Monday, April 07, 2008

61 percent of historians think Bush is worst President ever

In an informal, unscientific survey of professional historians by the History News Network, 61% consider George Bush fils the worst President ever, with another 35% putting him in the bottom ten. The article also includes glosses by some of the historians justifying their rankings, that include these gems:

No individual president can compare to the second Bush. Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world's goodwill. In short, no other presidents faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.
And this one:
With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct. When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of area: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.
Then again, Matt Yglesias begs to differ:
Bush is probably correct to think that history will remember him kindly. American presidents associated with big dramatic events tend to wind up with good reputations whether they deserve them or not. One possible Bush analogy would be to Woodrow Wilson, who did all kinds of things with regard to civil liberties that look indefensible today and whose foreign policy ended as a giant failure, but who was associated with both big events and with big ideas that were influential down the road. Someday, I bet there will be democracies in the Middle East and some future Republican president will figure out a way to put meat on the bones of "compassionate conservatism" and Bush will be looked upon as a far-sighted figure who made some mistakes in a difficult period of time. Will he deserve a good reputation? No. Will he get one? I'd say yes.
I would say that Wilson actually has a very bad reputation among most professional historians. Undoubtedly influential (as, alas, Bush will no doubt be) but hardly influential in a good way for the country.

Before Bush, Wilson was my personal favorite as the most awful President of all time, though objectively you'd have to say Andrew Johnson and Buchanan were worse. Here's how I ranked all the presidents a few years ago.

No comments: