HNN Poll: 61% of Historians Rate the Bush Presidency Worst





Mr. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College. His latest book, Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America, has just been published by Crown.

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  • “As far as history goes and all of these quotes about people trying to guess what the history of the Bush administration is going to be, you know, I take great comfort in knowing that they don’t know what they are talking about, because history takes a long time for us to reach.”— George W. Bush, Fox News Sunday, Feb10, 2008

    A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that the share of the American public that approves of President George W. Bush has dropped to a new low of 28 percent.

    An unscientific poll of professional historians completed the same week produced results far worse for a president clinging to the hope that history will someday take a kinder view of his presidency than does contemporary public opinion.

    In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

    Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations.

    At least two of those who ranked the current president in the 31-41 ranking made it clear that they placed him next-to-last, with only James Buchanan, in their view, being worse. “He is easily one of the 10-worst of all time and—if the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities matter—then probably in the bottom five, alongside Buchanan, Johnson, Fillmore, and Pierce,” wrote another historian.

    The reason for the hesitancy some historians had in categorizing the Bush presidency as the worst ever, which led them to place it instead in the “nearly the worst” group, was well expressed by another historian who said, “It is a bit too early to judge whether Bush's presidency is the worst ever, though it certainly has a shot to take the title.  Without a doubt, it is among the worst.”

    In a similar survey of historians I conducted for HNN four years ago, Mr. Bush had fared somewhat better, with 19 percent rating his presidency a success and 81 percent classifying it as a failure. More striking is the dramatic increase in the percentage of historians who rate the Bush presidency the worst ever. In 2004, only 11.6 percent of the respondents rated Bush’s presidency last. That conclusion is now reached by nearly six times as large a fraction of historians.

    There are at least two obvious criticisms of such a survey. It is in no sense a scientific sample of historians. The participants are self-selected, although participation was open to all historians. Among those who responded are several of the nation’s most respected historians, including Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winners.

    The second criticism that is often raised of historians making such assessments of a current president is that it is far too early. We do not yet know how the things that Mr. Bush has done will work out in the future. As the only respondent who classified the current presidency among the ten best noted, “Any judgment of his ‘success’ or lack thereof is premature in that the ultimate effects of his policies are not yet known.” True enough. But this historian went on to make his current evaluation, giving Bush “high marks for courage in his willingness to attack intractable problems in the Near East and to touch the Social Security ‘Third Rail.’ ”
     
    Historians are in a better position than others to make judgments about how a current president’s policies and actions compare with those of his predecessors. Those judgments are always subject to change in light of future developments. But that is no reason not to make them now.

    The comments that many of the respondents included with their evaluations provide a clear sense of the reasons behind the overwhelming consensus that George W. Bush’s presidency is among the worst in American history.

    “No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” wrote one. “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.” 

    “With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,” said another historian. “When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of area: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.”

    One historian indicated that his reason for rating Bush as worst is that the current president combines traits of some of his failed predecessors: “the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover. . . . . God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.” Another classified Bush as “an ideologue who got the nation into a totally unnecessary war, and has broken the Constitution more often than even Nixon. He is not a conservative, nor a Christian, just an immoral man . . . .” Still another remarked that Bush’s “denial of any personal responsibility can only be described as silly.”

    “It would be difficult to identify a President who, facing major international and domestic crises, has failed in both as clearly as President Bush,” concluded one respondent. “His domestic policies,” another noted, “have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.”

    “George Bush has combined mediocrity with malevolent policies and has thus seriously damaged the welfare and standing of the United States,” wrote one of the historians, echoing the assessments of many of his professional colleagues. “Bush does only two things well,” said one of the most distinguished historians.  “He knows how to make the very rich very much richer, and he has an amazing talent for f**king up everything else he even approaches.  His administration has been the most reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, mendacious, arrogant, self-righteous, incompetent, and deeply corrupt one in all of American history.” 

    Four years ago I rated George W. Bush’s presidency as the second worst, a bit above that of James Buchanan. Now, however, like so many other professional historians, I see the administration of the second Bush as clearly the worst in our history. My reasons are similar to those cited by other historians: In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States enjoyed enormous support around the world. President Bush squandered that goodwill by taking the country into an unnecessary war of choice and misleading the American people to gain support for that war. And he failed utterly to have a plan to deal with Iraq after the invasion. He further undermined the international reputation of the United States by justifying torture.

    Mr. Bush inherited a sizable budget surplus and a thriving economy. By pushing through huge tax cuts for the rich while increasing federal spending at a rapid rate, Bush transformed the surplus into a massive deficit. The tax cuts and other policies accelerated the concentration of wealth and income among the very richest Americans. These policies combined with unwavering opposition to necessary government regulations have produced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Then there is the incredible shrinking dollar, the appointment of incompetent cronies, the totally inexcusable failure to react properly to the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, the blatant disregard for the Constitution—and on and on.

    Like a majority of other historians who participated in this poll, my conclusion is that the preponderance of the evidence now indicates that, while this nation has had at least its share of failed presidencies, no previous presidency was as large a failure in so many areas as the current one.



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    James A Madison - 11/28/2010

    Re-poll these Historians and don't allow them to be anonymous. Hiding their credentials invalidates the results.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 2/17/2009

    I regret my pessimism,Carl.

    President Bush was right and I was wrong: Iraq HAS emerged now as a democracy, after all.


    John Olerud - 2/3/2009

    Without a doubt Jimmy Carter is the worst President in our history.


    pete alan schnapp - 1/18/2009

    Actually, the one TRUE measure of accuracy in history is who, behind the curtain, is paying the historian doing the "research".
    Example;
    Zionist/neocon "spin" calls Reagan a great president. He was a traitor as is "Ollie" North.
    One whom, I heard with my own ears, Reagan called a "true American Hero".
    Now, if running interference for a treasonous president can be construed as "heroic" I guess he was then?


    pete alan schnapp - 1/18/2009

    By your statement it would seem you take for granted that the elections were accurate and awarded to the rightful winner. Don't forget the complicity in the THEFT of those elections by DIEBOLD and a biased Supreme Court.


    pete alan schnapp - 1/18/2009

    Stuart Buck Wrote;

    "....and fighting a foolish war isn't unique even if one limits oneself to the past 40 years)."

    Foolish doesn't come close to what that swine and his minions perpetrated on the world. Foolish implies it was some sort of accident. such as "oops, sorry friend, I accidently slipped and put my penis in your wife's vagina".
    he, along with his Zionist handlers manipulated intel from the cowards at the C.I.A. and LIED the sheeple into a slaughter comparable only to "Ike's" slaughter of German POWS AFTER the close of WW2.


    bill nichols - 1/16/2009

    The several U.S. history courses that I took as an undergraduate were taught by professors who were both Republicans, by admission. I consider myself a left-leaning Democrat. How did I go so wrong?


    Marc K. Hoenig - 1/9/2009

    I am new to this post and am not an historian. I don't have ready access to the literature, but I was wondering if anyone can direct me to articles, books, etc. showing how the Democratic Party was complicit in all of Bush's failures. As bad as Bush is, he could not have failed so miserably without help.


    Robert Eoin Downey - 12/29/2008

    Mr. Ullman, I take issue with most of your comments. Not all, but most. There seems debate as to when historians should be allowed to take aim at events and declare their opinion. I'm not a historian, just an observer of events.

    I served a very successful term as mayor of my Town and contributed with leadership to bring my people back from a previous time of confusion and terrible division. My administration was during a period embedded in the Bush years. The strategies I used to make it happen were totally opposite to what I've seen from the Bush admistration. It has been painful to watch this example of the 'Peter Principle' take this nation in directions I never thought possible.

    Without reservation, I believe right now is time to look at the years of GWB. Historians need to serve in the effort of determing how we got here so current leaders will have a base point from which to work forward to clean up a terrible mess. To me, an event becomes history the moment after the occurence. If I burn my hand on a hot stove, the pain I feel is the undeniable result of an event that has just occured. I don't need to wait to analyze the effect. I'll begin to live with that result immediately. I don't need to wait for someone else to tell me my hand hurts!

    The 109 'historians' in the poll were not stated to represent a scientific selection, nor were their opinions expected to be the final call on the eight years of President Bush. Learned is that 109 educated people in April 2008, weighed in with their 'current view'.
    These views will undoubtedly be tempered in the future as the domestic misery subsides and if Iraq become a success.

    I agree there were plenty of events that were not 'caused' by George Bush but how he reacted is fair game for historians, right now. You cite several and I'm not going to debate each now, case by case.

    If you like the way these past eight years have evolved and see GWB as an innocent player in a world of unpreventable events you have company. About 20% of our population will agee with you



    Marcel Antonio - 12/22/2008

    It does not take a collection of emminent scholars to deduce the fact that George W. Bush's presidency is an abject, complete failure. He single-handedly amassed the greatest debt in our entire history, is responsible for the deaths and disfigurement of countless Afghani, Iraqi and American peoples, failed to defend and protect the Constitution (by torturing and indefinitely detaining foreign nationals, denying legal rights to suspects, abrogating the Constitutional rights of Americans, etc, etc) waged an unjust war on false pretenses, failed to protect Americans from imminent danger from Al Qaeda, failed to help Americans affected by Katrina, and is currently overseeing the continued implosion of our economy. Were Mr. Bush and his many agents not the most immoral and delusional and incompetent group of public servents I do believe that the American people never would have considered--let alone elected--the first colored American to be our next President.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you W.


    Michael Wade - 12/1/2008

    Let's see: runaway debt, a disastrously unnecessary war, the calculated erosion of the Bill of Rights, failure to deal with illegal immigration, and the collapse of the country's financial system. Amazing that someone could consider serious concerns over these follies, and others, merely evidence of bias by historians, people who generally deal in reasoned judgments based on evidence. There's a problem with judgment alright, but not in the survey.


    Andrew Liu - 11/4/2008

    Time Events

    February 28, 2001 The 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake near Seattle, WA.

    2001 "9/11" – 3000 deaths; anthrax and snipers crises in Washington, DC.

    2001-2002 Enron, WorldCom, and Arthur Anderson collapsed; Recession I.

    February 1, 2003 Space shuttle Columbia disintegrated and crew lost.

    2004 Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Alex pounded Florida – a worst hurricane season in years.

    August, 2005 Hurricane Katrina – 2000 deaths.

    2006 Republican Party lost control of both houses of congress in the midterm election.

    2007-2008 Subprime mortgage crisis.

    Early summer, 2008 Mississippi River flooding worst in 15 years.

    Fall, 2008 Recession II unfolding.


    william s cormeny - 11/3/2008

    I doubt if historians would consider their anger toward Bush and his supporters.I can understand how this anger exists since many of Bush's supporters remain firmly in the Reagan Camp. Reagan had a great deal of success against academics who managed in their desire for freedom to help boost him into office.
    This was just like Coolidge who was glad the policemen went on strike and decided against their better judgment to stay out
    Similar actions by supporters have doomed presidents. Imagine FDR without the Bonus Army,Hoover,and MacArthur.Imagine Tricky Dick Nixon running on a platform called "Closing the Credibility Gap."
    However, Bush condemned his party by sending not one, but two old white men to the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.Single handedly this destroyed any chance for the Republicans to reach out to Hispanics and Women.
    Like LBJ,Nixon,Hoover,Buchanan,Van Buren,Wilson,who left their party in shambles,Bush will go down as a failure.
    The numbers do not lie. He managed to help torpedo the House Republicans and went a long way toward wiping out a plausible majority in the Senate.
    Above all he ignored a reasonable reform of the medical system and the present insurance industry which has lived off offshore accounts,and feeble non-profit accounting principles.If 75% of the people want these reforms,what good does it do to oppose the numbers?


    P. VN - 10/14/2008

    I think that the economic meltdown that accelerated in the third quarter and early fourth quarter of 2008 clinches the title of worst president since 1789 for George W. Bush. Anyone for a constitutional amendment requiring yearly neuropsychological testing of the president and VP?


    Mike Moose - 9/8/2008

    Isn't it a bit too early for historians to be rating Bush? Shouldn't we wait about 50 or so years to see how all the policies he enacted play out?


    joseph ullman - 9/7/2008

    had to look up a few things to continue my response to McElvaine.
    At the time RMN (that's Richard Milhous Nixon) was resigning, I suspect there wouldn't be many people who would have rated his administration(s) highly. A detested crook, a brooding personality, alleged AntiSemite (always amazed at these anti semites who hire guys like Henry Kissinger), who resigned in shame.
    So let's look at his legacy, and compare it, say, to GWB or Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton.
    What did RMN accomplish?

    The EPA was started during his administration.
    He ended the Vietnam war, inherited from the Eisenhower/Kennedy/Johnson administrations. (BTW, how many kids were killed in Vietnam, compared, to say, Iraq? How many kids were killed in Iraq to date compared to the daily death toll WORLDWIDE in WWI? Answers below, historians).
    Let's see, oh yes. He opened the way to China for international relations.
    Let's see, oh yes. He actually outlined the strategy to defeat the USSR - (not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing in the eyes of the 109 historians here....) in his book The Real War, which was subsequently credited to Ronald Reagan.
    He - oh yes, during his administration 18 year olds got the vote. Now the demographics of that one - millions of kids who can't find Iraq on a map - voting for Obama - that is sure to warm the hearts of the Bush haters.

    So, 5 major accomplishments - huge accomplishments - for the most hated president in my lifetime.

    And carter or clintons' legacy?
    45,000 dead during Vietnam; what - 3500 so far in Iraq? Some quagmire.

    3500 in Iraq. 6000-9000 people a DAY died worldwide from WWI. A day.

    Consider the source, ladies and gentlemen. These 109 historians hate GWB. They are guilty of letting their opinions masquerade as history. Shame on all of them.


    joseph ullman - 9/6/2008

    this is amazing. This qualifies as a headline, as history? First of all, this is an informal "poll" of 109 people? Who are they? What are their qualifications? OK, Mr. McElvaine is from Milsaps college. Now, to paraphrase a liberal blogger commenting on Sarah Palin, is Milsaps a, uh, third tier college?

    So just for an introduction, Mr. McElvaine categorizes all GWB's failings, which is nice, because when I hear assholes like James Carville proclaim that GWB is the worst president of all time, nobody can actually tell me why.

    But any historian without bias and with intelligence certainly knows that the ramifications of a presidency take decades to play out, and likewise the successes and failures are often not immediately visible. Likewise, the successes can be on the coattails of prior administration's, and finally there are many things a President has nothing to do with, like economic cycles.
    But as i was reading these screeds, which basically amount to stock liberal complaints - violation of the Constitution, a meaningless war, fall of the dollar, etc. one stood out. That is the line "And he failed utterly to have a plan to deal with Iraq after the invasion".
    Well, what do you know. Just this morning, oh, about 8AM, I read this line in Ken Timmerman's book Shadow Warriors. "The detailed blueprint for the post war period became known as OPLAN Iraqi Reconstruction. Nearly 300 pages long, it was activated at the end of April 2003 by USCENTCOM OPORD 10-03. Postwar reconstruction was split up into seven broad areas.....the elite media continued to blast out their preagreed message. BUsh had launced the wrong war in the wrong place, with NO PLAN for after the shooting stopped. No one seemed to care that those accusations were untrue."

    There are many other leaps of opinion in Mr. McElvaine's editorial. The usual clamor about making the rich richer, the acceleration of wealth among the richest Americans, incompetent cronies (name them. Compared to what? Clinton? Carter? you must be kidding.) Greatest economic crisis? Where are the breadlines, the strikes, the starvation, the 21% interest rates? Where's Ray Nagin and the idiocy of the populace in NOLA during Katrina, Mr. McElvaine? I was sitting in Maine watching the Weather Channel and I KNEW the storm was coming. Don't lay it all on Mr. Bush. And you should know you cannot judge a war's success during its campaigns. And it is downright silly to point to Bush as responsible for the loss of American dominance. That is a complex series of events that has developed over decades with the advent of the microchip, cross fertilization(and theft) of intellectual property by the Chinese, cost of doing business being cheaper in India, and American reconstruction of Europe after the second world war.
    Mr. McElvaine, you shouldn't be allowed to teach, because you just aren't credible and haven't documented your points.
    Regards
    J. Ullman
    Falmouth, ME


    Rich DiSilvio - 9/5/2008

    It seems that the comments by George Shirey and Jonathan Maskevich best sum up this biased attack on Bush by a barrage of leftist liberals.

    I am no Bush fan anymore, I did vote for him, but rating him the worst of all time is not only wrong but also premature. I learned early on that you cannot truly judge a president that is currently in office. Far too many repercussions occur years or even a decade later and top secret information cannot be released until a comfortable amount of time transpires in order to preserve nation security.

    However, my assessment was that we cannot fully judge Bush here and now, but his ratings and actions have indeed fallen short in many avenues. His ineptitude regarding border control is just one of those many deficits and condoning the economic domination by China and India are crucial problems that we must tackle.

    However, as others here noted, Bush did have to confront a new foe that is nothing like what the military is accustomed to. Radical Islamic zealots that become suicide bombers are nothing like a legitimate nation that can be easily targeted and reproved.

    Furthermore, those that overlook the concessions and ineptitude of Jimmy Carter, which caused tremendous repercussions for America, as the Soviets spread communism across the globe under his reign more than any other president, plus he gave away the Panama Canal, and the Iranians held American hostages until the day Reagan took office, must be placed along side Bush to realize that others might steal the dishonor of "Worst President" along with Buchanan.

    On a final note, and as others here keenly noted, Saddam was indeed a brutal mass murderer, yet these pious historians on this Democratic panel clearly overlook that huge and heinous issue. Perhaps if they lived in Iraq under his bloody regime their opinions would be different. Never mind perhaps...MOST ASSUREDLY!


