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Author Topic: The best and worst of the two termers.
Tom Curtis
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Having recently looked at some polls as to who was considered the best US President by US residents, I was surprised to see the relatively high rankings given to Reagan, Clinton, and George W Bush relative to such greats as Lincoln and Washington. I attribute that to a lack of historical knowledge among randomly selected samples of US residents. Well, Ornery isn't randomly selected. The members of Ornery are intelligent and relatively well informed, so I was wondering how you would rank the Presidents. To keep the poll interesting, and brief, I am asking, who are the Best and who the Worst President of the US out of all those who who served more than one term as president. The second, or first term does not need to be a full term to qualify. By restricting it to "two termers", I hope to restrict allocations of worst status to considerations of policy. Could you also briefly (ten words or less) say why you consider the Presidents you select to be Best or Worst.

To make life easy, here is a list of the two termers:

George Washington 1789–97
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 1801–9
James Madison Democratic-Republican 1809–17
James Monroe Democratic-Republican 1817–25
Andrew Jackson Democratic 1829–37
Abraham Lincoln Republican 1861–65
Ulysses Simpson Grant Republican 1869–77
Grover Cleveland Democratic 1885–89; 1893–97
Theodore Roosevelt Republican 1901–9
Woodrow Wilson Democratic 1913–21
Calvin Coolidge Republican 1923–29
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Democratic 1933–45
Harry S. Truman Democratic 1945–53
Dwight David Eisenhower Republican 1953–61
Lyndon Baines Johnson Democratic 1963–69
Richard Milhous Nixon Republican 1969–74
Ronald Wilson Reagan Republican 1981–89
Bill Clinton Democratic 1993–2001
George Walker Bush Republican 2001–

http://www.pollingreport.com/wh-hstry.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_U.S._Presidents

[ October 21, 2006, 05:54 AM: Message edited by: Tom Curtis ]

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Everard
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Worst- Bush. Turning country into fascist state.

Best- Washington for historical purposes. Roosevelt for policy purposes.

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LoverOfJoy
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This reminds me of the presidential deathmatch we had on ornery anciently (in ornery years). I think in that case we ranked presidents by who would win in a fight to the finish. I can't remember who won.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Woodrow was pretty bad and so was Truman.

Johnson and Nixon don't count, for various reasons; likewise, Lincoln's legacy was shot down.

Grant was also of little use, and Coolidge avoided a bad rep by virtue of consistent inaction. (He practiced the political Hippocratic oath with a vengeance.)

I'll match Ev's assessment, and admire the poetic positions of the respective nominees on the list...

I like Herbert Hoover best of all, and admire hgis successor, FDR, while recognizing that the man wielded power ruthlessly. Hoover should have gotten a second chance in 1936, and then FDR come back in 1940 in time to do his Pearl Harbor routine.

[ October 21, 2006, 10:43 AM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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The Drake
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Best- Lincoln

Kept us from fighting endless wars with America2 in the south by crushing the rebellion.

Worst- FDR

Threatened to expand the Supreme Court when they invalidated his unconstitutional policies. Didn't live up to Washington's standard, and ran for a third and fourth term. Ordered the internment of over one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

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hobsen
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Eisenhower prevented us from blundering into a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Lyndon Baines Johnson proved to be a terrible executive given to micromanaging.

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Adam Masterman
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Worst: Bush.

Best: Washington.

Early presidents feared becoming monarchal tyrants, and limited themselves accordingly. Its been downhill since then.

Adam

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Liberal
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Worst: Bush / FDR / Truman / Lincoln (look for a common theme here [Wink] )

Least worst: Clinton / TR

[ October 21, 2006, 04:17 PM: Message edited by: Liberal ]

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Matteo522
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Liberal:

I have an idea on what the common theme is among the four worst presidents you listed. Out of curiosity, does Washington also qualify?

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RickyB
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Worst: Bush. Unmitigated disaster on all fronts.

Best: Tough, tough.... Washington on leadership and just making sure the shyt stuck together. Lincoln for facing down the hugest crisis. FDR for policy change.

Drake - good points Re: FDR. Eisenhower wasn't bad at all, too.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Gotta like Ike.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Back at work since a few days ago. Doing a large 'omnibus' survey in the LA area.

Schwarzenegger is decently liked bu both Dems and Reps: He is 'moderately liked', then 'moderately disliked', then values of 'strongly liked' and 'strongly' disliked'.

Bush was mostly strongly disliked from both camps.

It surprized even me. Mind you, this is only the calls I make. Narrow sample indeed.

[ October 21, 2006, 09:31 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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FiredrakeRAGE
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I'd say that Jackson did a pretty good job. His role in removing the Federal bank system is debatable, as well as his role in the 'trail of tears'.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Threatened to expand the Supreme Court when they invalidated his unconstitutional policies. Didn't live up to Washington's standard, and ran for a third and fourth term. Ordered the internment of over one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.
Also was instrumental in aiding England in its darkest hour, by getting it much needed ammunition and surplus destroyers. In short, saved Britain from destruction, thereby saving the world (and the U.S.) from Hitler...

