Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Worse than Buchanan?

I don't know how I missed this one. Better late than never. Historians, admittedly an intellectual, thoghtful and liberal group, struggle to place Bush in the ranking of worst presidents:
Rolling Stone : The Worst President in History?

... Colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all. For years, these perennial debates have largely focused on the same handful of chief executives whom national polls of historians, from across the ideological and political spectrum, routinely cite as the bottom of the presidential barrel. Was the lousiest James Buchanan, who, confronted with Southern secession in 1860, dithered to a degree that, as his most recent biographer has said, probably amounted to disloyalty -- and who handed to his successor, Abraham Lincoln, a nation already torn asunder? Was it Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, who actively sided with former Confederates and undermined Reconstruction? What about the amiably incompetent Warren G. Harding, whose administration was fabulously corrupt? Or, though he has his defenders, Herbert Hoover, who tried some reforms but remained imprisoned in his own outmoded individualist ethic and collapsed under the weight of the stock-market crash of 1929 and the Depression's onset? The younger historians always put in a word for Richard M. Nixon, the only American president forced to resign from office.

Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant.
Well, an informal survey really doesn't mean too much, but I'm betting Bush will be among the 'worst of the worst' 20 years from now. Other than as an excuse for venting, the article is an excellent summary of the many ways that Bush has failed, irregardless of one's opinion of his underlying ideology.

It's not simply that his economic policies reward his campaign contributors and his old friends at the expense of his voters (forget the dems, just consider Bush supporters), it's that these actions contradict his rhetoric and impair his effectiveness. So he's even bad at being bad.

It's handy reference to have at hand when someone asks "what's so bad about Bush?".

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