Trump calls Bush the "Worst President Ever." Is he correct?

On CNN this week Donald Trump called George W. Bush the “Worst President Ever.” What do you think?

Foreign policy, Domestic policy, what else will we judge our Presidents by.

I still say that prize goes to Buchanan, for doing absolutely nothing about seething regional tensions, at best, and aggravating them to the point of open war at worst.

It’s about time someone brought this question to GD. The man’s been in office for over six years, and yet inexplicably we have never had occasion to explorethe question, “Is he the worst president ever?” in GD before.

My vote is ‘no’.

Was that subtle sarcasm, Bricker? Or did you just miss it? Who’s the worst American president ever?

Oh, and of course, simple yes and no answers don’t fight ignorance. Explanations of the reasoning behind them does.

Well, I sincerely hope we can avoid the “Bush is teh suXXOrs” and “Why do you hate America?” sorts of posts. But I’d love to know more about your reasoning here, Rick.

From my point of view, Captain Carrot is probably right – although to give him credit, I think Buchanan was trying a Chamberlain-style approach: can sweet reason and compromise avert an impending catastrophe? He was not “do nothing” so much as he was “let them talk it out, vent if they must, but keep them talking.” It didn’t work.

Bush himself has a few positive traits:

  1. Save for giving in to Secret Service paranoia on that bizarre Air Force One flight, he handled the immediate aftermath of 9/11 precisely right. It was a shock of Pearl Harbor proportions. But he calmly finished the bit of PR he was doing, and then addressed the nation calmly and firmly. Ignoring the calls to immediate action, he had intelligence identify who was likely responsible for 9/11 and then demanded of the Taliban that they arrest the people behind it and hand them over. Only after that did we consider the invasion – which we did with international support.

  2. There is nobody going to achieve a consensus on illegal-immigrant policy today. But his proposals, though no perfectly in line with what I’d say, strike me as being a realistic way to address much of a thorny problem.

Against this:

  1. His idea of being “bipartisan” is to barely acknowledge the opposition party, with one appointment to a less-than-critical office.

  2. He seems to have confused being President of the United States with being leader of the Republican Party. There are times for a President to take partisan action – but Mr. Bush doesn’t seem to be able to get out of that mold.

  3. Far too much of his social agenda is driven by his ties to the Religious Right. And because he’s not totally in line with them, he pleases nobody at all. Nor does he exert leadership to forge a consensus behind his own views.

  4. He’s fallen prey to the “national security” meme – anything can be justified if it can be pleaded as important to the national security. In doing so, he’s chipped away at the edges of a lot of legal guarantees of rights.

  5. He has either connived at the subversion of intelligence gathering and interpretation in support of his military adventures and diplomatic moves, or has been condemnably negligent in keeping others from doing so.

  6. Karl Rove. Presidential political operatives have been important in national leadership structures before, and will be again. But Rove has infinitely too much influence – and Rove’s dedication is to what will elect conservative Republicans, not to America as a whole.

There’s much more I can say here, but that’s a quick summary of what comes to mind.

If he isn’t the worst he sure is a contender. He isn’t competent in breadth or depth of knowledge to be President and he doesn’t know it. He has a distorted view of the relationship between the branches of government, thinking that the Executive is all that matters. Whatever the Executive decides, the other branches are there to get that done. He has been quoted as saying that the nice thing about being President is that you can do whatever you want. This is exceedingly poisonous to our governmental system and has already seriously damaged it. The Republican Congress did little, if anything, to control Bush’s excesses and now that the Democrats are in control of at least one house their attempts to rein in his excesses will result in more partisan wrangling.

Is anybody else a little startled that the comic strip Doonesbury predicted this incident back on January 27?


My vote is ‘not sure’, but probably not.

This administration is one of the more incompetent ones though. Couple this with the huge amount of corruption and it sure deserves at least an honorable mention.

