Thursday, October 30, 2008


42. James Buchanan 1857-61 (Democratic)
“Failed to prevent the near disintegration of the nation.”
41. Franklin Pierce 1853-57 (Democratic)
Pierce was one of the few presidents to be abandoned by his own party after a single term.
40. Martin Van Buren 1837-41 (Democratic)
"It is hard to place high up on the list those who sanctioned the slaughter of Native Americans."
39. William Harrison 1841 (Whig)
Harrison only lasted 32 days as President so our panel struggled to push him very far up the table.
37T Richard Nixon 1969-74 (Republican)
"Cynical manipulation, bringing the presidency into disrepute and changing the language to the extent that even a whiff of scandal merits the suffix '-gate'."
37T George W. Bush 2001-2009 (Republican)
"Bush Jr. invaded Iraq based on faulty intelligence and then catastrophically mismanaged the war, dragging America's name through the mud."
36 Herbert Hoover 1929-33 (Republican)
"Unwittingly turned the 1929 crash into a global depression which weakened democracies and prepared the ground for the Second World War."
34T Warren Harding 1921-23 (Republican)
"Headed one of the most corrupt administrations."
34T James Garfield 1881 (Republican)
The second shortest Presidency after William Harrison’s 32 days but the panel still prefers him to Nixon.
33. Millard Fillmore 1850-53 (Whig)
"Created a compromise on extending slavery that laid the ground for the US Civil War."
32. Jimmy Carter 1977-81 (Democratic)
"Carter got just about everything wrong."
31. John Tyler 1841-45 (Whig)
Tyler assumed the presidency after a brief constitutional crisis following the sudden death of William Harrison. He had been the Vice President and from this moment, all VPs were a heartbeat away from the White House. He struggled to assert his authority and his presidency was often referred to as “his accidency”.
29T William H. Taft 1909-13 (Republican)
Taft’s Presidency was overshadowed by the imposing figure of Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy had anointed his friend as his successor before changing his mind after Taft’s first term and making an acrimonious but failed challenge to his Republican nomination.
29T Benjamin Harrison 1889-93 (Republican)
For the first time outside of war, Congress was allowed to spend a billion dollars, which was not welcomed by the impoverished electorate.
28. Zachary Taylor 1849-50 (Whig)
Taylor is another man to languish in the rankings due, at least in part, to a brief presidency.
27. Rutherford B. Hayes 1877-81 (Republican)
Hayes’ election was the most controversial of all. He comfortably lost the popular vote but after months of bitter wrangling, he secured the electoral college by a single vote.
26. Calvin Coolidge 1923-29 (Republican)
"Probably the most modest man ever to hold the office. Disliked for his small-minded isolationist tendencies but on balance, it's a shame there were not more like him."
25. Gerald Ford 1974-77 (Republican)
His period in office coincided with a US recession and inflation rates of up to seven per cent, which left him with a large budgetary deficit and little room for maneuver.
24. Andrew Johnson 1865-69 (Democratic, National Union)
"Nearly blew Lincoln's success."
23. Bill Clinton 1993-2001 (Democratic)
"Promised so much, delivered so little and embarrassed everyone."
22. Chester Arthur 1881-85 (Republican)
"His four years in office saw him turn widespread cynicism into grudging respect - the opposite of the usual Presidential experience."


Tom said...

It doesn't seem right to rate guys who were assassinated before they got started. How does one rate WH Harrison?

I've always thought Buchanan takes too much heat. He gets the reputation for doing nothing, but he actually kept the country from having a Civil War. A northern Democrat was just the kind of President that could keep the country from fighting at the time. I'm not sure what history wanted him to do.

I don't understand Fillmore taking the heat either. The Compromise of 1850 prevented the country from splitting in half. Should he have simply attacked South Carolina instead?

GW Bush so low on the list is a good example of why you should never rate anyone for at least 20 years after they leave office. His legacy is the war and that could go any direction.

Nixon was a mess, no doubt. But he was better on Vietnam than Johnson and his opening relations with China is still felt today.

Of 43 Presidents, Taft is the 29th? He invented the 7th inning stretch. He also curbed much of TR's crazy progressivism before Wilson's crazy progressivism. We could have used him in 1912 too.

Coolidge is harmed because he wasn't an activist. Reagan use to say that Coolidge was his model and Reagan's record suggests that Coolidge should be in the top half.

So these guys rate Bush 41 ahead of Clinton. I didn't think I would live long enough to see that one.

E said...

It is remarkable that Buchanan is Pennsylvania's only President. Not much of a record for the Commonwealth to stand on. But without Buchanan, who would Lincoln be? So we should at least give him that.

You are really hated when you are consigned to the bottom 5 before your term is even over. I don't know how a historian worth the name can assign a sitting president a place in history.

I am surprised we don't see Obama in the top five already.

I had a great chicken honey lime burrito yesterday and I put Polk near the top for Tex-Mex.

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