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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nowhere To Go But Down

So our boy W scored #36 (out of 42) in the C-Span survey of scholars ranking the prez-nits. Already some commentary here. But may I be the first (next?) to say, overrated!

Any list like this is bound to be a washed out consensus, and there are obviously still a few partisan GOPers in the academy holding out hope for a Trumanesque redemption. (BTW, how did Harry charge up to #5? I love that guy, but was he really better that Tommy J? OK, that pales next to Ronnie Reagan making the top 10. Sheesh!!) The major deficiency of that list, however, may be that it favors activity, any activity, over nullity. Note Franklin Pierce at #40 and W.H. Harrison at #39. Harrison really didn't have a "presidency"; he just had an inaugural, one so bad he killed himself by pneumonia. So I'd give that guy a zero. Are you really telling me that only three presidents (Pierce, AJohnson, Buchanan) were less than zero? The latter two deserve that status, no question. There gotta be a few more. Exhibit A: where's Tricky Dick?

And then there's Bush. Yeah he did a lot. All of it bad. Has any president ever started out with more and then dug a deeper hole with every move he made? Our boy was the Shit Midas, and I think that deserves a little recognition. True, I doubt he'll ever reach Buchananite glory--provoking the Civil War and then letting the South slip away unmolested--although W did eerily echo JB's blend of daring idiocy and feeble incompetence. AJ's rude botching of Reconstruction is quite a marker in its own right. Still, GWB's trail of destruction was so diverse and unblemished that it deserves a bit more neg respect. I look forward to a day where historians take less pity and more perverse joy in a job well undone.


At 7:52 PM, Blogger Wilson said...

The best way to rise in these rankings is to aggressively commit troops, ignore international law, trample your opponents, and just generally be 'decisive', restraint and deliberation be damned. If Congress or the law gets in your way, just press forward. See the recent article in Slate on Lincoln?

I expect Bush will be in the top 20 before the end of the next decade.

"He didn't care what people thought! He did what was he thought was right!"

If results counted, Harding wouldn't be #38...

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Gina said...

GWB definitely deserves to be below Harding. Teapot Dome doesn't even compare with the past eight years. Polk used to make the top 10all the time among historians. Does this mean historians are becoming more like the general public? And why does Eisenhower make the top 10 when he basically served as steward over eight years of somnambulism while black rage and teenage restlessness bubbled just beneath the surface? And is Monroe ranked in the top 20 more for being a Founding Father than for his presidency? And as for John Adams, Paul Giamatti wins an Emmy and a Golden Globe and Adams' ranking goes down? Maybe the historians don't get HBO.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Gina, I agree with you on Ike as overrated here, although he certainly wasn't bad. But I think Adams is overrated too--McCulloch chic. As much as I respect him as a thinker, he was not a good president. Partially reining in the most right-wing of his own partymen is not a strong credential.


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