, maybe not a slow news day, but more that I was feeling lazy today. In my defense I did write my column for the week, which should be appearing at CounterBias in the next couple of days.

Speaking of slow news days, Newsmax (think Drudge Report only crazier) has a piece up on how Bill Clinton threatened Peter Jennings in an interview.

To be accurate, Clinton didn't actually threaten Jennings, but then again, this is Newsmax, where a news piece can contain the sentence "A paranoid-sounding Bill Clinton threatened...Peter Jennings in an interview broadcast Thursday night" and still be considered news.

I hate having to use Newsmax as a source, but unfortunately, ABC has not yet posted a transcript of the exchange. So, let's roll the tape:

JENNINGS (Discussing rankings by presidential historians]: They gave you a forty-first in terms of moral authority - after Nixon.

CLINTON: They're wrong about that. You know why they're wrong about it? They're wrong about it.

JENNINGS: Why, sir?

CLINTON: Because we had $100 million spent against us in all these inspections. ... In spite of it all, you don't have any example where I ever lied to the American people about my job, where I have let the American people down. And I had more support from the world when I quit than when I started. And I will go to my grave being at peace about it. And I don't really care about what they think.

JENNINGS: Oh, yes you do.

CLINTON: They have no idea ...

JENNINGS: Excuse me, Mr. President. I can feel it across the room. You care very deeply.

CLINTON: No, no. I care. I care. You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what your people did. And the way you - your network - what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he did. No one has any idea of what that's like.

I'm assuming the comment "you don't want to go here, Peter" was the threat. As to what kind of threat, Newsmax didn't say.

Now, what ABC News, and Newsmax, fail to mention is that presidents are rated on other areas, in addition to moral authority. Yes, ABC News, of the so-called liberal media, grilled a popular Democratic president on his morals.

So, how did Bill Clinton rank in other categories? Here's one example:

Economic Management: 5

That's a pretty important piece of information, I think. Of 41 presidents, Bill Clinton ranked 5th in economic management.

Now, how about the Gipper? How did he rank for economic management? Surely higher than Slick Willie, right?


Ronald Reagan
Economic Management: 21

Ah, now we have a different story. Ronald Reagan, considered by conservatives to have led an economic revolution in the 1980s, ranked at #21 in managing the economy.

Reagan, in fact, scored worse than Richard Nixon, who came in at #17.

Bill Clinton also beat out Reagan in the category of administrative skills: Clinton at #21 and Reagan at #32; and in the category pursued equal justice for all, Clinton came in at #5 and Reagan at #25.

Is it really a big deal that Clinton was ranked last in terms of moral authority? I don't think so. What the hell does it mean, anyway? Me, I more concerned about a strong economy than if the president has "moral authority," whatever that might mean, and moral authority is so subjective as to render it meaningless as a measurement of ability or character. What's interesting about that category is that Ronald Reagan was ranked at #11 (with Jimmy Carter at #10) and George H.W. Bush at #19, despite Iran-Contra. Apparently in the eyes of presidential historians, lying about sex is much worse than deceiving the nation, and the Congress, about an illegal racket to sell weapons to Iran and funnel funds covertly to the Contras in Nicaragua.

Strange that Peter Jennings of the "liberal" ABC News didn't bring up any of Clinton's other rankings in that poll.


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