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  • Who was the worst US president.

    Whenever I see Obama or Bush Jr listed as the worst president in US history I have to wonder if people even know who the former presidents were.

    Compared to say Grant, Obama and Bush Jr are average presidents at the worst. Grant pretty much was favor for hire and his scandals over graft are almost unmatched. Then you have say Fillmore who signed the fugitive slave act, making it basically illegal to be black and setting the stage for the civil war. Of course you also have Pierce who saw the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed.

    My pick has to be Buchanan though. During his term the nation tore itself into two. No other president's actions lead to such bloodshed. From the Dred Scott case to his final speech before congress Buchanan, he witnessed the US descend into chaos that would end with the costliest war the US ever fought.
    Flowers gathered in the morning,
    Afternoon they blossom on,
    Still are withered by the evening:
    You can be me when I'm gone.

  • #2
    Re: Who was the worst US president.

    I'm far from an authority on presidential history. I certainly do not have the breadth of knowledge to do a credible and comprehensive list. Admittedly, most presidents prior to the twentieth century kinda fell to my intellectual peripheral after history classes in secondary school ended. Therefore, full disclosure, my list will include mostly twentieth century presidents, as those are the ones I am most familiar with.
    1. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953): He tops my list for dropping two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even outside of the almost instantaneous deaths of thousands (mostly civilian), there is the near half century afterwards of deaths associated with those bombings. Also, Truman oversaw the Korean War, which seems to have fallen through the cracks of history. I find that peculiar given the death toll on all sides. Not to mention, that was an undeclared war.
    2. Abraham Lincoln (1860-1865): Some, I'm sure, will oppose this one quite vehemently. However, he presided over the worst conflict in American history, as well as was an awful president on the civil liberties front (going after civilians, his political opponents and newspapermen in the Northern states).
    3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945): He exacerbated the Great Depression and instituted economic policies and institutions which are still with us today that are doing harm to the economy. Lincoln contributed to this notion of a strong central-state and FDR took that notion and greatly expanded it to include an enormous bureaucratic government domestically and abroad. Then there is the obvious point about Japanese, Italian and German interment during World War II. Moreover, FDR's attempt to expand the Supreme Court are dubious and a mark against his presidency as well. Hell, there was wiretapping going on, even back then during the War.
    4. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921): Dude's a nightmare for libertarians. He oversaw the Federal Reserve, the income tax, brought us into World War 1 to "make the world safe for democracy" and was awful on civil liberties, which the latter seems to be a common theme thus far.
    5. George W. Bush (2001-2009): Where do I begin? He essentially built this awful "War on Terrorism" apparatus that included Abu Ghraib/torture, rendition, the negation of civil liberties, wiretapping, a perpetual global war, etc. Oh, and he invaded a country (Iraq) unnecessarily resulting in thousands of dead Iraqis, Americans and the like, as well as costing a shitload of monies. There's FEMA and Hurricane Katrina, Medicaid Part D, No Child Left Behind, bailing out banks, etc., as well. Additionally, there's the Plame leak that's awful.
    6. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969): He didn't start Vietnam, but he oversaw the escalation of it, as well as the draft. I also find his "Great Society" to be right there with the Neal Deal as further government intrusion into the economy.
    7. Richard Nixon (1969-1973): Elected to end the Vietnam War, but instead continues it and bombs the shit out of Cambodia on top of that. Then there's Watergate and general corruptness. Plus, the War on Drugs begins with him, I believe.

    After that, I'd probably have Ronald Reagan (mostly for Iran-Contra) and Barack Obama (for continuing/escalating the "War on Terrorism" apparatus that Bush began, continuing the bailouts, and not prosecuting anyone in the Bush administration).

    For comparison sakes, this link here has the top listed presidents and the bottom listed presidents in U.S. history.

    I get a kick of the fact that Lincoln and FDR are in the top three for "best" while they are in the top three for "worst" on my list. Likewise, Truman and Wilson also make an appearance in the top ten.

