So why does the GOP love him? Well look at their other choices:
Anyone born after 1945 was too young to vote for Eisenhower and most doesn't even remember him. That means the Republicans are comparing:
- Bush Sr.
- Bush Jr.
Ford? The man no one voted for? The man that never was elected?
Bush Sr. Only served one term, and Bush Jr. is still reviled for taking Clinton's incredible no-recession economy (had no defecit), creating a defecit, starting multiple wars and creating the biggest recession since the Great Depression.
That leaves Reagan. He is the only republican president in the past 50 years to not be an obvious screw up. That is not to say he did a bad job. I think he did a good one. Not as good as many of the republicans believe, but I like his record.
Honestly, Nixon was probably the second best republican president, after Reagan, if you just look at his presidential accomplishments, as opposed to what he did to get there. Bush Jr. was probably the worst president, considering what he did to the economy. But the GOP has a major problem looking for a 'superstar president', they really only have one choice, Reagan. Lucky for him, Reagan ran against Carter, the worst Democrat president, and as such won in a landslide.
Now look at Democrats. Since 1945 we have:
Carter is our Nixon - only not as bad. Yeah, he did not fix the economy he inherited from Ford. Yeah, he could not solve the hostage crisis - weather killed his rescue attempt. Carter is without doubt the worst of the bunch.
All the rest were pretty impressive presidents - beloved by the Democrats, even if the GOP dislikes them. More importantly, the things they did that the GOP dislike, become more and more accepted as time goes by. Kennedy was a war hero, kept us out of Nuclear war with Russia, and died in a hail of bullets (OK, 3 may not be a hail, but you get the idea). Clinton took a deficit and destroyed it (only to watch Bush recreate the deficit). He did this while keeping the economy strong - no recession under his term. Johnson did the Civil rights Act and the Voting Rights Acts - without which Obama would never had a shot. And Obama killed Bin Laden and pushed through healthcare. Yeah, it is not as comprehensive as we want, but he is going down as a historic president if just for being the first black one.
The final truth is, of the past 5 republican presidents, only one would be considered worthy of a major monument, such as Mt. Rushmore. But of the past 5 democrat presidents, we have two obvious heroes and two quiet heroes.
Most democrat presidents in the past 50 years have simply done a better job that republican ones have.