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As all 5 living US Presidents gathered together on the grounds of Dallas’ Southern Methodist University yesterday to celebrate the unveiling of The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, we were reminded that while history may be written by the winners, it is all fine-tuned by the losers with obscene piles of cash. Unsurprisingly, the George W. Bush’s massive 207,000 square foot presidential complex—the second largest behind our dearly departed, small government loving Gipper’s 243,000 square foot monstrosity in Simi Valley, California—takes care not to dwell on the rougher spots of our 43rd President’s time in office in the hope that the sands of time will smooth them over and leave our great grandchildren with the impression that George W. Bush was a 21st century Teddy Roosevelt with an adopted southern accent. When they are forced to acknowledge some of Bush’s catastrophic cock-ups, the library takes a stance that can broadly be described as, “man, you don’t understand. Being President is really freaking hard.” In the “Decision Points Room”, us average Joes and Janes can take our hand at being President Bush by participating in a series of high tech Choose Your Own Adventure games relating to the attacks on 9/11, the Iraq War, the troop surge and Hurricane Katrina. Of course, if you select the path that President Bush didn’t take in reality,his digital doppelganger will pop on the screen to smugly inform you of why he was right and you are wrong.

Are you ready to be The Decider?

George W. Bush has repeatedly taken the stance when asked by reporters that he isn’t terribly interested in how folks judge his legacy at the present, stating in a recent interview that, “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.” And, as much as I don’t want to admit it, the crafty little devil might be right. We have little idea how his legacy will take shape over the coming decades and, judging by his resurgence in popularity over the past 5 years, it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to have Bush judged as a mediocre President who swung for the fences and ended up hitting a can-of-corn out to the warning track in right field. However, it is also very possible that history will judge him as harshly as his contemporaries, who have ranked him as the 6th worst President in American history according to a meta-poll conducted by Nate Silver, and the worst President to ever be elected to a second term. So, in the interest of seeing if George W. Bush has what it takes to keep climbing down the ladder of Presidential acclaim, here is a brief overview of some of the things that made the 5 men standing between Bush and rock bottom so extraordinarily bad.

- Andrew Johnson (5th Worst – 1865-1869):

More than anyone else on this list, Andrew Johnson’s reputation precedes him. After attaining the office of President after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Johnson endured a tumultuous 4 years as Commander in Chief before becoming the 1st US President to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Johnson is universally reviled for his opposition to the establishment of the 14th Amendment, dismantling of The Freedman’s Bureau and support of Black Codes in southern states after The Civil War, but his colossal bungling of Reconstruction wasn’t his most entertaining fault. Like Ulysses S. Grant, the man who would succeed him as President, Andrew Johnson was fond of his drink. However, unlike Grant, Johnson did not hold the same affinity for the Republican Party as he did his spirits, and felt the need to get properly soused up the night before his swearing in as Vice President. Apparently, hungover and not possessed of good cheer, Johnson came up to Lincoln’s Vice President during his first term in office, Hannibal Hamlin, and asked him for some whiskey on the morning of the inaugural festivities. Hamlin gave Johnson a bottle of whiskey, from which he took two big swigs and proceeded to the Senate chamber where he blathered on like someone’s alcoholic uncle giving a toast at Christmas dinner until Hamlin finally swore him in as our nation’s 16th Vice President. To my knowledge, Johnson is the only American President or Vice President to take the oath of office in a drunken stupor.

- William Henry Harrison (4th Worst – 1841-1841):

Honestly, this ranking is a festering pile of historical horseshit. How can a guy be the 4th worst President in our country’s history when he was only in office for 32 days? Just be virtue of not doing anything of consequence, Harrison should be smack dab in the middle of the pack, or at the very least granted an N/A beside his name. George W. Bush started a trillion dollar war on false pretenses, gutted US civil liberties and left an entire city to rot after Hurricane Katrina and William Henry Harrison is ranked below him for what—getting pneumonia? Yeah, giving a two hour long inaugural address in the driving rain is really stupid, but his illness didn’t even show any symptoms until three weeks after his inauguration. Don’t forget that at 68 years old, he is our nation’s 2nd oldest President behind Ronald Reagan, and at a time when making it to 68 was considered a decent achievement in and of itself. So, essentially, he’s been judged an awful President because modern medicine was still 40 years off and his doctor’s ideas of sound treatment for pneumonia was to apply some leeches and give him a little opium.

