Best President Ever

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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Best President Ever
By Benzo415 (Benzo415) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:02 pm: Edit

From what you've learned in your history classes, who do you think are the best and worst US Presidents? Here's my ratings:

1. Lincoln (got rid of the awful institution known as slavery)
2. FDR (guided us steadily through the Depression and WW2)
3. Washington (set major precedents as the first president)
4. Teddy (first president since Lincoln to really use Presdiential powers, also started national Progressive reforms)
5. Jefferson (stayed a neutral course through French Rev, doubled the size of the country)

Hon. Mention: Eisenhower, Wilson, Clinton, Madison

1. Grant (I can name at least 10 scandals to prove my point, also did nothing in regards to reconstruction)
2. Harding (Teapot Dome plus the end of progressive reforms plus doing nothing equals a bad president)
3. Buchanan (The country is nearing the outbreak of Civil War... and Buchanan just sat there.)
4. Nixon (Had the potential to be a very good president if there hadn't been a little thing called Watergate...)
5. Coolidge (more laissez-faire policies that helped bring us to the Depression)

Hon. Mention: Hoover, Taft, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson

By Aab123 (Aab123) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:03 pm: Edit

Johson was definately worst.

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:06 pm: Edit

i like the best list, but dubya definitely gets a spot on the worsst

By Benzo415 (Benzo415) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:10 pm: Edit

Yeah, I'm a little reluctant to put Dubya on there yet, although I'm not a fan of his, I don't think we'll really know the efect of his presidency for another few years after he is out of office.

I don't want to turn this thread into another conservative/liberal debate forum though. Just who you thought were best and worst presidents and why.

By Magoo (Magoo) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:11 pm: Edit

lincoln didn't actually get rid of slavery (congress) emancipation didn't do much but scare southerners...anyways (don attack me) takes number two in my book or ties for first place cuz of his intrinsic intentions in the proclimation. (from your list) i would have to say FDR takes the prize; although some might disagree...he led the country through so much, and got the support from the majority of the people...he was so good that he almost came as close to george washington in being a lifelong president.

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:14 pm: Edit


1. Lincoln (smart, logical, good guy et slavery; although, we may have idolized him as no one living today can tell us about him first hand)
2. Washington (maintained Constitutional principles, set precedents, strong leadership)
3. Eisenhower (revived country post Second Great War; warned against Military-Industrial complex; built highway system; etc.)
4. Truman (finished up WWII; started back to normalcy)
5. Reagan (argueable -- set up conditions for 90's tech boom)

Hon. Mention: Wilson, Madison, TR


1. Grant (see above)
2. Harding (see above)
3. Buchanan (see above)
4. Fillmore (what? what? what? what?)
5. FDR (ineffective depression policies; started modern socialization of the American gov't; although, he did fight WWII well; he probably should be higher than this, not in any list, oh well)

Hon. Mention: Coolidge, Nixon, Andrew Johnson, Taft

Keep in mind, it's been a while since US History, however, and the lesser-known presidents are prone to being forgotten.

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:18 pm: Edit

what???? you gotta be a wacko republican if you put fdr on the worst.........our country would be in SHAMBLES right now without him..yea he started the socialization, but thats what our country needed! obviously the free enterprise wasnt working at the lay off my man delano! also he had polio. thats cool.

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:31 pm: Edit

Yeah, well, I take back the worst bit. I was hesitant on it as you can see in my first post. But I must disagree with all the FDR/JFK (trust me, it's coming) worship (figuratively speaking).

FDR did NOT bring our country out of the Great Depression. The War did that. FDR did institute good policies and created good programs. However, many created HUGE government bloat that we are still libing with today and socialization that is unneeded.

About free enterprise: TR went pretty far with curbing it and in the 20's the country did quite well. What brought on the depression was a.) The poor banking policies and lack of insurance and b.) the federal reserve not understanding economics. The Fed was so afraid of inflation that they strangled the country with interest rates.

And Polio: it sucks that FDR had polio and I feel sorry for him but that hardly makes him cool. need/lack of ability != virtue

Ayn Rand is getting to me.

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

umm the causes of the great depression are still being debated...

and whats wrong with socialism?

By Thepiskickass (Thepiskickass) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:42 pm: Edit

Um... With Johnson(LB), you have to remember the "Great Society" along with Vietnam... "Great Society" was pretty tight...

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:43 pm: Edit

What's wrong with socialism?! What's _right_ with socialism?

And you are correct, the cause of the Great Depression is still being debated. So what is this "free market wasn't working"? Also, pretty much everything is debated. Did we land on the moon? At some point, we have to let over to what _probably_ happened. I don't know what the is in the case of the Great Depression but my point is made.

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:48 pm: Edit

socialism would do wonders for our country

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:53 pm: Edit

This does not answer what's _right_ with socialism. Only what you speculate it might do. As for its effects -- look at France.

By Vigilante (Vigilante) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:54 pm: Edit

c'mon guys, you gotta love Jackson
although in my mind TR still takes the top spot

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:57 pm: Edit


1. Jefferson
Truly embodied Enlightenment principles of our early country
2. Lincoln
Able to face both the copperheads/southerners in pursuit of a long, controversial war.
3. Washington
Precendents matter. And he knew it.
4. Truman
Quick end to WWII, Marshall Plan, Berlin Airlift... I could go on.
5. Reagan
Jury's still out on the deficit. But he did set up 90s boom.

