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Comparing the presidents: Who was the worst?

Because I’m a history nerd, I spend some time thinking about (arguably stupid) historical questions, like “Who is the worst president ever?”

Abe Lincoln is widely viewed as the best, and I don’t dispute that. But worst isn’t discussed as much, and there was perhaps no consensus pick, until, perhaps recently.

Before Donald Trump, there were many contenders. Herbert Hoover, because the Depression started on his watch, but Hoover was a good and smart guy, and no serious person actually “blames” him for causing the Depression. Ulysses S. Grant used to be mentioned for the worstness crown, but he, also, has been devised upward. Richard Nixon, a liar and conniver who authorized crimes and further seriously abused his office to cover them up, deserves mention, although Nixon was extremely knowledgeable and smart, and did some good things in office.

My own candidate, until recently, was James Buchanan, who actually had the most glittering of pre-presidential résumés, having served in the House and the Senate, as an ambassador and in the Cabinet before being elected president in 1856. Although a northerner and personally opposed to slavery, Buchanan referred to the issue of slavery as “happily, a matter of but little practical importance.” But during his term the country drifted toward Civil War over the slavery issue and the Civil War actually started (if you consider the secession of South Carolina to be the start of the Civil War), while Buchanan held office. 

But then came Trump, who has lowered the bar for presidential worstness again and again, and may have done so again while I was typing this paragraph.

In a smart essay for The Atlantic, the great James Fallows drifted into the Nixon comparison, and, in supporting the Trump-is-worse argument, came up with this sad, scary but true paragraph:

Agree with him or not—and mostly I didn’t—Richard Nixon was a substantial figure, as were, in their starkly different ways, other members of that year’s cast, from Johnson and Humphrey to Kennedy, McCarthy, and even Wallace. The American choice in the turmoil of 1968 was among competent exponents of different outlooks. There was no chance that the White House would end up in the hands of a clown.

I encourage you to read the whole Fallows piece, but in case you don’t, here are the final two summary paragraphs from it:

When people feel afraid, they want someone who claims to be strong. Law-and-order candidates rise when confidence in regular order ebbs. Richard Nixon had much more going for him in 1968 than Donald Trump does in 2020—most of all that Nixon, as an outsider, could campaign on everything that was wrong with the country, while Trump, as the incumbent, must defend his management and record, which includes record unemployment. But protests and fear of disorder—especially fear of angry black people in disorder—drew people to Nixon as the law-and-order candidate in 1968, and he clearly knew that.

Donald Trump could not put that point as carefully as Nixon, but he must also sense that backlash against disorder, from people he has classified as the other and the enemy, is his main—indeed, his only—electoral hope. Trump promised in that inaugural address that ‘American carnage stops right here, right now.’ Now, crassly, he seems to be trying to make it worse.

But, really, the whole Fallows piece is worth a read. And it’s right here.

Comments (58)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/05/2020 - 11:41 am.

    I thought W. Bush was the worst, but I figured Trump would be even worse and guess what?

    The problem now is that we’re going to need a great president to dig us out the Trump hole… and the only one in the pipeline is Biden who until a few days ago promised not to change anything in any fundamental way.

  2. Submitted by Richard Steuland on 06/05/2020 - 11:58 am.

    I have the distinction of having lived during the reign of among Worst Presidents. Before Trump I believed that George Bush Jr held the dishonor. At that time I felt he really left a dark stain upon the office. How much worse could it be I thought. I apologize for my lack of imagination. Trump is everything Jr Bush was and more. One thing I believe must happen In Bidens term is the full prosecution of the many crimes and criminals of the Trump era. If we don’t hold these thugs accountable it leaves the door open for even more criminal elements.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/05/2020 - 12:20 pm.

    As I recall, the pre-Watergate take on Nixon is that he may have been an especially devious politician – he was called “Tricky Dick” for a reason – but that he was generally within the bounds of the law. In his non-political dealings, I don’t recall anything about his dishonesty.

    Trump is a different story, and he doesn’t have the benefit of that law abiding image. His thievery was well-documented but ignored during his first campaign, but the course of his administration makes it harder to ignore his underlying dishonesty and criminality.