    Jack Jerald Thomsen - 8/13/2008

    Jews like him because he's a tool for Israel. Full disclosure is necessary when commenting on this president.

    I'll go first.

    I am not a Jew.

    next?


    Jack Jerald Thomsen - 8/13/2008

    Jews like him because he's a tool for Israel. Full disclosure is necessary when commenting on this president.

    I'll go first.

    I am not a Jew.

    next?


    Cole Greenman - 8/9/2008

    I know another poster mentioned it earlier already but it is worth noting again; the amount of information we have access to now, and the speed with which we are able to access it as compared to Truman's time.

    A history teacher of mine in High School once said that it usually takes about 20 years before something can officially deemed 'history'. That being said, I think its fair to pass judgment on Bush now based on the things we know, while simultaneously recognizing that the later historical record may contradict our current findings.


    Cole Greenman - 8/9/2008

    Sorry I'm late to the party on this, I just signed up for this site but I find the articles and commentary interesting.

    Reagan the best of the 20th century? So if the Iran-Contra scandal and the support of 'freedom fighters' (aka right wing paramilitary groups across South America trained to torture and murder peasants indiscriminately, the taliban and other islamofascist organizations) who would later be dubbed 'terrorists' earns him the moniker of best of the 20th century, surely you can't think Bush is that bad?

    I agree with you on Bush and immigration however, I am generally probably considered 'liberal' on most issues but as soon as 9/11 happened my first thought was not Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere in the middle east, but rather our very own borders. It still baffles me how even the most hardcore of conservatives can't see this issue right in front of their eyes, Bush giving amnesty to millions of illegals, presumably to keep the flow of cheap labor coming for his buddies running transnational corporations. If national security and the safety of Americans at home were really his administrations concern, at least a quarter if not more of that money spent in Iraq should have been used on beefing up border security (not just Mexico, coast guard and northern borders as well).

    As far as global warming is concerned, enough scientists from the international community without any particular political agenda have backed up the science that is there enough for me to be convinced. I know its oversimplifying things but if you put some people in a confined space filled with trees and start pumping it full of co2 and cutting down the trees faster than they can recirculate the oxygen, eventually there will be consequences as a result of this.

    I know you didn't make this particular point but I just wanted to mention that I find the argument about "there hasn't been an attack in six years since 9/11 so he should be praised for that" to be nonsense. There wasn't an attack on our soil for the 6 years prior to 9/11, so who should get the credit for that?

    Even though you are clearly much more conservative than I, it seems we could probably both agree that Ron Paul would have been the best candidate to serve the interests of the American people. I was beginning to believe there wasn't a conservative left on the internet that I could find common ground with, good to know you're not all as stubborn and arrogant as the Bush admin.


    Robert M. Cerello - 8/6/2008

    Instead of boring you with a lengthy disquisition on how very much I claim to know about constitutional marketplaces of citizens--constitutional theory of societal associations of categorically equal citizens--let me instead approach Mr. Bush's record in three brief ways not covered by the author here nor by the other commenters.
    (I.) Unlike all other U.S. presidents before him, Mr. Bush admitted that he was NOT trying to be a president; that he would use Kantian false headlines, deceptively labeled acts and "proposed laws" and falsified science, data, facts and testimony to sway disinformed public opinion; and by floating a wildly radical hypothesis of secret imperial presidential powers--extending to all those who ever whispered in the caesarean ear even when he was not listening to their advice--Mr. Bush made it abundantly clear that:
    1. He was not going to be president of the U.S. but rather benevolent tyrannos--sole "decider".
    2. He was not willing to abide by constitutional regulations, permissions, duties and limitations placed upon the holder of the former office of elected "president".
    3. His decisions were going to be made by means of mystical "religio"--whispered instructions given to him from white-bearded deities, these mystical insights handed him from another universe--and not as Abraham Lincoln put the case by means of decisions made "as God gives me to see 'the right"...
    (II.) Mr. Bush and his cronies talk a lot about empowerment; but for eight years they continued the disempowerment--enslavement--of individual rights-holding citizens, who now have no rights at all in the 3 main marketplaces of the empire.
    1. In the marketplace of goods and services Mr. Bush believes "he governs best who governs least"; so he has dismantled all regulatory defining, regulation applying and oversight agencies; his preference if carried out logically would exclude all regulations--that being the "best" regulations by his irrational standard.
    2. In the marketplace of hiring and attainment of idea level leadership in jobs, Mr. Bush's court has recently refused to hear "sole petitioner complaints" meaning the individual citizen,s unless he belongs to an approved collective no longer has the rights to life, liberty and the prioritized pursuit of personally satisfying non-criminal individual aims.
    3. In the marketplace of elective and appointive officer positions, he has refused to charter, reform or recognize a federal elections commission; perhaps his reluctance to do so stems from his having been handed two elections via irregularities and neo-fascist tactics against politically-opposed voters in Florida, Ohio and several other states.
    (III.) Mr. Bush has nominated the public-interest lawmaking he pursues in the U.S. as "a nation of laws", one not bound by liberal ethics:
    "Concern with the rights and freedoms of the individual as opposed to any collective" (dictionary definition). By means of this extraordinary assertion, Mr. Bush has placed "law" as he defines it--a presidential signing statement or enacted legislation, regulation etc.
    into the category of "dictates: "orders announced by an infallible pseudo-religious annunciator as to what each man must say he believes or doesn't believe, must do or refrain from doing, must agree to pay or agree to receive in order to avoid punishment by authorities who act against criminals." This un-American attitude--the Declaration of Independence categorically states that ""governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed; and that when any government becomes destructive of these ends (securing individual liberty, selfish rights and pursuit of non-criminal happiness under regulated conduct" it shall be the right of the people (governed) to alter or abolish this constitution".
    Clearly, Mr. Bush has precisely violated the American purpose of the Constitution, substituting "final decider totalitarian inerrability" in his presidency for "securing rights to individual citizens by legal use of executive branch powers".
    For these reasons alone, along with pseudo--religious pretensions, moral pretensions, ethical pretensions, the failure of every statue, program and activity ever deliberately undertaken by his administration's officers, Mr. Bush stands accused of total failure, lying about his every intention, politicizing every department and function of government, seeking totalitarian powers for the presidency, blaming "government" for what was manifestly his and his illegal party's deliberate betrayal of and refusal to work within the existing system of constitutional government. When one adds Mr. Bush's party's use of swiftboating, the use of slander, false terminology, deliberate lies, character attacks, refusal to accept attested facts, refusal to deal through standards-based agreed-upon evaluations and a comprehensive war against category-level science, scientifically-gathered data and assembled facts, the reason for their failure as governors, moralists, ethicists and thinkers becomes self-evident: unrealism. Postmodernism refers, I claim, to the substitution of whims, god-playing lies, fantasies, preferred versions--anything and everything--for the prioritized definition of real space-time, its workings, nature and conditions. This is the unrealism Mr. \Bush has perpetrated on his victims, the former citizens of a destroyed republic.
    And it is for these activities that he should be considered in a micro-controlling dictator class formerly only imagined by Presidents Pierce, Buchanan and Polk in a technologically simpler
    era. And by these actions that he must be judged not merely "much the worst of all U.S. presidents" but indeed as "no president at all"--a radical, pseudo-theocratic postmodernist benevolent dictator only pretending to be president in order to seize more totalitarian power for himself and the office that he has so profoundly;y brought into question, denigrated and defiled. His reinvasion ofIraq--the onl;y dictatorship in the NearEast whose enemies to us lacked power to attack to us--was the worst and most chacarteristic blunder of his making. But he used the false identification of "terrorism" with out p.r. contest in that dangerous region against pseudo-religious mass-murdering extremists as a target for military operations--which it could never be, even though Iraq was the last place on planet we belonged at that time. So we must add a-strategic stupidity of an unpralleled historic level to every area Mr. Bush has addressed during his shocking and immensely destructive regime of anti-thisworldly farce leading to inevitanle tragedy.


    R.R. Hamilton - 7/24/2008

    I have to admit that while I predicted from the beginning that Obama would throw his pastor under the bus to get elected, I didn't expect him to throw the DailyKosers and other nutroots under the bus quite so pre-emptively. Plus he's push Michelle to the back of the bus -- like leaving her at home while he goes globe-trotting.

    As Obama punks his nutroot supporters and moves nearly to the Right of McCain on many of the issues (admittedly easy to do), I think Obama's prospects improve. My old friend Bill Burton is doing quite a job.


    David Holland - 7/21/2008

    Kevin Kosar wrote: "Sure, one might point to his actions or inactions on hot button policies and issues (the Middle East, the environment, etc.) that one reads about in the newspapers, but what of less well-known activities, like recent reforms of the federal rule-making process, or improvements in government procurement, or increased appropriations for arts education programs?...Assessing him on a few but not the many others seems like cherry-picking. yes, some issues, like war and peace, might be weighed more heavily than others."

    Kevin thank goodness you acknowledge that "some issues...might be weighed more heavily than others" so that we can avoid a philosophical argument. That said, which President has ever been evaluated for his "rule-making, procurement procedures, or arts funding?" I think that historians, like most people, focus on how a leader responded to the "weighty" issues of his own time.

    Possibly "rules and procurement procedures" can be weighted heavily for some of the first presidents, such as Washington or Jefferson, because they were setting a precedent. However, even in those instances these things mattered--were "weighty"--because they were crucial for THEIR time.

    Undoubtedly 9/11, America's falling place in the world economy, Katrina, energy policy, sub-prime mortgages, the dollar's rapid devaluation, and global warming are some of the most crucial issues this president has had to face. In each instance his response or lack thereof has had an immediate-and probably long lasting-negative impact.

    If we delve into the other aspects of the large Executive Branch, as you suggest, then there is the Justice Dept. debacle, the anti-scientific stance at the EPA (remember Christie Todd Whitman?), torture by the military, extraordinary rendition by the CIA, no-bid cost-plus contracts for Haliburtion and KBR, an across-the-board lack of oversight by Inspector's General, unfunded mandates by Dept. of Education, "anti-UN" Bolton at the UN in a time of international crisis, lack of effective diplomacy from State Dept., Homeland Security still has not effectively secured our ports, the whole issue of an extra-legal Private Army in Blackwater, and so on.

    Furthermore, at the Party level, all of the above has done more to harm the Republican Party coalition that was on the ascent since Reagan. Fiscal conservatives are jumping ship, "Reagan Democrats" are returning to the Dem. party, libertarians are grousing over the loss of civil liberties, pundits are now openly discussing what it will take to rebuild the GOP.

    So tell me, do you really think that some day, decades from now, historians are going to find some obscure "rule" that Bush implemented, some "procurement" procedure, or "arts funding" that will turn the tide of consensus in his favor?

    While you condemn focusing on the weighty issues as "cherry picking," that which you offer borders on irrelevance. It is akin to remaining with an adulterous spouse because he/she is really good about taking out the trash. It is infinitely minuscule by comparison.

    At some level this whole issue of a Historians' poll and ranking presidents is superficial and silly. People writing in these blogs argue over how historians in the future will treat Bush. As a historian, about the only thing I can say with any certainty about the future is that we don't know what it will bring. I can venture a guess that it looks like the future belongs to Asia, therefore American presidents may be relegated to being merely historical footnotes.

    As for Bush it is pointless to argue what the future will say of him. I suppose the "28%" find it reassuring to think that they will be vindicated someday, and conversely the other 72% think the same, but we have no way of knowing...we will be dead by then.

    What concerns me is OUR TIME, and OUR PRESIDENT. We are the ones who have to live with him. I make my assessment as a citizen living NOW. He has failed miserably across the board, on issues both large and small. Furthermore, he has left members of his own Party worried whether the GOP will recover quickly or if it will take several election cycles.


    David Holland - 7/21/2008

    Kevin Kosar wrote: "Sure, one might point to his actions or inactions on hot button policies and issues (the Middle East, the environment, etc.) that one reads about in the newspapers, but what of less well-known activities, like recent reforms of the federal rule-making process, or improvements in government procurement, or increased appropriations for arts education programs?...Assessing him on a few but not the many others seems like cherry-picking. yes, some issues, like war and peace, might be weighed more heavily than others."

    Kevin thank goodness you acknowledge that "some issues...might be weighed more heavily than others" so that we can avoid a philosophical argument. That said, which President has ever been evaluated for his "rule-making, procurement procedures, or arts funding?" I think that historians, like most people, focus on how a leader responded to the "weighty" issues of his own time.

    Possibly "rules and procurement procedures" can be weighted heavily for some of the first presidents, such as Washington or Jefferson, because they were setting a precedent. However, even in those instances these things mattered--were "weighty"--because they were crucial for THEIR time.

    Undoubtedly 9/11, America's falling place in the world economy, Katrina, energy policy, sub-prime mortgages, the dollar's rapid devaluation, and global warming are some of the most crucial issues this president has had to face. In each instance his response or lack thereof has had an immediate-and probably long lasting-negative impact.

    If we delve into the other aspects of the large Executive Branch, as you suggest, then there is the Justice Dept. debacle, the anti-scientific stance at the EPA (remember Christie Todd Whitman?), torture by the military, extraordinary rendition by the CIA, no-bid cost-plus contracts for Haliburtion and KBR, an across-the-board lack of oversight by Inspector's General, unfunded mandates by Dept. of Education, "anti-UN" Bolton at the UN in a time of international crisis, lack of effective diplomacy from State Dept., Homeland Security still has not effectively secured our ports, the whole issue of an extra-legal Private Army in Blackwater, and so on.

    Furthermore, at the Party level, all of the above has done more to harm the Republican Party coalition that was on the ascent since Reagan. Fiscal conservatives are jumping ship, "Reagan Democrats" are returning to the Dem. party, libertarians are grousing over the loss of civil liberties, pundits are now openly discussing what it will take to rebuild the GOP.

    So tell me, do you really think that some day, decades from now, historians are going to find some obscure "rule" that Bush implemented, some "procurement" procedure, or "arts funding" that will turn the tide of consensus in his favor?

    While you condemn focusing on the weighty issues as "cherry picking," that which you offer borders on irrelevance. It is akin to remaining with an adulterous spouse because he/she is really good about taking out the trash. It is infinitely minuscule by comparison.

    At some level this whole issue of a Historians' poll and ranking presidents is superficial and silly. People writing in these blogs argue over how historians in the future will treat Bush. As a historian, about the only thing I can say with any certainty about the future is that we don't know what it will bring. I can venture a guess that it looks like the future belongs to Asia, therefore American presidents may be relegated to being merely historical footnotes.

    As for Bush it is pointless to argue what the future will say of him. I suppose the "28%" find it reassuring to think that they will be vindicated someday, and conversely the other 72% think the same, but we have no way of knowing...we will be dead by then.

    What concerns me is OUR TIME, and OUR PRESIDENT. We are the ones who have to live with him. I make my assessment as a citizen living NOW. He has failed miserably across the board, on issues both large and small. Furthermore, he has left members of his own Party worried whether the GOP will recover quickly or if it will take several election cycles.


    Clyde Kenneth Clark - 7/15/2008

    Too early? For what? How about all those lies George told us in order to justify the invasion of Iraq - a move that was condemned by the United Nations as being immoral and criminal!
    Bush and LBJ are both from my state -
    Texas and what that Dixie Chick said about Bush is nothing compared to what I have heard many Texans say about both Bush and LBJ for needlessly getting our country into no-win wars which kill millions. What we need is an intelligent president who has no ego-fixations (LBJ's main problem) or personal agendas (Bush's problem in re Iraq-Hussein).


    Clyde Kenneth Clark - 7/15/2008

    I thought Ronald Reagan was stupid but
    George Bush has given stupidity a worse name than it previously had. He
    made the pre-emptive attack on Iraq (fronted by that phoney Coalition that
    he and his fellow conspirators cooked up) in retaliation for Saddam Hussein ordering the murder of George's daddy - Skip. George's lack of intelligence is equalled only by his absence of good character.


    Jordan Galdo - 7/10/2008

    A 9 trillion dollar debt, the failing American dollar (in the gas costs relatively the same in GOLD), such low popularity that McCain is attempting to distance himself from Bush's presidency in emphasizing his "Maverick" status, and of course Bush's low popularity polls nation wide is all attributed to political bias?

    This is only the most obvious of the examples too, there is SO much one can pin on Bush that it's hard to not accidentally trip over it.

    If you want to see a TRUE conservative look at Ron Paul. In Bush's presidency the government has GROWN: The patriot act is a good example of this. I do not see how anyone that is not blinded by his "Republican" title could call him conservative in regards to government policies based off of his actual actions.

    America should have followed George Washington's advice and AVOIDED the travesty that is political parties, or at least followed the example of the majority of the world's democracies in proportional representation to weaken over-strong political parties. I swear that people are so blinded by partisanship that they would vote for a monkey if it were the Democratic/Republican nominee.


    shrimp skewz - 6/16/2008

    Please skew this story at http://www.skewz.com/link/link_details/7476?section=comments


    Diane de Reynier - 6/12/2008

    Everyone is entiteld to an opinion, even historians. Judging a car, every man has an opinion, though few really know how it works, but engeneers with university degrees. Historians have that knowledge about what has happened in former times, and that gives a better base for understanding what is happening now. They can better compare and have experience in that field. Next to that common sense is a good idea for judging the results of 8 years of politics.
    I am no historian, no American, retired.
    Before Bush: we had problems with terrorists all over the world Ceylon, Germany, etc. Osama bin Laden was unknown. Since Bush, with have WAR, WAR WAR on every thing, (poverty, terrorism, Iraq, ....)and thanks to Bush, Osama bin Laden became so famous that he could increase greatly his influence. And terrorists, no longer beeing treated as criminals, are now in the news all the time, getting a huge american publicity, that increases their power. They are so lucky to have Bush.
    After a terrorist attack, the British emphasize "business as usual" "we are not afraid", but look at all the legislation to protect the Americans. They must be so terribly afraid, could they be such cowards? Ready to give up all their democratic rights... Such people are no leader of the world. And when you see day after day women and children killed by or because of the Americans, without proper water, kids without schooling, they will have no option and become terrorists..... Then Bush was reelected though the Americans knew he lied and will lie to them. So how about moral values?
    I judge politics by the results I see after 8 years: Americans after Bush look coward, stupid, immoral. Before Bush they looked like friendly helpful successful people, fit to have a say in the world affairs.
    It is such a waste and a pity. But do stop saying it is "Bush", in a democracy, all that happens in the name of every one American. And so does the world judge.
    China as the next leader will not be better, but at least intelliget.
    Diane


    ronald j gaudier - 6/8/2008

    Good points. However, I'm not a historian. Based soley on my own life experiences I can say without any doubt that GWB is the worst president of my lifetime. And there have been some real losers the last 48 years. Before Bush, I considered Carter to be the worst. As bad as Carter was, at least he did not do as much damage as Bush. LBJ was also pretty horrible, but at he had the honor to realize this and did not run a second term. Bush on the other hand, believes that he has done nothing wrong. This shows what a twisted personality he is. Hopefully the people will learn a lesson from this.


    Kevin R Kosar - 6/6/2008

    #1 A methodological question: How can historians, or anyone for that matter, come to an authoritative judgment of the competence of the sitting president? Sure, one might point to his actions or inactions on hot button policies and issues (the Middle East, the environment, etc.) that one reads about in the newspapers, but what of less well-known activities, like recent reforms of the federal rule-making process, or improvements in government procurement, or increased appropriations for arts education programs? The modern president heads the executive branch, a huge collection of agencies that pursues many, many policies on a bewildering range of issues. Assessing him on a few but not the many others seems like cherry-picking. yes, some issues, like war and peace, might be weighed more heavily than others. But, some attention must be given to the very broad range of policies pursued if oen is going to try to form a judgment.

    #2 Related to this problem of comprehending and assessing the performance of a president, there is this challenge: How many historians have expertise in governance? How many are familiar with government management laws, the operations of OMB, the regulatory process, etc.? Probably few, in which case, who are they to assess the competence of a president?

    #3 It is a fallacy to think that because one knows lots about one presidency (FDR's, Chester A. Arthur's, etc.) or American history generally that it makes one sufficiently expert to pass categorical pro/con judgments on the performance of other presidents, especially those who lived in very different times. (Obviously, the presidency and the entire American political and governance context has evolved rapidly and dramatically. Would George Washignton, a star in his time, have been a good President in the 1990s? It's difficult to say.)

    In short, to those who sit in their tenured chairs and toss off quick and categorical judgments, I suggest this: do your profession honor and please display some humility.

    Cheers,

    Kevin R. Kosar
    http://www.kevinrkosar.com





    ronald j gaudier - 6/6/2008

    "The President who made controversial decisions and stuck by them despite savage criticism"

    And therein lies the problem. The "Hubris" of George W Bush who no doubt believes that he receives divine guidance with his decisions.

    I have never been more scared in my life!


    Ricardo Luis Rodriguez - 6/4/2008

    So much for detached scholarship.
    The worst sin of modern academia is the delusion that "being engaged" is compatible with being objective.


    ronald j gaudier - 6/2/2008

    Don't assume that all people who dislike George W Bush are "left wing member of the progressive blog sphere." I consider myself a Right leaning Libertarian (former right wing Republican). I believe that we wouldn't be facing the situation we are in politically (Democrat control of house and likely the exectutive branch soon) had not Bush been an unbelievably inept leader.
    As I stated in my previous post, his positions on a number of issues including illegal immigration reform, are a major reason for my dislike of the man and a major reason why I consider him more like a Democrat than what the Republicans are supposed to be.


    Daniel Ortner - 6/2/2008

    While I dislike President Bush and his policies as much as the next left wing member of the progressive blog sphere, I think that this type of polling is a disgrace to the profession of history. Polling on a sitting president reveals how swayed by popular sentiment historians truly are. Indeed, I wonder how Truman would have ranked had this question been asked during the high point of the cold war. It takes years and the light of retrospect to more accurately gauge a presidents impact.


    ronald j gaudier - 6/1/2008

    Let me preface this post by first stating that I had been (until recently) a life-long republican. I still believe that Ronald Reagan was the best president of the 20th century (not ever, that honor goes to George Washington).

    I had misgivings about George W. Bush when he began his campaign for the Repuclican nomination. When he described himself as a "compassionate conservative" that threw up a bunch of red flags. Unforutunately, as has been the case for every predidential candidate I have voted for since Reagan, I felt compelled to choose the lesser of two evils (or so I thought) in George Bush.

    Clearly, there is plenty of evidence supporting the assertion that GWB is the worst president ever. And I agree with most of it...with the exception of the climate change theory as I belive there is not anything humans can do to stop it.

    However, there is one major ommission from what is being said here, and that is Bush's position on ILLEGAL immigration. While it was no surprise that he took the pro amnesty position, it was still a major disappointment and was basically the final straw for me as far as he was concerned.

    I now no longer consider myself a Republican, but a conservative leaning Libertarian, and have become a card-carrying member of the Libertarian party. I have found that many other conservatives feel the same way. All but a few die-hard stubborn types that figure it is their patriotic duty to stand by their president no matter what.
    While I cannot say with certainty that George W Bush is the worst president in history, I can say that he is without a doubt the worst in my lifetime.


    Jonathan Maskevich - 5/22/2008

    The first thing I was taught, in the first class I took in college was that there will always be bias in history, that we have to take particular care when examining primary documents, or other sources.
    I do not see how this can be considered anything other than a political survey of people, who nearly all sit on the left, who happen to be historians. This isn't History, and I am embarrassed to se it treated that way. We are the most biased on this topic right now, we have zero objectivity, whether we are on the left, or on the right. The historical study will come later. This is nothing but Politics.


    Mark Dixon - 5/22/2008

    Well, hey! The Man Made Global Warming "scientists" have been getting away with putting politics before science so, why not a handful of historians as well? Why worry about one's credibility when there's a Democrat to elect?

    It is true that history will judge George W. Bush. But, it is also true that these "professional historians" will be judged as well. We'll see who comes out better in the end: The President who made controversial decisions and stuck by them despite savage criticism (both political and personal) or the "professional historians" who allowed their personal politics to lead them to condemn a President even though that particular period of history was not yet over, in direct contradiction of their profession's mandate of objectivity?

    Time will tell, won't it?


    Jonathan Reuel Seaver - 5/18/2008

    You won't read it in reports from Associated Press or the national news media, but the impeachment of Bush and Cheney gained some momentum yesterday.
    On a late afternoon vote of 110-88, the N.H. Democratic Party convention supported a resolution to demand Congress impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. House Bill 24 will come off the table next Wednesday for a N.H. House of Representatives vote.
    It is not too late for impeachment. Congress could conduct a House impeachment investigation in November, conduct the U.S. Senate trial in December, and remove Bush and Cheney on the day before a new president and vice president are sworn into office.


    George Shirey - 5/18/2008

    If Bush is remembered as the worst president in history - it will only be because "historians" such as many of these posters have an incredibly biased view of what is good for America.

    LBJ is admired and held on a pedestal by many "liberal historians" - but what are the results of his actions? Strong arguments can be made that though his intentions were good, the results of the "Great Society" have caused irrevocable damage to the American family.

    The true legacy that Bush will be saddled with cannot be known. What we do know - he used all the American military might in a plan to create a forward battlefield in a war against an enemy that America has never faced before. Whether that was a good move or bad will be judged by time, not by a bunch of "historians" who are caught in the current political mindset.


    Richard William Krueger - 5/17/2008

    Nice stats. Make up some more.


    harry paget flashman - 5/17/2008

    Is that all?
    Considering historians are about 98% orthodox liberal President Bush may consider 61% a triumph.


    Richard William Krueger - 5/17/2008

    R.R.,

    You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. The black vote alone puts North Carolina and Virgina in play for Obama. That's not even counting the youth vote, the hispanic vote, or the 70% of Hillary supporters who will vote for Obama in the fall. 72 million registered Democrats, 55 million registered Republicans, and 42 million registered independents who are breaking overwhelmingly for Obama. Good luck.


    Richard William Krueger - 5/17/2008

    Sorry, but looking at the messenger and not the message is a classic example of ad hominen reasoning, which is, in fact, a logical fallacy. You see moveon.org, not the sources that the sited. You don't like moveon.org? Guess what? I'm not particularly found of that "brand-name", either. But to discount FACTS because of the who's saying delivering them? Wow. Good, vote for McCain. I don't anything to do with you morons.


    Richard William Krueger - 5/17/2008

    Yes. End of discussion...you used at least three logical fallacies in two paragraphs. 1) False authority 2) emotional language and 3) confident manner. Not looking too good, slick.


    Lori Rogers-Stokes - 5/16/2008

    I always thought no one could dislodge Andrew Jackson from my number-one worst president ranking, but Bush has done it. He beat out a president who ordered a genocide on American people. When will the pendulum swing away from the destruction of our Constitution and complete disregard for our founding principles that characterize him and his administration?


    Peter Gregory Wolfsehr - 5/9/2008

    Just finished reading the HNN Poll: 61% of Historians Rate the Bush Presidency Worst. The piece provides some excellent assessments of the G W Bush performance.

    My opinion; Dubya is beyond merely rigidly ideological to the point of gross stupidity and profound incompetence. It is as if he was hand picked by Osama to do as much damage to the US as possible, a veritable stooge of the man who hit us on 9/11. Think for a moment. Hasn't George done just about everything Osama would want him to do? Put our military through a pointless meat grinder, ruin the nation's finances, destroy our reputation in the world, and on and on?

    My question; why isn't the fraudulent use of the US military to perform a nation building/culture makeover experiment (rather than for the traditional purpose of national defense) an act of treason?


    Paul Mocker - 4/29/2008

    http://webcast.berkeley.edu/course_details.php?seriesid=1906978519

    That URL links to a UC Berkeley webcast of a lecture by Matt Gonzalez, Green Party Candidate for Vice President.


    joel menkes - 4/24/2008

    Bad point. In the case of judging a president you are gauging a unilateral program. When rating congress you are gauging a bilaterally based negotiating body.


    Rob Zenden - 4/20/2008

    We don’t know exactly yet how we will look to the Bush administration in the future. But we can give already a good indication. On international issues Bush will certainly be criticized for the way he treated terrorism and the war in Iraq. Although we don’t know how the future in Iraq will be, we now know already know that the war in Iraq is a complete failure. It cost billions of dollars, thousands of American soldiers lives and a hundred thousand of civilian lives through ethnic violence. When a war doesn’t goes as planned historians will go back to the cause of the war. Then they will see that the reasons to go to war were in the best sense incorrect or in the worst sense even real lies.
    Then there is also the global warming issue. From a president of world’s must powerful nation a leading role may be expected. But in fact this president did almost nothing. The global warming challenge was (alongside terrorism) the largest challenge of the time of his presidency. This president failed completely for the challenge of his time.
    In other foreign affairs he ruined the image of the United States. The way the world looks to the US has probably never been so bad as it is today.
    On domestic affairs Bush will in the first place be judged on the economy. What we do know is that Bush made a gigantic financial deficit and this lead to a dramatic decrease of the value of the US dollar. We don’t know how bad the current US economy is going to be. In case the economic crisis is going to be really bad then he has failed both internationally and domestically completely.
    Another important point is how low approval ratings among US population he receives. Bush is certainly becoming one of the must unpopular presidents in history. I think that Bush will certainly be considered as one of the worst presidents in US history. He potentially could become THE worst of all. Especially if the economic crisis is going to be a really bad one.


    Rob Zenden - 4/20/2008

    I think that George W. Bush will be remembered as one of the worst –if not the worst- US president in history. What matters on the long term are especially crucial decisions about foreign policies and economic issues that matter.
    To start with his decision to go to war in Iraq. He went already to Iraq before having finished the job in Afghanistan. He went into a war with the idea to make Iraq an example for the entire region. This targets were completely unrealistic. Secondly the costs of the war in terms of tax dollars as well as human lives were much higher then was useful. And when a war goes not as planned, historians more then ever are going back to the question “why did we go to war?”. And the answer is that he went into a war without UN authoritization and based on arguments that later were proven simply false: weapons of mass destruction were never found and the direct link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 also remains unproven.
    Also very important for history is the fact if a president (especially the president of world’s must powerful nation) meets the quests of his time. A major quest of his time was to stop global warming. From world’s must powerful nation a leading role would be expected. This president did almost nothing. He didn’t even try. So he simply failed for the quest of his time.
    And then the economic issue. Under his presidency the state deficit rise and rise, weakening the dollar further and further. He can’t alone be blamed for the low value of the dollar, but he can be blamed for a great part because he allowed the state deficit to grow and grow. On the short period a low dollar may be good for export, but on the long run it’s very bad. No foreign investors are going to invest in the US if they lose already 10% a year on there exchange rates….
    And then the current economic crisis. A lot of economists have warned already for years that both the state as well as civilians or companies were borrowing to much money. Well, we have to wait how worse this crisis will be. But some financial analysts (including top economists) have already argued that this might become the largest economic depression since the 1930’s. In that case he as a president has also as a president completely failed on economic issues, probably even worse then any other president in history (perhaps except Hoover).
    Also the global warming issue and the Iraq war were both very bad for the image of the United States in the world. Making diplomatic efforts much more difficult in the coming years. The US is around the world not any more seen as the example of how a nation should be. Foreign nations will become much more critical while negotiating with the US, while making it much more difficult for US in diplomatic efforts to reach it’s goals.
    My conclusion is that the next US president will not be able to start his own policy within the next years. It will take years to repair what the previous president did. The next president must repair the economy, the budget deficit, the crisis in Iraq, the global warming issue and the image of United States around the globe. It will become a very difficult 4 years for the next president….


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/20/2008

    Interesting contention. How did you deduce this? (I'm not disagreeing or agreeing -- just asking.)


    Sara Marie Johnson - 4/19/2008

    Clinton lied under oath about sexual harassment; a major political accomplishment of the far left in making heterosexual sex illegal. Bush, did not lie about Iraq. You will find when you can actually study the real intellegence of the current events that Iraq shipped it's weapons program to Syria. Israel resently bombed the area where Sadam's weapons were stored in Syria. Being stupid of the facts does not constitute a historian's judgement and you won't know the facts until they are declassified. Therefore, you are no more than a propagandist pretending to be a historian. Far Left political slogans are not history. Embarassing for you if you are really a historian.


    Sara Marie Johnson - 4/18/2008

    Hopefully, the unprofessional and rude comments above have not come from real historians rather politicial operatives pretending to be historians.


    Fred Merts - 4/17/2008

    I'm continually amazed that there are even a handful of supporters of George Bush. Apart from attacking the wrong country, running up massive debt ($3 trillion on his watch alone), outing a CIA agent (then pardoning a dork named Scooter after saying the person responsible would be brought to justice)....doing massive harm to the environment....Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court??....Rumsfeld....torture...alienation of our allies.......New Orleans is still in shambles almost three years later......Holy Cow, I've just scratched the surface!!! Oh, another grand idea: Massive tax cuts for the rich and Big Oil -- then start a war and put it on the credit card for the kids to pay for, with massive, massive interest. Nice job, Redneck. And Redneckublicans will vote for four more years of this by voting John McSame -- more war, lower taxes for the rich....and the dude is a fossil. Will Senator Hothead start a nuclear war, or just have a series of "senior moments" that impede his ability to make sound decisions. So, we dig our country out of George's mess....with a reallllly old version of the current brainless one? God help us if it comes to pass.

    All you Bush supporters that are part of the redneck agenda: If you cannot at least answer to any of the above, here's an easy one for you: How can this yokel/buffoon even be taken seriously, let alone respected, if he doesn't even have command of the English language? Y'all must cringe every time George butchers the English language. Perhaps you do not notice, which would explain a lot.

    This guy has been a failure at every turn of his life, and even Daddy Bush has been said to be privately distraught and embarrassed with what his mentally-challenged son has done to the once-great USA (the family wanted the smarter one, Jeb, to ascend to the presidency).

    The only people dumber than George are the people who voted him in.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/16/2008

    Germany, France, and Italy are, with Britain, the the biggest countries in Western Europe. That the voters there would rise up and oust the anti-Bush cabals shows as a lie the contention that "Bush has made America hated around the world". The only people in Europe who hate America in 2008 are the same ones (or their political descendants) who hated us in 1978, 1988, and 1998.


    Paul Mocker - 4/16/2008

    3 countries in Europe out of how many? 25 or so?


    scott ryley - 4/16/2008

    There is greater unity in Europe. There is still much more progress needed in the global war on terrorism.
    The United Nations has done little in its capacity to address world issues of terrorism, poverty and genocide.
    The U.S.A has filled the role of this world body. Security is a price to be paid by all, not some!
    As a country, we should re-examine all of our relationships and make necessary changes


    Old Sarg - 4/16/2008

    What I find so outrageous about you "unscientific" polling is the one sided flavor. It seems more of a Cuban polling than a polling in a free country. Has the Government also taken away your right to be objective?


    John C O'Connor - 4/16/2008

    Pawl442,
    "But worst of all are the 1 MILLION PLUS INNOCENT DEAD IRAQI'S. Does the number have to be 6 million before its called what it is, genocide, and to be compaired to Hitler?"

