Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Perspective on "Worst President Ever" Claim

Thomas Fleming has long been one of my favorite writers and historians. He's written eloquently about a number of past presidents, and in WSJ Online, he tackles a subject near and dear to the hearts of many of my leftist friends: Is George W. Bush the worst president ever? Fleming puts things into some perspective by writing:
Is Mr. Bush worse than John Adams? When a shooting war at sea started between the United States and revolutionary France in 1798, Honest John wrote a letter to George Washington, offering to resign so that George could resume the job. How's that for presidential leadership? Meanwhile, Adams had kept Washington's cabinet officers on the job, although he loathed them. He finally fired them in a fit of hysteria, which made them wonder if he had lost his mind.
That was a story I hadn't heard before, but I'll confess to not being a John Adams scholar. Heck, I have yet to read McCullough's book (which makes me feel a little lonely). But, here's an even better story:

Woodrow Wilson? When World War I exploded, Irish-Americans objected to his pro-British tilt. Wilson responded that ethnics like these loudmouthed micks were "pouring poison into the veins of our national life," alienating the largest voting bloc in the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, as a Southern-born pol to his wingtips, he segregated almost all employees of the federal government.

Next, Wilson talked Congress into declaring war on Germany on the assumption that we would not have to send a single soldier to France. Before the war ended, we had 2,000,000 troops overseas, and in three months of fighting lost 144,000 men.

I just love reminding Democrats of their segregationist past...

But this one truly made me laugh:

Elected by seven million votes thanks to the electorate's loathing for Wilson, Warren G. Harding confessed to reporters that he was not up to the job. He told one newsman that he wanted to make the U.S. tariff higher than the Rocky Mountains to help Europe's industries recover from World War I. The appalled reporter realized the president had one of the biggest issues of the era exactly backward.

Harding had a concealed box at the Gayety Burlesque Theater where he spent many afternoons and nights. In the leftover hours he concentrated on poker and trysts with a blonde named Nan Britton -- reputedly in a closet off the Oval Office -- while his appointees looted the federal government.

In reality, "Shrub" is often painted in such a light simply due to the glare of the media spotlight. That, combined with the stunning lack of knowledge later generations have of American History gives credence to such asinine statements.

Don't get me wrong: I have little fondness for George W. Bush, if only because his reckless spending, lack of true leadership and distaste for intellectualism and new ideas have given rise to The Obamessiah. Or, as I like to say "Shrub begat Barry".

But worst ever? Get a clue.

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