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Posts tagged ‘James Buchanan’

Worst US presidents?

At Lawyers, Guns, & Money there is an interesting discussion of who the worst American president is. As you might expect, the usual suspects are named the worst.

What about my view? As a Canadian I am tempted to choose Madison. Frankly, invading your country* is an excellent way to get anyone to hate you. But nevertheless, other considerations must come into play, and these compel me to conclude that Madison is certainly not the worst.

I know this might be an unpopular position, but I retain my view that George W. Bush is not the worst president. As a matter of fact, it might be argued that it is too early to rate him. Consider Truman. When he left office, he was absolutely hated. Since then, he has become more and more highly ranked amongst historians. The distance of time allows people to move beyond partisanship and get a more objective look, while the president’s legacy gets time to develop and become fully apparent. For these reasons, one could make the case that it is too early to rate Bush (and Clinton and Obama, at least).

I think James Buchanan was the worst US president. Bush, whose achievements include an expansion of the surveillance state, statist reactionaries on SCOTUS, blowing the budget on deficits, the rise of torture, creeping theocracy, the Iraq War, and having a really smooth outgoing presidential transition, at least kept the goddamn country together. Buchanan, on the other hand, came in as President of the United States of America, and left as President of the Untied States of America. You can’t do worse than that.

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Bush is not the worst president

The Majority Leader in the United States Senate, Harry Reid, has just called George W. Bush “…the worst president the we’ve [the United States] ever had.” I know this might be a divisive view, but I cannot consider George W. Bush the worst President of the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s done a bad job and I disagree with many of his policies, even though it’s possible that the passage of time will improve his legacy. Yet, I must hold that someone else was the worst President of the United States.

That person is James Buchanan. Why? He failed to do an adequate job to stop secession and avert the American Civil War. For all of his failings, George W. Bush came in, and will leave as, President of the United States of America. Buchanan did not. That’s why Bush is not the worst.

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