- Warren G. Harding (3rd Worst – 1920-1923):

Here’s yet another guy on our list who died in office and has been somewhat unjustly delegated to the Island of Misfit Presidents, in large part I imagine, because he couldn’t defend himself on account of being, well, dead. More than anything else, Harding is remembered for The Teapot Dome Scandal, which naturally was exposed after he had gone to meet his maker. Essentially, Harding’s Secretary of the Interior leased some choice oil reserves in Wyoming and California from the US Navy to some private companies at a low rate in exchange for some cash on the side. Naturally, Fall was convicted on charges of bribery and was sentenced to a year in prison, becoming the first cabinet level official to do time in lock up. I’m still unsure as to how having your Secretary of the Interior accept bribes equalling $5.2 billion in today’s money results in prison time while having your Vice President take a $36 million severance package from Halliburton before awarding them billions of dollars in oil contracts results in a pat on back. And, the last time I checked, The Harding Administration didn’t have to declare war on the state of Wyoming to get its kickback from big oil. I realize that Harding was a bad president, but for all of the union busting and corruption the man oversaw, he was also ahead of his time in other ways. Harding was a supporter of the Women’s Suffrage movement, advocated for civil rights at a time when Jim Crow was sacrosanct in the south and he started the Veteran’s Bureau, which would become the Department of Veteran’s Affair.

When asking yourself whether or not someone was a monumentally awful President, ask yourself the following questions: a) Did he enter/keep us in a horrific war under false pretenses? (LBJ, Nixon, George W. Bush), b) Did he oversee a massive economic collapse that was caused in part by his own policies? (Hoover, George W. Bush), c) Did he willfully commit genocide or put in place laws that explicitly or implicitly oppress marginalized populations? (Jackson, Pierce, Johnson, Nixon) and d) Did his incompetence lead to The Civil War? (Buchanan). If your guy doesn’t come up in any of those questions, he can’t be in the Bottom 5, end of story.

- Franklin Pierce (2nd Worst – 1853 -1857)

 There is plenty to dislike about Franklin Pierce. The man singlehandedly wiped out the illusion of popular sovereignty as a viable doctrine in America, took a crap on Manifest Destiny and reignited the slave question in the west by supporting the Kansas-Nebraska Act, invalidating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and turning the geographic center of our country into a bloody mess. For God’s sake, the man selected Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederacy, as his (in-retrospect) extremely ironic pick for Secretary of War. However, Pierce earned his seat at the kiddie table of American Presidents not simply because he was one of our nation’s most incompetent leader’s, but because he was also our most tragic. Generally when we think of tragic Presidents, we go straight to those great men who were cut down in the middle of their prime. The only problem with this is that, in thinking of the Lincolns and the Kennedys who were so senselessly taken from us while in office, we think of men who had achieved a great deal and whose legacies will live on for as long as western civilization does. These men were so influential and beloved that their deaths were more tragic for the nation at large then they were themselves as individuals.

A political cartoon providing commentary on the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

On the other hand, my grandparents likely couldn’t tell you what Franklin Pierce did and their grandparents might have voted for the man. He is the Mr. Irrelevant of Presidents, beating out Millard Fillmore because he wasn’t lucky enough to be blessed with a memorable name like Millard Fillmore. But his irrelevancy pales in comparison to the misfortune of his personal life. Pierce had three sons, and none would live long enough to see him become President. His first son lived only 3 days before passing away while his second son made it to the age of 4 before succumbing to Typhus, but it was his third son that takes the cake for parental heartbreak. In January of 1853, after he had won the Presidency but before he had been sworn in, Pierce, his wife and his 11 year-old son Benjamin were on a train from Boston when it suddenly derailed and crashed into an embankment. Franklin and his wife were unharmed, but Benjamin had been crushed to death during the accident. Pierce’s deeply religious wife blamed him for their son’s death, saying it was god’s punishment for his egotistical office-seeking. Franklin Pierce soon began drinking to excess and become a full blown alcoholic by the time his wife died in 1863, eventually passing away from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 65.