    Where do you get your numbers? Iraqi's not Americans are doing the vast majority of the killing in Iraq.

    You casually throw around the term genocide to simply sate your political bias just like "torture" was applied to the pictures of prisoners wearing underwear on their heads. What you're doing through your ignorance is cheapening the meaning and insulting those true victims of torture and genocide.


    John C O'Connor - 4/16/2008

    Ditto

    Well done Maarja!


    John C O'Connor - 4/16/2008

    Me too, right after the French war crimes in Algeria, Russia's countless war crimes, China's Tibetan war crimes, Spains civil war crimes, etc...

    Grow up!!!


    John C O'Connor - 4/16/2008

    Do you sell those crystal balls on eBay?


    John C O'Connor - 4/16/2008

    Peter perhaps you should take your own advice. The only reason the Iraqi people were injured by the sanctions was because Saddam "the rightful ruler of Iraq" was hording the "oil for cash" dollars and doling out projects to the Germans, French, Russians & Chinese. Who by the way were preparing to help lift the sanctions and support "the rightful ruler of Iraq" in his self admitted pursuit of WMD's. Take off your Hate Bush blinders and get the facts before you criticize!!


    Evgueni Khanine - 4/15/2008

    "There is no question in my mind, from years and years of this banter, that people are much more likely to be on the left who lose their temper and sputter personal insults than on the right. "

    Hmm, let's see. Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly have never lost their temper, have never insulted anyone, have never yelled at anybody? Or are they at "the tavern level"?



    Sara Marie Johnson - 4/15/2008

    I am not so sure Bush "picked" the wrong country to attack. He needed to collect intellegence on the Islamic terrorist network and Sadam was a great target for the US, strategically. Sadam gassed his own people, was playing games with the UN arms inspectors and tried to kill the President's mom and dad in Kuwiat. Iraq is a good staging area to take on Iran in case the nuts carry through on their threat to nuke the US and Isreal.

    In addition I would like to remind everyone that the "historians" are, in the majority, left wing political activists. Remember when they went to bat for Clinton claiming it is not unusual for Presidents in history to be sexual active outside their marriages; made a flase claim that George Washington fathered the children of slaves while totally ignoring the little fact that Clinton's impeachment was brought on by him committing perjury, not getting blow jobs from his intern. History is supposed to be based on facts, not political spin, but we know differently after the "historian's" Clinton fiasco.

    Most American historians are nothing more than airburshers of history blessing one another's artistic talents. I am a fortune teller! I can see in the future that the next Republican president will be pronounced the worst president ever by America's "historians." If O'Bama or Hillary are elected, they will be pronounced the very best of the best Presidents in US hisory!


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/15/2008

    I forgot to mention: My 15-year-old did not, as I mistakenly reported earlier, get 2/3rds correct; she got only about 3/5ths correct. Still, under my suggested standard (minimum 1/2 correct), that would be enough for her to vote -- until we implement my property-owning requirements. :) I think if a 15-year-old kid can pass, the standard isn't too tough. Nevertheless, I will be agreeable to lowering the bar to 1/3 correct: That's right, you have to get 20 of 60 correct answers on what amounts to being a "good citizenship test". Is that too much to ask?


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/15/2008

    For many years I've said that I would support any voting restrictions -- based on some reasonable combination of scholastic and economic accomplishments -- that would disenfranchise me. Unfortunately, at this stage of my life that's probably impossible -- such restrictions now would leave only five- or ten-thousand people eligible to vote. Even I agree with William F. Buckley's sentiment that we would be better off governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phonebook than by the faculty of Harvard. (His remark echoes every time I visit the eggheads here at HNN.us)

    As far as "political participation is an inalienable right", I think you go too far. On a purely practically level, I think most Americans would agree with me. If we asked them, Which would you rather have: the right to vote or the right to drive? I think 98% would choose the right to drive. On a theoretical level, I find it strange that people who have no problem acknowledging necessary restrictions on capitalism or on property development -- and even on democracy (so that it doesn't become a tyranny of the majority) -- have this sentimental attachment, which Obama might even call "clinging", to the notion of unfettered universal franchise.

    Did you know that on Election Day, operatives from both parties will be combing the lunatic asylums of America fishing for votes? Those provisions in your state constitution or statutes barring voting by "insane persons" have been held to apply only to persons actually adjudicated as insane -- something that applies to only a tiny fraction of the asylum inmates. Are you comfortable knowing that your vote will be cancelled out by the half-nod of a guy in a strait-jacket? I'm not.

    If I could, I would also revive the "King's Shilling" rule, which would prevent voting by government employees and contractors -- and wards. That's common sense, like the rule in most company lotteries and contests that bars participation by company employees.

    I think voting is too important and -- especially given the scope of government today -- too potentially dangerous to be unprotected from the incompetent and the vested insiders.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/15/2008

    This article has been highlighted by U.S. News and World Report: http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/politics/2008/04/11/the-first-draft-of-history-looks-a-bit-rough-on-bush.html

    Read the comments to see how bad it is viewed.

    On a lighter note, the article says that, "Among the reasons given for his low ratings: invading Iraq, 'tax breaks for the rich,' and alienating many nations around the world." Notice that Berlusconi was re-elected? Isn't that a clean sweep for Bush? France, Germany, Italy -- every anti-Bush candidate has been swept from office. So much for "alienating" anyone in foreign countries except the effete elites.


    Jonathan Dresner - 4/15/2008

    We don't even have literacy requirements for elected officials: it would be rather hypocritical to require higher qualifications for voters.

    Seriously, though, political participation is an inalienable right: like speech, association, religion, etc., it should only be abridged for good cause. It's not earned, but is part and parcel of citizenship.

    (p.s. I missed three, for a 95% score, all in the "market" category. One of the answers is debateable; one is technical, and one, while legitimate, requires more detail than basic civic literacy. If I was unsure, I just picked the answer most likely to make a hard-core conservative happy.... There's some decent questions there, and some deeply flawed ones.)


    scott ryley - 4/15/2008

    The reinvestment act of 1977 was the groundwork for further reform in 1989.
    Your point has merit seeing oversight was deficient in leading up to this housing market crisis. It gives credence to the saying we don't need new laws just enforcement of the ones we have.
    Note on the EIC is that both the President and Congress signed and approved these increases.


    Paul Mocker - 4/15/2008

    Has Bush been responsible for increased benefits of the EIC for the working poor?

    Also, is he also responsible for audit rates of the working poor-EIC recipients being higher than audit rates for the rich?


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/15/2008

    My point wasn't that approval polls are particularly helpful in gauging effectiveness; it was quite the opposite.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/15/2008

    Point taken: a handful (3 or 4, IIRC, out of 8 or 9 fired U.S. attorneys) of U.S. attorneys were fired last year at least in part for failing to pursue, vigorously enough for the administration and its friends in Congress, allegations of voter fraud.

    As far as allegations of Republican or "voting machine companies (presumptively GOP!)" voter fraud, if you have strong circumstantial evidence of it, then you should forward it to the Democratic leaders in Congress so they can demand investigations. Don't be too disappointed if they take no action; Democrats don't have a history of being particularly wary of voter fraud. (There is an interesting give-and-take on this matter at http://balkin.blogspot.com/2007/05/us-attorney-scandal-in-nutshell-upshot.html)

    Btw, for the record, I prefer paper ballots, not punchcards, touch-screens or any similar system. And just as important is making sure the ballots remain undisturbed during their transfer from the polling stations, where they are marked, to the county clerk's offices, where they are counted. A lot of elections can be decided during the trip to the courthouse with the help of an icepick and a handful of punchcards.

    Now, what did you think about my idea to return literacy requirements for voters? How about we use this test from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute: http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/ I think if one can't get at least half of the questions there correct, one has no business be honored with a voter's registration card (think of it like a driving test for a driver's license). My 15-year-old got 2/3rds correct.


    Jonathan Dresner - 4/14/2008

    Vigorous attempts by the Bush administration to prosecute Democrats for voter fraud generally failed, resulting in -- you may remember this -- the dismissal of otherwise competent and loyal Republican US Attorneys.

    Voter fraud by Republican elected officials and voting machine companies has yet to be properly investigated, but there is strong circumstantial evidence.


    Jonathan Dresner - 4/14/2008

    There's a well-documented, though admittedly odd, tendency for people to rate institutions like Congress poorly in the abstract and collective, but to view their own representatives as exceptional and exceptions. Opinion polls of Congress as a collective are fundamentally meaningless, in terms of gauging political realities.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/14/2008

    You say, "It actually seems quite likely that the 2000 and 2004 elections featured unprecedented levels of vote-rigging and fraud". This is probably true, but irrelevant as Bush won despite Democratic vote-rigging and fraud.

    If you want "well-informed, competent, [and] interested in merit", bring back the literacy requirement for voting. But that would rob the Democratic Party of its strongest voting bloc.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/14/2008

    Then with Congress' "lower than Bush" approval ratings, it's past time for mainstream historians to pronounce Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid "Worst Ever Congressional Leaders".


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/14/2008

    ... for providing the exact figures on the House vote on the Iraq War Resolution. I was trying to avoid the appearance of pedantry.


    Will Riley - 4/14/2008

    It seems as though there is a bias against all bias, but bias is not always bad.

    Bias indicates a preference for one thing versus another. Bias indicates a value.

    Many historians are for example are biased for citing their sources. Many people are biased against murder. We need to careful to distinguish between liberal bias and bias against certain kinds of political action. We need to be careful to not throw out the baby with the bath water.

    Many of the historians are biased against many of the actions taken by the Bush administration. They are ranking the presidents based on the combination of all of their biases. The question is not whether they have liberal bias, but whether their liberal bias is compatible with many our most fundamental and shared biases. I think that many of these discussions devolve into a back-and-forth about how one side is basically correct, and the other is basically wrong. Usually, both sides are basically wrong, often on different points.

    I think that bias, in general, is not the problem. Without bias, we would have no basis for dispute. What we must do to win an argument, is appeal to our most basic biases, those that every side of the issue is clearly committed to.

    I often feel that liberal bias is present in academia. My reaction is not to immediately discount the bias, but to press it to account for its bias. There may be justification for that bias.

    I would like to introduce one final thought:

    Is it possible that both Clinton and Bush are terrible presidents, but in different ways? Yes. Is it possible that while both are terrible presidents, Bush is substantially worse than Clinton. Yes, that is possible. Why isn't this possibility vigorously discussed? Why are there only two opposing sides to this complex issue? There must be more perspectives out there.


    Will Riley - 4/14/2008

    As an American citizen, I too would like to see George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and Dick Cheney stand before an international war crimes tribunal.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/14/2008

    Only if by "the Iraqi people" you mean only "Saddam and his family". I read in last week's TIME magazine (not exactly a bastion of conservatism) that Iraqis are praying for a McCain victory.


    mary ann wator - 4/14/2008

    "Bush's reasons for invading Iraq were grounded in flimsy and fraudulent intelligence.... links to Al Quaeda, and so forth). This is beyond debate."

    Apparently you, like the media, have not read the additonal transcribed Iraqi documents.....yes, proving again that the president WAS RIGHT!



    mary ann wator - 4/14/2008

    Exact
    House vote count- 296 yea; 133 Nay.

    Republicans: 215 yea; 6 nay.
    Democrats: 81 yea; 126 nay.


    mary ann wator - 4/14/2008

    "Now Republicans don't want to vote for someone who might be smarter than them"?

    It was the media that created the perception of Obama, an inexperienced nobody, a junior attorney, pulled from the backroom record room, with ONE appearance only defending a case in front of a judge, part-time college lecturer....why did a supposedly "so smart" high achiever in law school, settle for the unknown but simply a friend's law firm?

    SIMPLE! His short life as an "organizer" (glorified Democrat vote getter) before law school, introduced him to his best buddy, indicted Tony Reszko, Allyson Davis (Obama's law firm boss), William Ayers, former terrorists, Rev. Wright,of the God D** America fame, and the Daley Machine...all taught him where the easy money is and always will be, who and how to get elected and fit into the guaranteed easy life of corrupt Democrat Chicago politics. Get a law decree and leave the rest to us and the Chicago media! Do what we say and he did...99% liberal voting record, constant paybacks to all friends!

    It is the same media who now excuses Obama's questionable friends, miscues, lies, experience and lack of judgment and never questions Obama's fairy tale books of "poor" and victimization.

    This is the same liberal media and elite educated close-minded snobs who created the Bush image from before he was elected...."stupid", "moron", etc. All are simply biased liberals, of "one mind" "group thinking" only (anti-conservatism)....never ever even considering an alternate view?

    An education without common sense, without love of America, without leadership ability, without experience, does not make for presidential qualifications!

    By the way, I lived through many generations of presidents...Johnson, foul-mouthed cowboy Texan and the Vietnam war...Truman, a simple man without oratory skills who atom-bombed the hell out of Japan ...JFK, a great speaker, but if he lived now, would be a Republican, and then Reagan, described by the liberal media as "stupid", "ignorant", "just another cowboy"......"education" never a question. The supposed "historians" at the time these presidents left office, declared all failures???

    Who's "delusional"?





    mary ann wator - 4/14/2008

    800,000 Rwandan's massacred in a short 6 months while the Democrat administration sat back debating "is it genocide or not"???

    The lack of a strong response from the Democrat administration after the attack on WTC in '92 and the numerous attacks on Americans throughout the 90s, only strengthened the al Queda's resolve to attack America on 9/11.???

    With the huge Gorelick wall imposed on the various intelligent agencies resulting in an inability to talk to each other ... all involved agree it would have been impossible to stop any attack, as far as time, date, etc.

    WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE????

    Prior to America's attempt to liberate Iraq, there were decades of proven genocide in Iraq while America sat back and ignored it, but especially CNN who was in Iraq witnessing it but because of an agreement with Hussein did not report it...???

    All international intelligent agencies agreed there were WMDs in Iraq and ongoing programs....

    American soldiers were NEVER targeting civilians...the majority of Iraqi deaths were caused intentionally by al Queda and terrorists who used women and children as shields, schools, hospitals and mosques as bases, and till this day encourage their young to be suicide bombers while strapping the mentally challenged with bombs.

    You're so concerned with Iraqi and American "numbers" now...where were you when 4000 Americans were killed in ONE battle during WWII or a final total of 400,000, or 54,000 Americans lost in the Vietnam war???

    Freedom never comes cheap and victory and Democracies do not occur overnight.

    Peace comes only through strength, but this generation of liberal historians (glorified overpaid professors) teach the exact opposite. Obviously, they'll also judge one of the most courageous and strong president "their" way...as you did with your simplistic liberal talking points that have been repeated for five years.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/13/2008

    But since you say "the housing crisis is market related", the only thing I would ask you to consider is the impact of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 on it.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/13/2008

    You say, "You want to gripe about what a school newspaper ad says about strippers and drinking. I interpreted the ad's message correctly, but that's neither here nor there." First, I have already established, indisputibly, for the record that the ad said nothing about "strippers and drinking". Why do you keep raising this bullshit? Second, if you have an interpretation of the ad that makes if seem more benign than it seems to the rest of mankind, you should've informed Duke's lawyers before they sprayed tens of millions of dollars (my estimate) at the indicted players. It is clear that Duke would rather spend almost any amount of money rather than see the authors of the Ad up on the witness stand, under oath, in public, trying to defend their ... creation.

    Now as for the "historians" who have already pronounced Bush "the worst ever": Have these "historians" never heard of Buchanan? Or Hoover? Apparently not -- or maybe they consider the failure to prevent an American Civil War or a Great Depression pretty small potatoes compared with whatever Bush has done. I could probably name 10-20 other Presidents who are at least debateably worst than Bush; but for Buchanan and Hoover, how can there be a debate? Ipso facto, Bush cannot be the "worst president ever" for anyone who can be seriously called a historian.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/13/2008

    You say, "A majority of Democrats in Congress shared his views and voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, both in the House and Senate."

    I believe this is incorrect with respect to the House. I think the House Democrats voted roughly 3:2 AGAINST the Iraq War Resolution. In the Senate, the vote (of Dems) was 29-21 in favor. What I find most interesting is that of the Dem Senators up for re-election that year, the vote was 16-1.


    scott ryley - 4/13/2008

    It is to soon to properly evaluate the outcome of various policies over the past 8 years. It can be said that Europe has changed its position regarding the fight against terrorism. Europe is beginning to realize the global stategy requires all free nations have this great responsibilty, not just the U.S.A.
    Forign policy issues are very complex. Homeland security has its faults but has provided a greater security to the country since 9-11. Issues with the middle east, Russia, Europe and China have led to a greater polarization on very sensitive issues. This chapter still remains unwritten.
    Domestic policies and there results are still inconclusive. There is improvement in the education standards of many schools, taxes for ALL brackets have been reduced; including increases in Earned Income Credit for the poor. The housing crises is market related and will correct itself both by the governments prodding of lenders to reach out to more troubled borrowers and tax incentives to lessen the real estate inventory. It must be said that the government has done a good job in guiding the markets through this difficult period.
    Inflation and failure of the U.S.A. to develope a comprehensive energy policy over the past 40 years will be a problem for years to come. There has been a failure to control spending and therefore have added to the dollars global deprciation. The Iraq war is draining the budget much has the Vietnam war did 40 years ago.
    In conclusion, we are many years away from writing the final summary of the Bush presidency.


    John Williams - 4/13/2008

    on this subject wherein he regurgitates liberal political talking points, I think it more fitting to consider him a political operative than a historian.

    His observations offer little in the way of objective analysis of actual policies (as do the observations of his "poll respondents"). I see this as little more than a political hit job on President Bush with little to no historical value whatsoever (aside from the irrational, pathological hatred Bush has generated among liberals in academia).