6. Madison
7. FDR
8. Teddy
9. Polk
10. Jackson


1. Buchanan/Fillmore
Terrible leaders overall, cause of Civ War
2. Lyndon Johnson
Tonkin, 'Nam, ridiculous social programs that almost mocked FDR's reforms
3. Wilson
He was terribly racist for his time, plus Versailles screwups a cause of WWII
4. Grant
Good general, but poor guy trusted too many people. Note the word "Trust".
5. Carter
I like him personally, but he was a terrible president.

Comments on other lists:
1. FDR didn't end the Great Depression. He saved capitalism. We need to realize a split between the First and Second New Deals. The First New Deal (namely, 100 days) prevented a possible general strike or even socialist revolution. The Second New deal was the 'socialist' program that we know today; it was highly ineffective in ending the great depression. Keynes' theory never truly got tested, however, as WWII started in the early '40s.

2. Nixon was not, IMHO, a "bad" president. One terrible event does not destroy one of the best foreign policy records in US history. China relations, anyone?

3. Eisenhower was a fairly poor president. Like Clinton gets credit for many of Reagan's changes, Eisenhower gets credit for Truman's genius. The Long Boom of the fifties was caused by the opening of trade and the Marshall Plan (Truman's stuff), not anything Eisenhower did. Instead, Eisenhower actively worked to prevent integration and the civil rights movement. SAC could also be termed a 'massive failure', as the project was ruled obsolete by ICBMs several years later.

4. I know no one has said this yet, but they will. Leave poor Hoover alone! He didn't cause the Great Depression that he is so often blamed for, the outlandish policies of the '20s and Versailles caused it.

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:58 pm: Edit

well i asked you whats wrong with socialism, and you answered with "whats right with socialism"....that doesnt answer the question either, genius

socialism = equality

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 11:59 pm: Edit

p.s. good list purge of doors

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:01 am: Edit

Implicitly, it answers "everything".

You are very right "socialism = equality". However, forced equality by the government = everyone above average gets screwed and nobody goes anywhere.

By Isaman (Isaman) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:04 am: Edit

1- Jefferson (Stayed neutral during French Rev.--too bad he did that embargo though).
2-Johnson (Great Society. He helped shape the U.S.' home front during the Vietnam stuff. Too bad he lied to the country....I guess he wasn that great).
5-Abraham Lincoln

Hmmmm....well, i can tell you the worst Presidents.

1-William Henry Harrison (hahah didnt do anything)
2-JFK (couldn't get anything passed by Congress. Also, Bay of Pigs).
3-Nixon (Watergate, Cambodia....need I say more? Vietnamization didn't work)
4-Jimmy Carter (Nice guy, jsut a bad president).

By Yackityack (Yackityack) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:15 am: Edit

Teddy Roosevelt. He got shot during a speech and went on for 20 minutes before getting medical attention. He was a major conservationist(thats right--and a republican) and wasn't afraid to go against tradition. He once had an African American over at the white house for dinner and back in those days that was scandalous. He was a veteran of the Spanish American War. He was also one of the first to really go after the trusts. And he kept his word like a gentleman. Don't see that very often these days.First president since Lincoln to really do something important(I know that will afend all you grover cleveland fans out there).

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:25 am: Edit

Hmmm... I would have to say keep JFK off the worst list simply because of his charisma and what he did for the country mentally. The space program -- even if it wasn't JFK's idea -- was initiated and carried out by him and the great people at NASA very well. Simply this should keep him off the worst list (but by no means put him on the best list).

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:28 am: Edit

Perhaps one of the most interesting "Best Presidents" lists I've seen was compiled by Dubya advisor Karl Rove.

And none other than William McKinley was at the top. I still am unable to see the reasoning behind that. Perhaps the fact that he got shot and thus let Teddy be president played into it somehow.

One more thing: I don't know what Aab meant by "Johson", but if he meant Andrew Johnson, the only US President to be removed from office, I have a bit of a different view. Johnson did nothing wrong to merit the impeachment. If Lincoln hadn't been killed, he would've been impeached too. After the Civil War, anti-war sentiment was so high in Congress that they wanted the blood of a President. So they passed a ridiculous and unconstitutional law, which Johnson immediately broke, and the infinite wisdom of congress quickly removed him.

By Magoo (Magoo) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:30 am: Edit

official JFK = middle man. (i def. agree) a little sketchy about Regan ughh...didn't do much for poor/working class.

convince me :) (i'm a democrat so you can see why, although i try not to be biased)

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:34 am: Edit

If I remember correctly, gas prices fell by about a factor of three between 1980 and '86. $1.50/gal to $.50. I'd say that was a fairly big help to the lower classes. And that's not even counting the new companies his policies allowed to grow, companies which would eventually provide millions of well-paying jobs.

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:38 am: Edit

What are you going to study at Yale, purge?

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:58 am: Edit

what about the people who live below the poverty line?? who dont have basic necessities of life??? i bet they want socialism...or doesnt that matter in corporate america?

By Copper45 (Copper45) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:43 pm: Edit


-lied to us about Vietnam
-sent more people in
-just not a decent person

By Magoo (Magoo) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 01:02 pm: Edit

no it doesn't matter in corporate america, because this is a capitolist society, and this post is about best and worst presidents.

i believe that you have good intentions, yet people didn't come to this post to defend/attack socialism.