- James Buchanan (The Worst – 1857-1861):

Some times call for a man of action or a woman of courage. James Buchanan was elected President at a time when circumstances cried out for such a person and history would find him wanting on all counts. More than anything, Buchanan’s presidency can be characterized by chronic indecision and timidity during a period when sectarian differences in America had never been greater. Like Franklin Pierce before him, Buchanan was labeled by his detractors as a “doughface”, which was another name for a Northerner who tried to placate the South. As such, Buchanan didn’t want to upset anyone’s apple cart and took an official stance on the mounting tensions over slavery in the west that amounted to the belief that seceding from the United States was illegal, but that declaring war to stop that secession was also illegal. It was the political equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and running around the room screaming “I can’t hear you” for four years. By the time Buchanan had left office in the winter of 1861, the Civil War was all but started and he had presented Abraham Lincoln with Southern secession on a silver platter. Not content to just divide the nation in two, Buchanan also caused a schism in the Democratic Party, damaging them to the point that another Democrat wouldn’t be elected President for another 24 years.

A few days before his death when the subject of his public perception came up, Buchanan remarked that “Posterity will do me justice,” before going on to say, “I have no regret for any public act of my life; and history will vindicate my memory from every unjust aspersion.” Now, why does that sound so familiar?

-------------------------------

P.S. For what it's worth, the 5 men I listed above are not who I would rank as the 5 worst presidents in history, but rather are the 5 listed below George W. Bush in Nate Silver's survey. If I were ranking the bottom 5 POTUS', there would be a good amount of overlap, but I would make a few changes:

5. Richard Milhous Nixon
4. George W. Bush
3. Franklin Pierce
2. James Buchanan
1. Andrew Johnson

Originally posted to Virally Suppressed on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As a friend said about the picture of all 5 in TX: (21+ / 0-)

    Hopey, Dopey, Gropey, Poppy, and Helpy.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:48:33 PM PDT

  •  Interesting That a President Is Called "Worst" For (8+ / 0-)

    presiding in times of intense sectarian differences while trying not to upset anyone's apple cart.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:49:09 PM PDT

    •  indeed (15+ / 0-)

      not clear what Buchanan was supposed to have done that would have been better. Start the Civil War sooner?

      Vs. the idiot who inherited a wealthy nation at peace and drove it into the ditch.

      •  Uhh, read some Civil War history (16+ / 0-)

        and the answers are pretty damn clear.

        The "last minute" action Buchanan could have taken was send massive reinforcements to Forts Sumter, Pickens and other federal facilities that were being seized or threatened by secessionists. It's not like loyal military commanders, in the Army and the Navy, including Major Anderson at Sumter, were quiet about this. These officers did not squawk in public, but they left enough of a paper trail for historians like James McPherson to find.

        Reinforcing Sumter and Pickens would have come after all the previous two years of disasters and outright appeasement, and would have signaled that the North was indeed ready to take up the challenge and fight, giving the lie to the typical conservative posturing about how stupid and supine liberals [ie, the North] are. That's what drives me nuts about Obama today: he's making the exact same error in dealing with today's conservatives that Buchanan made in dealing with the conservatives (secessionists) of that time. Repeating history and all that...

        State militias were being organized in the South as early as winter 1858-59. The clear intent was to create a military force loyal to the Southern states. Buchanan could have, and should have, denounced these militias as treasonous, and arrested a few high-profile secessionists. Commanding General of the Army Winfield Scott, despite his very old age, was itching to do something to head off the approaching storm. Today, Obama should stop trying to seek some "bipartisan" Grand Bargain and come out openly attacking Republicans and conservatives as extremists, neo-Confederates, and damn near treasonous in their anti-government zealotry. In exactly those terms.

