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Worst President Ever
Posted by: mcq on Sunday, March 19, 2006

Some conjecture in the "reality based community". In this case from Matt Yglesias:
Sam Rosenfeld's already snarked a bit on this, but seriously, what's with Harry Reid saying George W. Bush is "the worst president this country has ever had" or Hillary Clinton's similar claim that he's "one of the worst" in American history? On domestic policy, he's certainly been a bad president in the sense that I would gladly prefer Al Gore or John Kerry or Howard Dean or Joe Lieberman or Wesley Clark or Russ Feingold or pretty much whomever you like. He's somewhat worse than, say, his father. But somewhat better than Ronald Reagan. Bad — very bad, even, if you want to get indignant about it — but bad in a run-of-the-mill, parties- alternate-in- power, rightwingers- are-all-bad kind of way.
Funny how reality ends at Ronald Reagan in that community.

Nope, I'm sorry, but they missed it by one. Having lived through presidencies since Truman, I'll have to stick with Jimmy Carter as the worst president in my lifetime. Note, I didn't say ever, but he's a strong candidate for that as well.

And he's at the top spot in a new category he's single-handedly carved out for himself. Worst ex-President ever.

Anyway I think the purpose of the Yglesias post was to attempt to praise Harry Reid. I say attempt because he really didn't try awfully hard.
I think Reid's done a good job, generally, as Minority Leader and wish him well. But I also hope liberals won't fall for this bait-and-switch. The liberal blogosphere can generate all the strident rhetoric one would ever want. What liberals need from progressive politicians isn't rhetoric that's pleasing to the ears, but a combination of election strategies likely to win, and policies that will benefit the country.
Anyone who thinks Reid had done a "good job" might believe George Bush is the worst president ever. It certainly fits.

More importantly though, Yglesias touches on a theme seen here often: the Democrats lack of an election strategy and policies on which to base such a strategy. You know, the "issues thing" as in "the Democrats have no new issues" on which to run.

Now, this is where MKUltra and his ilk beam in and tell us we're all wet, the left has won, that they don't need new issues to win.

Well skip a step boys, and instead beam into reality based central and clue Yglesias in will you? Maybe he can pass it on to the DNC, et. al. and end this silly conjecture about needing such things before November.
 
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Having lived through presidencies since Truman, I’ll have to stick with Jimmy Carter as the worst president in my lifetime.

...

Worst ex-President ever.
Oh, you came so close. I was so hoping to read "highest ranking useful idiot in US history."
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
My vote for "Worst. President. Ever": Woodrow Wilson.

Got us into a foreign war in which we had little interest, spending 100,000 lives in the process, Check!
Sought an exit strategy and cynically called it "victory, Check!
Allowed the isolationists to "bring the troops home now!" before the peace could be won, Check!
By his actions and lack thereof ensured that we would be again drawn into an even bloodier war in the same theater some 24 years hence, Check!
Oversaw first collection of income taxes, Check!

So his legacy was higher taxes and unsettled conflicts that would consume a future generation. All laid on his headstone!

Carter, by comparison, was a mere piker.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
I’ve always thought Calvin Coolidge was one of the better presidents.
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
[re: Woodrow Wilson] Oversaw first collection of income taxes, Check!
Untrue. The 16th amendment was on Taft’s watch.

Income taxes were also collected during the Civil War.

In fact, income taxes and direct election of senators was during Taft.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
it just would not be a day of sunshine without another QandO 25 year stale bash of a 48 month administration.

....yawn....

As a student of history, rather than a master of jingoism, my worse vote goes to Woodrow Wilson. Elitist. Classist. Racist.
 
Written By: Rick D.
URL: http://
As a student of history, rather than a master of jingoism...
Most students of history are assumed to have the abilty to comprehend what they read. Apparently you’re the exception. My point about Carter had a caveat ... I included only presidencies through which I had lived. I.e. those in my lifetime.

Yeah, go ahead. Reread it. It’s there.

Guess what? Wilson’s wasn’t one of them.