:) don't hate me...just honest :)

By Ndcountrygirl (Ndcountrygirl) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 01:41 pm: Edit

Are we looking at personal or political features in this list. Makes a difference-for example I think Nixon was a good person, but got over his head in the scandal. He did the right thing by resigning, so he took the blame and isn't a bad person. Clinton personally was scum, but politically was usually a very good leader.

Teddy Roosevelt was a Roughrider, an actual man, not some pansy who sat and talked all day. He had the guts to face big busineses. The Mount Rushmore presidents also all get my vote.

It's still kinda hard to rate a president who served in the last 20 years because we can't see the full effects of their policies yet. So anyone from Reagan on is still hard to classify as one of the best or worst.

By Ecismyhome (Ecismyhome) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 02:15 pm: Edit

What a hardcore guy.

By Earthpressdflat (Earthpressdflat) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 02:55 pm: Edit

Alexander Hamilton. He was so good at running things he didn't even have to BE president. Blasted anti-federalists...

(see similar arguments for various first ladies)

By Imperator_Shaf (Imperator_Shaf) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

Teddy Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Ronald Reagan


In 1997, 719 historians and former politicians got together and voted on the best Presidents, the list compiled from best to worst is:
1. Lincoln
2. F. Roosevelt
3. Washington
4. Jefferson
5. T. Roosevelt
6. Wilson
7. Truman
8. Jackson
9. Eisenhower
10. Madison
11. Polk
12. L. Johnson
13. Monroe
14. J. Adams
15. Kennedy
16. Cleveland
17. Mckinley
18. J.Q. Adams
19. Carter
20. Taft
38. Grant
39. A. Johnson
40. Buchanan
41. Harding

By Lisasimpson (Lisasimpson) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 03:52 pm: Edit

ohhh my man delano at #2!!

p.s. i hate you magoo


By Firebird12637 (Firebird12637) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:02 pm: Edit

LBJ is definitely #1
JK Polk is definitely #2

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:06 pm: Edit

You're right, Magoo. We did kind of threadjack this topic. Although, it started out relevent :-P

By Insanity (Insanity) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Doesn't anybody believe that Lincoln should have let the South secede from the Union?

By Astrobobocop (Astrobobocop) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:31 pm: Edit

LBJ took the I.R.T. down to fourth street U.S.A.
When he got there what did he see?
The Youth of America on L.S.D.
ahh, gotta love musicals about politics

JFK (kept us out of nuclear war)
Washington (kept us out of europe for a while)
Lincoln (managed to find a competent general after 2 years)
Truman (got us out of WWII in the pacific without sending ground troops. Showed the world how destructive nuclear weapons were. This was helpful because it allowed people to see their awful power, which helped kennedy to some degree)
Jefferson (doubled the size of the country, kept us out of the french revolution)

nixon (lying to the american people)
wilson (couldn't convince congress to join the league of nations)
dubya (getting us into the mess in iraq)
Filmore (making the Japanese mad at us because we forced trade upon them)

BTW, i'm a democrat

By Guitarshredder (Guitarshredder) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:35 pm: Edit

Best: Sam Houston

By Bunmushroom (Bunmushroom) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:45 pm: Edit

Lincoln: Enough said already

Truman: Honest, strong leader in war time

Reagan: Lowered taxes while doubling tax revenue. Primed economy for 90s boom. Finished off USSR and cold war with SDI.

FDR: Strong leader during very tough times, great communicater. However, entered WW2 3 years late and his socialist policies for a depression era became emeshed until Regan helped shed them.

Nixon: GOod president besides the scandal. Strong against communists, but willing to be a real politique at the same time with China.

Bad: Grant

We wont know about George Bush until the future. If Iraq is successful, and the economy continues the way it is going, he will be one of the best presidents in history.

By Vpof2005 (Vpof2005) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 04:50 pm: Edit

Best for America's morale (these should be self-explanatory)

1. TJ
2. Lincoln
3. Polk
4. Kennedy
5. Washington

Worst for America's morale:

1. Nixon (led to a resentment and apathy towards government)
2. LBJ (already been explained)
3. Clinton (scandal)
4. Johnson (poor reconstruction attempts)

PS. Socialism is good? Are you nuts?

By Sraid7777 (Sraid7777) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 05:28 pm: Edit

?? what are you smoking benzo?

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 06:17 pm: Edit

Nice list, Bunmushroom. You made a good point in that it is impossible to judge GW Bush from a historical standpoint at the moment. It is also extremely difficult and inaccurate to judge Clinton yet, as the effects of his administration have not been fully felt nor understood.

Gottage, I really don't know what I'll study at Yale yet. Economics, perhaps? I love history, but I really don't see making it my major.

"Doesn't anybody believe that Lincoln should have let the South secede from the Union? "

Ick. Too much alternative history for me. Although I do think that the Civil War was inevitable: the North and the South were going to fight even if not during the 1860s. Lincoln letting the South secede wouldn't have prevented a war. Instead, it might have turned America into what the Balkans became in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. European alliances would've been formed, and WWI may have started a bit prematurely.

By Goodchocolate (Goodchocolate) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 06:20 pm: Edit

Socialism's bad because it minimizes competition. When the hard-working get the same rewards as the lazy, people become unmotivated and unproductive.

By Ecismyhome (Ecismyhome) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 06:30 pm: Edit

Government intervention is *always* bad in an economic sense.