        What could Buchanan have done? One hell of a lot, actually.  The sense I've gotten from Obama supporters that past four years is that they are bright political operatives, but they have no real knowledge of - or interest in - crucial aspects of American history. It really is disturbing to read as much history as I do, and see the 'effing parallels with today practically screaming in each new headline.
         

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:37:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well OK, then (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eric Stratton, duhban, Orinoco, david78209

          well said and informative.

        •  Interesting... something you said lept up at me... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco, YucatanMan

          Buchanan didn't act - on a specific act - "What was he supposed to do about Sumter & Pickens... nothing?"

          Like Neville Chamberlain, right?

          But this argument against doing something or doing nothing gets used for soft action - like using the bully pulpit or playing out a political fight to effect public opinion. "What was he supposed to do about bankers? Nothing?"

          Or the inverse,"There is nothing he can do about the banks. They own the place."

          When there actually is... Those soft actions that are not concrete and crisp moments of action are important too. Perhaps they're just too hard to explain?

          anyway, thanks for the lesson.

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:32:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I certainly (0+ / 0-)

      see no parallels with more, ah, contemporary circumstances.

    •  That is very true. (0+ / 0-)

      Luck plays a role in this as it does everything in life. However, it shouldn't have been that hard for Buchanan to figure out that, with the South mobilizing an army to wage war on the United States government, he might want to do something about it.

      It took Bush a week to figure out that he might need to make sure that the National Guard actually went to New Orleans. Buchanan had months to figure it out and he never did.

      You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

      by Eric Stratton on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 10:00:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My List of 5 Worst Presidents (6+ / 0-)

      For what it is worth....my list of five worst presidents:

      5th worst: Reagan - founder of the modern corporatocracy and kleptocracy

      4th Worst: Nixon - paranoid and criminal is no way to run the country

      3rd Worst: Hoover - started the great depression using austerity policies

      2nd Worst: Buchanan - pro-slavery and pushed for a pro-slavery government in Kansas - against the popular will of the people of Kansas; did more than any other single man to bring on the civil war.

      1st Worst: GW Bush - 2 failed wars, tax breaks for the rich; collapse of the American eceonomy.

      Who's on your list?

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:26:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree for the most part, (0+ / 0-)

        But I feel like Hoover sometimes gets an unfair share of the burden for causing The Great Depression as it happened less than a year after he took office and he was really continuing the deregulatory small-government madness wrought by Coolidge and Harding.

        Not that Hoover wasn't awful...he was. But, he was also the guy who grabbed the hot potato at the wrong time.

  •  Always fascinating (16+ / 0-)

    To realize that 40 years on, Watergate wouldn't have mattered. That you can break the law ad infinitum, and you won't suffer a single negative repercussion. In many ways, that might be George Bush's true legacy.

  •  Frankly, the Library itself is an (9+ / 0-)

    island, and the Presidents who showed up are the misfits of the age that saw government sell itself and the public to the plutocrats.

    When you look at the results, they and the members of Congress and the Senate with whom they worked, collectively committed three decades of treason.

    Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

    by Words In Action on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:16:03 PM PDT

  •  Two comments (6+ / 0-)

    1) Interesting that Abraham Lincoln is consistently ranked as one of the best Presidents, but the two who immediately preceded him and the one that followed him (who was impeached, but not convicted) are ranked in the five worst.

    Not that I necessarily disagree with this judgment.

    2) About WH Harrison. You said:

    Honestly, this ranking is a festering pile of historical horseshit. How can a guy be the 4th worst President in our country’s history when he was only in office for 32 days?
    If you look at the link to Nate Silver's meta-analysis and then look at his link to his list of surveys, several of the various surveys omit William Henry Harrison because he got sick on inauguration day and died about a month later.