    And just for fun, I'd say Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) is my favorite president of the twentieth century, if I had to pick one.

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    • #3
      Re: Who was the worst US president.

      1. James Buchanan
      2. Franklin Pierce
      3. Andrew Johnson
      4. Warren G. Harding
      5. Rutherford B. Hayes.

      Obama and Bush II aren't anywhere near the top 5. As Engel has pointed out their have been some REALLY bad presidents in this nation's history.


      Not to knock your list Big Red, but you do realize there were US Presidents before the 20th Century don't you? None of those guys is anywhere near as bad as the guys on my list.
      Last edited by The Real LT; 05-24-2013, 02:17 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Who was the worst US president.

        Originally posted by The Real LT View Post
        1. James Buchanan
        2. Franklin Pierce
        3. Andrew Johnson
        4. Warren G. Harding
        5. Rutherford B. Hayes.

        Obama and Bush II aren't anywhere near the top 5. As Engel as pointed out their have been some REALLY bad presidents in thius nation's history.


        Not to knock your list Big Red, but you do realize there were US Presidents before the 20th Century don't you? None of those guys is anywhere near as bad as the guys on my list.
        I prefaced my post with the admission that I'm not too familiar with them in specificity. I do recognize that most scholarly and academic lists feature those usual names -- and maybe rightfully so. However, I would contend, that while things like supporting slavery, corruption and all that is obviously noteworthy as marks against a president, immoral and so forth; I have a hard time placing anything above dropping two nukes on two cities.

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        • #5
          Re: Who was the worst US president.

          Personally I don't think Truman dropping those bombs was a bad thing. It was that or invade the Japanese mainland, which would have meant the death of FAR more US military personel.

          Plus, for all the ink Hiroshima and Nagasaki got, the bombing campaign of Tokyo and other Japanese cities was far more brutal. Not to mention the bombing of Dresden in Germany.

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          • #6
            Re: Who was the worst US president.

            Harding gets a crap rep I think. I think mostly people list him near last because historians will never forgive his wife for burning his presidential papers.
            Flowers gathered in the morning,
            Afternoon they blossom on,
            Still are withered by the evening:
            You can be me when I'm gone.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Who was the worst US president.

              Originally posted by Engel View Post
              Harding gets a crap rep I think. I think mostly people list him near last because historians will never forgive his wife for burning his presidential papers.

              Not to mention the sheer amount of corruption in his administration. Much like Grant and Hayes before him, he surrounded himself with absolute scoundrels.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Who was the worst US president.

                Originally posted by The Real LT View Post
                Personally I don't think Truman dropping those bombs was a bad thing. It was that or invade the Japanese mainland, which would have meant the death of FAR more US military personel.

                Plus, for all the ink Hiroshima and Nagasaki got, the bombing campaign of Tokyo and other Japanese cities was far more brutal. Not to mention the bombing of Dresden in Germany.
                Agreed that the Tokyo/Dresden firebombings were atrocious and brutal, but I'm not sure what that means in relation to the nukes dropping on Hiroshima/Nagasaki, as they're both bad.

                Also, the utilitarian justification for dropping the bombs does not do it for me. For one, I'm not quite sure how much truth is in the claims that 1.) an invasion was necessary and 2.) that if we did invade the number, which varies in magnitude, of military personnel killed would have been as such.

                If you apply that cost-benefit analysis as a standard in warfare conduct, then that allows for really any atrocity to be committed if it "saves lives."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Who was the worst US president.

                  Originally posted by The Real LT View Post
                  Not to mention the sheer amount of corruption in his administration. Much like Grant and Hayes before him, he surrounded himself with absolute scoundrels.
                  But that would rate him with the pack and not above and beyond as many, many places name him the worst US president.
                  Flowers gathered in the morning,
                  Afternoon they blossom on,
                  Still are withered by the evening:
                  You can be me when I'm gone.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Who was the worst US president.