Doh!
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Maybe Rick D knows just how old you really are, Bruce.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Nope, I’m sorry, but they missed it by one. Having lived through presidencies since Truman, I’ll have to stick with Jimmy Carter as the worst president in my lifetime.
Really? I tend to think Carter’s abysmal tenure had more to do with the problems he inherited, rather than his own performance. This Arnold Kling essay makes a strong case.
It was under President Carter that the tide began to turn against "incomes policies." In fact, much of the liberal agenda of government intervention in markets was discredited by this point. As a result, Carter undertook some major initiatives for deregulation, particularly in the transportation sector.

On the inflation front, Carter illustrated Winston Churchill’s remark that Americans will do the right thing after they have tried everything else. Having tried all manner of incomes policies, Carter gave up and appointed Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve Chairman with a mandate to bring down inflation by controlling the growth of the money supply.

The Carter Administration also ended with fewer controls on energy prices than the Nixon-Ford Administrations. However, Carter failed to end oil price controls completely, and on energy policy he is best known for creating the Department of Energy, a sinkhole for billions of wasted research dollars.
Unfortunately, Carter gets a lot of "correlation equals causation" blame — as all Presidents tend to get in varying degrees — but his actual domestic policies themselves weren’t substantively worse than Nixon’s. Or Bush’s.

His foreign policy, of course, left a great deal to be desired, but he did start the US support of the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan. And let’s face it, that quagmire did a great deal to push forward the decline of the Soviet Union. I’m not really sure that his foreign policy was substantively worse than Nixon’s, either. Nixon certainly did some worthwhile things — in China, for example — but his "keep em there for domestic political benefit" policies in Vietnam, combined with a failure to take steps to actively win the war, made for quite a lot of long-term hurt for the US.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon Henke, no Carter didn’t just INHERIT problems...he made them. He allowed the overthrow of the Shah, encouraged him to step down. The result was the Mullahs coming to power and the SECOND DOUBLING OF OIL in 1979. Then the G-7 decided to coordinate economic policies and "reflate" their economies as a result of the recession brought on by the oil shock. The result of loosening economic/fiscal policy was STAGFLATION. My source for this is a long pout-of-print Economist article, lodged in my memory. If true, the problems that Carter inherited were HIS CREATION! Sorry Jimmuh wasn’t just at the helm when the ship it the rocks, he helped steer it there.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Rick, you make some complaints about Wilson that aren’t quite fair, BTW...
Sought an exit strategy and cynically called it "victory, Check!
They were the Fourteen Points AND THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT REQUESTED AN ARMISTICE UNDER THEIR TERMS! Not simply an "exit strategy." And we didn’t win in WW I, is that why WE WERE ON THE RHINE and occupied Germany in 1919? Pleas eif you’re going to make veiled references to today in your "history lessons" at least get the history right....
Allowed the isolationists to "bring the troops home now!" before the peace could be won, Check!
Huh, what are you talking about? We should have stayed longer on the Rhine and in Germany, even after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty?
By his actions and lack thereof ensured that we would be again drawn into an even bloodier war in the same theater some 24 years hence, Check!
I think the Depression, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill, Western Appeasement, and most of all, the RISE OF ADOLF HITLER, had more to do with the subsequent war in Europe than President Wilson did.

And mind you, this is from a guy that really doesn’t like WIlson at all!! I just think it’s important to get our facts straight before we criticize.

Oh and the person tha called Wilson a "racist" was he a racist in HIS times or by OUR definition? After all Lincoln wouldn’t win any NAACP awards today, but would it be fair to judge him by today’s standards? Ditto with Wilson...






 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe,

That was me you were responding to, not Rick.
And we didn’t win in WW I, is that why WE WERE ON THE RHINE and occupied Germany in 1919?
Well we weren’t by 1920, thanks to a piece of paper called the Treaty of Versailles that our Congress refused to ratify. Accordingly, in a manner that would be known as "Chamberlainesque" in a couple of decades, Wilson ended up waving a piece of paper that had no tangible value whatsoever. All that he was missing was "peace in our time". And before you lay the blame for that fiasco at the feet of a non-cooperative Congress I ask who was the CIC!? Who sent 100,000 of our finest to the Promised Land and failed to impart the momentous impact of that decision upon the members of the Legislature? Who failed at leadership when it most counted?