    Not all of the polls are best-to-worst. If you ask historians, was this President an effective leader and did he accomplish his goals while in office, well, then WHH should rank low. Not because he was a bad man or inept or corrupt, but just because he died so quickly. Obviously he didn't accomplish his goals or lead very well. He didn't have enough time.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:55:06 PM PDT

    •  I'd say that (5+ / 0-)

      at the least President Harrison should have a gigantic (maybe even 14-point type) asterisk next to his name in the rankings. Omitting him would be much more reasonable here, since he in point of fact was not a terrible President. He was a non-entity, and that's simply because he fell ill before putting in even a single week "on the job" and died within a month.

      Additionally, in the case of this specific "survey," our good friend Millard Fillmore is mentioned by name as a crappy President but then not ranked. I see no reason why he couldn't be slotted in for Bill Henry H.

      I wonder what would've happened if Pierce had died on that train ride and if anything could've changed re: the march toward the Civil War.

      •  I'm not a historian (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        duhban

        So I wouldn't be good at making a list of best and worst. I know the early ones, from Washington up until about Jackson or Van Buren, then I'm a little fuzzy on the ones  right before the Civil War. I know Lincoln, but I'm fuzzy on the ones (mostly Republicans up til 1900 -- many of them overweight). Then from Teddy Roosevelt on, I know most of them, especially from FDR to the present. I need to read more about the late 1800s.

        But yeah, I agree with you. WH Harrison was basically a non-entity. It's not his fault he got sick and died.

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:15:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dbug

        The South was spoiling for a fight and had been for decades, the slavery question had never really been settled, and resolving things diplomatically simply was not an available option. Even today's confederate-apologists don't deny that in my experience. (Usually they make some silly argument about how cotton wears out soil and therefore slavery would have died a natural death if the north had left well enough alone. I don't buy that either, but that's another rant.)

        Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

        by RamblinDave on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 10:37:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The sins of all five of those presidents (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, RUNDOWN, PSzymeczek

    pale terribly in comparison to the thousands of casualties America took in World War I because of Woodrow Wilson.  I think the world might have forgiven Bush for lying us into a war if it had later turned out to be of some useful consequence.  But it didn't and won't.  That makes the personal sense of betrayal we feel about it all the more bitter.  I think history is more forgiving of the lies that president's tell with the passing of time.

    But let's use another standard for judging bad choices in war:

    WarFolly = A/B

    Where WarFolly is proportional to the number of deaths in the war, and inversely proportional to the usefulness and point of the war.

    World War I had no point.  Oh there were imaginary ones.  The Lusitania was just an excuse, so no recourse there.  The worst conceit of Wilson was the utopian view that the United States could and should spread democracy around the world -- a viewpoint still shared today but the fans of war on the interventionlist left, the same ones like Joe Klein who were cheerleaders for the Iraq War.

    By that standard, Iraq was a pile of horse shit, but World War I was a steaming Mount Everest of bloody hemorrhoidal  rock turds.

    •  idk (0+ / 0-)

      it certainly is an entertaining hypothetical as to  what would have happened if the US had stayed out of WW1

      In the time that I have been given,
      I am what I am

      by duhban on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:09:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  one side or the other would have won. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RUNDOWN

        But it wasn't a war with Nazis.  It wasn't worth it for any of the parties to get involved.  Possibly the most pointless and bloody war ever.  37 million casualties worldwide.  

        •  don't get me wrong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PSzymeczek

          the entirity of WW1 was an exercise in stupidity but I am not sure I fault Wilson for that rather I fault him for the utter failure of The League of Nations (not that the UN has been a stunning success either)

          I just have never seen an argument that Wilson lied to get the US to enter the war. What I was taught and my understanding of events was that the US entered in the end because of German telegraphs to Mexico trying to get Mexico to attack the US

          In the time that I have been given,
          I am what I am

          by duhban on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:16:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think he lied, (0+ / 0-)

            and it's really irrelevant.  Too many people died.  The only reason we don't call that war "the worst strategic mistake in US history" is that we got to say we won at the end and have ticker tape parades.  Won what?  And who would point that out and ruin the country's buzz?

            George W. Bush, as bad as he was, pales in terms of what he did to this country.  This is in no way a defense of Bush, but putting it in a more realistic context.

            •  see I am not sure I can agree with that (0+ / 0-)

              Bush straight up lied about WMDs and he was utterly and dangerously incompetent leading up to 9.11

              Yes a lot of people needlessly died in WW1 but I don't think that can hold a candle to the least of Bush Jr's trangressions

              In the time that I have been given,
              I am what I am

              by duhban on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:32:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Won what? At the time, it was called the (0+ / 0-)

              "War to End All Wars."  It's fascinating to visit various monuments around the country engraved with "The World War" and "The War to End All War."

              People then had an idealistic sense, somehow, that this massive bloodletting ended the possibility of any more such wars.

              Was it just self-delusion?  A numbing to the massive loss of life? Idealism and hope carried to the extreme?

              We know now there was no connection to reality. World War II followed a scant 21 years later.

              What Bush did to Iraq will surely be remembered there as a massive loss of life.  What he did to the USA was drain future treasuries of their money, going to war solely on credit which has never, ever been done in this nation.  Yes, we borrowed in the past, but we also raised taxes -- patriotic to pay toward the war effort -- and sold war bonds, etc.

              Bush said, "You go shopping while I go to war," not asking for any shared sacrifice other than some "volunteer" military members (and the national guard and the reserves) who a lot of people didn't know.

              So, while Bush's cost in American lives was low, his saddling the nation with massive debt will affect future generations and the evil of what was done to so many people in Iraq may live to invite even more blowback against the USA.

              If the loss of life in Iraq were projected upon the US population at the same ratio, we'd have lost 10+ million people, rather than 4,500.  Iraqis are not going to forget that.

              "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

              by YucatanMan on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:16:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Most surveys I've seen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, YucatanMan

    ...don't even bother mentioning Harrison or Garfield. That, plus the fact that they only count Cleveland once, can often make you go back and count the rankings at first.

    And might I add, where is Reagan on these worst lists? The man set social issues progress back decades, stacked the courts with right wingers, and may well have done permanent damage to the progressive tax system.

    Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

    by RamblinDave on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 10:42:18 PM PDT

  •  One bit of info. Barbara Bush is decended from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antirove

    Pierce....so that puts the Smirking Chimp as the next generation after Barbara. The guy's got Pierce DNA flowing in his veins.  Maybe that has some influence on the Dub.

    "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

    by 417els on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 01:41:12 AM PDT

  •  Sounds like a popularity contest to me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban

    Not surprised either.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:24:18 AM PDT

  •  Herr Bush is a traitor and a psychopath. (0+ / 0-)

    To call him the worst President would be to call shit the worst food.

    Democracy is a habit, not a circumstance.

    by Troubadour on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:02:12 AM PDT

  •  I'm pleased to NOT see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, swampyankee

    Ulysses Grant on these Bottom 5 lists. In my lifetime (stretching back to the 1950s) he was a fixture there but lately has been rising to the middle of the pack.

    YES, there was plenty of corruption (Jay Gould) and economic upheaval (Panic of 1873) during his 2 terms (1868-1876) but he mostly got tarred and feathered with the likes of Buchanan and Harding and Hoover by a ton of Southern writers with serious axes to grind.
    To wit:
    A) The man won the War...by beating Robert E. Lee, which was and (for a thankfully shrinking minority IS) utterly unforgivable. "He did it on sheer numbers" is the usual canard thrown out, with a sneering denigration of Grant's military skill, strategic planning or tactical determination.
          (If it was merely numbers then why didn't McDowell win? McClellan had enormous manpower advantages on the Peninsula and at Antietam? Why not Pope? How come Hooker lost? What about Meade after Gettysburg?)

    B) Grant was President when the 14th and 15th Amendments were ratified...and making the free folk equal under the law and giving black men the right to vote, were both unforgivable. Therefore it was NECESSARY to form the KKK, and invent Jim Crow, and argue the other side of US vs. Cruikshank (1875), and fight the first ever Federal Civil Rights Act (of 1875, never enforced, then struck down by the Supremes in 1883; the next Federal effort was in 1964 under Johnson!) all while blaming Grant for the resulting violence.

