My President's Day Review
The best, the worst and why did
they even bother to run?
With this President's Day there have been the usual assorted annual reviews and rankings of our Presidents.
So I thought I would put out my own ranking of the five best and five worst Presidents.
Ranking is not that easy. Each President came from different times and faced completely different issues.
The Best Presidents
1) George Washington
This is almost a no brainer. In my mind Washington was the greatest man in all of recorded history. Period.
He lived in a world of savage dictators who all claimed to be anointed by God himself. Speak out against them and you would be tortured or executed.
Democracy, even Republics, did not exist. The closest thing out there was the oligarchical Republic of Venice. Our Founders had to go back to the ancient Republic of Rome for a guide to build a new nation.
Washington was there at every step fighting in the front lines against the corrupt Monarchists in battle, building a nation with a new Constitution and then serving as the first President.
General Washington could have followed in the footsteps of others and declared himself King or President-for-Life. The fact that he always refused ultimate power is what sets him up above all other leaders in history.
2) Abraham Lincoln
Mountains of books have been written about Lincoln and for good reason. Once Washington established our Republic no other President has faced the tests Lincoln dealt with every day of his term.
There is little more that I could add to what so many have written.
3) Theodore Roosevelt
Where does one start? The man was a whirlwind of actions and ideas.
Warrior, cowboy, police commissioner, Governor, author, reformer, trust buster, Nobel Peace Prize winner and President.
So much of modern America starts with TR from the park system to the Pure Food and Drug Act to breaking up corporations.
This last item is near to my heart these days as unelected huge multi-national corporations literally buy and sell members of Congress and candidates for President like loaves of bread.
4) James K. Polk
A close ally of Andrew Jackson, James "Young Hickory" Polk has to rank in any top five list of Presidents but is always ignored.
Polk came to the White House with strong background: member of the Tennessee Legislature, Congressman, Speaker of the House and Governor.
As President he pledged to serve only one term and looked to accomplish four main goals:
Polk accomplished his four major objectives in just four years. By linking acquisition of new lands in Oregon (with no slavery) and Texas (with slavery), he hoped to satisfy both North and South.
Polk was a massive success by any possible measurement.
5) Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR ended Prohibition. That is reason enough to be at #5. Bless him.
I rank FDR lower than Polk because so much of his first two terms failed to end the Great Depression and his scheme to pack the Supreme Court smacked of Fascism. His rise to #5 ranking is based almost totally on the wars against Imperial Japan and the Axis Powers.
Much of the New Deal's "radical" banking reforms are today viewed as common sense. Roosevelt signed the Glass–Steagall Act that created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to underwrite savings deposits. The Act also limited the ability of bankers to speculate in the stock market with their deposits. Banks were failing left and right. The Act helped provide banking and economic stability for decades to come.
Other programs like Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rural Electrification Act set the stage for modern America. The nation never again looked back to laissez faire.
His leadership in World War II is obvious. The total defeat of Imperial Japan, Germany and Italy were enormous accomplishments.
Based on pre-1930s technology an argument could be made that these overseas wars were none of our business. But today we know about the Japanese nuclear weapon program and the German nuclear weapon project. If either of those nations had built the atomic bomb first the entire course of history would have changed.
FDR's victory came none too soon.
Presidents 6 to 10
Dwight Eisenhower, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, James Monroe and Ronald Reagan.
|President James Buchanan|
A former Federalist Party Congressman
The Worst Presidents
Because of the Civil War everyone wants to dump on President James Buchanan making him the worst President.
To me Buchanan was helpless. In the wrong place at the wrong time. The rabid and hateful forces for and against slavery would not listen to anything resembling reason. Both sides wanted blood.
As a "madman", general and a southerner Andrew Jackson held off the Civil War by threatening to march south and hang traitors. Buchanan was a northerner with no influence in the south and little influence in the rabid anti-slavery Republican north. So I give Buchanan a pass for being the worst President.
5) Woodrow Wilson
Wilson was a disaster on almost every front. He took power away from the U.S. Treasury and handed it over to the private Federal Reserve. Wilson cracked down on freedom of speech and even imprisoned Presidential candidate Eugene Debs. A new low for democracy. He also was openly racist and appointed segregationists to his cabinet.
Foreign affairs were even worse. Without a declaration of war Wilson invaded Mexico and occupied Veracruz.
U.S. involvement in World War I made matters worse. Instead of forcing the Europeans to solve their own problems U.S. intervention allowed France, Britain and Italy to destroy the German and Austrian Empires. The resulting power vacuum created economic and political anarchy and the rise of Fascism in nation after nation.
4) Warren Harding
At the time of his death, Harding was one of the most popular presidents, but the subsequent exposure of scandals that took place under his administration, such as Teapot Dome, eroded his popular regard, as did revelations of an affair by Nan Britton, one of his mistresses.
3) George W. Bush
God, to think I voted for this dumb bastard. By 2003 he had driven me out of the "small government" GOP.
Where do you start? The fake weapons of mass destruction. The creation of a 1984 Police Surveillance State. The endless and useless wars. Torture. The massive expansion of government in all areas including "No Child Left Behind". Jobs shipped to Asia. Wide open borders for legals and illegals alike. Racking up trillions in new debt.
But worst of all the total incompetence of the GOP causing a second Great Depression that we are still trying to climb out of.
There was no oversight in any way, shape or form of the criminals on Wall Street who collapsed the entire economy with fake "investments" and real estate loans backed by NOTHING. Millions of home foreclosure, business failures everywhere and the rise of middle class poverty.
Bush should have been run out of town on a rail.
2) Herbert Hoover
Hoovervilles. That really says it all.
Hoover and laissez faire GOP policies stood by while banks failed, businesses failed, people lost their homes and the entire nation entered the pure Hell of the Great Depression.
1) Worst President Ever - Jimmy Carter
Carter is the best ex-President ever by building homes for the poor. Meanwhile Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have lined their pockets with millions in corporate "speaking fees" which are better known as retroactive bribes.
A plus is the peace Carter brokered between Egypt and Israel still holds to this day.
The steaming pile of crap smell comes from ultra weak policies making him out to be nearly clueless.
Carter's tenure was a time of continuing inflation and recession, as well as an energy crisis. Carter delivered a televised speech declaring that the U.S. energy crisis during the 1970s was the moral equivalent of war and wore sweaters to offset turning down the heat in the White House.
The Soviets invaded Afghanistan (they can have it in my opinion), but Carter's brave stand was to pull out of the Olympics ruining the careers of athletes. Carter initiated a program to arm the mujahideen through Pakistan's ISI and secured a pledge from Saudi Arabia to match U.S. funding for this purpose.
Carter arming Islamists. We know how well that turned out in the end.
Then came the Iranian hostage crisis with the government held up to the world as helpless.
Sorry Jimmy. But you are still the best at being the worst.