By Altsuperhero (Altsuperhero) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:17 pm: Edit

always love these discussions where there are no criteria for 'best'

Yeah, I'm from New Jersey, so I guess I'm a bit biased towards Wilson.
He was stubborn, not yielding to reservationists. He was too morally idealistics, and his preacher-like attitude certainly irked many people. Peace Without Victory -tell that to the families in Europe that have been ravaged by war for half a decade.

He was also a progressive. He continued the policies of Roosevelt and Taft in breaking up trusts. The Clayton-Antitrust Act was a step in the right direction (though it doesn't get too much attention - Wagner came along 21 years later to really mix things up). Women's suffrage? 1919. Granted, in his first term, Wilson wasn't very supportive of it, but he made the right decision in the end.

Nixon has also taken a lot of heat on this board (and has had some loyal supporters). Nixon was the ultimate politician (whether that makes him a good or bad president is up to you). He was involved in the late 1940s with the Alger Hiss case -yeah, he jumped on the anticommunist bandwagon. Was a so-so vice president for Eisenhower, but then again it's not like he could wield power. His Vietnam policies were sometimes contradictory, even though he preached Vietnamization and pulling out. Opening diplomatic talks with China was a very smart move -putting the USSR on the defensive and making them more inclined to negotiate SALT while showing the American public that he is willing to accept change ... and then there was Watergate ...

I really want to put Jefferson high on my list, but Jefferson was such a hypocrite when he decried slavery (yet kept slaves). He repealed some excise taxes, but he pretty much adopted the successful Hamiltonian Federalist economic system. Keeping us out of war was necessary since we were a young nation and it even sowed the seeds of American manufacturing (which Jefferson technically opposed in his dream of a yeomen-farmer country) ...

Give Andrew Jackson some love for his extending the vote to all people ... but don't give him too much love because he did encourage that spoils system ... at least he was a unionist

so after ruminating on this for a while, my top picks

1) TJ
2) Teddy Roos
3) Truman
4) Wilson
5) Jackson

my bottom five - and I was really tempted to just pull all the presidents from pre-Civil War, post Civil War, and post WWI

5) John Tyler
- way to alienate your party ... Webster-Ashburton is all you got in the books ... no, Texas doesn't count
4) Benjamin Harrison
- good job w/ Pan-Am and Silver purchase ... too bad we went to the gold standard 11 years later ...
-way to let Congress spend a billion ...
3) Grant
-great general, poor president
-yes, we can blame you for your ignorance ... yes, it's your fault your subordinates were corrupt
2) Zachary Taylor ... probably doesn't deserve to be up this high (or rather down this low) but i'm not a great organizer ... another president that really shouldn't have been elected ... and what was up with not approving comp of 1850 (that sentences sounds so anachronistic)
1) Harding -really, Mellon was great, but Fall wasn't ... neither were those scandals ... and the fact that you couldn't control your cabinet or stomach your food (ooh, low shot)

By Strider (Strider) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:54 pm: Edit

worst: Andrew i hate that guy

By Benzo415 (Benzo415) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 09:39 pm: Edit

Andrew jackson is the most overrated President ever. True, he introduced strong exceutive power (a contradiction of the Jeffersonian mantra) to the Oval Office, but the things he did such as Trail of Tears, abolishing The Bank, leading us into a panic, all really did not help the country at all. And the Kitchen Cabinet was ridiculous too.

Yes, I do think Watergate totally spoils anything good Nixon did.

By Earthpressdflat (Earthpressdflat) on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 11:52 pm: Edit

Andrew Jackson was so bad an entire political party formed solely to oppose him. I think that says it all.

By Eyesclozedtight (Eyesclozedtight) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 02:25 am: Edit

all i've gotta say is that the nixon family owes the bush family a debt of gratitude. dubya took nixon's title of most scandalous president of all time!

face it, he really has to go.

By Jumpinj (Jumpinj) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 03:03 am: Edit

Reagan on anyones best list is just a joke and partisan squabbling. He spent more money on defense than all others before him combined! His trickle down economics...well...didnt trickle down and the 80's sucked.
-Truman used the atomic bomb. Anyone else think that was a good idea? I dont think so.
-I dont think Andrew Jackson has been getting enough credit on this board. His use of the presidential powers set up the future of the American Presidency. He got everyone involved and for the first time it felt that the president was the people's president. Heres my top 5 worst five
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. FDR
3. George Washington
4. Teddy Roosevelt
5. Andrew Jackson
Worst 5
1. Herbert Hoover
2. Richard Nixon
3. Grant
4. Harding
5. Reagan

i also dont like bush but i guess we have to wait to judge that...

By Eyesclozedtight (Eyesclozedtight) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 05:17 pm: Edit

ya jackson truly was a president for the people.

By Uknowwho42 (Uknowwho42) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 06:38 pm: Edit

Although Lincoln was anti-slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation didn't end slavery at all...the war did. Anyway, this is a good worst list from jumpinj:
Worst 5
1. Herbert Hoover
2. Richard Nixon
3. Grant
4. Harding
5. Reagan
But I will add 6. G.W. Bush.
As far as best goes - FDR, Washington, Jefferson, Clinton, and Truman are my top 5 in no particular order.