  4. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/05/2020 - 12:35 pm.

    As terrible as Trump is, nothing he has done even comes close to the Iraq invasion under Bush the 2nd.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/05/2020 - 02:15 pm.

      I’d disagree.
      As bad as Bush’s Middle East travesties were, Trump is doing as much damage to us, both through lives lost through Covid, and trashing the economy through total ignorance of economics and governance.
      We can try to help Iraq and Afghanistan recover — who’s going to help US?

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/06/2020 - 09:22 pm.

        Yeah, maybe you are right.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/11/2020 - 11:39 pm.

        “trashing the economy”

        Which until a worldwide pandemic might have been our country’s best ever as far as employing minorities and raising the most boats.

      • Submitted by Ian Morales on 07/01/2020 - 11:38 am.

        I’d also like to point out the fact that people are calling Trump a bad president in the US and a clown. Yet during his presidency the US has been at its “economically” since ever. If that is a bad president to you then I don’t know what a good president would be. I mean, the guy sure talks stupid but id take a person who does great but talks stupid, over a person that talks great but does bad. Another great thing we have seen that democrats could not do is better wages. An increase of 3% a year, im no genius but thats pretty good. Most of the things that people are blaming on Trump are not even things that he or any other president could control. A president is a human, not a god. I’d also like to say that Obama had some good ideas and policies and he wasn’t a bad president either. Unfortunately, some democratic policies or way of thinking are not good for the economy or well being of its citizens, but the same thing could be said about every party running in the elections. Either way I hope everyone stays safe and avoids a bad case of stupid.

  5. Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/05/2020 - 01:22 pm.

    I think at this point we can honorably retire poor Buchanan from contention, a man who now appears merely a hapless nonentity, in charge of a miniscule federal government that quite frankly couldn’t do much other than commit atrocities against Native Americans. Nothing was gonna stop the Slave Power from succession at some point. Same for all the faceless stooges doing the bidding of the plutocrats of the First Gilded Age. All bad but not epically bad.

    The contenders now are the presidents who really had massive power to abuse, misuse and squander. And that means Repub presidents of the nuclear age. And of those, the lead candidates by far are Nixon, Dubya and the monstrous Trump.

    We are a bit hamstrung with Trump, of course, since the record on him is not remotely closed and there’s really no telling how much worse things can get under his “administration”. And the other classic problem is evaluating the records of the three contenders, as they all display different qualities and kinds of “badness”.

    Nixon and Dubya, of course, killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world in our name supposedly “protecting” us in aggressive wars of extreme dubiousness. Trump has shied away from running us into a massive shooting war, even though he has idiotically dragged us into a state of war with Iran, a war both sides are (so far) content to let smolder during the present pandemic.

    Trump’s badness revolves around his destruction of American constitutional norms and governance, as well as his proven abuse of power, for which he was justly impeached. He has destroyed the operation of most departments of the executive, worked to bitterly divide the citizenry and incite a new civil war, and has returned us to the days of a politicized DOJ. He wrecked the fiscal position of the federal government. He forced a democratically illegitimate “conservative” majority onto the Supreme Court and packed the lower courts with conservative activists masquerading as judges. These rightwing courts will make any Dem attempt to dig out of the Trumpian mess impossible absent major reform of the courts as well. (It has to be said that the Gravedigger of Democracy, Mitch McConnell, had a big hand in all this, too).

    With the record still open, I personally must incline toward Dubya for his crimes against humanity, as well as his blithe, unthinking march into the Great Recession, a calamity attributable largely to “conservative” ideology of non-regulation. Trump’s crimes against American democracy are simply not fully realized yet, and will extend for as many decades as Roberts’ Majority operates.

