The worst

Let’s get to the meat of the matter.  Is George W. Bush the worst President in U.S. history?

Typically, up to this point in history, Warren Harding has been considered the worst.  For sure, he was a conservative, and functioned as the sort whom FDR had to later save the country from.  He was corrupt, dreadful at using the language, and a sell-out for business interests, and surrounded himself with similar stooges – all of which is to repeat my earlier point about him being a conservative.  Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan also often make the list, in a clear case of historical evaluation over the long haul – they’re most infamous over what they didn’t do, what they allowed to happen in their wake.

Some were tremendously complex and disjointed in their legacy.  Richard Nixon was also a conservative, and was, along that ideology, completely ruthless and lacking in even basic morals.  But he was also capable of compromise for the good of the country and occasionally produced moments of brilliance in foreign and public domestic policy.  (As Ralph Nader correctly points out, he would be seen as too liberal for the Republican Party of today, and probably the Democratic Party as well.)  Ronald Reagan has been unjustly deified by conservatives who are absolutely desperate for a lasting hero who matches their peculiar anti-social ideology; thus, he “won the Cold War” by taking a hard line against the Soviets – a hilarious and childishly naive assessment.  He damn near turned the world into a series of smoking radioactive craters, succeeding only when he, uncharacteristically and in a series of manuevers which are just now being historically understood, suggested nuclear disarmament at Rejkjavik.

The real question in evaluating Bush is, what will happen five, ten, or more years from now because of his incompetence.  That he’s unfit for the job is by this point beyond debate by reasonable people; it could serve as a litmus test to see if those with whom you are attempting to share an opinion are worthy of any kind of intelligent discourse on the subject.  Not liberal or conservative, not Republican or Democrat, nor Green nor Libertarian nor Constitutionist nor any other party…that Bush is an incompetant blight on the Presidency is as true and as obvious as the rising of the sun in the morning or the passage of the tides throughout the day.  It’s a matter of debate only as a divider between the reasoned and the mad.

I’d argue that Bush’s shredding of any dignity remaining in the office of the Presidency will have extremely far-reaching effects; the next President, whomever it may be, will have to spend pretty much an entire term erasing the wreckage that has been done to not only the office, but the Constitution, and indeed the entire makeup of the United States.  We are now the logical extreme of conservative neo-fascist states: we are a nation of might-makes-right, pre-emptive striking militarists and torturers.  We serve only the global elite, the ultra-capitalists and power-mongers.  We are drowning in debt and addicted to foreign supplied fossil fuels – which we will take whenever we deem necessary, given the first precepts.  All of this was done in a few short years…

The next President, and likely those after that, will be faced with the task of, pretty much, turning this country back into a democratic republic guided by law.  Granted, Lincoln had to do so as well, but at least had a Union from which to start; this subversion has come from within, from the very office which is attempting to turn it all around…the only base to work from is the majority of the people, of the country and the world, unrepresented as they are in the halls of power.*

Obviously, the true test will come over time…but there’s no good that can come of the legacy of George W. Bush, and there’s probably no farther down he can go – at least, comparatively.

* Thus, any change but an institutional one is no change at all.  You’re welcome, Barack.

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4 Responses

  1. I’d have to nominate McKinley and Hoover for consideration as well.

  2. “the next President, whomever it may be, will have to spend pretty much an entire term erasing the wreckage that has been done to not only the office, but the Constitution, and indeed the entire makeup of the United States”

    Ha. If it can be done (not sure it’s possible) it’ll take 50+ years to restore the damage that has been done in the last 8.

  3. There’s a lot of different thinkings as to who the worst are (there seems to be more consensus as to the best, usually Lincoln (another Republican!) tops the list). Of course, we can find a compilation of some of the historical rankings of US presidents by various agencies, pollsters, scholars, etc. To the Wikimobile!

    None of us own a crystal ball, we’ll have to see what the next POTUS will do, there have been single-handed saviours of the nation that turned the country around after a time of severe crisis (war or a particularly bad predecessor) – again, think Lincoln -h the next one could do it, we can only see.

  4. Actually, the most apt “worst president” nominee that would be comparable to dubya would be U.S. Grant. Both are two termers, and when one factors out Grant’s war record, they are about the same. Both administrations were marked by corruption and incompetence. Grant’s inept and inconsistent Indian policy is just about as horrific in it’s consequences as dubya’s misguided Iraq adventure (which we’re apparantly now winning).

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