    C) Grant signed the Anti-Klan Act of 1873...that addressed the violence of B), which was unforgivable. It was bad enough Congress held terrifying hearings on the torture inflicted and made it part of the public record, but to actually do something about it was even worse. (And that something was profound: The US Army was authorized and ORDERED to arrest civilians, try them under military law, and carry out sentences, up to and including executions. And it worked, in a crude way; the Klan was destroyed until 1915 and everyone moved toward discrimination and "race etiquette", with violence just under the surface.)

    D) Grant refused to be utterly outraged at the death of Custer at Little Bighorn in 1876 (during the War he thought Custer was an ass who would eventually meet a bad end; how dare Grant be right?) Worse, Grant removed Sheridan as commander of the Army, in part in response to Sheridan's remark that "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."  For many cowboy types, the idea that indiscriminate slaughter of Native people was NOT going to be government policy (at least officially) was unforgivable and made Grant a marked man.

    So everyone had reason to pile on, and everyone had reason to resurrect Grant's pre-War drinking problem (for which he was dismissed from the Army in 1854), even though the actual evidence for any drinking on his part during the War (there may have been one binge during the boredom of the siege of Vicksburg and even that is disputed by those were literally in the room) or impairing his Presidency (a la Andrew Johnson at the Inauguration--which was some kind of record for public intoxication) is hard to come by and seems often to be an exercise in proving a negative.

    But the man and his reputation have soldiered on and I for one am pleased to welcome him into the ranks of the middle...lets hear it for Ulysses, alongside Monroe, Eisenhower, McKinley and maybe Taft.

    Shalom.

    "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

    by WineRev on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:29:40 AM PDT

    •  Well written. Grant was a "real human being." (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gygaxian, swampyankee, citylights

      He deserves credit for those good things he accomplished in the face of hatred and discrimination. The period following the Civil War was not an easy one.  Grant was determined to pull the nation together as best as a flawed human could.

      His Indian Wars actions are not as readily forgivable, but at least he didn't think Custer was a hero. He worked to remove Indian Bureaus from under the influence of Congressional corruption, attempted reforms in the management of Indian affairs and pushed back against many whites' desire to exterminate all Indians from the continent. His goal was peace rather than obliteration.

      Black Americans were represented in Congress for the first time in 1870, thanks to Grant's efforts at rebuilding the Republican Party in the south, primarily among black voters, white carpetbaggers and local whites.

      There is a lot to prevent Grant from being one of the worst presidents.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:27:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh yes. (0+ / 0-)

        Let's add Grant signed the bill creating the WORLD's first national park (Yellowstone) in 1872. It may have been a one-off, but it did start a pretty good idea that has caught on world-wide in all sorts of nation-states.

        Not quite the beginning of the environmental movement, but conservation of natural areas in as pristine condition as possible certainly contributed something to forming a "pro-nature" mindset. That perhaps cleared the way for the Greens to come in later generations (although this is a stretch I find it hard to dismiss out of hand.)

        Shalom.

        "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

        by WineRev on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 04:50:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The list misses several notable Republicans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citylights

    What about Hoover, Nixon, and Reagan? The Great Depression happened on Hoover's watch. They even named shanty towns after him. Nixon was a all out criminal who only escaped jail because he resigned and got pardoned by his empty suit of a VP. Reagan did his level best to run the USA into the ground, and set up 40 years of Corporate rule that lead to untold suffering.

    I guess the poll was contaminated by Gopper hero worship. That's the only reason I can think of that would result in so many non-entities making the list. The real villains came up goose eggs.

    Registered Buddhacrat

    by clear SKies on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:46:12 PM PDT

  •  About Buchanan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citylights

    Don't forget that he literally declared war on a religious minority to distract the public away from the brewing Civil War.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:53:38 PM PDT

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