  6. Submitted by Mike Chrun on 06/05/2020 - 01:56 pm.

    Nixon at least was checked by a Congress that had a sense of its responsibility to the Constitution and the nation so I would take him out of the running. The body count and human misery of Shrub’s decisions is still being tallied today and the consequences will continue to play out. One of those consequences has been the resurgence of nationalism in Europe as a response to the the refugees displaced by Shrub’s actions. Over here it was a big factor in the election of Trump and continues to be one of the issues used to cleave our country. So far, Shrub is still in the lead; but who knows how much more damage Trump will do? One hopes he loses in November and then worries about what this vindictive and cruel buffoon will do between the election and the inauguration. So, unfortunately, there’s a very good possibility he’ll at least close the gap, if not surpass Bush Jr. for the title of “Worst Ever” by the time he’s done. We are so screwed.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/05/2020 - 02:16 pm.

    Hopefully we can now retire the Worst President prize as beyond the ability of any human being to match.

  8. Submitted by Brian Simon on 06/05/2020 - 03:01 pm.

    And yet, there are supporters who believe he, Trump, is the best. I just heard, today, this explanation (2nd hand):

    “He was telling me how smart he is – that he graduated first in his class at military Academy at his business school”

    Nervermind that it isn’t true, it also has no bearing on Presidential competence. What’s the thought process here?

  9. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/05/2020 - 11:04 pm.

    Trump is worst with George W. Bush as runner-up. Maybe tied for second place as worst is Rutherford B. Hayes.

    It would probably be hard to find accomplices stoop to Mitch McConnell’s level as one of US history’s worst and most corrupt politicians but Roscoe Conklin, Mark Hannah and any number of politicians from the Grant-Hayes-Arthur era could give him a run for his or maybe “our” money.

  10. Submitted by Cha Prince on 06/06/2020 - 08:29 am.

    I know you won’t publish this because of your censorship—

    George Washington—Abraham Lincoln –Donald Trump are most perversely misunderstood and bludgeoned and slandered Presidents in American history. President Trump is in the company of our greatest American Presidents…
    Just, like the “reporters” you “perversely” misunderstand President Trump—keep doing your good work! It will only make his landslide bigger in 2020! Thank you very much..!
    During the American War of Independence British officials referred to American Colonists as “unwashed, low-class, uncultured, uneducated, uncivilized, dirty, gutter-snipes.” This is exactly the liberal media today sees the Trump voters. Europeans looked down on Americans the same way. This type of slighting and contempt was copied by the neo-Marxist academics and liberals in the Democratic Party and in the left-wing media, like the Seattle Times or the New York Times. That’s precisely the way liberal media sees common American voter─ more precisely the Trump supporter. The British officials refuse to shake hands with Gen George Washington. They insulted, slighted, caricaturized him whenever it was possible ─demeaned him by refusing to call him “General” George Washington─ the father of our nation! The British played foxhunting tunes on their bugles whenever they confronted Americans at battle to insult us and demean us. Liberals today are just as arrogant and imperious. Remember Hillary’s “deplorable?”

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/06/2020 - 08:53 am.

      Interesting analogy. But I see this as a perfect example of a 21st Century conservative imagining that they would have been one of the radical revolutionaries of 1776. You have to remember that revolution was not a status quo reactionary position in colonial America.

      The reality, of course, is that today’s “conservatives” would have been monarchical-supporting Tories, just as disgusted with the American leftists of the day as the British were in this telling.

    • Submitted by Bob Tourdot on 06/06/2020 - 08:59 am.

      In every conflict, one side vilifies the other, (look at WWII and the US/Japanese) so I don’t find your comparison compelling. If you look at the facts reported in the mainstream media, electing an insane game show host as president, was not a good idea.

    • Submitted by Bruce Brothers on 06/06/2020 - 09:13 am.

      And there you have it: Facts are irrelevant when you support a misogynistic racist whose major accomplishment as president is to do away with the emoluments issue so he can enrich himself — although building a wall around the White House has to rank right up there.

    • Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/06/2020 - 09:26 am.

      Your comment is about as rambling as what we hear from Trump everyday. So far, yours is the sole defense. Interesting as you talk about the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Do you really think Trump would not have sided with the British and the South, as now he has taken to innocent protesters? When has he ever served his country rather than his personal interests? And for sure in both wars, his focus would have been profiteering.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/06/2020 - 08:58 pm.