Which leads us to:
We should have stayed longer on the Rhine and in Germany, even after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty?
We should have signed the Treaty and taken it upon ourselves to ensure that it had teeth, as flawed as it may have been. Instead, we allowed "the War to end all wars" to become just a cheap slogan.
I think the Depression, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill,
YGBSM!! What could these domestic issues in a decisively non-globalized economy possibly had to do with the situation in post-WWI Europe?
Western Appeasement, and most of all, the RISE OF ADOLF HITLER, had more to do with the subsequent war in Europe than President Wilson did.
Yes. All made possible, in large part, due to the fecklessness and ineffectiveness of the Wilson Administration.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
D, you have the most amazing sense of history....
I think the Depression, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill,
YGBSM!! What could these domestic issues in a decisively non-globalized economy possibly had to do with the situation in post-WWI Europe?
Gee D, I’d say that the rise of the Nazi’s was predicated upon the chaos in Germany, made terrible by the DEPRESSION, a Depression made worse by the SMOOT-HAWLEY tariffs that further crippled world trade and deepened the Depression and further radicalized Germany... it was a rather GLOBAL economy then, D. In fact the world in the 1990’s to 2000 had not reached a COMPARABLE state of globalization than had been reached in 1914... so it was a global economy, in fact the German economy of the 1920’s was funded thru short-term loans from AMERICAN banks, banks which called those loans due in 1929, helping spread the Depression overseas. And then the slow-down cross country trade, in part brought on by American protectionism, made the world economy worse, further damaging Europe and Germany.
Western Appeasement, and most of all, the RISE OF ADOLF HITLER, had more to do with the subsequent war in Europe than President Wilson did.
Yes. All made possible, in large part, due to the fecklessness and ineffectiveness of the Wilson Administration.
A nonsensical gratuitous assertion... exactly how did the Wilson Administration, out of office for 12 years lead to Hitler, please be more specific.
We should have stayed longer on the Rhine and in Germany, even after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty?
We should have signed the Treaty and taken it upon ourselves to ensure that it had teeth, as flawed as it may have been. Instead, we allowed "the War to end all wars" to become just a cheap slogan.
WHAT? What are you talking about? In 1923 Germany fell out of compliance, and the French and Belgian forces intervened to occupy the Rhineland! Which helped bring about Hitler, but that’s another story. Exactly, what more was the US to do with Germany to ensure the continuation of the Versailles Peace? And had the Western Allies moved in response to the occupation of the Rhineland and the Renunciation of the Versailles Trety they could have EASILY turned the Nazi’s out of power, they didn’t need the US...

I think the sloganeering is less with the Wilson Administration and more with your criticisms of the Administration.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"Yes. All made possible, in large part, due to the fecklessness and ineffectiveness of the Wilson Administration."

Why is Wilson responsible for the failure, years later, of the french and British governments to enforce the treaty? Absurd.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Why is Wilson responsible for the failure, years later, of the french and British governments to enforce the treaty? Absurd.
It’s incredibly complicated and I’m not sure that you could assign blame in a strictly intentional sense, but the effect of Wilson’s naive idealism was to create a geopolitically unsustainable situation on the Continent. The French and British had legitimate security concerns, but Wilson insisted upon feel-good measures that ultimately led to further instability.

Worse, he allowed the treaty to become a mish-mash of balance of power and idealism, such that Germany was ultimately able to exploit the holes and gain in strength. Plus, the US willingness to help Germany, combined with an unwillingness to offer security guarantees to France created a sort of inevitable power vacuum that Germany could exploit.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Spot on. Somehow, I voted for Carter in ’76. By 1980, he was my last choice. Put it this way. My first home mortgage was 13%- and that was a very attractive rate.
 
