Andy Rooney Praises Bill Clinton, Derides Reagan, Says 'Hard to Dislike' Carter

Prompted by the death of President Gerald Ford, Andy Rooney, in his commentary at the end of Sunday's 60 Minutes, ruminated about all the Presidents since FDR and made clear he sees more to admire in Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton than in Ronald Reagan. Rooney praised Ford: “We were lucky to have such a good, normal American to step in to do the job.” On Carter, Rooney characterized him as “smart” and contended “it was hard to dislike Jimmy Carter, even if you were a Republican.” Rooney obviously wasn't a Republican in the late 1970s. “Ronald Reagan was the only movie star ever elected President,” Rooney noted before snidely remarking: “A lot of people thought he was better in the movies than in the White House.” Bill Clinton, however, “might have gone down in history as one of the best Presidents we ever had if it hadn't been for that one unfortunate incident that I don't want to talk about in case there are children watching.”

CBSNews.com has posted a transcript of Rooney's commentary. I corrected it in a few places against the words he delivered on the January 7 60 Minutes:
“Being President of the United States may be the worst job there is. It's certainly the hardest. You have the whole world on your back and no matter what you do, a lot of people hate you for it. Our 38th President, Gerald Ford, was an exception. Almost no one hated Gerald Ford.

“When I was very young, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President. He's considered one of our greatest, but he was also one of the most disliked by a lot of people. My father was a businessman and all his business friends hated FDR. Harry Truman was never considered a great President but, like Gerald Ford, not many people disliked him. Dwight Eisenhower was a war hero and a popular President, too. It wasn’t so much what Ike did that made him popular. It was what he didn’t do. He played a lot of golf as President.

“John F. Kennedy was one of the most likeable Presidents we ever had, although not everyone liked him. The day he was assassinated was one of the worst days in this country's history. Lyndon Johnson inherited the job when Kennedy was murdered. He was one of the most professional politicians we ever had in the White House, although not the most popular, probably because of the war in Vietnam.

“I forget how Richard Nixon got elected. It makes you wonder about our democratic system of government. I mean, how could we have done that? Gerald Ford fell into the White House and became our 38th President when Nixon was pushed out of it. We were lucky to have such a good, normal American to step in to do the job.

“Jimmy Carter was the political opposite of Nixon. He was smart and it was hard to dislike Jimmy Carter, even if you were a Republican. Ronald Reagan was the only movie star ever elected President [picture of Reagan holding guns in a Western]. A lot of people thought he was better in the movies than in the White House. George Bush was an acceptable but undistinguished President who's better known now as George W. Bush's father.

“Bill Clinton might have gone down in history as one of the best Presidents we ever had if it hadn't been for that one unfortunate incident [picture of Clinton with Lewinsky] that I don’t want to talk about in case there are children watching.

“George W. Bush is the second son of a President to be elected President himself. John Adams was our second President and his son, John Quincy Adams, was our sixth. You wonder what the fathers thought about the job their kids was doing as President. My son's a good television reporter [ABC's Brian Rooney] but I wouldn't want him as my President.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center