                    Generally the worst presidents are considered to be the those preceding Lincoln (with the worst being Buchanan) and those who followed him (during Reconstruction). No president in the 20th century can even touch the ineptitude, corruption, and elitism of the presidents from that era. Its an entirely different moral paradigm (post Theodore Roosevelt, I would say).

                    BigRed, your list looks like a parody or something
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                    • #11
                      Re: Who was the worst US president.

                      I can't tell you the worst US president. I know Jefferson was the greatest American to ever live and the best president we could ever have hoped to have. Outside of that, my bottom tier would look a lot like BigRed's, including Lincoln. Respect him as a man but as an American and a leader he made the worst "bad call" he could have possibly made. Of course we're taught it was the right call, because that's what the winning side thought.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Who was the worst US president.

                        1. George W. - Patriot Act, the "War on Terror", Katrina - I'm sorry, but any list without George W. Bush in the top 5 is criminally underestimating how awful an effect that man had on not only the country, but politics altogether.

                        2. Truman - The dropping of the nuclear bomb is a stain on the "American Dream" that still hasn't been washed away. It's the one historical event that put everything I was taught about America as a child into conflict and made me realize that we weren't that great of a country after all.

                        3. Woodrow Wilson - Although remorseful for his decision, Wilson is to thank for the wonderful Federal Reserve Bank that we're still dealing with to this day, privatizing America's wealth and leaving us helpless at the feet of an elite banking cartel.

                        4. FDR - Reportedly ignored warnings from other countries about the Japanese deploying bombers en-route to Pearl Harbor in what I can only assume was a ploy to earn the country more money from the ensuing war in order to stabilize the weak economy post-Great Depression. Instituted interment camps for the Japanese, and we were supposed to be a more moral state than Germany, apparently...

                        5. Reagan - Took Nixon's model for the "War on Drugs" and fed it steroids, making incredibly harsh sentences for first-time offenders commonplace. Instituted "Reaganomics" which was a catchy way of saying "to hell with poor people of color."

                        6. Nixon - Started the War on Drugs, though his efforts to treat it from the viewpoint of a social health problem rather than a criminal one were far ahead of their time. Unfortunately, once election time came, Dick had to radicalize these views for a hungry populace that wanted stiff sentences and overall law and order. Responsible for the destruction of Cambodia, Watergate and... owning a dog named Checkers.

                        7. Grant - One of the dirtiest players to ever play the game. Have the suspicion that he didn't really even care to be President in the first place. Ripe in corruption with a cabinet that was almost more corrupt than he, the guy seemed more concerned about being wealthy and drinking bourbon than running the oval office.


                        Honorable mentions: George H.W. Bush, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, Barack Obama, Lyndon B. Johnson

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                        • #13
                          Re: Who was the worst US president.

                          That fat guy. I think it was Taft. I always see caricatures of him in a bathtub. I guess I'd pick him just because he is always depicted as a joke.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Who was the worst US president.

                            Originally posted by BigRed View Post
                            Agreed that the Tokyo/Dresden firebombings were atrocious and brutal, but I'm not sure what that means in relation to the nukes dropping on Hiroshima/Nagasaki, as they're both bad.
                            It's relevent because in order to force a Japanese surrender without invading would have meant a similar bombing campaign on a greater scale. This would have cost EVEN MORE Japanese lives.
                            Originally posted by Big Red View Post
                            Also, the utilitarian justification for dropping the bombs does not do it for me. For one, I'm not quite sure how much truth is in the claims that 1.) an invasion was necessary and 2.) that if we did invade the number, which varies in magnitude, of military personnel killed would have been as such.
                            The only sure thing we have to go on were the casuaties sustained in capturing the surrouding islands of Japan and the fronts in Southeast Asia, and the casualties of those battles were horrendous. The Japanese made us pay for every square inch of land we took from them, and there is no reason to have believed they would have done any different in Japan.

