Five Disastrous Modern-Day Presidential Decisions Not Involving Iraq or Vietnam

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Ronald and Nancy Reagan face the consequences.
Making tough decisions is what being a president is all about. But sometimes those decisions backfire.

Sometimes the backfire hurts only the president who made the decision; sometimes it hurts a whole lot of other people. Here are five most disastrous decisions made by modern presidents -- not involving a decision to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to with 9/11 and which had no WMD. Or to get involved in an Asian ground war because the "domino theory" decreed that failing to do so would lead to Communist world domination.

5. Reagan sends troops into a Lebanese civil war
Lebanon in the early `80s was a horrific mess. Israel had invaded, various religions were fighting each other (they do their theological discussions armed to the teeth in the Middle East) and other groups worked hard to keep chaos alive. Ronald Reagan decided to send American troops into all this, ostensibly as "peacekeepers," but their mission was vaguely defined and they were immediately seen as the enemy by Lebanese Muslims.

The marines barracked in a lightly secured building at the airport; the sentries' rules of engagement called for them to have no clips or rounds in their weapons, which didn't help matters when they saw a suicide-bomb truck barreling at them. The blast killed 241 American servicemen. Reagan never retaliated, although he did distract attention by quickly ordering a successful, flag-waving invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada.

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Rose Mary Woods demonstrates how she "accidentally" erased key evidence.
4. Nixon decides to tape himself
Knowing that LBJ, JFK and even FDR had taped their White House conversations, Richard Nixon decided to follow suit even though he didn't have a three-initial shorthand version of his name.

That decision, of course, led to incontrovertible proof that he ordered a cover-up of the Watergate break-in, but it also exposed to the world not only the ineptness of the cover-up (secretary Rose Mary Woods said she accidentally taped over 18 and a half minutes of a crucial conversation), it also brought to light and posterity Nixon's foul-mouthed racism and anti-Semitism.


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Mel Sharkskin
Mel Sharkskin

Good list. If I have a quibble, it would be calling the invasion of Grenada "successful." I don't think the unecessarily dead SEALs, or the Ranger officer who had to use a pay phone to call his wife in order to call the Navy in order to call in air support (IIRC), would agree with that assessment. Of course, Rich Connelly with a Super Soaker could have "liberated" Grenada from a battalion of Cuban day laborers, and yet Reagan's Raiders still almost screwed the pooch.

Hair Balls
Hair Balls

Well, the Clint Eastwood documentary "Heartbreak Ridge" tells a different story. (Maybe; I've forgotten it.)

Mel Sharkskin
Mel Sharkskin

Boy, does it ever tell a different story. According to Clint's yarn, Grenada was a harder fought thing than the seige of Bastogne.

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