      This comment is a joke, right? I mean you can’t have that many utter falsehoods in comment and be serious.

    • Submitted by James Sandberg on 06/08/2020 - 02:00 pm.

      So he is criticized, probably justifiably, but what has he accomplished? As far as I can tell, he has done nothing for the majority of the people of the United States. He gave a lot of tax breaks to the rich 10%, and let the republicans push through a lot of incompetent Judges, but he promised Health Care better than the ACA, and that he alone could resolve our countries problems. ????? Nothing is what he has accomplished. Nothing.

  11. Submitted by Cha Prince on 06/06/2020 - 08:34 am.

    I know you censor free speech and you won’t publish this—

    Amazing, how history repeats itself. Attacks on Mr. Trump has become historically identical, with how the slave-owning- Democrats fictionalized, villainized, and assaulted the Republican President Abraham Lincoln. The slave-owning- Democrats perversely misunderstood Mr. Lincoln. They made him into a vicious, lawless monster─ violating every letter of the constitution. Mr. Lincoln was moody, brooding, pouting, liar. Yet there are no other instance in American history, for its viciousness other than this current propaganda offensive by our media slandering of a sitting American President. What Mr. Trump is going through, is the same kind of bludgeoning that Mr. Lincoln was subjected to by the slave-owning-Democrats, in his effort to free the black-slaves during the tragic years American Civil war…
    Democrats owned all the 3,900,000 slaves!
    (1860 US Census)

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/06/2020 - 10:12 am.

      Sorry, sir, but this is form over substance, labels over knowledge.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/06/2020 - 11:12 am.

      Of course, the Democratic Party was formed in the 1820’s under Andrew Jackson.

      • Submitted by Cha Prince on 06/06/2020 - 04:09 pm.

        And Andrew Jackson was responsible for the “trail of tears” the dislocation and genocide of Native Americas. And also the German Nazi Party adopted the Andrew Jackson’s Democrtic Party platform for word for word in Nuremberg, thinking of the “final solution” the complete elimination of Jews…So in that it was our Democratic Party provided a plan, platform and the inspiration for the elimination of Jews in the “Holocaust!”

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/06/2020 - 11:44 am.

      And straining to find some common bond–any common bond!-between Honest Abe and, um…Trump[!] is deeply intellectually dishonest. Yes, the Confederate press certainly vilified Lincoln. But he idea that today’s corporate media is “vicious[ly]…slandering”[!] Trump is simply fantasy.

      As is the idea that Lincoln would find a home in today’s Repub party (or endorse today’s “conservative” movement). Such a view is willful ignorance, no matter how much history one has “read”…

  12. Submitted by David Markle on 06/06/2020 - 08:41 am.

    I vote for Trump as all-around worst, although George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq must rank as one of the most consequential worst acts of any President, and worse than any single act by Trump.

  13. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 06/06/2020 - 09:50 am.

    And that’s the end of this discourse because who wants to go back and forth any longer with those who worship blindly at the altar of FOX? It’s like talking to a wall and completely unproductive and a total waste of time. One cannot reason with unreasonable people who refuse to see truth or deal with reality. And as far as Trump goes: what’s that old saying? Something along the lines of you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig….. My greatest fear is that way too many Americans still don’t realise how incredibly corrupt and psychopathic he is and how very many egregious things he has done-!!!! Exposes’ have been written about him since the ’80s; his past is an open book. Why far more folks didn’t do their due diligence before the 2016 election I do not understand. He and Bannon stood on stage at a debate w Hillary and told the world on camera that their shared goal was “to obliterate the federal givernment”!!!! My heart stopped. I thought well thankfully that will end his political advance. But no, instead Putin gave him a huge assist and he landed in the White House where every single day he lies and drives chaos, divisiveness and destruction. And runs up our debt to never before seen levels, while giving ‘tax cuts’ to the wealthy. And alienating and eviscerating everyone in his path. He us an absolute abomination every day, in every way. Wake up, America! Time is running out! We will never survive another 4 years of his tyranny! Indeed a great many people have suffered and died already. So please put great care and thought into selecting the next president. And please ensure that We, the People do indeed make that choice this time. Or coming up on close to 300 years of inspiring democracy will come to a shuddering stop and Trump’s brand of fascism will solidify and take deep root. White Supremacists will call it a win and take over. And then the dream that was America will be lost forever:( Take this seriously! It’s not a possibility, it’s a for sure. And our children and grandchildren deserve far, far better.