                            With all due respect to the great generals who argued against the A-bomb dropping (Most notable Eisenhower, McArthur and Nimitz) they weren't the ones would have had to bleed the ground red to take those territories, THEIR MEN would have been.
                            If you apply that cost-benefit analysis as a standard in warfare conduct, then that allows for really any atrocity to be committed if it "saves lives."
                            This may sound a little cold-blooded on my part, but as far as I'm concerned, when the country goes to war the lives of our soldiers should come before the lives of our enemies every damn time, especially in a war the nature of WWII.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Who was the worst US president.

                              Originally posted by BigRed View Post
                              I'm far from an authority on presidential history. I certainly do not have the breadth of knowledge to do a credible and comprehensive list. Admittedly, most presidents prior to the twentieth century kinda fell to my intellectual peripheral after history classes in secondary school ended. Therefore, full disclosure, my list will include mostly twentieth century presidents, as those are the ones I am most familiar with.
                              1. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953): He tops my list for dropping two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even outside of the almost instantaneous deaths of thousands (mostly civilian), there is the near half century afterwards of deaths associated with those bombings. Also, Truman oversaw the Korean War, which seems to have fallen through the cracks of history. I find that peculiar given the death toll on all sides. Not to mention, that was an undeclared war.
                              2. Abraham Lincoln (1860-1865): Some, I'm sure, will oppose this one quite vehemently. However, he presided over the worst conflict in American history, as well as was an awful president on the civil liberties front (going after civilians, his political opponents and newspapermen in the Northern states).
                              3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945): He exacerbated the Great Depression and instituted economic policies and institutions which are still with us today that are doing harm to the economy. Lincoln contributed to this notion of a strong central-state and FDR took that notion and greatly expanded it to include an enormous bureaucratic government domestically and abroad. Then there is the obvious point about Japanese, Italian and German interment during World War II. Moreover, FDR's attempt to expand the Supreme Court are dubious and a mark against his presidency as well. Hell, there was wiretapping going on, even back then during the War.
                              4. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921): Dude's a nightmare for libertarians. He oversaw the Federal Reserve, the income tax, brought us into World War 1 to "make the world safe for democracy" and was awful on civil liberties, which the latter seems to be a common theme thus far.
                              5. George W. Bush (2001-2009): Where do I begin? He essentially built this awful "War on Terrorism" apparatus that included Abu Ghraib/torture, rendition, the negation of civil liberties, wiretapping, a perpetual global war, etc. Oh, and he invaded a country (Iraq) unnecessarily resulting in thousands of dead Iraqis, Americans and the like, as well as costing a shitload of monies. There's FEMA and Hurricane Katrina, Medicaid Part D, No Child Left Behind, bailing out banks, etc., as well. Additionally, there's the Plame leak that's awful.
                              6. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969): He didn't start Vietnam, but he oversaw the escalation of it, as well as the draft. I also find his "Great Society" to be right there with the Neal Deal as further government intrusion into the economy.
                              7. Richard Nixon (1969-1973): Elected to end the Vietnam War, but instead continues it and bombs the shit out of Cambodia on top of that. Then there's Watergate and general corruptness. Plus, the War on Drugs begins with him, I believe.

                              After that, I'd probably have Ronald Reagan (mostly for Iran-Contra) and Barack Obama (for continuing/escalating the "War on Terrorism" apparatus that Bush began, continuing the bailouts, and not prosecuting anyone in the Bush administration).

                              For comparison sakes, this link here has the top listed presidents and the bottom listed presidents in U.S. history.

                              I get a kick of the fact that Lincoln and FDR are in the top three for "best" while they are in the top three for "worst" on my list. Likewise, Truman and Wilson also make an appearance in the top ten.

                              And just for fun, I'd say Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) is my favorite president of the twentieth century, if I had to pick one.
                              Not a single mention for Herbert Hoover with the whole Great Depression running rampant during his time at presidency? Granted no president would have stopped what had happened and all but it did fall under his presidency.
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