    William J. Stepp - 4/13/2008

    Far from ending the Cold War, Truman actually began it with the Truman Doctrine, national security institutions, containment, and economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey. He wasn't the worst president in history, just the fourth or fifth worst.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/12/2008

    If "Americans have become so complacent and inept when it comes to US history", what does that say about American historians? I ask this as someone who got a perfect score on a American history test linked from HNN a couple of months ago.


    Alan Henessy - 4/12/2008

    Mark Twain said: There are liars, there are damned liars, then there are statisticians. You spin those numbers in such a way that an amateur may actually buy into you cooky theory about Harry Truman winning th Cold War. By that acount I'd say that Taft won the World War II.

    Your basic concern is about the distribution of income - which I grant, is important. However, your characterization of Bush presidency as a mini-dark age is nonsense. Were the last 8 years worse than LBJ or Carter presidency, or certain periods of Reagan and Bush Sr? The answer is patently "no". Thanks to Bush policies, the economy recovered from Sept 11, 2001 slide. The Dow went from 6,000 to 12,000. Come on, be a little fair to the facts.


    Tim M Kane - 4/12/2008

    As it is, Bush's reputation, for what it is, is being held up by the power of his office and the ability to cower journalist.

    Once that power is gone, his reputation will collapse. Then as more information comes out, like the recent admission concerning torture, Bush's reputation will get worse and worse.

    Then there is the prospect of Bush's term in office being bookended by Clinton's spectacular tenure, and perhaps and even more monumental Obama or Hillary presidency.

    His could easily be seen as the crater presidency or 'mini dark-age' presidency.


    Stephen Lang - 4/12/2008

    Seriously, Bush is awful, but what kind of context are we talking about when Americans have become so complacent and inept when it comes to US history? Rating his the worst of the modern US presidents might be more appropriate.


    Carl A Willis - 4/12/2008

    >Many intellectuals do have poor judgment

    All I was pointing out was that this provincial "Ad of 88" that you're fixated upon doesn't support a sweeping conclusion about historians or academics, their collective bad judgment, their "alternative universe" or whatever, and (more apropos to this thread) their supposed fallacy in ranking Bush's presidency poorly.

    Look at the elements of your case: You need to show (A) that this Duke ad does in fact demonstrate bad judgment or a disconnect from reality on the part of its faculty authors; (B) that those particular 88 faculty are somehow representative of professional historians generally; and (C) that, given an instance of bad judgement in (A), ANY position taken by a group of historians will also be bad judgment.

    You want to gripe about what a school newspaper ad says about strippers and drinking. I interpreted the ad's message correctly, but that's neither here nor there. I'd like you to try to make your case by arguing (A), (B), and (C) above. That would be entertaining for me, because it's a patently ludicrous trajectory of logic. Most folks wouldn't come up with that unless they'd imbibed a great deal of bongwater.

    -Carl


    Tim M Kane - 4/12/2008

    Bush's economic performance is hardly laudable.

    The economy grew, but only the top 10% got any benefit out of that growth. Median family income has consistently declined over every year he has been in office. And that growth would not have happened without Bush borrowing over a trillion dollars from China. I'm not sure borrowing money can truly be called growth.

    Second, Bush will be the only president to have two recessions.

    Third, under Clinton the economies growth, in % and in absolute terms, is unprecedented for eight years - 50%! You can't view Bush outside that.

    The cold war was won by Harry Truman - he created the strategy and the institutions. Even Eisenhower, in 1954 predicted that the Soviet empire would fall apart in 4 or 5 decades. So give Eisenhower the credit for giving Truman the credit.

    Reagan merely sped things up by a decade. Perhaps his most notable acheivement was the PATCO strike. This effectively undermined labor. This contributed to disproportionate distribution of wealth - the very condition that caused the collapse of: Ancient Egypts New Kingdom, Western Roman Empire, Pre-Islamic Mecca (Islam in fact is a reaction to wealth concentration there), Eastern Roman Empire, medieval Japan (causing a multi-centuried dark age), Hapsburg Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolidge-Hoover America (contributing to the collapse of Wiemar Germany, the rise of Hitler, WWII, the Holocaust). The distribution of wealth has been a problem with this country eversince the creation of the limited liability corporation during the Civil War years. Collective bargaining was one solution. Reagan should go down in history for undermining those institutional arrangements, without replacing anything new. As a result, the economy has doubled its productivity since 1980, but median family income is roughly the same.

    Arguably, then, if and when America collapses, as a result of concentrated wealth, as all great societies have in the past, it will be largely because of Reagan on the one hand and Bush II on the other. History is still out on this. We may find a new organizational arrangement to replace unions (as Japan has, giving them the broadest economic distribution among any large economy).

    Iraq, a nation whose GNP in 2002 was only $52 billion has cost us over $1 trillion, and if we began packing up today, Stiglitz suggest the total bill will come to $2 trillion.

    If we had dumped a half trillion of reasonably well managed aid into Afghanistan, we would be in much better shape and Bin Laden would be behind bars.

    Bush's place in history will get worse if the country never recovers or if a Democrat comes along and restores a reasonable, rational distribution of wealth, causing demand to return and the economy sky rocket.

    Stuck between Clinton and Clinton, or Clinton and Obama, the Bush years will be known as 'the crater' presidency or perhaps, the 'mini-dark age': given its looting, war and torture practices.

    I can't think of any likely scenario that would make Bush look good.

    It's not even a questionable call. Really. Tax cuts and wars are oxymorons that only a moron would pursue. This isn't rocket science, or ideology. It's just common sense and remedial level of civics. In fact, only ideology makes you blind to the facts.


    Tim M Kane - 4/12/2008

    Another point in the Buchanon v Bush as the worst president is the context of what they inherited. The slavery and succession issue was a problem bigger than any one presidency, that he had inhereted. In fact, the problem had been kicked down the road into his administration, where it came to a head. Perhaps a better man might have handled the situation better than Buchanan did, but the problems he faced would have baffled most pedestrian presidents. Regardless, Buchanan did not create the situation, he merely did not handle it well.

    Also, succession was only one issue. In a sense, the climate issue is similar to Bush's situation. He inherited that, but his policies have ignored science. This is hard to believe.

    Bush, also inherited a country at its peak. Not just any peak either, but history's peak, for any country, anywhere and any time. Second, he didn't have to be brilliant. Clinton warned him that Terrorism should be his top priority: he was also warned by Richard Clark, Hart-Rudman report, and 40 countries secret services. Bush didn't have to be brilliant, he just had to listen to what he was being told by a battery of people. The fact is, prior to 9/11 Bush underreacted to the threat of terrorism (probably out of spite for Clinton) and afterwards overreacted, or mis-reacted, by invading the wrong country.

    In regard to the problem of muslim extremism, the template for dealing with an ideological based war was crafted by Truman. Bush merely needed to follow this example. I think History will see that Bush had a unique opportunity to bring the non-islamic-extremist world united behind his leadership, in a way similar to how Truman aligned the 'free world' behind him through Nato and similar alliances. He threw that opportunity away with both hands and wanton and reckless abandon. Almost any other person sitting in the white house would have used that opportunity to become one of, not only history's greatest presidents, but one of history's greatest men.

    Perhaps, in evaluating Bush, one has to not only consider the context in which he worked - that he inherited a country at an historical peak, one that exceeded almost anything in the past - and the opportunities he for went, to lead the world to one of greater peace and prosperity through a common security effort/alliance (to be followed up with other common efforts - the way the EU was a follow up to NATO. Not all nations entered NATO a law abiding, prosperous Democracy, but they eventually found their way to becoming such).

    The forgone opportunities, which a lot of people never get around to, are almost as stunning as the massive mistakes that he made.


    Tim M Kane - 4/12/2008

    Obviously you have know knowledge of American traditions. The United States, nor any country ruled under English Common law, is one based upon any philosophy other than pragmatism.

    This is a mark of distinction from countries that were ruled under Civil Code. Prior to 1950, all those countries came to be controled by ideological driven dictatorships: Be it some form of Fascism (Phalangism in Spain, Fascism in Italy, Naziism in Germany), Militant Nationalism in Japan or Communism in Russia and China.

    In those countries, law making was confined to legislatures, which made politics the ideological battle field.

    Not so in English Common Law countries. That is because the ideology of that system, for want of a better definition, is based upon pragmatism. In English Common Law, Judges make laws, taylored to fit narrowly, a specific, narrow decision of law. Judges, choose, as Oliver Wendall Holmes stated, "from the Super Market of Ideas". In other words, judges will answer a specific question with the best answer, regardless as to which ideology it comes from. What emerges over the centuries, is a society that is philosophically made up of a 'patchwork quilt' of philosophical ideas: in essence each idea is used, but only where it works best, and ignored where it works least.

    This is the brilliance of Anglo-Saxon common law. Over the centuries (in the late middle ages) the Common Law slowly evolved a bias towards, liberty, but only where liberty did not conflict with fairness (justness). This is the great Anglo-saxon invention: Liberty couched inside of fairness. Prior to this, Liberty simply translated into might makes right.

    So the philosophy and ideology of the United States, if there is one, is Pragmatism first, Justice/fairness second, liberty third.

    After World War II, Civil Code countries began to make adjustements to their systems to allow judge made law - especially in the area of constitutional review.

    This brings us to the Neocons. The Neocons have a philosophy that says only elites are suitable to rule, and all other people need to be controled by religion and religiosity. These ideas came from Leo Strauss, who relies upon Nietzsche (the death of God and the Uber-man). Strauss was academically brought up, and raised in Pre-WWII Germany. He was kicked out of Germany, reluctantly (they Nazis love his philosophy), because he was Jewish. He eventually landed at Chicago University (founded by the Rockefellers). The problem with Straussian philosophy is that it was shaped in Pre-WWII Germany in a pre WWII Civil Code environment and assumes a rule by ideology. Strauss, having dodge a bullet, did not learn that failings of that system (sufficiently). He misses the lesson of WWII, that even the Germans (and the rest of the civil code nations) have learned - most of which now allow for some degree of judge made law. So his system is deeply flawed.

    The Neocons, then are trying to shoe horn an ideological based system into a common law pragmatism base society. For these reasons, Neocons rail against Judicial Activism (the essence of the system) except for when it helps then impose their system (such as elect Bush or reverse a sound precedent because it conflict with their ideology - by the way, the Bush v Gore reversed 30 years of states right jurisprudence).

    In order to shoe-horn an ideology based rule on to an Anglo-American Common Law system they have to try to make that system behave like a traditional civil code system (no judge made law), in other words, strip the system of its pragmatism and common sense approach. This is tantamount to an assault on the constitution of the United States to justify plutocratic theistic condominium rule of the country.

    To say that Clinton had no philosophy is to show your own cards of being a party to this ideological plot against the traditional constitution of the United States.

    Over all, Clinton ruled pragmatically. It wasn't perfect. But under Clinton, the United States enjoyed greatest peace time economic growth in the history of the United States, roughly 50%. He left the nation at the pinnacle pf its power and prestige. The criticism of the peace dividend is absurd on its face: the policy was started two years before Bush I left office, I know, I was laid off from McDonnel Douglas in early 1990 - be even then, the United States military budget in 2000 was still greater than all other nations military budgets combined - including our adversaries and our allies - to say the military was shrunk too much is just a ideologically and partisan based lie. To criticize Clinton is simply to ignore all of his achievements and point out the speck in his eye while ignoring the board in Bush's.

    Since Bush has taken over, the prestige of the United States has collapses, it's military overstreatched, despite a near 100% increase in budget (not counting the accounting for Iraq, which is off ledger); the currency is roughly worth one third of what it was against the Euro in January 2001, the nation's treasury has been looted and replaced with IOUs to China's central bank (a communist dictatorship) to the tune of over a trillion dollars. Meanwhile the Iraq fiasco is likely to cost over $2 trillion - this for a nation that had a GNP in 2002 of $52 billion.

    Clinton, despite his flaws, in the aggregate, ruled the country in the fine tradition from which it emerged: pragmatically with a bias towards justice and freedom, in that order and He ruled with the Public interest at heart. The pay off was huge.

    The only flaw is that some how he paved the way for a drunken, diabolical disasterous Bush Presidency - that has seen the core of two major metropolitan areas evacuated, including the largest, one never to be restored. Bush's flaw is that he has ruled for private interest (instead of the publics) to promote Neocon philosophy/ideology. No wonder Bush has bought 100,000 acres in Paraguay. He may have to live there when he's out of office.

    The facts are brutal. History won't remember Lewinsky, except that perhaps she helped 500 people in Florida to vote for Bush instead of Gore. They'll remember the cascading series of debacles of the Bush presidency: Taking a country in at the pinnacle of history, for any country, and running it into the ground: financially, militarily, economically, and in every way - the only thing he achieved is fidelity to Neocon ideology - making the rich richer, and every one else worse off.

    I close by saying, that I had never voted for a Democrat for office until 2004. Traditionally I was an independent with a bias towards the Repbulicans, because I believed that both parties were pragmatic and that the Republican did not hate the public interest. The Bush administration is completely exotic from America's tradition of ruling for the public interest with pragmatism, justice and liberalism. As long as there are Neocons on American soil, the Republican party cannot be trusted.




    Alan Henessy - 4/12/2008

    This so-called survey tells us more about the callow group-think at our history departments than about the Bush presidency. I am fairly certain that these very people would've chracaterized Ronald Reagan as the worst president back in 80's right after his "evil empire" speech. The truth is, Reagan became known for ending the Cold War, which actually happened in 1991 - three years after Reagan left office.

    Any self-respecting historian would abstain from making hasty judgement about the president who, judging by the sheer magnitude of his deeds (for better or worst), tops most previous leaders in U.S. history including Reagan himself.

    If you base your judgement upon Iraq and Afghanistan, these two countries are still at play.

    If you base your judgmenet on economy, then under Bush the economy grew for nearly 5 years straight without recession - almost unprecedented.

    So, please doa little original thinking and try to approach the matter as a professional historian, not as a hippie from a Pink Code rally. But these days, there is not a whole lot of difference between the two, is there?


    Tim M Kane - 4/12/2008

    "If 'If's' and 'ands' were pots and pans..." (G.B. Shaw - in Joan of Arc).

    You tip your hand. To find any virtue in Bush is to demonstrate an ignorance of history, geography and civics of the most remedial kind.

    The fact is, Iraq is far more likely to turn out a disaster than a success. The decision alone was criminal on almost every level. The risk taken was absurd. Achieving the upside, which is about as likely as Bush admitting he was wrong, was remote. So the action taken was unjustified on that alone. But the down side, the loss of life, Iraqi, American, tens of thousand maimed and wounded, the gutting of the Afghanistan effort, letting Bin Laden get away Scott free, the bankrupting of the American treasury and putting the U.S. in hock to Communist Chinese Dictators central bank, and the entire effort being a strategic loss for the U.S. and gain for the Iranians ... this is and was foreseeable by anyone who could pick up a map of the Middle East, and new a minimum of it's history. This was predictable by anyone that had more than a remedial knowledge of history of the Middle East. However Bush was either ignorant of all this, meaning a history degree from Yale means nothing, or he was taking advice from demented Neocons wanting to turn the Iraq into a Israeli satellite, in any case he gambled the treasure and lives and reputation of the United States on odds far worse than the lottery gives you. That's guts? That's decision making? That's a drunken bumb making policy for the country!

    This is true of most of Bush's policies. He pushed all wealth and disposable income into smaller and smaller percentage of the economy which history has shown, can only cause aggregate demand to collapse. But before that happens, they cover it up by extending credit to the newly impoverished classes. This ensures that the financial system is brought down with the rest of the economy.

    According to Nobel Prize winning economic historian (Douglas C. North's book Structure and Change in Economic History) the concentration of wealth and power, and those with it using their influence to shirk paying taxes, is what brought down the Roman Empire. The same basic policies brought down a host of socieities: Ancient Egypt's middle kingdom, Pre-Islamic Mecca (of which Islam was a response to), Byzantium (before Manzikurt), Medieval Japan (a multicenturied dark age followed), Hapsburgh Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolidge-Hoover America (causing the collapse of Wiemar Germany, the rise of Hitler, WWII, and the Holocaust).

    The mega policies that Bush is following have the most disasterous track record in history, to the extent that it almost shocks the conscience of anyone who has one.

    The fact is, Bush and his ilk are out to destroy the United States as we have known it, in order to create a Neocon reality that resembles a Banana Republic.

    Regardless as to the outcome, the policy choices are wanton and reckless to a criminal extent.

    The fact is, we won't know if the United States has survived Bush until long after he is gone. Constantine came to power in the early fourth cenury. He was the first Neocon: he forced the Empire to adopt a narrow doctrine of Christianity in order to control it better, then implemented the Latifunde system (tying farm labor to the land, serf like slavery). It was this policy that concentrated wealth, collapsed demand and destroyed Rome's commercial economy, shrinking the number of people capable of paying taxes necessary to field appropriate armies to defend the Empire. 125 years after Constantine, the Empire collapsed. In essence, Rome did not survive Constantine.

    We are seeing, to my undying horror, these kinds of policies being implemented, and to even greater horror, people not recognizing these for the inneptitude that they are.

    It boggles the mind that anyone, with even a remedial knowledge of civics, history and geography could find virtue in the Bush administration.



    The fact is we don't know

    An Nobel Prize winning economic historian has said


    Tim M Kane - 4/12/2008

    "If 'If's' and 'ands' were pots and pans..." (G.B. Shaw - in Joan of Arc).

    You tip your hand. To find any virtue in Bush is to demonstrate an ignorance of history, geography and civics of the most remedial kind.