I'm sure you can find someone worse than FDR...

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Liberal
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quote:
Originally posted by FiredrakeRAGE:
I'd say that Jackson did a pretty good job. His role in removing the Federal bank system is debatable, as well as his role in the 'trail of tears'.

You're being facetious, right?


Jasonr, handing over eastern europe to Stalin was pretty bad on top of interning Japanese and seizing private property.

[ October 21, 2006, 11:02 PM: Message edited by: Liberal ]

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RickyB
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"Gotta like Ike."

Definitely my favorite Republican last century. Well, there's Teddy too, but he would probably choose to enter the hall in a Bull Moose cap [Big Grin]

[ October 22, 2006, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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And TR was really a 19th century critter.
Comapre TR, the previous fin de siecle 2-term, Republican president, with the oe we have now.

From Bull Moose cap to Bull **** cap ("all hat and no cattle").

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Redskullvw
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Best James Madison, with Washington and Lincoln coming in a close second.

Worst Toss up between Coolidge and US Grant.

But that is just an historical perspective on them.

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Kent
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I hope you never leave us Red. You are one of the few intellectuals on this board!
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RickyB
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Lincoln wasn't an actual two-term president. It's like judging the White Murderer Harrison administration. [Big Grin]

Coolidge didn't do nearly as much harm as some of the others. He just didn't do jack (except be somewhat corrupt, iirc).

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Liberal -

Not at all. Jackson cemented Federalism as a concept that would endure, and made the Federal government something to be reckoned with. Those two seemingly contradictory items being accomplished by the same man, without changing his moral stance on the use of government is a huge feat.

Not to mention securing both Florida, and Texas...

[ October 23, 2006, 09:56 PM: Message edited by: FiredrakeRAGE ]

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Redskullvw
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FDR

Getting Florida and Texas was chiefly the result of the efforts of John Quincy Adams in his role as lead negotiator with The Spanish Crown that not only gave us Florida, but also paved the way for The Republic of Texas to become a state as well as define the southern US border with the Mexican Spainish possessions. And he did this while also securing a defined boundary with England as to the Northern border and the Oregon region. J.Q. Adams may have been a one term President, but his contributions as Ambassador before and later, Congressman and lawyer not only shaped the final boundaries of our nation but also removed the congressional gag rule to place the issue of slavery before floor debate in Congress. His coup over the Spainish Court that gave the United States Florida, The Republic of Texas, and a defined border has been called the greatest single bit of diplomatic victory ever gained by a single US citizen, trumping even the Louisiana Purchase. Considering the fact that he also formulated the Monroe Doctrine for James Monroe, it would be hard to argue with the commentary of historians that only the Adams of Massachusetts did more to nurture and develop the nation than the Lees of Virginia

Kinda a role model for Carter too. Neither were very popular Presidents at the time they served. But both brought incredible and principled action to the office, and continued their service afterwards at such a high level that even their detractors eventually had to give them credit for not only their efforts but also the results of those efforts. Also of note is the fact that he was elected despite not gaining either the popular vote nor the Electoral College majority. He truly was the first President to be elected without any popular majority support of any kind. Caused Jackson to scream about a stolen election for 4 years.

As to those of you declaring Bush and Clinton to be either the worst or the best, Two things should be considered. First judging a President shortly after his term expires often leads to exaggerated opinions. Consider Carter and Nixon, two men that were seriously considered to be the worst ever immediately after their terms expired. Lately I have become amused that Carter's stock is generally improving as has Nixon's. If I had to make a general prediction as to what historians, and the general public will hold as judgement fifty years from now I'd say Carter will rise to the top half. Nixon will rise to the top quarter. Clinton will be in the top half as will Bush 2. Reagan will likely be one of the top five. Ford will be at the top of the bottom half. Bush 1 will be in the bottom half. Johnson will also be in the bottom half, maybe as low as the bottom quarter.

As to the second thing to consider about Bush and Clinton being ranked either as best or worst by those on this thread. It is self evident political bias which is leading the majority of you to making this judgement. Hate to say it but neither President has been anything but average so far, and Bush has the potential to go a lot lower than the top half if his political fortunes continue to slide.

Insert 1 and 2

[ October 24, 2006, 10:25 AM: Message edited by: Redskullvw ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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Nice post, red. Me like.
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LinuxFreakus
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Worst: Reagan
In my opinion he is the worst president we've ever loved, and I refuse to let all the rewriting of history with respect to this fool go unchecked. There has been all that big fanfare about how Mr. Reagan "restored american confidence" and "launched an economic boom". In short, this is the largest pile of steaming crap I’ve ever come across. Reagan paved the way for the mess we are in right now with his horrible economic policies and all the money/weapons he gave to terrorists in the name of "freedom" and "fighting communism", if it wasn't for him I don't think we would have ever elected either of the shrubberies, especially not junior. This guy was a fracking actor, and that is all he was good at. He played the part of president while manipulative friends and advisers told him what to do. Actually that sounds a lot like another president we all know and love.