Written By: kreiz
URL: http://
Somehow I always thought that the French, British, and other Europeans had some responsibility for what happened in Europe. I would think that the naive idealism of Wilson could be countered by the more sophisticated realism of the Europeans who, after all, were on the spot. Why was it the US’s responsibility to run the world? They were grown-ups, perfectly capable of running their own affairs. If they screwed up, it wasn’t Wilson’s fault. And let’s not forget that at the time, the US was not a great power as it is today. France had a bigger army, GB a larger navy, and even economically we were not the dominant power. As for instability, that we will always have with us. Stability is an anomaly.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
A long treatise could be written on this. I recommend Kissinger’s Diplomacy for details. Essentialyl, the US pressured European countries — very devastated after the war and in need of a US alliance against other enemies — into some of our idealist ideas, and then refused to "do our part", as it were.

Read that book. It’s really very excellent and detailed.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I’m astonished that you could support a president who has:

Presided over the loss of approximately three million American jobs in his first two-and-a-half years in office, the worst record since Herbert Hoover.
Overseen an economy in which the stock market suffered its worst decline in the first two years of any administration since Hoover’s.

Taken, in the wake of the terrorist attacks two years ago, the greatest worldwide outpouring of goodwill the United States has enjoyed at least since World War II and squandered it by insisting on pursuing a foolish go-it-almost-alone invasion of Iraq, thereby transforming almost universal support for the United States into worldwide condemnation. (One historian made this point particularly well: “After inadvertently gaining the sympathies of the world ’s citizens when terrorists attacked New York and Washington, Bush has deliberately turned the country into the most hated in the world by a policy of breaking all major international agreements, declaring it our right to invade any country that we wish, proving that he’ll manipulate facts to justify anything he wishes to do, and bull-headedly charging into a quagmire.”)
Misled (to use the most charitable word and interpretation) the American public about weapons of mass destruction and supposed ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq and so into a war that has plainly (and entirely predictably) made us less secure, caused a boom in the recruitment of terrorists, is killing American military personnel needlessly, and is threatening to suck up all our available military forces and be a bottomless pit for the money of American taxpayers for years to come.
Failed to follow through in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are regrouping, once more increasing the threat to our people.
Insulted and ridiculed other nations and international organizations and now has to go, hat in hand, to those nations and organizations begging for their assistance.
Completely miscalculated or failed to plan for the personnel and monetary needs in Iraq after the war, so that he sought and obtained an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, a sizable chunk of which is going, without competitive bidding to Haliburton, the company formerly headed by his vice president.
Inherited an annual federal budget surplus of $230 billion and transformed it into a $500+ billion deficit in less than three years. This negative turnaround of three-quarters of a trillion dollars is totally without precedent in our history. The ballooning deficit for fiscal 2004 is rapidly approaching twice the dollar size of the previous record deficit, $290 billion, set in 1992, the last year of the administration of President Bush’s father and, at almost 5 percent of GDP, is closing in on the percentage record set by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Cut taxes three times, sharply reducing the burden on the rich, reclassified money obtained through stock ownership as more deserving than money earned through work. The idea that dividend income should not be taxed—what might accurately be termed the unearned income tax credit—can be stated succinctly: “If you had to work for your money, we’ll tax it; if you didn’t have to work for it, you can keep it all.”
Severely curtailed the very American freedoms that our military people are supposed to be fighting to defend. (“The Patriot Act,” one of the historians noted, “is the worst since the Alien and Sedition Acts under John Adams.”)
Called upon American armed service people, including Reserve forces, to sacrifice for ever-lengthening tours of duty in a hostile and dangerous environment while he rewards the rich at home with lower taxes and legislative giveaways and gives lucrative no-bid contracts to American corporations linked with the administration.
Given an opportunity to begin to change the consumption-oriented values of the nation after September 11, 2001, when people were prepared to make a sacrifice for the common good, called instead of Americans to ‘sacrifice’ by going out and buying things.
Proclaimed himself to be a conservative while maintaining that big government should be able to run roughshod over the Bill of Rights, and that the government must have all sorts of secrets from the people, but the people can be allowed no privacy from the government. (As one of the historians said, “this is not a conservative administration; it is a reckless and arrogant one, beholden to a mix of right-wing ideologues, neo-con fanatics, and social Darwinian elitists.”)
 
Written By: Wally Walker
URL: http://

 
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