By Kluge (Kluge) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 06:45 pm: Edit

Look, I'm a middle aged democrat, and I think Nixon got a bad rap and JFK should be on the "worst pres." list. Nixon balanced the budget. (Only guy except Clinton to do so since the 50's.) That means he didn't juice the economy with $$ borrowed from future generations just to make things look temporarily rosy while he was standing for re-election. (A trick Reagan and the current Bush took to extremes.) For you smart young people this is something to pay attention to. After you graduate from college **you** will have to pay back every dollar the current administration pumps into the economy now by spending more than the taxes raise. It makes things boom for a bit, until the debt service kicks in.

Nixon inherited Viet Nam. I don't think there was a good or easy way out under the circumstances, so I don't count that against him (not that I didn't at the time, mind you...)

JFK and Reagan had style and good PR, and nothing else, in my opinion. PR doesn't pay the bills or keep you safe. Look past the hype and I think you end up with a very different opinion of the more recent presidents.

By Mac87 (Mac87) on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 07:44 pm: Edit


Father George-what can I say?
Abraham Lincoln-prevented south from seceding
FDR-desperate times call for desperate measures, and he was President during the 2 most desperate
Reagon-brought about collapse of USSR
Kennedy-Cuban Missile Crisis and space race


Buchanan-let the south secede
Grant-never should have been in politics period
Harding-was a bad president before the scandal

anyone who doesn't have Washington, Lincoln, and FDR as the top three (any order) didn't pay attention in US History

of course Reagan spent more on defense(it's called inflation), and his spending forced the USSR to increase their spending which collapsed thier economy

you can't blame Hoover for the depression, although he also didn't have the reform ideas of FDR

The Bay of Pigs was started during the Eisenhower Presidency, it just happened while Kennedy was in office

anyone who thinks FDR is a socialist is an idiot, he New Deal policies provide millions of people with jobs so they could feed their families, he never would have supported them under normal times

also anyone who thinks it was wrong of Truman to drop the atomic bombs needs to go back to 1945 and try to find someone opposed to it, good luck; also, more Japanesse civilians were killed by conventional bombs than the two atomic bombs, and the bombs brought WWII to an immediate end, instead of having to invade Japan and cost who knows how many more casualties on both sides, they saved Japanesse and American lives

and as far as what's good about socialism; hello wake up, we live in America, socialism is a cuss word, we have the strongest economy in the world, is it not obvious that captialism is better

By Orangeman167 (Orangeman167) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 05:29 pm: Edit

Nixon was not a bad president in any means.... so he did lie to the people of America but all the presidents have done that.... he did get us out of Vietnam and my father views him as a hero and a good man and i agree after learning more last year in US History.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 05:37 pm: Edit

Nixon was a paranoid who did much to advance the notion of the imperial that sense, we're lucky that Watergate derailed him. I once worked for someone on his "enemies list."

I was in D.C. the day he resigned and I remember thinking, "Well, there will never be a president as bad again in my lifetime." I shouldn't have thunk it...the gods eavesdropped.

By Nmoreno1 (Nmoreno1) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 06:19 pm: Edit

FDR does not belong on any "worst" list. No, he doesn't.

By Whowasthursday (Whowasthursday) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 08:19 pm: Edit

I don't have the time to do a best and worst list, but one thing that I've noticed this week:
I'm a conservative, but I'm pretty tired of the way conservatives worship Ronald Reagan.
My fundamentalist conservative textbook treats him like he's Superman/Flash Gordon and he saved the world or something.

By Encomium (Encomium) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 11:27 pm: Edit

What's so great about Washington? I didn't find him all that amazing as a president.


LBJ (Simply for Civil Rights Activism)
Teddy Roosevelt

Least Favs:

Gilded Age Presidents
Jackson (He wasn't that smart and his ideology was contradictory)

By Jenesaispas (Jenesaispas) on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 11:47 pm: Edit

Besides the fact that we're all reducing the achievement of a lifetime into a very small space, ignoring any sort of a humanity factor... especially since we all like to reduce even the supposedly "worst" presidents to human or even subhuman levels...

But, anyways, I rate presidents based on how much they try to achieve things.
Best: Lincoln had that whole racism to deal with and he overcame it--truly remarkable. LBJ, Wilson, and Truman all tried very hard... it's just that there were extenuating circumstances. (I especially feel bad for LBJ.) Washington really wasn't that important; he was more of a cohesion factor in the new country. Taft was pretty cool, too. He had that whole trust-busting business. I mean, come on. There were a few (major) lapses in judgment... but who doens't have those on occasion.

With that said, I think that we should respect our past presidents and not label them as "good" or "bad," even though I am somewhat contradicting myself. Let us cherish our history... and maybe we can reflect on the effectiveness of their attempts at whatever. We owe a large portion to them of what we are today.

By Ocliberal (Ocliberal) on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 12:23 am: Edit

Copper 45 writes:

-lied to us about Vietnam
-sent more people in
-just not a decent person "

I love it. Now we can apply the same thing to GW Bush:

-lied to us about Iraq
-sent more people in
-Enron, Halliburton, vendetta against Sadam to avenge his daddy's honor, ruining the environment, wants to take away choice, (sorry, can't stop)
-just not a decent person "

By Tkdgal (Tkdgal) on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 10:28 pm: Edit

We will probably never agree on the "greatest" president, but my fave is probably Polk.

