Jul 2, 2010
GWB is not the worst U.S. President in history; only the fifth worst
There is little doubt that George W. Bush was one of the worst U.S. Presidents in history. The only debate is whether he is actually the worst or just one of the worst, but the Siena College Research Institute’s (SRI) Survey of U.S. Presidents only puts Bush as the fifth worst U.S. President, ahead of such greats as Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin Pierce.
The SRI has conducted the survey five times since 1982. More than 200 presidential scholars ranked the 43 U.S. Presidents on six personal attributes - background, imagination, integrity, intelligence, luck and willingness to take risks- five forms of ability - compromising, executive, leadership, communication and overall - and eight areas of accomplishment, including economic, other domestic affairs, working with Congress and their party, appointing supreme court justices and members of the executive branch, avoiding mistakes and foreign policy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt has been ranked No. 1 since the survey began, and this year the top five includes Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In fact, in nearly 30 years, the same five presidents have occupied the first five places with only slight shuffling, despite decades of new research on former presidents and the accomplishments or lack thereof.
Bush had entered the survey at 23rd when the study was last conducted one year into his first term in 2002. Today, just one year after leaving office, Bush has sunk to the bottom five at 39th where he belongs. The survey found he rated especially poorly in handling the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence.
Although it’s far too early to judge his Presidency, President Barack Obama was ranked as the 15th best President, earning high marks on imagination (6th), communication ability (7th) and intelligence (8th). However, he scored poorly on background, family, education and experience. While I can understand scholars rating him low on experience, I’m baffled at what is wrong with his background, family and education.
My Republican critics on the blog like to point to President Jimmy Carter as the worst president, and Carter is rated low at 32ns; dropping from 25th in 2002. However, as long as GWB is around, there is no danger that Carter will ever be ranked as the worst U.S. president.
GOP saint Ronald Reagan dropped two places from 16th overall in 2002 to 18th today, and that puts him behind Bill Clinton who basically switched places with Reagan, rising from 18th in 2002 to 13th.