    The fact is, Iraq is far more likely to turn out a disaster than a success. The decision alone was criminal on almost every level. The risk taken was absurd. Achieving the upside, which is about as likely as Bush admitting he was wrong, was remote. So the action taken was unjustified on that alone. But the down side, the loss of life, Iraqi, American, tens of thousand maimed and wounded, the gutting of the Afghanistan effort, letting Bin Laden get away Scott free, the bankrupting of the American treasury and putting the U.S. in hock to Communist Chinese Dictators central bank, and the entire effort being a strategic loss for the U.S. and gain for the Iranians ... this is and was foreseeable by anyone who could pick up a map of the Middle East, and new a minimum of it's history. This was predictable by anyone that had more than a remedial knowledge of history of the Middle East. However Bush was either ignorant of all this, meaning a history degree from Yale means nothing, or he was taking advice from demented Neocons wanting to turn the Iraq into a Israeli satellite, in any case he gambled the treasure and lives and reputation of the United States on odds far worse than the lottery gives you. That's guts? That's decision making? That's a drunken bumb making policy for the country!

    This is true of most of Bush's policies. He pushed all wealth and disposable income into smaller and smaller percentage of the economy which history has shown, can only cause aggregate demand to collapse. But before that happens, they cover it up by extending credit to the newly impoverished classes. This ensures that the financial system is brought down with the rest of the economy.

    According to Nobel Prize winning economic historian (Douglas C. North's book Structure and Change in Economic History) the concentration of wealth and power, and those with it using their influence to shirk paying taxes, is what brought down the Roman Empire. The same basic policies brought down a host of socieities: Ancient Egypt's middle kingdom, Pre-Islamic Mecca (of which Islam was a response to), Byzantium (before Manzikurt), Medieval Japan (a multicenturied dark age followed), Hapsburgh Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolidge-Hoover America (causing the collapse of Wiemar Germany, the rise of Hitler, WWII, and the Holocaust).

    The mega policies that Bush is following have the most disasterous track record in history, to the extent that it almost shocks the conscience of anyone who has one.

    The fact is, Bush and his ilk are out to destroy the United States as we have known it, in order to create a Neocon reality that resembles a Banana Republic.

    Regardless as to the outcome, the policy choices are wanton and reckless to a criminal extent.

    The fact is, we won't know if the United States has survived Bush until long after he is gone. Constantine came to power in the early fourth cenury. He was the first Neocon: he forced the Empire to adopt a narrow doctrine of Christianity in order to control it better, then implemented the Latifunde system (tying farm labor to the land, serf like slavery). It was this policy that concentrated wealth, collapsed demand and destroyed Rome's commercial economy, shrinking the number of people capable of paying taxes necessary to field appropriate armies to defend the Empire. 125 years after Constantine, the Empire collapsed. In essence, Rome did not survive Constantine.

    We are seeing, to my undying horror, these kinds of policies being implemented, and to even greater horror, people not recognizing these for the inneptitude that they are.

    It boggles the mind that anyone, with even a remedial knowledge of civics, history and geography could find virtue in the Bush administration.

    There is an army of people out there who banked their career on Bush and his policies as if Bush knew what he was doing, or at the very least took Bush at face value only to have seen their careers and reputations destroyed. A few come to mine immediately: Colin Powell, Paul Bremer, Tony Blair, John Howard and in an aggregate sense, the People of the United States of America.

    Whereas, there is also an Army of people who's careers have advanced because they either saw Bush for the fool that he is, or just figured he didn't know what he was doing. They would include Boris (I've seen his soul) Putin, Bin Laden, tyrants that run Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and China.

    If anything, the lamp light of history is apt to make those that advocate on behalf look like the most profound fools, of which Colin Powell is likely to be the poster child for.


    Maarja Krusten - 4/12/2008

    Many thanks for your kind words, much appreciated.


    Michael Glen Wade - 4/11/2008

    Fair, if loaded, question. I am a registered Independent and a historian at a university. I do not fit into pat categories like liberal and conservative; many others do not either. That said, I consider this latest Bush, in terms of damage done to the country now and in the years to come, the worst President in our history. None of his failures---with money, the truth, the military, relations with other countries, energy policy, the environment, governing in the public interest, and more -- should be a surprise. It was all there in his past. His only real rival for the very bottom rank is Buchanan, who is there chiefly for what he did not do, i.e., strive forcefully to stymie secession. Bush is worst because he has been the type one fervently hopes would do nothing, because he has brought not only dishonesty and born -again ignorance to his efforts, but also an unerring reverse Midas touch. Trying to suggest that reaching such conclusions about Bush is somehow dictated by political affiliation rather than what is out there for all to see perhaps says more about the questioner than the survey respondents.


    Rodney Huff - 4/11/2008

    Q: Why should historians begin to compare this presidency to previous ones?

    A: Because—if we take HNN’s slogan seriously—the past is indeed present, and the future as well.

    The slogan implies people who know the past are among the best qualified to place current events in a meaningful historical perspective and to make predictions based on their knowledge of historical events and patterns. In fact, HNN is dedicated to identifying and showcasing news articles that approach current events—political events, too—from a historian’s perspective. Putting events in historical perspective not only injects the present with meaning, but also orients us to the future by suggesting the historical trajectory of our times.

    The slogan also implies that if we, the people, are ever in need of a soothsayer, then historians are the best people to talk to about making wanted predictions. If historians do not step up in times of crisis, then political pundits and propagandists are free to monopolize prediction--people like William Kristol, who reassured us that the Iraq invasion was going to have “terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East” and that American soldiers would be greeted as liberators (http://hnn.us/roundup/comments/47434.html).

    As for the HNN poll in particular—historians are perfectly justified to weigh in on the Bush presidency if they feel they have enough material to make fruitful comparisons. At the moment, they have at least 7 years worth of material, including a whole presidential term. The first term alone arguably provides enough material for such comparisons.

    Perhaps, in the past, historians would not have been so justified in making relatively short-term assessments, and more caution would have been in order. However, these days, given the rapid pace at which historical changes occur and the capacity of a small group of elites to make history-making decisions, historians with any sense of social responsibility are obliged to see the past—as well as the seeds of the future—in the present, and to make value judgments accordingly.

    As C. Wright Mills observed in 1956:

    “During most of human history, historical change has not been visible to the people who were involved in it, or even to those enacting it. Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, for example, endured for some four hundred generations with but slight changes in their basic structure. That is six and a half times as long as the entire Christian era, which has only prevailed some sixty generations; it is about eighty times as long as the five generations of the United States’ existence. But now the tempo of change is so rapid, and the means of observation so accessible, that the interplay of event and decision seems often to be historically visible, if we only look carefully and from an adequate vantage point” (from The Power Elite, pp. 20-21).

    Since 1956, the pace of historical change has only quickened, while the means of observation have been dramatically honed and made even more accessible. Just as the elites of today are in better positions to make history-making decisions, alert and vigilant historians are in better positions to observe history-in-the-making moments and to compare these decisive moments with similar moments in the past. Historians are in better positions today to do so because earlier generations of historians were obliged by the “slower” times in which they lived to be more cautious and thus were fixated on their watches.

    Q: Is history merely drift, the fateful push and pull of balancing socio-political forces that only become visible in the long-run, in which case historians are obliged in every instance to honor the Decent Interval rule?

    A: Perhaps. Perhaps less so today than in the past. For today there is ample evidence that history is determined more and more by small groups of people who have the power to make decisions with history-making consequences—however intended or unintended these consequences may be—in the name of these United States and often behind closed doors. This power is exercised irresponsibly insofar as the decision-makers are not held accountable.

    That some historians believe it’s their professional duty to sit on the sidelines of history while history is being made, and to refuse to see (at least in a professional capacity) the past repeating itself in the present; that some historians seem to have no conceptual grasp of the age in which we live—a nuclear age in which, as Mills observed more than half a century ago, we “have every reason to hold the American power elite accountable for a decisive range of historical events that make up the history of the present” (ibid. p.27)—amazes and frightens me.

    Q: Who'll write the history of the nuclear holocaust?


    John Tarver - 4/11/2008

    Thank Goodness for Maarja Krusten. Finally we hear the voice of good sense and professionalism. All the rest is dross.


    Tim Matthewson - 4/11/2008

    In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.
    What does such a small sample say? Not much except that 109 people score Bush 43 as a poor performance. What does that say about the other historians who did not particpate? Not much. Period. End of story!


    John Tarver - 4/11/2008

    This convinces me. I'm a Democrat, and I'm voting for John McCain.


    Tim Matthewson - 4/11/2008

    In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.
    What does such a small sample say? Not much except that 109 people score Bush 43 as a poor performance. What does that say about the other historians who did not particpate? Not much. Period. End of story!


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/11/2008

    You pack a great many untruthful statements into this post, B.S.

    1. Bush did not lie about what he knew about Iraq. He repeated what he was told by George Tenet and all foreign intelligence agencies. A majority of Democrats in Congress shared his views and voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, both in the House and Senate.

    2. Saddam was always a threat, even after he was captured, and most Democrats supported a "regime change" in Iraq well before Bush was elected.

    3. Our economy has not been "depleted," as you put it. Our unemployment rate is about the lowest in the world, our stock market is near its all time high, and in fact the world at large is exceptionally prosperous right now. The U.S. economy is clearly much better than it would have been without the Bush tax cuts.

    4. Iran is torn apart with internal dissension and might overthrow its very unpopular government without our help at any time.

    5. The war has been won, except for some mopping up around Mosul and a few tiny pockets elsewhere. The central government is becoming more powerful and more popular every day. The dinar is strong, the oil is flowing, and foreign governments are setting up offices in Baghdad again. Even the UN has gone back.

    6. The Republicans were not wrong in Iraq, but they were required to play the "bad hand" left to them by the Clinton administration, largely undiscovered until 9-11-01. Bush was saddled with a worthless CIA and more bad generals (and admirals) than Abraham Lincoln, but Petraeus and Odierno finally emerged.

    I'm glad you recognize expressions like "vain and ignorant morons," and "screw you guys," and "Jesus," do not tend to help you win arguments. It would be better to erase the intemporate language and dispense with the apology.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/10/2008

    You are parsing words here like Bill Clinton. Certainly somebody who reads at a fifth grade level can be said to have but a fifth grade education.

    Also note that your point #3 above is redundant.

    There is no question in my mind, from years and years of this banter, that people are much more likely to be on the left who lose their temper and sputter personal insults than on the right. This may not be true at the tavern level, but it is certainly true among those who craft arguments in writing. It might be caused by the expanded number of unmannered people who make up college faculties and student bodies these days--(we can assume the former are brainwashing the latter with their leftist views). Class had to diminish, just like in the expansion of major league sports.


    William J. Stepp - 4/10/2008

    Bush is a bad president, no question about it, but he's not nearly as bad as the Big Three baddies, Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR. They all did far more damage to the economy than 43, and were worse on war and "civil" liberties.
    Little known fact: The 1910s were the worst decade ever for the U.S. stock market. Thanks Woodster!

    Other worse presidents:
    Jackson (hugely overrated by some libertarians), TR ("Bully Boy"), Hoover, Truman (a real thug, maybe no. 4 on the list), LBJ, Trixon (LBJ and Dick might vie for no. 5). Don't know about McKinley and the First Peanut Farmer compared to 43, but 39 was bad.


    Anand Veeraraj - 4/10/2008

    I oppose Bush Library at SMU


    Chris Cook - 4/9/2008

    It doesn't matter what anyone says, some people just want to hate Bush. They want to pin every mistake, every problem of the nation on him, regardless of whether he personally was actually responsible or could have done anything about it. There was a comment on how during Hurricane Katrina Bush was playing his guitar for Sen. McCain. What was he supposed to be doing? Standing in water up to his neck in a New Orleans street trying to push back the hurricane? People now hate him for whatever reason, but you do realize that in 100 years all of these opinions might, (might!) become a statistic in a textbook? Who cares what kind of job Bush did? His term is over soon and we'll have a new president to criticize. His presidency was just a drop in the river of politics. He has dealt with the repercussions of past presidencies, and future presidents will have to deal with the repercussion of his presidency. So hate him all you want, ultimately it doesn't really matter what we think of him. Future generations will make their own decisions about Bush, regardless of our opinions of him.


    Chris Cook - 4/9/2008

    Whoa, way to go there tough guy. You spun those 91 words pretty good there. I know I wouldn't have been able to pull all those nifty buzzwords from such a short paragraph.


    Chris Cook - 4/9/2008

    Right, a real American like Sen. Obama who goes to a church with a pastor who has ranted and preached about his hatred for America?


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/9/2008

    Nice comment. I liked the barb about, "It’s almost as if their knowledge of history only extends to the latest MSNBC news cycle." Yes, this poll looks as though Keith Olberman got 70 votes. :)

    "Today's WORST PRESIDENT Ever: Bush Again!"


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/9/2008

    Many intellectuals do have poor judgment, else why does the quote (by Orwell?) about "some ideas being so dumb only an intellectual could believe them" ring so true? However, the "Ad of 88" is not an example of mere poor judgment. At best, it is the product of the alternative universe in which so many professors seem to live -- one whose reality is a precise inversion to the one that 98% of us observe.

    Btw, the lacrosse defendants were not charged with "hiring strippers" or "underage drinking", and the Ad (to which you helpfully linked) does not mention "hiring strippers" or "underage drinking". Nice try though.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/9/2008

    If it's the civil rights of the lacrosse boys should have concern us, how much more lucky for all that DA Nifong did not have the proclivities of Pres. F.D. Roosevelt.

    As far as "love of the Constitution" being the proper object of patriotism, I would say that the Constitution is a tool to protect what should be loved -- American democracy and liberty -- not properly an object of affection itself. Some people try to use the Constitution to undermine American democracy and liberty, and in their hands the Constitution is a sword of tyranny instead of a shield of liberty.


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/9/2008

    Mr. Rug and Mr. Erben say they were "dumbfounded" and "incredulous" at Bush's 2004 victory. I've said for years that the best thing about being a liberal is that it carries with it the promise of surprise. It's more boring on this side. In the Spring of 2004, I told a foreign friend of mine that Bush was sure to be re-elected, "barring some shocking event or news in the next six months."

    Just so you two won't be surprised this year, my "over/under" for the Electoral College votes of the three major candidates: Hillary, 247; McCain, 190; Obama, 69. (Yes, that means that while I think Hillary has a good chance at winning, I won't be surprised if Obama is crushed.) Btw, this has been my "over/under" since it became a "three-person race" after Super Tuesday.


    John Michael Doah - 4/9/2008

    Let's wait for survey results of the Southern Baptist Preachers of America. I am sure they can provide us with some valuable insights.


    Paul Mocker - 4/9/2008

    Haiti
    Saudi Arabia
    Egypt
    Kazakhstan
    Jordan
    Syria
    Tajikstan
    Turkmenistan
    Uzbekistan

    I'm sure that I've missed some. Except for Haiti (which the U.S. has repressed) these are countries that Bush supports. Are you sure that Bush likes democracies?


    Rick Spyker - 4/8/2008

    I would really like to see who these "historians" are. Bush is the worst president ever? Not by a long shot. This "poll" has no merit whatsoever. Did the “pollster” even control for political ideology? There are so many factual mistakes in these comments that I question if all of the respondents were actually historians, including the author. It’s almost as if their knowledge of history only extends to the latest MSNBC news cycle. The tax cuts were not just for the “rich” (whatever that means). They actually applied to everyone who pays taxes. Furthermore, tax revenues actually increased as result of the tax cuts, as they did for the Reagan, Kennedy, and Mellon tax cuts. The deficits were due to record spending on both sides of the aisle. One respondent calls the Iraq war disastrous. Really? Compared to Vietnam? How about Korea, where in less than three years over 30,000 of Americans died? How about the War of 1812, during which our capital was burned to the ground and all of New England very nearly seceded? And Bush trampled on the Bill of Rights? How, exactly? By rounding up hundreds of thousands of Americans and putting them in concentration camps like FDR? Oh, that’s right, I forgot, wiretaps of terrorists phone calls (perfectly legal under FISA and employed by every president since Carter). LOL. Are these guys even historians? It is way, way to early to judge the Bush presidency. Everyone said the same thing about Reagan, and now he’s ranked in the “near great” category. Same with Harry Truman who left office with a lower approval rating than Bush’s. If democracy hold in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush, like every other wartime president with the exception of Nixon, will be in the top 20. BTW, If I had a kid studying history at Millsaps College, I would ask for my tuition money back.


    beth knott - 4/8/2008

    Please. Your argument is pathetic. Clinton is a worse president than Bush because he invited people to the Lincoln bedroom? And although you seem to admit that Clinton did a number of great things in office, since you can't give him credit for any of them, you argue that he's worse than Bush. After reading your arguments, I have to wonder whether you realize that the world is round, and over 5,000 years old.


    Charles Zachemsky - 4/8/2008

    Waco deaths range from 51 to 86 depending on whose number you believe. Katrina deaths range from more than 1800 confirmed to more than 4000 when you include missing but presumed dead. Do some research you dolt. Oh, and by the way, under the Clinton administration, the need to rebuild/repair New Orleans levies was identified and the dollars needed to make those repairs were earmarked for that purpose. Bush took those dollars, as well as billions more that were earmarked for various other needed domestic and international programs, and spent them on his war. GWB is a murderer.


    Michael Robbins - 4/8/2008

    I have some problems with flat statements like "he sold federal pardons," something I hear or read often from angry partisans.

    My father was pardoned by Bill Clinton along with Mr. Rich. My father was a blue-collar man from Texas who never gave a dime to any political party or voted at any time to my knowledge. He was pardoned on advice of agents of the FBI and my mother's obsessive work to get the pardon. He deserved it. He got it. He was vindicated and it was the best moment of his adult life.