By Daffodil22 (Daffodil22) on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 01:46 am: Edit

Top 5: (in no order)
Washington(set a precedent, president not king)
Jefferson(constitution, legal system)
Lincoln(slavery, handling secession)
FDR (depression, New Deal, leading through WW2)
T.Roos.(trustbuster,tough guy, protected West)

Bottom 5:
Jackson(Trail of Tears)
Harding(Teapot Dome, other scandals)
Grant(corrupt Cabinent)
Wilson(Versailles laid ground for WW2)
Hoover(depression, veterans march handling)

Random Thoughts:
-Nixon gets a bad rap. Yes, Watergate was wrong. And he was the most paranoid president in history. But he did open up relations with China and eased us out of Vietnam.
-Kennedy doesn't belong on a best list or a worst list. He had great ideas, but most never came to light. Ken. was forced to deal with nuclear war because Ike wouldn't. Bay of Pigs a horrible fiasco.
-Carter was TOO nice to be president.
-Jackson belongs on every worst list because of what he intentionally did to the Native Americans.
-Clinton and Dubya don't belong on any list yet because we haven't had time to judge the results of their policies.

By Moojuice (Moojuice) on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 03:00 am: Edit

I agree with you on most points except with Kennedy. He kept us out of nuclear war with the soviets. I think if he had been given more time he would have been able to do more. He didn't make a lot of progess, but he kept a whole lot of bad from happening. If we had attacked Cuba, Cuba, the USSR, and we would all be decimated today. You probably woudln't be writing on this website.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 03:08 pm: Edit

Random Responses:

Nixon: The Chinese door was begging to be opened. (Maybe their elites figured out how well their kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews would do on the SAT's, LOL!) The bumbling extraction from Vietnam was pretty much inevitable, the only question was timing. Nixon belongs on the Worst Five list.

Woodrow Wilson: "Woodrow Wilson waves his Fourteen Points around the table, Clemenceau turns to Lloyd George and says, 'God himself had only ten.'" --Al Stewart Wilson suffered from a surfeit of idealism...hard to damn a man for that.
I believe the punitive reparations--which spawned the worst of the Unintended Consequences--were pushed by Clemenceau and Lloyd George, not Wilson.
I don't know if this is true...I'd love to see a citation...but supposedly when they were drawing territorial lines in the Balkans they were using a topographical map but thought the different colors were based on ethnicities, not elevation. A lovely parable of ineptitude, regardless.

JFK: the Bay of Pigs was a failure of intertia...the whole damned badly planned thing was put together in the Eisenhower administration...JFK just let it roll forward. He kicked himself for this, it being his second biggest mistake after the TFX boondoggle that ultimately led him to take a motorcade through Dallas.

Carter: I agree with you. I think an ideal presidential temperament is adding Carter and Bush43 and then dividing by two. Carter saw too many nuances and was paralyzed by pros and cons; Bush 43 is left as an exercise.

By Eyesclozedtight (Eyesclozedtight) on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 08:56 pm: Edit

didn't polk have to resign because of chronic diarrhea?

By Moojuice (Moojuice) on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:22 pm: Edit

Yeah, I think he might have been kidding when he said Polk. Which was the president who got stuck in the bathtub a lot? Was that Taft? Or was that Polk as well? I don't know my presidents very well... :P At least not the ones with silly stories.

By Eyesclozedtight (Eyesclozedtight) on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 12:41 am: Edit

haha i think polk was small actually. but taft was huge!!!

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 12:47 am: Edit

Assorted comments:

1) Polk is a massively underrated president. As far as territory goes, he did a similar thing to Jefferson: was presented with an opportunity and took it -- something that many politicians are unable to do. And since he was a dark horse, he promised to serve only one term.

2) Kennedy didn't keep us out of nuclear war. Nikita Khruschev kept us out of nuclear war. Kennedy could've used the Monroe Doctrine in '62 and gotten international support for a Soviet withdraw. Instead, he blockaded Cuba and had a showdown with Khrushev. And if the Soviet leader had been nearly the bad guy he was portrayed to be, the world would've ended 42 years ago.

3) I'm a historicist. That is, I don't apply modern moral standards to the behaviours of people long ago. If a late 20th century leader decided to massacre thousands of native Americans, he would be a monster. In the early 19th century it was business as usual. At the very most, the Trail of Tears was little worse than the other attacks against tribes during the 19th century. For me, the only points against Jackson here are for ignoring the rulings of the Supreme court.

4) JumpinJ, I disagree with you so much I don't even know where to start. Perhaps the comparison of the relatively small ~200,000 Japanese killed in two nuclear bomb blasts to the estimated millions of casualties in the second-best military option is a good enough portrayal of your misled historical opinions.

5) I still hold that Wilson was a terrible president. Lodge cannot be faulted for his blockading, but Wilson certainly can be held accountable for not bringing him (or any of his political opponents) to Versailles. Plus, as I said before, he was a racist (that is, more racist than the zeitgeist of early 20th-century American politicians).

5b) Thedad is very true that Wilson did not push the reparations which ultimately led to Hitler's rise to power. Wilson opposed most of the reparations, but he was forced to succumb to the massive penalties on Germany to get France and GB to accept any of the 14 points.

5c) What border lines in the Balkans? They threw the whole thing into this big place called Yugoslavia :)

6) LBJ... extenuating circumstances? Not many he didn't cause.

