Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Question: Second Worst/Best President?

Let's steal another question, this time from Jed. . . It was the best of Presidents, it was the worst of President. Other than Reagan who was the best President? Other than Obama or Carter, who was the worst President?

Reminder: The Book Club meets tonight at 8:00 pm EST.

21 comments:

LawHawkSF said...

My choice for best is George Washington (and since you've started us from the assumption that Reagan is number 1, that would make Washington my choice for second-best). He set the tone for all presidents to follow, and when his second term was done, he established the first democratic transition of power in modern history. He could have been king, or at least president for life, but instead chose to leave office peacefully and for the good of the future of constitutional government.

I'm sure I'll run entirely against the grain on this one, but for second-worst, I choose Andrew Jackson. He ran the government by fiat, turned the financial world into chaos, and was the only president to outright defy a Supreme Court decision by enforcing the unconstitutional Indian Relocation Acts, resulting in the mass movement and deaths later known as "the trail of tears." He advocated the concept that the will of the people (as he saw it) must prevail over all the rules of law which form the basis of a constitutional republic and set the stage for today's "direct democracy" movement. He almost single-handedly created the populist/know-nothing movements, and was the closest thing to a pure tyrant who has ever sat in the White House.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: For clarification, is that 8 PM Eastern Time?

Writer X said...

I'll have to go with the best/worst in my lifetime. Best: Ronald Reagan. I used to think the worst was Jimmy Carter; I've now moved Barack Obama into his spot.

In school, it was always interesting to study Lincoln, especially growing up in Illinois. I still remember going to Springfield on a school field trip to learn more about him.

Andrew, I had the same question as LawHawk. You mean 8 pm EST for book club tonight, right?

AndrewPrice said...

Yes, 8:00 pm EST.


Writer X, Can't be Reagan, Obama or Carter...

AndrewPrice said...

For worst (other than Carter or Obama), I have to go with Nixon. He did so much damage to our government and to the American way of life that he could possibly rival ObamaCarter. From massive expansion of the federal government to wage and price controls to the reputational harm he did to the Republican Party. Yuck.

In terms of great Presidents, I'm going to reach back for Coolidge. He saw us through the progressive era without making us into little Europe and he brought on a the boom that gave America the economic power it would need to win WWII.

Writer X said...

Oh my gosh, apparently I can't read directions and need more coffee. Sorry. Okay, I'll go with Lincoln as best. Worst, I might have to say LBJ for all of his social programs.

See you tonight at book club!

AndrewPrice said...

LBJ, Good call -- we're still trying to fix the mess he created!

JG said...

I would say that FDR is probably the worst, over Carter and possibly Obama, but his term isn't finished so he still has a chance to win that one. After all, FDR really laid the foundation for LBJ, Carter, Clinton and now Obama. Talk about social programs and welfare-by-any-other-name....

As far as next best....wow, what does it say that I'm having a hard time coming up with "good" presidents? I'll go ahead and say Coolidge as well, but not just cause Andrew did. He wasn't perfect, but was very good about lower income taxes, deregulation and respecting states' rights, concepts almost unheard of in the 20th century.

AndrewPrice said...

JG, You make a very good point about FDR. The people who write history books have been far too kind to him. They are now starting to realize that he prolonged the Great Depression for years. Plus, did incredible damage to our Constitution with his war against the Supreme Court.

It is odd that it's so difficult to come up with good Presidents, isn't it?

StanH said...

Worst: Woodrow Wilson, he started the progressive movement at the presidential level, still plaguing us till this day.

Best: Thomas Jefferson, The Louisiana Purchase, the good one, Lewis & Clarke Expedition (the moonshot of that time) and his brilliance in the founding of this great country, indispensable. Sometimes called the first Democrat, however you’d have pistols at dawn with this current crowd of “Democrats.” In his day, to call someone a Democrat was a pejorative, it looks like that attitude is coming full circle?

Note: My first choice was George Washington for best, Lawhawk beat me to it.

StanH said...