I think in many circumstances, GWB could have been seen as a lame-duck, uneventful president. History dealt him the good fortune of overwhelming congressional support, along with the good faith of the public (and the world) after 9/11. Being who he is, there was no other option for him but to screw it up.

[ul][li]He’s started a war less noble than WWII, and arguably on par with or less noble than every other war we have ever been involved with.[/li][li]He has taken away personal freedoms that will not return in the foreseeable future[/li][li]He has encouraged open discrimination against homosexuals[/li][li]He has increased the wealth/class gap and hurt small businesses with his tax plan[/li][li]He has avoided opportunities to make progress towards lessening our negative impact on the environment[/li][li]He has floundered on education, social security, and healthcare[/li][li]His foreign policy issues - even if you want to argue that they aren’t as bad as other presidents’ - have more of an impact simply due to his place in history (global economy, information age, shrinking world)*[/li][/ul]

One could write a few pages on each of these bullet points and make a great argument for Bush being the worst president ever. I personally think he is, but it is a subjective question. Not everyone is going to agree.

*This includes many other issues, including the environment. Most presidents - bastards though they may have been - simply lacked the technology to be as bad as Bush.

You know, everytime I try to protest that Bush isn’t absolutely the worst President ever, and that to say so is at least some measure of hyperbole, he goes and does something that completely undermines even that rationale. It’s almost like clockwork that I’ll say such a thing, and then there’ll be new revelations of government-sanctioned torture, underground prisons in Eastern Europe, people held incommunicado indefinitely based upon suspicion, abeyance of even a transparent interest of nominal allies, accusing his opponents of treason, et cetera. The only thing that keeps him from veering into authoritarian dictatorship are the eroding walls of Constitutional restraint and his own pig ignorance on both public policy and foreign relations. David Simmons is correct; if he’s not the worst, he ranks right up there. He makes his fellow Texan former President Lyndon Johnson look competent and restrained by comparison.


All of that is true (to a greater extent, no less) of the SDMB’s favorite villain, Andrew Jackson.

Jackson also:
-tried to destroy America’s monetary system by eliminating the (second) Bank of the United States, even though the public was for it continuing.]
-was responsible for the Trail of Tears, openly flaunting a Supreme Court decision.
-openly claimed that his will was “absolute”.
-was so disliked by Congress that a new party split from his (IIRC, the Whigs).
I’m fairly certain I’m forgetting another dozen or so things that made him a horrible president, but I think the above list is plenty.

No. I’d say “the worst in living memory” however.

I’d go for worst administration ever.

Rolling Stone says maybe.

Peering into the future doesn’t count!

And in any case, remember how that turned out for you last time.

<ahem> Flouting.

I really don’t think we can answer the question yet. After all, we already know how Buchanan’s administration turned out, but all the decisions Bush has made up to this point are still playing themselves out, and he’s still got another 674 days to go.

Maybe the “surge” will work; peace will break out in Iraq, the Sunnis and Shi’ites and Arabs and Kurds will all come together in a spirit of brotherhood, and liberty and justice for all will flourish. Bush will be remembered as a great and visionary statesman! Then, he’ll invent a “cold fusion” machine the size of a toaster that can extract limitless energy from ordinary water, and he’ll get the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize in Physics!

Or, things may get much, much worse. Even barring something like Bush ordering a full-scale attack on Iran at some point in the next 22 months, we still haven’t seen all the consequences of the the decisions he’s already made. Iraq could slide into full-scale Somalia-style collapse; that could drag Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and everyone else in the region into an all-out pan-Middle Eastern war of all against all, perhaps somehow involving Pakistan and therefore India, and ultimately the U.S., Russia, and China. If 22nd century historians record Bush as the blunderer who dragged us all into World War III, I think he’ll rank even lower than Buchanan.

Surprisingly for many readers, perhaps… I am going to agree with this.

I regret pressing the point, but is this a retreat from your 2008 predictions?

p.s. Your power of understatement must not go unacknowledged.

No. I’m reasonably sure Bush won’t be a candidate in 2008.