Greenspan Rates the Presidents: Nixon to Bush

Nixon: "A member of the Clinton administration once was accusing Nixon of anti-Semitism, and I said, 'You don't understand. He wasn't exclusively anti-Semitic. He was anti-Semitic, anti-Italian, anti-Greek, anti-Slovak … He hated everybody.'"

Ford: "Jerry Ford was as close to normal as you get in a president, but he never was elected. There's a constitutional amendment that I've been pushing for years without success. It says, 'Anyone willing to do what is required to become president of the United States is thereby barred from taking that office.' I'm only half joking."

Carter: "Jimmy Carter had no use for me—we met on only a couple of occasions and never hit it off. (Of course, I'd been part of the Ford administration, and he'd defeated Ford.)"

Reagan: "What attracted me to Reagan was the clarity of his conservatism. There was [a] line he often used on the stump: 'Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.' A man who talks in such terms is clear on what he believes. Very rarely in those days would you find conservatives who didn't fudge on social issues."

H.W. Bush: "I'd been looking toward building the same collaborative relationship with the White House that I'd seen during the Ford administration … It was not to be. Great things happened on George Bush's watch: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the cold war, a clear victory in the Persian Gulf, and the negotiation of the NAFTA agreement to free North American trade. But the economy was his Achilles' heel, and as a result we ended up with a terrible relationship."

Clinton: "By mid-1995, Clinton and I had settled into an easy, impromptu relationship … I didn't share his baby-boom upbringing or his love of rock and roll. Probably he found me dry—not the kind of buddy he liked to smoke cigars and watch football with. But we both read books and were curious and thoughtful about the world, and we got along. Clinton publicly called us the economic odd couple."

W. Bush: "I looked forward to at least four years of working collegially with many of government's best and brightest, men with whom I had shared many memorable experiences [Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, among others]. And on a personal basis, that is how it worked out. But on policy matters, I was soon to see my old friends veer off in unexpected directions … I was a different person than I had been when first exposed to the glitter of the White House a quarter of a century before. So were my old friends: not in personality or character, but in opinions about how the world works and, therefore, what is important."

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