Great Presidents are those who lead us through our most troubled times. Always mentioned are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln; often mentioned is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Indeed, these three saw us through bad times and left us better: After Washington, we were a nation. After Lincoln, we were one nation again and had eliminated the "peculiar institution" of slavery. After FDR, we were out of our worst financial crisis and victors in one of history's biggest wars.
If this is what great presidents do, what about their counterparts? The worst presidents? I would say that the worst presidents would be those who came into office when things were good and left us worse off. By this measure, George W. Bush has few peers, if any.
George W. Bush entered office with peace, prosperity and a surplus
Yes. All three. George W. Bush came into office in January, 2001. At that time the United States was not in any wars. At that time, unemployment was about 4 percent. The Dow was at 10,578 (having risen from 3241 at the beginning of Clinton's term, eight years earlier), and we had a surplus (in 2000, the surplus was $236 billion).
George W. Bush left office with war, recession and a deficit
When George W. Bush left office in January, 2009, we were at war in Afghanistan and Iraq (tow countries which didn't attack us), unemployment was at 8 percent and rising fast. The Dow was at 7949. And we had a deficit (in 2008 we had a deficit of $458 billion).
It's true that other presidents have had one or even two of these things happen. But usually, starting a war is a way out of recession (some argue that the great depression really ended with World War II). And usually, a lot of spending cuts unemployment (and raises the deficit). George W. Bush managed to give us a deficit while starting wars and while unemployment was increasing.
There are other things I could bring up. I could mention Bush's ignorance of world affairs, his insults towards our allies, his squandering of the good will of the world after 9/11. But that's enough. From peace prosperity and a surplus to war, recession and a deficit. Worst president, ever.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Published by Peter Flom
I am a statistician, working with a wide variety of clients, mostly researchers in psychology, education, medicine, social sciences and other fields. I also have given talks and written articles on learning... View profile
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