Worst president in US history?

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The Republican performance in this week's midterm elections has led many commentators to describe Bush as the most disastrous leader in US history. But what about the competition? We asked the experts to cast their votes:

George W Bush: chosen by Owen Dudley Edwards

The question "who is the worst US president" is something I have thought long and hard about and the answer is very simple: it is the incumbent president. I had previously thought that Nixon was the worst and there were other candidates such as Warren Harding - but they all pale in comparison to Bush. He has displaced all his predecessors. Nobody has been quite as appalling....

George W Bush - chosen by A C Grayling

Bush certainly is the worst president since the start of the 20th century. Before then, there was very little that US presidents could do. They did not have the same influence in world affairs that they have today. So since the start of the 20th century is the only basis for comparison. The first reason for Bush being the worst US president is his insensitivity and his ignorance. Before he became president he was asked questions such as what is the capital of Sweden - and he showed that he was very, very poorly prepared....

Herbert Hoover - chosen by Stefan Halper

The US has had a number of presidents who in various ways were unsuited to their era. There was Herbert Hoover, who was unable to grasp the dimensions of the Depression, and his willingness to engage in national resources was also very limited....

Calvin Coolidge - chosen by William Shawcross

The amazing thing about America is how many presidents have been good, not how many have been terrible. Never underestimate America or its leaders.

Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan were all dismissed at the time - but all made huge contributions to the West's security, and above all Europe. To dismiss George Bush as the worst is as absurd as it is fashionable. Afghanistan is still fragile but it is a far better place for the majority of its people than it was under the Taliban, whom Bush (and Blair) ousted....

George W Bush - chosen by Antony Beevor

Bush has been a completely disastrous president. The whole of his strategy - if you can give it that word, which I don't think you can - has been based on completely false historical parallels.

Part of the problem was the fact that the neocons were part of the Vietnam generation. The idea behind Vietnam was the domino theory, in which they believed that Communism would spread from country to country....

Jimmy Carter - chosen by Andrew Roberts

Carter was the worst US president, there is no question of that. I can't imagine how anyone can possibly think of citing anyone else. He brought America to its lowest ebb in the most disastrous decade to have struck America....

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More Comments:

Jeffery Ewener - 11/15/2006

In the wake of the Vietnamese catastrophe, he tried to point out to Americans that they had reached the limits of their power, that the wise path to the future lay in conserving the nation's wealth -- its resources, yes, but also its military power, its international reputation, its social cohesion.

This was a deeply unpopular position. Americans preferred the Blanche Dubois-like fantasies of Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush 2, viewing stock market-driven social breakdown as wealth creation and military quagmires as the road to victory. The result today is a country that is poorer in nearly every way, and gathering more downward momentum all the time.

Not that Carter was perfect, by any means. His Administration vvirtually created the mujaheddin. But he did stand beside an historical crossroads and try to point America in the better direction. History doesn't repeat itself. It probably doesn't reverse itself either.

John Edward Philips - 11/13/2006

None of these people seem aware of anything that happened before the twentieth century. Even if Bush starts a Civil War or otherwise approaches total collapse of the United States, it will have taken him two terms to do it. Buchanan led us into a Civil War in one.