    • Submitted by Cha Prince on 06/06/2020 - 11:51 am.

      I hope you post this comment–most of my comments were censored by MinnPost–
      Mr. Trump will carry Minnesota easily in 2020– as we speak
      It’s funny that new Democrats are tearing down Old Democrat monuments calling them ‘Symbols of Oppression!”

      At the time of the American Civil War, the Democrats owned African slaves─ all 3, 980,000 of them, according to 1860 US census. In contrast, President Lincoln was Republican. Fredrick Douglass was a Republican. Harriet Tubman was gun-carrying Republican. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. And the list goes on.
      1. Nearly 50,000 Klan members march though NYC to celebrate President Roosevelt’s reelection.
      2. George Wallace a prominent governor and a presidential candidate ─who famously declared’ “Segregation today, Segregation Tomorrow and Segregation forever!” He was a Democrat.
      3. And Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action were all Republican legislation.
      4. At Sen. Robert Byrd, who was a prominent Democratic leader, and President Bill Clinton who gave the eulogy at his funeral said, “To be a Democrat in those days you have to be a Klan member.” President Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton was in attendance.
      5. The Democrats overwhelmingly were opposed to racial equality ─historically. Our left leaning media and our post-modern neo-Marxist academia, hide these facts, likes to keep American public in the dark, and ignore the historical links between slavery, racism and segregation and the Democratic Party’s policies and politics.
      6. The “Party Switch” is a myth. The news media made up by the left leaning activists and fake-leftist academic professors will never expose these facts. Only 2 old Democrats switched Parties. Strom Thurmond and Jessy Helms, that’s all.

      • Submitted by David Markle on 06/06/2020 - 05:15 pm.

        Much of what you say is certainly true, and yet the meaning of a label can expire or even reverse over time.

        Woodrow Wilson, a Virginian and Democrat, courted the votes of black citizens. Then he took action against “racial” equality in the civil service. Booker T. Washington chided him, but Wilson responded that things would actually be better that way.

        Fact was that Wilson needed those black and Southern votes to win the election and to pass important progressive legislation in Congress although it’s hard to excuse the apparent hypocrisy of such an intellectual leader.

        Wilson’s most significant protege was Franklin Roosevelt, who got the votes of the socially conservative South, the “Solid South,” by moving the country ahead during the Great Depression and WWII. His wife probably did more for civil rights than he.

        While Harry Truman made a little progress for civil rights, as did Eisenhower, it was left to Lyndon Johnson to match action to ideals. He realized that southern whites would abandon the Democratic Party, and that is what happened.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/06/2020 - 09:20 pm.

          Actually, almost everything he says is false. For example, the idea that the party switch was a myth is objectively false. Literally hundreds of elected southern Democrats switched to the Republican party during the civil rights era. There may have only been a couple of sitting U.S. senators (although a number of Republicans elected later started off as Democrats) but there was a widespread exodus of the, lets say, less racially enlightened , from the Democratic party to the Republican.

          But facts don’t matter here. Even the points that are not objectively false are grossly misleading. Its this right-wing fantasy world where its not Trump’s overt racism over the last four decades, but what a very different Democratic party did (actually, mostly didn’t do whats on this list) 50 to 100 years ago.

          • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/07/2020 - 08:08 am.

            I find the idea that “neo-Marxist academia hide[s] these facts, likes to keep the American public in the dark” about the history of the Democratic party the most hilarious (and the most unhinged).

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/08/2020 - 01:49 pm.

