When I was still in high school I remember my history teacher telling my class that there was only one president that was worse than Bush, Warren G. Harding.
I think Harding was the president when the Great Depression started, but what else did he do to make him as bad (or worse) than Bush?
Which one (or a different president) do you think was the worst? Why?
1. For me, the worst President was Buchanan. His policies and inaction and public statements directly led to the greatest crisis this country has EVER faced–the Civil War. That trumps WW2, the Great Depression, what we’re in now–anything. And Buchanan not only didn’t handle it well, he fed the fires that led to that brutal, bloody crisis.
So in my mind, when you ask to compare Harding versus Bush #43, you’re really just asking me to compare Presidents in the bottom quartile (if you broke all Presidents into quartiles). And how you’d rank them would be a matter of degree and also what criteria you used. For instance, Harding’s administration had far more corruption and pettiness. Bush #43 will probably go down as getting more things ":wrong": in terms of going out of the way to do something (rather than inheriting something) and making the mistake to act and then acting poorly.
2. I agree that it’s hard to evaluate any President shortly after their term. For instance, while most are likely to say that under Clinton we had economic prosperity and cooperation around the globe, I suspect that over time historians will regard his administration of one of lost opportunities: at a time we were at peace, generated financial surpluses he missed too many opportunities to act in other ways (domestically or internationally). So judging any President within 20 years of their service is always tricky. That said…
I feel that Bush #43 will be judged very harshly for several reasons:
–almost no-one mentions the restrictions on stem cell research. But if we make major leaps in scientific and health due to stem cell work, his administration will get labeled as the one that prevented a cure for Parkinson’s or Althzheimers because of a very narrow partisan perspective (seeking to assuage pro-life supporters who didn’t want any potential rationale to exist for abortion–if aborted fetal tissue could be proven valuable–so thus it was necessary to oppose any kind of use of fetal tissue of any kind).
–Iraq has been argued as almost a reverse domino effect (it becomes democratic and spreads to the rest of the region). I personally suspect that Iraq within 6 years will become an Islamic fundamentalist state that is anti-American. But where that happens or not, the reverse-domino is about as likely as the original domino affect was with Vietnam. So it will likely be regarded as a bad idea based on a bad rationale that was badly executed.
–he inherited a series of policies (regulation is a bad thing, oversight kills business, inspectors should not be obtrusive) that predates his administration but clear things got worse, not better. That contributed greatly to the current economic state we’re now in. It’s not fair to blame it all or even mostly on Bush #43. It really started with Reagan (":govt isn’t the solution, it’s the problem":) and Bush #41 and Clinton both had a hand in it. What I think history will ultimately condemn Bush #43 on economically is (a) the failure of anyone in his administration to better anticipate what happened. This was a system-wide collapse that didn’t happen overnight–it just seemed that way, and (b) totally ineffectual leadership on his part once it happened. Regardless of what you think of the various bailout solutions and actions taken or not taken during his last 6 months, all public and pundit reviews of him clearly indicate that he had no respect, appeared to be going at it half-heartedly and by any standard you use for what makes a good leader, failed at providing a clear voice and rationale for action. He was embarrassing during this period.
–Afghanistan. We had this war won and we threw it back. Various sources (British commander in Afghanistan) with no ties to the Democratic party or no reason to do Bush #43 harm have stated that the US has had no strategy and no direction in Afghanistan since about 2004. NATO troops serving there under our direction have felt rudderless and as a result, NATO allies have had no interest in supporting that war other than rhetorically.
–I believe that time will show Bush #43’s best performance was with the AIDs program in Africa, he’ll get far more credit for that than he currently gets from people.
These are mostly mistakes of inaction and incompetence (doing the wrong thing and then doing it badly). I believe Harding was far more guilt of doing nothing and being corrupt. He supposedly had a number of affairs including a daughter. There was a rumor that he was inducted into the KKK while in the White House. But I would have a hard time saying Harding was the worst President, just one of the most ineffective who ended up with a very corrupt administration (though he apparently didn’t profit from any of it–he just couldn’t control or stop it). So I’d rank Bush #43 as below Harding. But again, in my mind Buchanan is far worse than either of these men. To read accounts of what Buchanan did that rushed the Nation to war is just heart-rending.
Finally, for the person who argued Clinton was worst because of NAFTA (and that’s the cause of our problems now)…1. NAFTA was pushed heavily by Bush #41 and there was bi-partisan support (it would not have passed without heavy Republican support). 2. How does NAFTA explain the lack of stock-market oversight, the number of zero-interest loans on domestic houses? Like Clinton or don’t like him but it’s pretty pathetic to let your partisanship link problems to actions that don’t relate to each other.
Jimmy Carter, without a doubt. The most ineffectual man ever to hold office. For sheer economic damage, I would probably name either Herbert Hoover or Lyndon Johnson. The jury is out on Bush. On the economic front, the country has actually stage a rather strong economic comeback from the body blows of the Internet Bubble in 2000, 9/11, and the Enron corporate scandals. Current economic growth rate sits at 4-5% range which is very strong. That being said, I think we have to wait and see how the Middle East plays out. If the region goes up in flames, then Bush will be at the top of the list. If, however, Bush’s long-term strategy actually pays off (And don’t scoff), then he may go down as an uncommonly good President. And I’m a guy who voted for Gore.
First of all, Warren Harding was not the President when the Great Depression started, it was Herbert Hoover. He was a ":do nothing": President and one of the worse in the country’s history, until GW Bush came around.
In my lifetime, Bush was definitely the worst President there was. The best was JFK.
Herbert Hoover was the President when the Great Depression started. I think he was worse than Bush. I also think Andrew Johnson was worse than Bush. It is hard to rank recent Presidents because sometimes history his kinder to them. Both Reagan and Clinton were judged harshly when they first left office as well, but are now highly regarded.
Harding died several years before the Great Depression began, but his administration was notable for the depth of the corruption of its members. He may not have been personally involved in the corruption, but he provided no leadership to prevent it. His economic policy was basically to leave things as they were, as did his successor Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover after him, early in whose term the Depression hit.
Bush is reviled by those who feel his policies squandered a substantial budget surplus and degraded the nation’s standing in the world.
It’s a choice between incompetence and malfeasance: I would choose George Walker Bush as the President who has done the most harm to his country.
The Great Depression started in 1929. Harding was president from 1921-1923. Harding was unpopular mainly because he choose to appoint his friends to his cabinet, instead of skillful advisors. In result, his friends abused their power to steal and take bribes, in many scandals. Harding also strongly supported policies of protectionism and laissez-faire which led to the Great Depression.
There are several presidents worse than Bush. Because of Bush and the middle east, the U.S. we have faced 6000+ deaths. Because of Johnson and Vietnam, the U.S. we have faced 60,000+ deaths. And because of the 3 pro-slavery presidents in the 1850’s and the secession we have faced 600,000+ deaths.
there have been many presidents worse than W. Bush
Harding, Johnson, Buchanan, Carter and Hoover are a few
Cant imagine anyone being dumber than Bush .
Clinton’s policies are the reason we are in this mess. NAFTA is one of them