Becker’s nomination to the NLRB just failed to reach cloture, say bye, bye!

ArmChairGeneral said...

worst - BHO

best - Washington (2 years)

BevfromNYC said...

John Adams is my favorite/best because he was set the tone for the peaceful transfer of government and proved our Constitution government could work.

My choice for worst is William Henry Harrison (1841). He lasted one month and was our first President to die in office. He was so long-winded at his Inauguration that he contracted pneumonia and died one month later. Though on the bright side, his death helped codify Article II of the Constitution regarding succession.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I'm going to be covering that on Friday as a followup to my February 5 post.

Great news, and we called it. The Scott Brown election is already having an impact.

patti said...

you took my best choices! and i would like to write more, but my eyes have been dilated and i'm struggling to get this down! be back tomorrow!

USArtguy said...

In true Commentarama fashion, I'm going to bend the rules a little bit ;-) and skip seconds and aim for a wee bit farther down the line...

I'm not a student of all the presidents by any stretch but IMO the top spots go to Washington, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt... all great presidents and all "real men". After that it gets a lot tougher but I'm going to skip the obvious like Jefferson and nominate James K. Polk as one of the top presidents.

Polk, a Democrat but in no way like the liberals of today, was a rare politician who stated his goals in his campaign, accomplished them in one term and kept one promise in particular-- not to run for a second term. Basically... he said what he was going to do, did it then got out.

He's not without his faults of course. Even though he felt personally that slavery wouldn't work out west he owned slaves and could have opened the west making slavery verboten in the new territories but didn't. He did direct in his will that his slaves be freed after the death of his wife, but that was made moot by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1865 Thirteenth Amendment freeing all slaves.

He was a firm supporter of some of Andrew Jackson's problematic policies that LawHawk pointed out. However, during his administration Polk annexed Texas, acquired California from Mexico, settled the Oregon Country dispute with Britain, lowered tariffs, established a sub-treasury, and is responsible for the giving the map of the continental US the nice shape it has to this day. There's more but my post is too long already.

One of the worst? I don't think it's fair to include W.H. Harrison or J. A. Garfield since they were in office for short a time. One could argue they were among the best because they weren't in long enough to really screw things up. Maybe Franklin Pierce as the "pre-Carter Carter". A decent man who made terrible decisions (that's Carter when he was young... as I no longer think he's even a descent man anymore).

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, You're right about Jefferson -- there is no way he'd be a Democrat today!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I can't argue with that. LOL! Good calls!

Patti, Eye transplants are a dangerous thing! ;-)

Individualist said...

Well this is a tough one. Next Best President has to be Honest Abe but I will give Runner Ups to Thomas Jefferson. Best Modern Democrat I would give to HArry S Truman. Not President for long but has the guts to save American and Japanese lives in the long run by using the bomb. Also instrumental in helping JApan retain its pride by saving the emporer.

Worst has got to be Nixon althougn I'd say Wilson and FDR did do damage. I would also place Ulysses S Grant in that picture because of the corruption with the railroads and the failue to ensure that reconstruction worked thus condemning the freed slaves to the horrors of "seperate but equal" and creating a scar in this country felt today that has given statists such a big whipping post to pillory us with (Deserved or Not).

On the lighter side I hear there is a controversy about a President being foreign born. No not him, Chester A Arthur was supposedly born in Canada (so they say). Wait til the Birthers trying to rip Breitbart a new one find out. Sorry reading the posts on Big Journalism - gotta tell you its pretty scary

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Very knowledgeable selections! Bravo! And how could we forget anyone who brought Texas into the union! You're absolutely right about Pierce. At one point, he was definitely considered the worst President ever. Fortunately for him, Carter came along. . . and now Obama.


I think everyone came up with some very interesting reasons!! Nicely done everyone! **applause**

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, There are very scary people out there, and the internet has given them a whole new playground for spreading their views.

I agree with you on Nixon.

On Grant, I have actually argued (and I still think) that over the past 10 or so years, we've been the second gilded age, and it makes Grant's corruption look tame.

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