By Perry (Perry) on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 06:12 pm: Edit

Best Presidents

1) Washington (established the fundamental precedent in the transfer of power)

2) Lincoln (preservation of the union; emancipation of slavery; by doing so inaugurated what can be termed as the Second American Revolution)

3) FDR (created a new social contract between capitalism, the state, and labor; established American security net, reformed the fundamentals of American capitalism through reform of banking and investment, social security, recognition of the right to bargain collectively, etc.; also led the U.S. into WW II against the isolationists.

Worst President

Richard Nixon (created constitutional crisis through the Watergate conspiracy -- the use of domestic and foreign intelligence agencies to spy on his political opponents and much more; challenged the judiciary's right to "say what the law is" concerning his refusal to comply with judicial supboenas; argued that he had an absolute and unreviewable right of executive privilege concerning all aspects of his presidency, etc. "I am not a crook," he said. He was wrong. He was a crook; the biggest crook that ever inhabited the U.S. presidency.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 08:51 pm: Edit

Perry, this is why I find weighing Nixon vs. the current occupant of the White House very difficult...the imperial approach to law by the latter is very similar.

By Perry (Perry) on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 10:45 am: Edit

Thedad -

I agree. It seems that Bush and Cheney are trying to recreate the presidency along Nixonion lines. The deception and the secrecy somewhat recall Nixon/Kissinger.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 05:34 pm: Edit

Perry, I've rarely been moved to "waste" time as it would involve, but I'm tempted to compile a coherent, comprehensive annotated-with-citations list of my objections to this Bush.

I would have voted for his father if the job had been president-for-foreign-policy instead of president-for-everything but in this one I find virtually no redeeming characteristics in either substance or style.

By Perry (Perry) on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 10:03 pm: Edit

Thedad --

I couldn't begin to list all my objections to the Bush presidency. At this point, I'm keenly interested in seeing a Kerry victory this Fall. While I do think the world is better off without Hussein in power in Iraq, the Bush administration has made a mess of the situation at substantial cost in lives, to the U.S economy, and to our international standing in the world. We need a change.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 12:32 am: Edit

Perry, I agree. But I want to make a case as if I were a lawyer presenting to the jury (voters). The bs offered in Bush's defense is incredible. He such an incredibly bad president that I don't know where to begin.

Anent Iraq, I don't know what Kerry would do from here on out or how it would differ from Bush and frankly I don't care. Bush deserves electoral punishment for having gotten us into this mess without thinking it through. Of course, Chalabi was supposed to be the answer to all the hard questions...and look at the headlines now, cosmic LOL!

By Cornelius (Cornelius) on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 05:16 am: Edit

I find it hilarious Qbanspice says Reagan is the 2nd worst president of American history yet Clinton is the second best. All Presidents till this day are in the shadow of Reagan, we are still in the Reagan era. Clinton just benefitted from Reagan's policies and did basically nothing. In fact, for his second term he stepped in front of the Republican parade and become a centrist or some say even a conservative.

By Twinkletoes696 (Twinkletoes696) on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 01:31 am: Edit

Best President Ever:
FDR. Maybe he made some mistakes along the way, but who knows if we would have made it out of the Great Depression without him.

Worst President Ever:
John Adams, only because I'm still fuming over his corrupt bargain with Clay in the mid 1820s!

By Mac87 (Mac87) on Wednesday, June 02, 2004 - 08:40 pm: Edit

there was NO corrupt bargain, and you need to relax if your FUMING over something that happened almost 200 years ago

By Snoflakeinjuly (Snoflakeinjuly) on Saturday, June 05, 2004 - 02:36 pm: Edit

Sheesh, you all put Nixon on the worst president list because he lied to the country, but if you think about it so did Clinton, and he was an acceptable president

also... I agree with purgeofdoors Hoover was merely a president of a wrong time. Coolidge was more responsible for the depression. Hoover actually had a smarty business sense that is valuble for a president

By Digmedia (Digmedia) on Saturday, June 05, 2004 - 04:20 pm: Edit

I honestly can't say who was the best president, but we do know the worst ever elected. Let's pray that he isn't reelected.


By Kk19131 (Kk19131) on Saturday, June 05, 2004 - 05:09 pm: Edit

Reagan just died!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Scubasteve (Scubasteve) on Saturday, June 05, 2004 - 05:40 pm: Edit

Nixon is seriously underrated as a President and that is no joke
..i'm not saying he shouldn't have been impeached, because he should have

..but unfortunately Watergate overshadows all the good that he has actually done

By Philntex (Philntex) on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 12:19 am: Edit

In class we had this discussion, and I ended up picking Woodrow Wilson (of course, the last president we actually STUDIED was Harry Truman, and that was only to a small degree). He was idealistic (perhaps too much so for his time), gung ho (for most of his presidency, he had a plan and he executed it. Period.), and embodied the strength that was necessary for a President during the 1910s. Personally, I despise the man (his racist remarks were enough to make even the staunchest grandpapa's cry), but he was a good President.

Any president between Lincoln and TR. Honestly. The Gilded Age had the WORST record of presidents who did nothing but sit on their hefty behinds and create scandal in the White House. If they weren't doing that, they were handing over the reigns to the mutant known as Big Business or turning the US into a greedy, imperialistic nation. That's the consensus we came to in my APUSH class, anyways :)

I wish I had had the chance to study the modern presidents more. I seriously think there were some greats starting with JFK and going through Clinton. Guess I'll have to do that on my own time.

By Perry (Perry) on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 07:07 pm: Edit

JFK was primarily a president of style and appearance rather than substance. He did not accomplish much during his tenure in office, cut short by his assasination. It was LBJ that had the guts to carry off sweeping civil rights legislation, policies that Kennedy was too cautious to undertake.

