Ranking the Presidents;Because there’s nothing else to do on a freezing night in Michigan

I realize that I rarely make outlandish claims on Facebook, but when I do, I don’t mind when people call me out.  So when I claimed that Ronald Reagan was “clearly the second worst President since 1900” it was not surprising that some folks wanted to know how I could say that.  People who know me recognize that I always use the “second best”, “second worst”, or “second craziest” adjectives to slightly rub the edge off my latest hyperbole.   But rather than just say that I was being flippant, I thought it would be fun to see how accurate that statement was.   So here goes:

Worst to best:

George W. Bush – two outlandish wars, one of which was clearly illegal.  Torture should have landed him in prison.  Wrecked economy.  Lowered US prestige in the world to an all-time low.

Ronald Reagan – wrecked economy.  Illegal war in Grenada.  Illegal mining of Managua.  Iran-Contra scandal.

Richard Nixon – prolonged Vietnam war.  Illegal bombing of Cambodia.  Watergate.  Also opened doors with China.

Herbert Hoover – ignored economic warnings of what was to come. Kept US isolated and thus helped make WWII more inevitable.  Smart guy who understood public works projects as necessary for building the infrastructure…but didn’t go far enough.

Calvin Coolidge-Warren G Harding – both avoided many opportunities to help the economy and to slow the factors that led to WWII.

Gerald Ford – deal with the devil in pardoning Nixon.  Set the economy on the road to inflationary ruin.

Harry Truman – atomic bombs and  horrible record on  labor can’t be ignored, but his standing down MacArthur probably saved millions of lives.

George HW Bush – couldn’t break from Reagan even when he knew Reagan was a fraud.  Illegal invasion of Panama.

William Howard Taft – continued progressive programs but his spat with Teddy got in the way of true progress.

John Kennedy – slow on race, wrong on Cuba, wrong on Vietnam but pushing the space race, the Peace Corp, and inspiring an entire generation to action were real positives.  Who knows what might have been if he hadn’t been killed and if that generation didn’t turn on their country just 20 years later.

Jimmy Carter – wasn’t able to handle his haters in the way that Clinton could, but his focus on human rights in foreign policy restored respect for our country around the globe.    Couldn’t fix the Nixon/Ford economic disaster.

Lyndon Johnson – Vietnam is a huge problem, but his work on civil rights was legendary.

Woodrow Wilson – bad on race and too slow on women, but had the only plan to prevent WWII, the colonial wars and the Middle East mess we have today.  But he was ignored.

Barack Obama – domestic surveillance mars a solid record in foreign policy and on the economy.  The ACA is far short of the health care solution in the US, but it’s a start.

Dwight Eisenhower – not strong enough on race, but gave the most important and most ignored speech in the modern era when he warned us about the military-industrial complex.

Bill Clinton – his unacceptable lying about his infidelities leaves an indelible scar, but his understanding of how to play the middle very well.  Best economic president of our time.   Slow to help in Bosnia.

Franklin Roosevelt – Japanese internment leaves an indelible scar, but for a rich guy, he really understood the importance of the middle class.  He also realized no society can be called great if the least among us have no chance to survive/succeed.

Teddy Roosevelt – only his ego prevented him from a second full term.  The true progressive in fighting the trusts, establishing national parks, protecting our food and drugs.

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2 Comments on “Ranking the Presidents;Because there’s nothing else to do on a freezing night in Michigan”

  1. Richard Scott February 3, 2015 at 7:16 am #

    Nice pithy review.
    Seems Wes things are trying to rank by good and bad. All have issues.

  2. Richard Scott February 3, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    I do posture a s a TRProgressive.

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