From the Heights to the Pits — The Best and Worst Presidents of All Time. Part II

| February 18, 2013


____Continued from Part I.

1. Andrew Johnson ascended to the presidency during a tumultuous time following Lincoln’s assassination and the end of the Civil War. Then he only made it harder on himself: He was impeached for his opposition to Reconstruction and was generally overwhelmed by the Office.

2. James Buchanan watched with nonchalance as slavery spread and the Confederacy grew.

3. Warren G. Harding
was hitting the sauce (during Prohibition) and spent more time playing cards with his friends who were robbing the Treasury than focusing on running the country. In his downtime he had K Street hookers sent over to the White House.  At a debauched party where Harding was present, someone threw a bottle at a prostitute, known only as Miss Walsh; she was knocked unconscious and died. Rumors existed that hush money was supplied by the FBI to keep the death — or murder — under wraps.

The president’s scandals were legendary and he even admitted to his inability to control himself while speaking to the National Press Club saying, “It’s a good thing I am not a woman, I would always be pregnant. I can’t say ‘no.'” His wife, Florence, was certainly no prize herself but she may have finally had enough of “Wer’un,” as she called him —  his mysterious death has been subject for debate for decades.

4. Franklin Pierce allowed additional slave states, festering the ills that grew to the Civil War.

5. George W. Bush sent troops to Iraq based on false claims of “weapons of mass destruction” and virtually collapsed the U.S. economy.

6. Millard Fillmore allowed the propagation of slavery by supporting the Compromise of 1850.

7. John Tyler openly defended slavery.

8. Herbert Hoover is synonymous with the Great Depression. Shanty towns spread throughout the country during his tenure — even in New York’s Central Park; they were called Hoovervilles.

9. William Henry Harrison, bless his heart, barely had a chance to do anything. After refusing to wear a hat in freezing temperatures while delivering the longest inauguration speech in history, Harrison died thirty days later of pneumonia. 

10. Benjamin Harrison sounds an awful lot like a precursor of the fifth worst president on this list: he is related to a former president (number nine was his grandfather), he lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College, and though he arrived in office with a fiscal surplus, he left the country with a deficit.

Though most historians refer to President Carter as one of America’s finest former presidents, and even rank him as seventh highest in integrity and thirteenth in intelligence — the man from Plains is in the lower half overall at thirty-two out of the forty-three presidents.

Nixon, at the very bottom of the barrel in the integrity department, still managed to come in only one president better than Carter due to his eleventh best standing in foreign policy accomplishments. Ironically, while Nixon’s involvement with China won him praise, his escalation of the VietNam War throughout Cambodia and Lao P.D.R., after campaigning to end the war, bends him back down in the integrity quotient.

There are many other surveys. Most were reputable but did not contain subcategories, while others, like the conservative polling group Rasmussen Reports was incredibly partisan and was in no way similar to other lists. Every list has its caveats, but we stand firmly behind the Siena College Research Institute’s survey for its overall breadth and details.

And should you see a Glittersniper and a Rasmussenite brawling it out over the best and worst, you may rest assured that the Grand Ol’ Party pollsters are going down because you’ve been armed.

  • And here is the full list in its entirety:
  • 1. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • 2. Theodore Roosevelt
  • 3. Abraham Lincoln
  • 4. George Washington
  • 5. Thomas Jefferson
  • 6. James Madison
  • 7. James Monroe
  • 8. Woodrow Wilson
  • 9. Harry Truman
  • 10. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • 11. John F. Kennedy
  • 12. James K. Polk
  • 13. William Clinton
  • 14. Andrew Jackson
  • 15. Barack Obama
  • 16. Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 17. John Adams
  • 18. Ronald Reagan
  • 19. John Quincy Adams
  • 20. Grover Cleveland
  • 21. William McKinley
  • 22. George H. W. Bush
  • 23. Martin Van Buren
  • 24. William Howard Taft
  • 25. Chester Arthur
  • 26. Ulysses S. Grant
  • 27. James Garfield
  • 28. Gerald Ford
  • 29. Calvin Coolidge
  • 30. Richard Nixon
  • 31. Rutherford B. Hayes
  • 32. James Carter
  • 33. Zachary Taylor
  • 34. Benjamin Harrison
  • 35. William Henry Harrison
  • 36. Herbert Hoover
  • 37. John Tyler
  • 38. Millard Fillmore
  • 39. George W. Bush
  • 40. Franklin Pierce
  • 41. Warren G. Harding
  • 42. James Buchanan
  • 43. Andrew Johnson
  • *There are only 43 ranking slots since Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president.

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