Best: Washington, just because he was the first and he had to hold everything together when the nation as still in its formative stages.

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NSCutler
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Best: Teddy. He managed to be fully involved in both foreign and domestic policy and piss off everyone at one point or another while still remaining mostly beloved and leaving an incredible legacy.

Worst: Silent Cal. It's not that he was corrupt, it's that he was so petty and ineffective with it. If you're going to sell your soul, at least have something to show for it!

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kenmeer livermaile
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LF: I gave up Reagan-knocking awhile back. Flailing my fists at the fogs of mystically fabricated legend proved so unsatisfactory. But I know just what you mean.
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Redskullvw
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For fun here is how I ranked the 2 term Presidents noted above in the initial post.


James Madison
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Thomas Jefferson
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Woodrow Wilson
Theodore Roosevelt
Andrew Jackson
James Monroe
Dwight David Eisenhower
Bill Clinton
George Walker Bush
Richard Milhous Nixon
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Grover Cleveland
Calvin Coolidge
Ulysses Simpson Grant

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
LF: I gave up Reagan-knocking awhile back. Flailing my fists at the fogs of mystically fabricated legend proved so unsatisfactory. But I know just what you mean.

Well, I do understand the frustrations of all the people who are going after Bush2 as worst ever right now, but IMO, what we have right now is the worst overall federal government in history, but taken by himself, I think Bush2 is just a nose ahead of Reagan, simply because I think Reagan is the one who set the stage for those who followed him and are now prepared to lead our country over a cliff.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Well, you know, it's easier for Bush2 than Reagan. reagan had to study acting to be a really really lousy president.

Bush? All he has to do is... act naturally.

But yeah, the death gong sounded in 1980.

Between the Cuban Missile crisis, Nam, the social movements of the 60s, and Watergate, America briefly learned something. Then, the Baby Boomers became the dominant demographic in politics, and we saw our true colors (I'm a boomer born in '56).

I was one of them idjit boomers who didn't bother to vote in '80 because I figured no one was dumb enough to vote for Reagan. I still feel responsible.

[ October 24, 2006, 12:24 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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LinuxFreakus
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Unfortunately, I have to say I don't even really blame the presidents as much as I blame the electorate. It is ulimately our own fault that we are in this situation. You can say all you want about stolen elections, etc, but if we really had our act together as an electorate, none of that would have happened.

Really it’s up to us. It’s up to us to get our reps in Congress to stand up to this crap, and if they won't, then we elect people that will.

The electorate has utterly failed. Everyone goes around complaining about the government and judging "Worst Ever" presidents. But then we stand by and continue to let it happen.

I'm sure there will be people quick to jump on me saying, well why aren't "you" doing anything then?

My answer to that is that I am motivated enough to actually make an effort to understand the important issues and when I vote, I put real thought into it. IMO, that is what more of the electorate needs to do.

The problem is that most of the electorate does not do that, in fact many people don't even vote.

I don't know what it will take to get the attention of our electorate, but if it hasn't happened already, I hate to think how far things might go.

[ October 24, 2006, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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I hardly watch TV. Basically, in fact, I don't. But practically every time I pass a tv someone else is watching, I see the most wretchedly debased paid political ads pandering to a ;level of stupidity I can't even comprehend.

DOing political polls on the phone, I happily hear many of my respondents speak similar disapproval of these ads and what they say about the current electorate/elected relationship.

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
I hardly watch TV. Basically, in fact, I don't. But practically every time I pass a tv someone else is watching, I see the most wretchedly debased paid political ads pandering to a ;level of stupidity I can't even comprehend.

DOing political polls on the phone, I happily hear many of my respondents speak similar disapproval of these ads and what they say about the current electorate/elected relationship.

Well then, perhaps a larger percentage of the electorate finally feels the need to have more than a superficial understanding of the various dynamics which can lead to the success or failure of certain policies. I hope so anyway.

Eventually if people stay involved the two parties will have to clean up their acts, or make way for a new party.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Redskullvw -

That's hardly the case. Without Jackson's tactics as a general down in Florida, Spain would never have put Florida on the table.

I'll address the rest later.

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Redskullvw
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FDR

Without the revolts going on in the New World Spainish Possessions, Jackson would never have been able to risk invading Spanish Florida, It was opportunistic on Jackson's part to invade in the first place, especially since he did not have clear orders to do so. What JQA was able to do was allow Jackson to technically withdraw, allow the Spanish to save face, maintain diplomatic relations with the Spainish, and create a way for Spain to ceed Florida in excahnge for immunity to any lawsuits by American citizens.

Jackson's actions were beyond his orders, reckless, and risked war with Spain without cause. JQA rectified all the problems cause by Jackson, and as Secretary of State got the SPainish to give us everything we could possibly want without having to even appologize for Old Hickory being an ass.

Thats pretty much what happened. Jacksons suppo

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