While American presidents wield significant power, they’re human just like everyone else and make dumb mistakes. Sometimes their mistakes are based on good intentions. Others, however, are rooted in dubious morals, rotten corruption, and the darkest corners of the human soul. Regardless of motivations, stupid mistakes from the highest levels of office are not kept in a vacuum. Quite the opposite. Though we know people are flawed, the office of the presidency should be above reproach and held to a higher standard than everyone else. If it’s not, as you’ll see, the consequences of these 25 Dumb Mistakes of American Presidents can carry on for generations.
George H.W. Bush and His "No New Taxes" Pledge
During his bid for the presidency in 1988, George H.W. Bush famously said, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” While that promise effectively helped him win the election, it came back to bite him in 1990 when he compromised with the Democrats and did, indeed, raise taxes, breaking the pledge. It was such a big mistake, it cost him re-election in 1992. He admitted it to be his greatest mistake and said he’d do it differently if he could.
Bill Clinton Lying about Having an Affair
In the late 90’s, President Clinton’s second term in office was embroiled in controversy over an affair with his intern, Monica Lewinsky. Their sexual relationship went from 1995 to 1997, and when the relationship became public, Clinton initially denied the allegations and then later admitted to them. He suffered an impeachment from the U.S. House of Representatives before being acquitted by the Senate, but ultimately he tarnished the respect of the office and his own legacy.
Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807
President Jefferson had many successes while in office, but this certainly wasn’t one of them. At the time, British and French privateers regularly seized control of American ships. Outraged by it, the bill was intended to stop American ships from trading in foreign ports as an attempt to punish the French and British economies. However, it had very little effect on them and backfired on American workers and the American economy. It also increased hostility between America and the British, sending them straight to war in 1812.
Theodore Roosevelt Discharging the African-American Soldiers at Fort Brown
On August 13th, 1906, one white man was injured and another killed in Brownsville, Texas. White townspeople blamed the recently stationed African-American soldiers at Fort Brown for the assault. Despite white soldiers attesting that all the African-American soldiers were at the fort during the attack and a court cleared the men of all wrong-doing, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharged all 167 men. They lost their careers, salaries, pensions, and honors. Later investigations determined and solidified the soldier’s innocence, and in 1972, Congress reversed Roosevelt’s order and gave restitutions to the soldiers.
George W. Bush and Mission Accomplished
On May 1st, 2003, President George W. Bush stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared “Mission Accomplished” after successful military operations in Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein. However, the mission was far from accomplished, and America was only beginning to be entangled in a war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush admits it to be one of his many mistakes.