              I was an academic. While I read my Marx (both Carlo and Groucho) as well as Bakunin, Kropotkin et. al., I certainly did not agree with them, any more than most psychologists (my field) today agree with Freud. Both are primarily of historical interest.
              I don’t recall knowing any Marxist academics, although there may have been a few of them lurking in poli sci departments.
              Unless, of course, you choose to label anyone to the left of Genghis Khan a Marxist.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/06/2020 - 10:49 pm.

        “It’s funny that new Democrats are tearing down Old Democrat monuments calling them ‘Symbols of Oppression!” ”
        Why is that “funny”? Aren’t they “symbols of oppression”?

        • Submitted by Cha Prince on 06/07/2020 - 11:21 am.

          African Americans are largely victims of Liberal left Wing, Democratic Party Plantation politics.
          The Democrtic Party has systematically destroyed Black American families, driving the father away and keeping mothers single and keeping them permanently in a The Democratic Party’s urban destressed political Plantations, where illegal migrants, refugees are (Nancy Pelosi has put in $350 Million for refuge importation in Emergency Stimulus Bill) and keep them in these plantations, voting Democrats—like right here, in the twin cities, permanently supported by “giveaway for free” politics ─strip away incentives to grow, develop, build, create, save and invest and triumph over hardship. Pre-empt human potential to form and built an independent, successful life for yourself and your children. And become and addict for programs provided with taxpayer money. Stay permanently poor, dysfunctional, sick, feel always oppressed, discriminated against. And vote Democratic every election…
          This is what the Democrats do, like in the days of slavery, do with African Americans, poor Hispanics, migrants, refugees… for these people who vote Democratic their problems, depravation and suffering don’t go away…

          That’s how the corrupt Democrat Elite stay in power,

          • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/07/2020 - 12:17 pm.

            Man, you have really taken the bait hook, line and sinker!

          • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/07/2020 - 12:44 pm.

            “. . . largely victims of Liberal left Wing Democratic Party Plantation politics” . . . . the corrupt Democrat Elite stay in power”, “The Democratic Party’s urban destressed (sic) political Plantations,” , etc. etc.

            I think Pat Terry’s comment from last evening pretty well shoots down all your posts as being out of a “right-wing fantasy world where its not Trump’s overt racism over the last four decades, but what a very different Democratic party did (actually, mostly didn’t do whats on this list) 50 to 100 years ago.” To his supporters, Trump’s more overt racism has legitimized and made socially acceptable (to conservatives) what had been concealed racism for forty years that has really never gone away. Until 1969, most of the political leadership was in fact part of the Democratic Party and its “Dixiecrat wing.” That all changed when the formerly white Democratic electorate defected to the lure of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”. Which is why the Southern States are represented today almost exclusively by reactionary, racist white Republicans. Your “plantation politics” better describes today’s white Republican Party which abandoned being “Lincoln’s Party” probably in 1876 when it abandoned the former black slaves of the South to the Southern Democrats and the Ku Klux Klan to keep the Presidency (see the link in my earlier comments above). The present white Republican party under its KKK-sympathetic leader Trump has become everything the Party of Lincoln was against and fought a bloody civil war to end.

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/07/2020 - 10:11 pm.

            Hey, at least he seems to have quit railing against the terrible “censorship” he expected to encounter…

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/08/2020 - 09:08 am.

            And it’s not racist at all to assume that African Americans are too blinded by “free stuff” to see where their true interests lie, and to ascertain that their real protectors are in the party of Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott, and Donald Trump.

            The struggle against reality continues.

        • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 06/08/2020 - 09:28 am.

          They’re not “old Democratic” monuments. In nearly every case, they’re not-so-old United Daughters of the Confederacy monuments. The UDC was founded in 1894 SPECIFICALLY to organize and fund the construction of such monuments.

        • Submitted by joe zink on 06/29/2020 - 11:05 pm.

          Excellent, Jon!

      • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 06/08/2020 - 09:09 am.

        Regarding your comments, and your six points, a little clarification is in order. Your claims are disingenuous at best, if not downright dishonest.

