Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our President

Can it be a surprise the worst president was the only one from Pennsylvania?

Our President

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Hey, boss it's President's Day, yet another opportunity to bemoan the politics of Pennsylvania.

BE: You never miss a chance.

JB: Think about it. Pennsylvania, the keystone of the colonies, the cradle of democracy, the birthplace of American independence, has had only one president in the history of the nation.

BE: You think that says something about our homegrown leadership?

JB: I report, you decide: Virginia had eight, Ohio had seven, New York had four...

BE: Even Hawaii has one. But I get it. We're way down the list.

JB: Oh, it's worse than that.

BE: Because?

JB: Because OUR president, James Buchanan (1857-61), was the WORST president in the history of the nation. U.S. News & World Report thinks so. Check it out. And if you disagree you can even vote differently on its website. Something to do on this federal holiday.

BE: And he was worst because he...

JB: Because he was a northern Democrat who sat on his hands on the issue of slavery and helped start the Civil War. Because he saw the Supreme Court's Dred Scott Decision upholding slavery as one of "little practical importance." Because, and this will be no surprise, he started his political career, got his political grounding, as a member of the PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATURE. GRRRR!

BE: Well, we've had other homies run for president.

JB: Oh, sure. Gov. Scranton, 1964, at the GOP convention. Tried to stop Goldwalter. Too little, too late. Gov. Shapp, 1972, finished behind "no preference" in the Florida primary. Gov. Casey got 10 delegate votes for president at the 1992 Democratic convention, just 2,135 shy of what was needed to be nominated. And Arlen Specter ran in 1995. Was booed in Iowa, finished behind "I don't know" in national polls and dropped out before the 1996 election year.

BE: Isn't "I don't know" from Pennsylvania?

JB: AND none of those four was born in Pennsylvania: Scranton was born in Connecticut, Shapp in Ohio, Casey in New York and Arlen in Kansas.

BE: Wow. Maybe there's something in the water here that stunts political growth.

JB: You're frackin' right there is. GRRR!....Oh, and happy President's Day.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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