    Mr. Clinton doesn't know my father from a wart on his fanny, but he did a gracious thing that required him to take time out to listen to the advice of the FBI agents assigned to my father's case and the pleadings of a poor, simple woman.

    If anybody reads this and gives a damn, maybe we can add a little nuance to our political discourse.


    Dan Stewart - 4/8/2008


    What may you say that Saddam had intendtions to roll "over not only Kuwait but also Saudi Arabia and the UAE..."?

    Do you have a reasonable factual basis to make that assertion?


    Blary S Fnorgin - 4/8/2008

    What is this "bias" thing conservatives are always talking about? It's never really been explained to me.

    The newspapers say bad things about Bush, so they're "biased." Well, it's a convenient way to dismiss any information that doesn't fit with your delusional world view.

    Educated people hate Bush, therefore educated people are "biased" against him. Did it never occur to you that educated people hate Bush because they're educated?

    When Rove tries to smear Obama, he calls him "smart" 20 times in the same speech. Has that become an insult now? With all the problems Bush has caused, now the Republicans don't want to vote for someone who might be smarter than them?


    Blary S Fnorgin - 4/8/2008

    Jesus. Bush voters are morons.

    Clinton was an opportunist? He rented out the Lincoln bedroom, had an affair? SO WHAT?

    Listen carefully: Bush lied about what he knew about Iraq. Saddam was never a threat, and Bush knew it. 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died, and who knows how many Iraqis, our economy has been depleted, and the main benefactor has been Iran, our enemy. Any objective observer would call that stupid.

    The war has already been lost, but we can't leave because the Republicans, vain and ignorant, can't admit that they were wrong. So we continue to pay a price in blood.

    The Republican party and its voters are an embarrassment to this country. Screw you guys, your opinions don't matter anymore. You had your chance, it's time for the adults to run the country again.

    Sorry if I brought down the level of discourse, but enough is enough.


    Carl A Willis - 4/8/2008

    Yep, it's fun to ponder hypotheticals: under what fictitious circumstances could Bush possibly be respected for his course of action in Iraq?

    Truth of the matter, of course, is that in 2003 Saddam was involved in no such military aggression against his neighbors. Oh snap.


    Jonathan Dresner - 4/8/2008

    This is one area in which the tender mercies of time may actually be useful: It actually seems quite likely that the 2000 and 2004 elections featured unprecedented levels of vote-rigging and fraud, but the materials necessary to properly investigate the question may not be available for decades, if ever (though criminal proceedings might help).

    On the broader question, you really need to talk to an Americanist, but my impression is that political historians have never started from the premise that voters were well-informed, competent, or interested in merit. The evidence strongly suggests otherwise, even when the "right" candidate wins.


    Nathan Adams - 4/8/2008

    These historians make me wish that Saddam had rolled over not only Kuwait but also Saudi Arabia and the UAE!
    Historians would then have a different opinion of Bush, I am sure!
    How many have actually been to either Iraq or Kuwait? Not a damn one, I'm sure!


    Carlos Campos - 4/8/2008

    I am interested to know what historians like yourself will write about the vast numbers of Americans who voted for George W. Bush twice, the politicians who supported him and/or failed to stand-up to him, the special interests who bankrolled him, and the media that enabled him.

    As blameworthy as he is, Bush never could have inflicted such damage without plenty of support. The logical conclusion of his mendacity, ideological extremism and incompetence were quite obvious well before the 2004 election.


    Carlos Campos - 4/8/2008

    Can you explain exactly what this "liberal bias of academia" is?

    Academia certainly has a bias toward liberal modes of understanding such as empiricism, intellectual rigor and the scientific method --all of which are evident in the conclusions of these historians.

    And at the moment, perhaps 30% of Americans approve of Bush's performance; these historians' mainstream views are consistent with the overwhelmiong majority of Americans.


    Stuart Buck - 4/7/2008

    Seems like a joke -- many of these historians seem to be basing their opinions more on current biases rather than on any objective comparison to past Presidents (Bush hasn't nuked anybody, nor has he rounded up thousands of Americans to put in concentration camps, and fighting a foolish war isn't unique even if one limits oneself to the past 40 years).


    Paul Barry Weinstein - 4/7/2008

    I'm always interested in the assumption that foreign rulers are suicidal. An open attack by Hussein's Iraq on the USA would have courted defeat or annihilation. Hussein didn't invite the March, 2003 invasion. Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed for that action relentlessly, justification be damned, and misled a deer-in-the-headlights Bush.
    He is deserving of his low rating. He is deserving of his record low polls. He is deserving of the contempt of the American people. And I hope we do not forget his hideous, willful incompetency as we are rebuilding the mess he leaves in every area: civic life, economy, military, education, environment, international standing, and the morale of the American people (by no means a comprehensive list).


    Paul Barry Weinstein - 4/7/2008

    I think Brandy Lewis was just a day late on an Fool's Day prank. That post just can't be serious.


    Carl A Willis - 4/7/2008

    R.R. Hamilton wrote:

    "Those [who think Bush is worst ever] would have all signed that infamous anti-lacrosse team ad."

    This appears to be a complete non-sequitur. How is faculty opposition to disrespectful student behavior at Duke in any way linked to historians' judgment on the Bush presidency?

    I get the impression the thrust of your comment is that intellectual professionals have poor judgment. In which case, you'll need to re-examine your source material. Although the defendants in the Duke Lacrosse scandal were improperly treated by the DA and were not convicted of criminal charges, that does not mean that they were conducting themselves in a respectful, mature fashion. These were underage kids who hired strippers and consumed alcohol as an organized team function (that those activities occurred was undisputed). In the eyes of the faculty, such gutterball behavior did not belong at their school. That was more-or-less the gist of the ad you mention; in no way was it an extrajudicial accusation of criminal guilt. See your source material here:

    http://photos1.blogger.com/photoInclude/x/blogger/2862/372/1600/99636/Listening_Statement_b.jpg

    -Carl


    Phil Shen - 4/7/2008

    I take it that you also feel the same way about George W Bush then, correct? Because before he became president, he did ardently criticize foreign entanglements and nation building. Let us not forget also that it was under W's first term that one of our planes and technology was lost to the Chinese, and interestingly enough we had to even say "very sorry" over that loss.


    carl davenport - 4/7/2008

    Finally the discussion devolves to Moveon.Org. Really..

    My father often said "If so-and-so were half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be about twice as smart as he really is.."

    Political not historical, indeed.


    carl davenport - 4/7/2008

    Finally the discussion devolves to Moveon.Org. Really..

    My father often said "If so-and-so were half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be about twice as smart as he really is.."

    Political not historical, indeed.


    Paul Goode - 4/7/2008

    "George W. Bush has not been responsible for any "horrific" events during his two terms as president."

    The Iraqi people might think differently.


    Paul Goode - 4/7/2008

    What evidence do you have that what is going on in Iraq is "mopping up"? How long in your estimation will the "mopping up" take? What is the basis for any assumption that Iraq is on the way to stability and prosperity, or even friendliness to the U.S? I'm interested, because -- silly me -- I thought the place was a mess with massive unemployment and closer to being a Shiite theocracy than anything else.


    Paul Szymanowski - 4/7/2008

    If you think W was bad, get a load of McBush.

    10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

    1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

    2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

    3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3

    4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

    5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

    6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

    7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

    8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

    9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

    10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10

    John McCain is not who the Washington press corps make him out to be. Please help get the word out—forward this email to your personal network. And if you want us to keep you posted on MoveOn's work to get the truth out about John McCain, sign up here:
    http://pol.moveon.org/mccaintruth/?id=12407-2883818-ZlW1O3&;t=232

    Thank you for all you do.

    –Eli, Justin, Noah, Laura, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
    Saturday, April 5th, 2008

    Sources:
    1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008
    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/04/the-complicated.html

    "McCain Facts," ColorOfChange.org, April 4, 2008
    http://colorofchange.org/mccain_facts/

    2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&;sid=aF28rSCtk0ZM&refer=us

    "Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/06/buchanan-gandhi-mccain/

    3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/20/mccain-torture-veto/

    4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17222147/

    5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008
    http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/PageServer?pagename=act_learn_scorecard2007

    "McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/mccain.interview/

    6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h-S1sWHm0tchtdMP5LcLywg5ZtMgD8VQ86M80

    "McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&;sid=aHMiDVYaXZFM&refer=home

    7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=4301022

    "Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/27/famed_mccain_temper_is_tamed/

    8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/02/mccain-black-lobbyist/

    "McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4210251

    9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008
    http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2008/03/john-mccain-rod-parsley-spiritual-guide.html

    "Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/12/mccain-hagee-anti-gay/

    "McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/28/hagee-mccain-endorsement/

    10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008
    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/environment/77913/


    Dan Stewart - 4/7/2008


    Mr. Lawrence Brooks Hughes:

    1. Are you aware of the irony of your posts? You say: “…crackpot liberals posting on this site… must admit most of those on my side refrain from ad hominem attacks…” That, like Brandy Lewis’ post, is “too perfect.”

    2. I never wrote the words, “fifth grade education.” What I said was “In a mere 91 words written at a 5th grade level, Brandy Lewis captured…” Not a criticism, but an observation that in a few simply phrased words, the writer said a lot. (I used the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level metric, this post is a 7.6 grade level.) Nowhere did I engage in ad hominem attacks. Ms. Lewis, on the other hand, used rather offensive characterizations, e.g., “Idiotic liberals” and “dummy,” etc.

    3. I’m not a liberal or a Democrat or a crackpot.









    Rodney Huff - 4/7/2008

    "Your view seems binary to me because you seem to be saying that the only options are to judge a leader or President based on what is known now or to judge him later."

    No, I'm saying we've endured seven years of Bush and the evidence of his inferiority is piled so high that historians can now begin to judge his presidency. Obviously, as more information becomes available, historians are free to modify their views. Obviously, the judging won't stop after he leaves office. I'm not suggesting it should. I am not making an either/or proposition here. All I'm saying is that, knowing what we know now - which is a lot - historians can now begin making these kinds of judgments.

    Even though we don't have the "full picture," as you complain in your married couple analogy, the picture we do have is pretty bad. It would be irresponsible to ignore this picture and refuse to hold this president accountable for the mess he's making. That's why he's comforted by people like you who insist that judgement must be reserved for a far-off History. (Fluff up his pillow, why don't you?) If we can't judge his actions in office, he can't be held accountable.

    The married couple analogy is a bad one, too. The divorcees are PRIVATE citizens whose business we shouldn't mind as much as the business of a PUBLIC official in the world, especially the President of the United States, a person who decides on issues of war and peace and whose decisions affect all Americans and millions of people around the world.

    In a democracy, the president works for us; he is supposed to be accountable to us. But he cannot be held acountable to us if we refuse to take a critical stance simply because we don't have the "full picture" - a picture he deliberately obscures by keeping certain parts hidden. (Hmmm... I wonder what was said during the interview with the 9/11 commission. I wonder why Bush and Cheney couldn't interview separately or go under oath or go on record. I wonder what Cheney discuseed with Enron and big oil execs during those secret energy task force meetings.)

    Alright, so we agree that a full record isn't possible. So why are you bothered by historians who make assessments without having the "full picture"? Again, how much more evidence do you need?

    Finally, you're so concerned about other people's political biases influencing their judgments, but have you considered what political biases you're betraying by insisting that we let history be the judge of this president?


    Maarja Krusten - 4/7/2008

    No one who has heard Gen. Anthony Zinni speak in his current capacity as a consultant, as I have, about the quality of people presently in the pipeline for corporate and governmental leadership positions, and leadership deficits, and the impact of that, would call him a romantic.

    Your view seems binary to me because you seem to be saying that the only options are to judge a leader or President based on what is known now or to judge him later. I don't happen to see it as either/or. I think people form first impressions based on available evidence, which later may be confirmed or revised. In a democracy, no one can impose those views on others, how one sifts through the evidence -- or even defines dispositive evidence -- and judges people (Presidents, friends, colleagues) always will differ from person to person.

    Given my background in fighting within the government during the late 1980s and early 1990s to retain in the National Archives' custody, rather than to return to former President Nixon, segments of White House document and tapes, I find truly ironic your comment "But if you're honest with yourself, you must admit that we will never have a full record." I've never claimed there is a full record of anything, in the past or now. Record keeping doesn't work that way. There aren't full records about all academic or business decisions, either.

    I did once try, at some cost, to ensure that historians would gain as much access as I thought fitting under law to Nixon's records. (My area of expertise in working with Nixon's then unreleased tapes was what statutory language refers to as "abuses of governmental power.") At least I can say that the courageous colleagues with whom I stood within the government then deserved that effort. I worked with some wonderful people at the Archives, we all had history degrees.

    May all who read HNN one day also find courageous colleagues whom you deem worthy of supporting and fighting alongside for a cause you believe in. Good luck to you all in your various endeavors.


    Rodney Huff - 4/7/2008

    Maarja,

    How is my worldview binary? I argue that we have enough information to begin judging this president. You insist that we don't, that we must wait for the "full record."

    But if you're honest with yourself, you must admit that we will never have a full record. Parts of that record have already been destroyed, while some things simply never make it into the record. Everyone - even historians with high-level access - must work with imperfect knowledge.

    According to your logic, we shouldn't have been so quick to vilify Enron and judge the people who ran it into the ground. We still don't have the full record. Most of it was shredded. Will you now be consistent and urge us to wait for history to judge Lay, Skilling, and Fastow? Without the full record of behind-the-scene deliberations, we would just be basing our assessment of the company on its "product." Surely it's too soon to judge, right?

    I understand that historians want to know what happened behind closed doors. (I also do not support eliminating the National Archives. I don't understand why you think I would support zeroing the Archives' budget.) A behind-the-scenes look at the decision-making process certainly makes for fascinating history. The recent PBS Frontline documentary "Bush's War" is fascinating precisely because it gives us such a rare backstage glimpse.

    But although such glimpses may provide us insight into the motivations of the actors, it doesn't change the brute facts of their actions.

    The actors could have the best intentions in the world and still make a mess of things. Actors may be delusional. Actors may lie. They may even lie to themselves. We could spend a lifetime debating motivations and still never know for sure why somebody did what they did.

    That's why I insist we look at the policy, the "products." To engage in endless debate about motivations is a conservative tactic. It betrays a dedication to the status quo. Cautious historians say,
    "We cannot stop and reflect on what's happening and pass judgment. We must continue to let things happen and allow 'History' to be the judge."

    How convenient it must be for the president to know that he will not be judged until he's long gone, that cautious historians will insist on having a fabled "full record" before issuing any assessments of this presidency.

    And why is it that when things turn out badly, it's always too soon to judge those in power? Under these circumstances, "History" suddenly becomes an ally of the elite. On the other hand, when things turn out well, the elite are always quick to take credit and pat themselves on the back. Why is that?

    (Maarja, do you really think my worldview lacks nuance?)

    You quote:

    "At high levels of seniority, decisions become less clear, and the decision-maker is often forced to choose between the lesser of two evils or two goods. Because there are degrees of good and bad inherent in all decisions, a consistent ethical code is critical."

    Permit me to inject some nuance into this romantic, hackeneyed portrayal of elite people making tough decisions and deserving our sympathy. I would add that, today, the elite are in positions to create choices - false ones, too - and that they are free to choose the greater of two evils.

    To show you that these are not just flamboyant remarks, I will provide you with some evidence: Cheney and Rumsfeld created their own intelligence office in the DoD when they rejected the CIA's intelligence on Iraq. This administration went on to fabricate its own intelligence, create false choices, and lie this country into a disastrous war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of innocent people, destroyed our reputation around the world, and promises to bankrupt our country.

    Add to these war crimes all the other scandals that have roiled this administration - Presidential authorization of torture, the Vice President's office outing a CIA agent, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the firing of US attorneys, tax cuts for the rich when the national deficit is now at $9 trillion, the looting of the Iraq Oil Fund, the CIA's destruction of tapes containing interviews of Al-quada agents (!!!), the EPA's failure to respond to global warming, even after the Supreme Court ruled that it had the authority to regulate carbon emmissions - a perfect example of how conservative presidents appoint people who effectively neutralize regulatory agencies from inside out, allowing industry people to essentially "regulate" their own industries. And this is just a partial list of grievances.

    All this invites comparison to previous presidents. I'm not a professional historian - and I don't offer any assessment as one - but I am suggesting that historians do have enough material to start making those kinds of comparisons.


    James Lee Winningham - 4/6/2008

    Mr. Hughes,

    Could you please give me some evidence to back up your claim that Hussein would have attacked the U.S. with possible nukes or biological weapons. Also, how about giving us some evidence that he would have ever been capable of doing this? Are we going to go around preemtivly attacking every country we think may one day have the ability to attack us?


    Scott Templeton - 4/6/2008

    - to R.R Hamilton,
    In citing the Duke lacrosse case you unintentionally bring up one aspect of why the Bush presidency is among the worst in our nations history.

    Imagine if the DA in that case, Mike Nifong, had suspended habeus corpus (the right of the players to protest the evidence used for their indictment) for the three accused players, citing their out of state citizenship (NJ, MD, NY) and the assumed threat of violence to the Durham area (they were accused of rape by the government after all.)

    That's exactly what President Bush has done. The history of the Duke lacrosse case is terrible, but let's not forget they had their day in court, and from that, it was declared that they were absolutely, undeniably innocent of the charges. In other words, the system worked.

    If they were accused of terrorism by the Bush administration, they wouldn't have been so lucky.

    Some people like to express their patriotism to their president, or their flag, or their national anthem... I prefer to be patriotic to what makes the United States the greatest country in the world, our constitution.