        First of all, during the American Civil War, Democrats did not own slaves. PEOPLE owned slaves – and some of those people were Democrats. Some were so-called Bourbon Democrats, some were Redeemers, some were Whigs, and some were Know-Nothings. But most people were unaffiliated, because party affiliation, as we know it today, did not yet exist.

        1. There was NO 50,000-member KKK march in New York City in 1932. Period. There was, however, a 50,000-member march in Washington DC in August, 1925. It did not celebrate then-president Calvin Coolidge, the late former president Warren Harding, future president Herbert Hoover, all of whom were Republicans, nor was it in tribute to the Republican Party, which controlled both houses of Congress.

        2. George Wallace ran for, and was elected, Governor of Alabama as a Democrat. And why? Political expediency. He wanted to be elected Governor, and the only way he could do that, at the time, was to run as a Democrat. In 1968, he ran for president, NOT as a Democrat, but as the candidate for the American Independent Party. And why? Again, political expediency! He wanted to be elected President, and the only way he could do that, at the time, was to NOT run as a Democrat.

        3. The Civil Rights Act (of 1957, 1960, and 1964) and the Voting Rights Act (of 1965) were NOT Republican legislation. All four were passed, with broad bipartisan support and with majority approval by BOTH parties, in BOTH Democrat-controlled houses of Congress, in all four years. Affirmative Action is a set of policies and laws, and not a single piece of legislation, so neither party can legitimately take credit for it.

        4. Sen. Robert Byrd, who died in 2010, was eulogized by former President Bill Clinton. A eulogy is not a testimonial; therefore, the quote, taken out of context (and misquoted, by the way) is presumptuous, whether or not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton were at the funeral.

        5. The first sentence is inaccurate and presumptuous, but the qualifying adverb “historically” gives it a thin veneer of credibility. However, that veneer doesn’t hide the fact that the second sentence is not factual at all.

        6. Here, your specious argument completely breaks down; all three sentences are nothing more than drivel.

      • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 06/08/2020 - 09:55 am.

        And, incidentally, Donald Trump will NOT carry Minnesota easily in 2020 – nor even at all. The number of Democrats and true independents, combined, is much higher than the number of Republicans in this state. And while it’s reasonable to assume that the vast majority of Republicans will vote for Trump, it’s equally reasonable to assume that the vast majority of Democrats will vote against him……and that a sizable number of independents will follow suit. Want proof? Look no further than the results of the 2018 election, in which Republicans lost all six statewide races by considerable margins (five by double-digits) as well as 35 seats in the Minnesota House. The latter was, I might add, the largest partisan “flip” in the 44 years since the MN House resumed party-specific Legislative races in 1974.

  14. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/07/2020 - 12:40 pm.

    First, we must note that context shifts the standard: James Buchanan may have been a terrible president, but at a time when bad U.S. presidenting had a larger margin of error for our society and the world. With humanity now facing several existential crises together – including climate change, consolidation of wealth in the very few, the authoritarian insurgency and the loss of the concept of collective knowledge (the last three of course being related) – the consequences of bad presidenting are much greater.

    Even recognizing that, though, if the general run of presidents is like the earth circling the sun, then Bush 43 may have been Pluto, but Trump is Alpha Centauri. The reason for this is as BK notes above: other bad presidents may have pursued agendas opposed to the public welfare, and they may have been irresolute or of poor judgment or corrupt, but until Trump they have purported to operate within and affirm the framework of norms and institutions that defines a democratic society. This framework is centuries in the building, at the cost of much economic and environmental waste and human suffering, and has remained a deeply fragile work in progress. Trump – more accurately those to whom he has given power and license – has spent every day of his presidency dismantling every one of these norms and institutions – none too large or small to merit destruction. And with so little of the social and ecological commons left to fund a rebuilding, it’s very unclear that the democratic experiment can recover.

    That said, it’s not quite right to ask “who is the worst president?” It’s more sound to ask “which presidential vote of the American people was the worst?” We don’t blame Caligula’s horse for seating itself in the Roman senate. Trump’s campaign slogan basically was “make a mockery of self-government, vote for me!” It wasn’t his fault that enough Americans did so to make it happen.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/09/2020 - 09:30 am.

