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Post Dictatorial Presidents, Revisited
Created by John Eipper on 06/17/17 1:37 AM

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Dictatorial Presidents, Revisited (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 06/17/17 1:37 am)

It is rather interesting to understand that an apparently simple concept can become much more challenging to define when intelligent minds are engaged.

Which US President was most dictatorial? So far we have well-explained votes for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama. I would like to add some Presidents who were de facto dictatorial by lying to the American people in dragging them into their unpopular agendas:

Lyndon Johnson: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Richard Nixon: I am not a crook and never do anything illegal.

George Bush and Cheney: Saddam's WMD and Al Qaeda relationship.

Bill Clinton: Trading American jobs for cheap goods is a good thing.

JE comments: Being dictatorial and dishonest or corrupt are not exactly the same thing. It's easy to identify overlap, but corruption can have nothing to do with dictatorial policies. Conversely, a question:  Can you be dictatorial and not corrupt?

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  • Dictatorial, Mendacious, and (Merely) Corrupt (Tor Guimaraes, USA 06/18/17 3:30 AM)
    I stated in my earlier post that "I would like to add some Presidents who were de facto dictatorial by lying to the American people in dragging them into their unpopular agendas."

    John Eipper commented that "being dictatorial and dishonest or corrupt are not exactly the same thing. It's easy to identify overlap, but corruption can have nothing to do with dictatorial policies." I agree and never said otherwise. Only John used the term corruption, which is extremely broad and in most cases has nothing to do with dictatorial policies.

    A dictator can have his way by pointing guns at their people (the old crude fashion), or they can lie to manipulate their people into doing what they want against their will. In the first case a dictator with guns can be as dictatorial as he/she wants in a constitutional dictatorship without being corrupt. In the second case (a more modern approach), in a constitutional democracy a president/government lying to the people to get its way is being dictatorial by being corrupt, and the same results can be accomplished.

    Even more sophisticated in a supposed democracy, special interests can corrupt legislators into changing or passing new laws detrimental to the people, thus legitimizing their corruption and their dictatorial policies.

    JE comments: No quarrel from me.  As Tor Guimaraes rightly observes, there are vast gray areas between the "openly" dictatorial despot and the pseudo-democratic dictator.  It would be an interesting exercise to give examples of each.

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    • A Benevolent Dictator; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 06/18/17 9:39 PM)
      Ric Mauricio writes:

      To answer JE's question, I believe Singapore's late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was a benevolent dictator. It does require a smaller geographic area and a demographic single-mindedness to achieve that balance of power and benevolence.

      JE comments:  No better time for a replay of Gary Moore's poem, written on the occasion of Lee's death:


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    • Dictatorship or Not? Turkey (Yusuf Kanli, Turkey 06/21/17 5:34 AM)
      If there is a supremacy of law and if a court can tell a president "Sorry, you are wrong," it is absolute nonsense to talk of a de facto or a de jure dictatorship. There might be some dictatorial intentions, but if there is a Supreme Court capable of saying no to the president, that is if there is a working checks-and-balances system, that cannot be a dictatorship.

      For a look at what is dictatorship, among many other unfortunate examples, you may look at the present Turkish exercise, where all government institutions, higher and lower courts, parliament, academia and the military--and unfortunately most media outlets--have become subservient to the presidency.

      JE comments:  A curiosity:  to "dictatorialize" a nation, what is more important, control of the military, or control of the courts?  Ideally if you're in the dictatorship business, you need both.  On the other hand, the military can always abolish the courts.  WAISer thoughts?

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