By Shortcakefairy (Shortcakefairy) on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 02:54 pm: Edit

My Favorite Presidents
1) Lincoln= self-educated man from humble beginnings: faced with the most difficult challenge of any President; fought with all his soul to preserve the Union and defeat slavery.

2) Reagan= was underestimated as a know-nothing actor/cowboy by intellectual "experts", journalists, and Europeans etc...the moment he stepped into office. Yet as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher said herself, it was because of Reagan that the West won the Cold War "without firing a shot," and made "friends out of enemies" because of his bold steps and courageous policies. He preserved capitalism to its fullest and promoted economic autonomy. Even if people disagree with his policies, it is difficult to deny the fact that his optimism helped many Americans love their country, have faith in themselves and in their potential as individuals. That's a true leader right there.

3)Truman = another underestimated midwesterner. He had none of the sophisticated Ivy League education as his predecessor, FDR, yet it was Truman that was faced with all the most important and difficult decisions of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War (A-Bomb!). Though he was unsuccessful domestically, he was incredibly successful in promoting international policies, which protected the US's interests while simultaneously helped other nations rebuild and prosper for the future. (The Marshall PLan!)
4) Washington: he set all the precedents for all future Presidents, and made sure everything he did was in democracy's best interest, and promoted a lack of corruption and power-hungriness.
*Runner-up: Teddy Roosevelt

The leaders which make me go "Blech!"
1) FDR: I will give him credit where its due: He was a great communicator and had a lot of charisma. He picked great military leaders, such as George C. Marshall, and he half-picked his successor: Harry Truman. That's the only compliment I can really give him. He was overestimated as a leader because of his elite and educational background. His New Deal policies sounded nice in theory, but they all failed in relaity. WWII saved the economy and his popularity. He gave the government too many unprecedented powers and turned it into the most almost-socialistic state in our nation's history. He screwed up foreign policies, got us into the Cold War too easily by being too concialitory with Stalin. HE was President for too long. There was no excuse for that.

2) Clinton: My compliments: He is the best downright liar I've ever seen! He ignored terrorism, when it was becoming a blatant threat. He removed the idea of "honor" and personal morality from the office of the Presidency. (the fact that he got blowjobs in the oval office is just total disrespect for all the people who have worked there before!) He half-committed the country to foreign causes: Rwanda, Kosovo, Somalia, etc... Luckily, a lot of his domestic ideas didn't pull through becuase of a majority Republican Congress.
My biggest annoyance: He does not deserve any credit whatsoever for why the economy was at its peak. It had nothing to do with his policies, but more with the cycle the stock market was running on at the time. Plus, how od you explain the fact that the economy was heading into a downturn his last year and a half in office? Bush got handed the "bad" economy the moment he became President.

* Runner-up: Wilson-> too idealistic, wasn't aggressive enough in promoting and fighting for the passage of all his 14 Points @ the Treaty of Versailles. Used too much "intelligence" and not enough "common sense." His League of Nations idea set a precedent for the creation of the United Nations, an organization which I see as more of a failure than an accomplishment.

Wow, that was long hehe.

By Insertnamehere (Insertnamehere) on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 06:14 pm: Edit

1. TR-no questions asked, he was the complete package, while others had highlights, he was everything
2. FDR-he may not have cured the Great Depression, but he did stop it from getting worse (look at how bad things got in Europe) without resorting to socialism/communism. Also pushed the Allied cause onto an isolationist nation
3. Lincoln-guided us through the Civil War and freed the slaves
4. GW-set a bunch of precedents, and tactfully set the nation on course
5. Wilson-idealist to the extreme, but he did everything in his power to make things come out right, even if they didnt

1. Grant-way too many scandals, and a poor leader to boot
2. Harding-Did nothing but promote his cronies and end many of the progressive era reforms
3. Coolige-Laisse-faire policies brought about Great Depression
4. Nixon-Was a plain dishonest person (more so than Clinton, who gets, IMO, a bad rap on honesty) also Vietnamization, Cambodia, abuse of powers, etc.
5. Van Buren-Fumbled with Jackson's already testy policies, and brought about the nations first major economic crisis

Reagan, JFK, Jackson, LBJ, Carter etc. are somewhere in the middle, with their deficiets being balanced out by their pluses

On a side note: Concerning a post way up there, I think Rove thinks McKinley is the best president because he is styling himself after McKinley's presidency. Rove=Hanna, the behind the scenes master manipulator, Bush=McKinley, the do nothing puppet president. Just like Hanna, he hits up wealthy Big Business for hordes and hordes of money, then panders shamelessly to them during the election year. Also, both pursue imperialistic policies, and make up wars to gain territory. All they need is Bush to nominate McCain (who is TR reincarnated) as his veep, and have someone shoot Bush, and we're reliving the 20th century

By Dsh (Dsh) on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 08:40 am: Edit

Reagan most certainly did not set up the 1990s boom; he set up the 1990s recession, which was really, really bad and for which his man Bush took the rap (and deservedly so, since he continued Reagan's policies).

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 09:35 pm: Edit

The 1990s recession (yes, there was one!) is better known as the business cycle. Take an economics class or something.

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 02:43 am: Edit

Best: GW Bush

He believes that man and fish can co-exist peacefully.
Make the pir higher!

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