      “Trump’s campaign slogan basically was ‘make a mockery of self-government, vote for me!'”

      One of your greatest lines!

  15. Submitted by Mark Gruben on 06/08/2020 - 07:21 am.

    There’s really no objective way to select a Worst-Ever President, because, as my old high school science teacher used to say, “you’re comparing cows’ tails to ax handles.” However, if the question becomes one of competence at the skills that, for better or worse, we’ve come to associate with the Presidency: integrity, personal honesty, diplomacy, governance, empathy, a sense of duty, and being a “uniter” for the common good. By those standards, Donald Trump is easily the least competent president in US history. He has absolutely no integrity or personal honesty, his diplomatic skills and knowledge of governance are virtually non-existent, he has no empathy nor sense of duty whatsoever – and he made it clear on Inauguration Day, and has reminded us countless times since, that he had no intention of being president for ALL Americans – just for those Republicans who promised to remain loyal to him. I had hoped (and I honestly believed) that, over time, he would become, if not a great president, at least a competent one. Time and again, my hopes have been dashed, and I have long since stopped believing that he’ll ever demonstrate competence. Under the circumstances, it would be easy to write him off as a buffoon, a mistake, an aberration, or a national joke. Trump is all of these things, and more; there’s nothing funny about this particular joke. Reelecting him is not going to make him a better president……and it will certainly not make America a better country.

  16. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/08/2020 - 09:22 am.

    Lists of “best” and “worst” Presidents should be limited to Presidents who left office at least 30 years before the list is compiled. That will give partisan passions time to cool, and a more sober, even-handed judgment of their time in office can be had.

    That said, I doubt there is any question that Trump will be remembered by future generations as a failure. His erratic foreign policy, his efforts to sow divisiveness among Americans, and his complete ignorance of government may even put him below Buchanan. The reputations of other “bad” presidents have something to redeem them. Fillmore is justly vilified for the Compromise of 1850, but he is praised for his foreign policy. Grant enabled a horribly corrupt government, but did great work (later undone) on civil rights in the South.

    What will redeem Trump? Such prosperity as America has enjoyed is just a continuation of the growth under the Obama presidency, and that prosperity has also been shown to be fragile. His foreign policy is a very bad joke. He has the temperament of a toddler, not a President, and his sole talent seems to be playing to the sentiments of crowds of supporters.

    History will not be kind.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/10/2020 - 12:40 pm.

      Based on results: going in to office and going out of office, things are not good for GWB. But a little folksy charm, some ability at a depreciating humor and he has improved his prospects in the intervening years. Trump will keep the deepest core of his base and everyone else will jump off the good ship Trump, never to return: he is devoid of any desirable personality characteristics and historical fact will not be kind on performance in office.

  17. Submitted by Jeff Alerex on 06/08/2020 - 07:24 pm.

    Talk about a softball even snowflakes could hit.

  18. Submitted by calvin young on 06/27/2020 - 08:12 am.

    WE the people bear some responsibility for how our presidents perform. So is it pertinent that we ask how are we as the current generation “best or worst”. After all we the people have collectively have a greater impact than all the presidents combined. It is the we that select them. This current generation selected trump. Why. A desire by trumo voters to reimpose white supremacy? Inaction by so many of us to vote and even more to get involved in governing ourselves. Direct actions by republican lawmakers to spread lies and misinformation under the guise of “conservatism” and “patriotism” and “flagism” and “Americanism”. We need what soldiers on the battlefield have, “togetherism” A sense to look out for and protect each other in the face of a fierce enemy. Who is the enemy? Greed and ruthless men who manage in every country to amass staggering amounts of wealth and power that they use simply to gather more of the same. Worse, we give them this power because we the people want the same thing, so w tolerate these traits, even idolize these traits, leading not to our individual or collective glory, but our demise As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The solution? We must learn to o what is best for ourselves AND OTHERS in every action we take. We must seek the happiness of ourselves AND OTHERS. If we adopt this as a governing principle, things can and will get better.

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