    Maarja Krusten - 4/6/2008

    In responding above, I assumed that you are an historian or that you have some training in history. It occurs to me now that that may not be the case. Whether you are or not, I do not expect any professional historian to comment on our exchange. That is the way things work on HNN.

    My point, which you seem to have misunderstood, is that how events seem to external observers sometimes evolves, as they gain access to internal governmental deliberations. It is the same with any institution. I am sure that wherever you work, the general public perceives some of your actions and those of your colleagues differently than they appear to you inside. You may even shake your head sometimes and say, things are more complicated than your customers realize. Even within a company, whether issues seem black and white or gray is going to vary. How events seem depends on whether you are close to or far involved from executive decision making. As Anthony Zinni has pointed out, "At high levels of seniority, decisions become less clear, and the decision-maker is often forced to choose between the lesser of two evils or two goods. Because there are degrees of good and bad inherent in all decisions, a consistent ethical code is critical." That is not always evident even to all the employees within an organization.

    Members of the public sees the products your company sells or the services it provides, but they lack knowledge of what went into developing them, why you and your fellow employees act as you do, why you defer to your bosses, or not, etc. That's fine, they can judge things by what they can see. It's akin to you judging a President based on the outcomes of his decisions.

    An historian, on the other hand, typically hopes to see one day what happened behind closed doors. If you were an adult during the Johnson administration -- which I suspect was not the case, from the way you write I would guess you are much younger than that -- your perceptions of the Gulf of Tonikin incident might change over the course of time, as you learned information decades down the road that later was declassified.

    If a business historian were to write about your company (again, I'm assuming you work in the private, not the governmental, sector), he or she would delve into some deliberative issues and predecisional matters. It's unlikely he or she would write such an history simply by assessing the products you sell and the marketing information your bosses give you to hand out to the public.

    As to access to that information, where, while employed by the National Archvies, I once argued for early disclosure of White House records, and faced off with Richard Nixon's lawyers in an effort to achieve that, my experiences in reading HNN have led me to move away from that. It is harder and harder for me to argue these days for early disclosure and rapid declassification. Your posting confirms that those who argue within the archival community that the 12-year restriction window for the Presidential Records Act need re-examination may be on the right path, after all. Certainly, it would spare those within the National Archives the difficult face-offs with former Presidents and their representatives that my colleagues and I once went through on behalf of historians in our capacity as executive branch emplolyees.


    Maarja Krusten - 4/6/2008

    Not everyone who writes on HNN does nuance, as I noted in my posting.

    Your view is binary and you present issues in an either/or scenario. Why that is, I don't know. My world view is not binary so I know we never will look at issues the same way. You are, however, unfair in making assumptions about me. But I am not in a position to discuss those.

    As to your approach to assessing Presidents, if what happened behind closed doors does not matter, I assume you support zeroing out the budget appropriation for the U.S. National Archives and shuttering that institution. The agency has an enormously difficult mission, one to which many of its potential customers seem indifferent. That has been made clear here on HNN time and time again. You have added to that number with your comment.

    I am sure it would be easier for many people if NARA did not exist and its mission were abandoned. By all means, if the historians can learn nothing from pre-decisional and previously classified documents, feel free to base future historical writing on press releases, post-decisional documents, and the outcomes visible to the public at large as events unfold. That's not how I was trained to assess history in graduate school but I went to school a long time ago, in the 1970s. Much has changed since then.


    Rodney Huff - 4/6/2008

    Hi Maarja,

    You seem to care a lot about “what went on behind closed doors.” But what went on behind closed doors doesn't matter.

    Why, you ask? Because we still see the results. We still see the policies. Obviously, whatever went on behind closed doors didn't prevent the decisions made by this president, and We the People bear the consequences of those decisions.

    As the person who occupys the most powerful office in the land - if not the world - the "Decider" still makes decisions. As president, he must be held accountable for those decisions. The buck must stop with the president - despite all the delegating and outsourcing of responsibility. The buck must stop with him.

    Along with others who think that we must wait for "history," for a "full record" we will never have - parts of it have already been destroyed - you, Maarja, (wittingly or unwittingly) excuse this president from being held accountable for his destructive and very costly decisions. You do so by insisting on waiting for a far-off, remote, "there-and-then" history - when this president IS MAKING HISTORY right now with decisions that have immediate, far-reaching consequences not just for us, but for people all over the world. With the flick of a pen, the president has the power to make history while ending so many personal histories - the people killed indirectly by executive command in the name the United States.

    My bias, you wonder? Well, I am neither liberal nor conservative. I am critical, an independent thinker. I like to form my own informed opinions.

    Informed by what, you ask? By objective facts.

    Objective? What do you mean by that, you ask? I mean events that have been independently verified and documented to the point that it would be delusionsal to think otherwise.

    For instance, the Holocaust happened. It is perhaps the most documented crime against humanity in all of human history. I wasn't there. I didn't experience it first hand, but you and I know it happened. And knowing human nature and the nature of a cruelly efficient and faceless bureaucracy, I don't find it hard to believe either.

    Just as the Holocaust happened, Bush lied us into war. He lied. Cheney lied. Rumsfeld lied. Powell lied. Rice lied. The lies are well documented, part of the public record. They are now objective=intersubjective "facts" (see http://www.publicintegrity.org/WarCard/Default.aspx?source=home&;context=overview&id=945).

    How much more evidence do you need?

    Whatever happened behind closed doors doesn't matter. Whatever happened didn't prevent the lies that led this nation into a disastrous war of attrition. Any victory the US can possibly claim now can only be be a Pyrrhic one. (How we will ever know we've "won" remains a mystery, of course, since the official objective keeps changing.)

    Meanwhile, all we hear about from the commanders is the "progress" being made. In fact, that's all we've heard for the past 5 years - we're making progress. It's tough work, they say, but we're still making progress. Now you'd think after 5 years of progress we'd have a utopia in Iraq by now.

    Obviously, we're not making progress -whatever "progress" means (progress towards what and how it's measured, we don't know). We were led into war by lies and now were being kept in war by more lies.

    Perhaps, from the point of view of those who run this country, there is indeed progress in failure. Perhaps there's even "success in failure." If you consider who's running this government - ex-CEOs and businessmen with ties to big oil and the defense industry who enact policies that enrich their cronies in corporate America who paved their way to power with campaign donations (investments)-there's been a serious victory, a victory for corporate America, for the corporations that receive no-bid contracts and get away with looting the Iraq Oil Fund under Bremmer's CPA and who profit immensely from human misery and war.

    Anyone who thinks we must wait for a distant and far-off "history" to pass judgment on the president's actions implicitly suggests that we ought not hold the president accountable for his decisions. In the absence of accountability, the president makes decisons irresponsibly - with confidence that only a far-off history can be judge and jury.

    Whether you admit it or not, Maarja, your caution that we reserve judgment for another liftime amounts to mere apology. Again, how much more evidence do you need?


    Rodney Huff - 4/6/2008

    Again, if you are convinced of the morality and necessity of this war, sign yourself up (you have experience!) and get over there. Until you do, you're just an armchair neocon.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/6/2008

    I wonder if all the crackpot liberals posting on this site are expressing their true sentiments here or just fishing for attention. You must admit most of those on my side refrain from ad hominem attacks and disregard the "fifth grade education" of their adversaries, because we are generally much less uncouth than your partisans. (Actually I think I know the crackpot liberals do believe their own posts. Nobody ever tells them the Great Society failed, or that public housing, public health, public schools, public radio or public anything is always a disaster!).


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/6/2008

    I did serve in the armed forces, Rodney, some time ago and quite honorably, which I'd venture to guess you cannot say. I was drafted and went where the army decided to send me, which wasn't to Oxford or Canada. The army was much less efficient then than it is now, because today they don't tolerate all the drunks and morons... There is no question in my mind Saddam would have attacked the U.S. eventually, with anthrax or portable nukes or something, had he been allowed to continue in power. Al Gore might have been foolish enough to take a chance, as Clinton did, but not George W. Bush, for which I'm profoundly grateful. You have every right to disagree, but you must admit 3.5 million more people voted my way in 2004 than voted your way, and more of our most illiterate and ignorant citizens voted your way than mine, too.


    Maarja Krusten - 4/5/2008

    Mr. Draper, you write that "we don't have the full record yet. Most of the presidential libraries are still declassifying large collections.”

    I once spent 14 years as an employee of the National Archives, assigned to use my training as an historian and archivist to determine what could be released from Richard Nixon's taped conversations and paper documents. So I'm glad to see you mention the Presidential Libraries. Not only does declassification (a term of art that applies solely to materials security classified under E.O. 12958, as amended) take time, so too does the screening for release of unclassified pre-decisional information. There are many stakeholders ranging from the creators of records to those seeking access to them. Balancing stakeholder interests is not easy. Moreover, there is a power imbalance, at least as long as a former President still is alive.

    Release of unclassified or declassified deliberative documents is complicated by the fact that while Archives' employees may mark a document for release under disclosure regulations, a former President can exert a Constitutionally based right to block disclosure. Once he decides he wants to claim "communications privilege" over an item that the National Archives has marked for opening, the document is withheld from release.

    A Professor of archival studies once quoted historian Herbert Feis on why the release of documents can be challenging. Dr. Feis made his comment during a different era, when other statutes governed release of Presidential records. But his quotation points to the core issue here, one which this poll does little to resolve. A former President typically relies on lawyers or other representatives to perform on his behalf communications privilege reviews of documents marked for release. Feis noted 30 years ago that some "guardians of these collections may regard themselves also as guardians of the reputation of the memorialized individual. They may be loath to expose that reputation to sting or stain as long as living persons care deeply." That is a very human response but one I have found surprisingly difficult to get historians to consider when they discuss when they can access documents and how.

    As Mr. Draper says, for some historians this poll may be more a political exercise, for others it may be more professional. We cannot assess their level of professional detachment. Moreover, I suspect that not all who voted are experts in fields that enable them to assess modern government equally well – fields such as the Presidency or diplomatic history or military history. Some professional historians have more experience in studying modern day executive decision making and assessing power relationships within the Presidency than others. But we have no break down on the background of respondents. Nor do we know if they were able to separate their political goals from their professional training. Consequently, this poll showed weaknesses from the outset.

    That is not to say that what individual historians have to say on the subject may not be useful. However, that Mr. McElvaine failed to address some of these issues up-front is one reason why readers are responding as they are. (It’s interesting to see that while historians often criticize politicians for not “doing nuance,” not all of them do it well, either. Some do, some don’t.)

    All in all, this poll has as much value as asking every married couple in your circle of friends to vote on whether a separating couple should divorce. Sure, they all are married and have some “expertise.” But how they respond to your informal poll will vary. And the degree to which they separate emotional reactions from intellectual ones definitely is going to vary.

    Some may vote on the divorce question based on religious or ideological beliefs. Others may vote by considering their own individual experiences. Some may react emotionally, focusing solely on their own negative or positive experiences. Some of the friends of the separating couple see things starkly in black and white and live most comfortably in a world where they can pick out a good guy and a bad guy. How they vote may reflect that world view more than anything else.

    Still others may vote based on what they have learned in studying relationships and behavioral science. There even may be a family therapist among the group who may look at the issue through a professional lens. And finally, there may be people such as I who say, “Look, we don’t have enough evidence to judge this. We have seen some outcomes over the years: how the couple interacted in public in social settings; some glimpses of how they spent their money and what their hobbies were. And in how they raised their children, in the interactions we’ve glimpsed, we’ve gotten some sense of their family values. But we know nearly nothing about how they got along as marriage partners and what happened behind closed doors. There’s no point in polling us. Maybe if we learn more through court papers we can consider the breakdown of the marriage better than we now can. But right, we just don’t have anything close to the full picture. I understand that the rest of you, as friends of the couple, have heartfelt views and strong opinions. You're entitled to look at this any way you like. But I’m not going to vote in your poll.”

    Until the future Bush Presidential Library finishes the release of such deliberative documents that may have been created and that it may receive for its archival holdings, historians certainly can consider outcomes. But while we can assess the results of decisions, we won’t know “what went on behind closed doors.” Unfortunately, this poll makes it much harder to argue that among the stakeholders I described at the beginning of my post, those at the end of the food chain of Presidential documents – the scholars who come in to archival research rooms to read the disclosable portions of Presidential records – will assess a Presidency fairly and objectively. To poll historians but to be unable to screen out political bias – or even acknowledge it as an issue in a poll -- does little for the profession.

    Maarja Krusten


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/5/2008

    The Whitewater land deal was a fraud from its inception. The organizers never intended to repay the $300 K loan from the SBA... Ken Starr was a poor choice. He had such a perfect open-and-shut case with the perjury that he dropped all the other possible avenues of criminal prosecution... He couldn't see Clinton's political escape route. But these people were bad, to sum it up. Remember Webb Hubbell, Johnny Chang(?), the Riati family, Clinton's brother, etc.? He was a very lucky president, because Reagan had won the Cold War and straightened out the economy, the caretaker first Bush had only mildly loused it up, and the GOP Congress came along to keep America on an even keel. Clinton was simply lucky. He was lucky Ross Perot withdrew in 1992. And, BTW, I think more people died at Waco than from Katrina. The FEMA malfunction at Katrina was waiting to happen under any president, to the extent it did malfunction. It was sort of like the State Department passport mess right now, which nobody talks about. Those problems are endemic with socialism, my friend. Katrina was an extraordinarily rare force. And the media reported everything wrong initially, (nobody died in the football stadium), much of which has remained in the public mind. FEMA performed quite well in Florida earlier, coordinated by Gov. Jeb Bush. Mrs. Blanco and the kleptocracy governing New Orleans were much of the problem with Katrina, along with bad planning some years earlier by the Corps of Engineers.


    Hans Wurst - 4/5/2008

    Well, Brandy ..
    I have a request, because I am an American who is living abroad (in Germany).
    Please be careful with your postings – that’s the internet and everybody can read it.
    America is already the most hated country of the world and the reason is, that Americans are the dumbest voters ever.
    It is already hard for me in Europe with my passport and I always have to explain “no, not all Americans have only a vacuum between their ears”, but people like you are doing everything to improve the worldwide impression of stupid Americans!
    Maybe it is normal for you to write down such things, but the rest of the world knows these are only lies - President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.


    please read:

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/WarCard/Default.aspx?src=home&;context=overview&id=945

    and be quiet


    R.R. Hamilton - 4/5/2008

    Tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of the infamous "Listening Statement" of the 88 professors -- nearly all in the humanities -- about the Duke Lacrosse scandal. I have to admit that that ad created one of those "WHAT THE FUCK!?!?" moments for me. It was something that I could not have conceived happening ... until it did.

    That event is what lead me to, among other places, here, to where college historians congregate. It is also what enables me to be merely amused, not shocked, by the subject poll results.

    Sixty-one percent view Bush as "the worst-ever President"? Those would have all signed that infamous anti-lacrosse team ad. Only 4 of 109 said Bush wasn't in the bottom quartile? Those four as a percentage (2%) compares closely with the percentage of Duke faculty who spoke out in defense of the falsely-accused students.


    Eric Hill - 4/5/2008

    Without looking at the end results to compare Bush to Hitler, we can still see the similarities without dwelling on the actual outcomes. Installing fear into the population to support your policies. The Patriot Act of our time is similar to the German Enabling Act of their time. Many call Hitler a dictator but he operated within German law. But let's say, for the sake or argument, that Hitler operated outside the law. Remember illegal wiretapping? Remember presenting false intelligence to Congress to have them grant authority to wage war? Remember torturing and waterboarding? Remember Abu Gharib?

    We are certainly not comparing Bush the man to Hitler the man. This is about the politics, the leadership. Hitler had the support of the German people, even when we saw him for who he really was. When we see Bush for who he really is, he has a 28% approval rating that is bound to fall even further.

    We talk so much about the mass graves, the bombing of the kurds, and the rapes of young women, but death is death. We have caused as many, if not more death, than Saddam. (5 year war vs 35 years in power). What real difference is there between Saddam's sons and henchmen raping women and the rape of American women by it's citizens by the inability of our government (and this includes state and local, but federal always trumps them) to protect them through the effective enforcement of law and proper education of our people to prevent crime. Women are still getting raped. Would the funds we gave away to Halliburton by way of a war based on false pretenses be of better use here at home in our schools and putting more police on the streets?


    "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists". Is there anyone who does not realize how dangerous that message is?


    Dan Stewart - 4/5/2008

    What action(s) was it on the part of Iraq that makes you think that it was about to "roll into North America"?

    Your lament about "stopping Hitler in the Rhineland" is more a lament about the human inability to see into the future.

    Using your logic any country could attack any other simply on the accusation that country A, perceives, no matter how unsupported, a threat from country B and is therefore justified in a pre-emptive attack.


    Dan Stewart - 4/5/2008

    An objective case can be made in international law that Bush is indeed a true war criminal.


    Dan Stewart - 4/5/2008

    I would like to refine your statement "they're not Americans so their lives aren't worth anything to you" a bit.

    Because "they're not Americans" suggests the he/they care about all Americans, which I would agrue they do not.


    Dan Stewart - 4/5/2008

    Mr. Nicholas Taylor, I did not compare Bush to Hitler, as you content above. I simply used Hitler to show that the statement: "you can't accurately judge the leadership of anyone based on [the] present" is false.

    By you not taking issue with that assertion, I'll take it you agree (which you should).

    Instead, not surprisingly, you twist my remarks to falsely throw up the straw man that I compared Bush to Hitler; something you must feel is more plausible grounds to argue. Possibly true, if it were the subject, but it's not.

    I will say that while I did not compare Bush to Hitler, I am not saying that at another time, the argument couldn't be taken up. But, that's not the subject and I choose not to make it such.


    Eric Hill - 4/5/2008

    The criticism on Clinton is amazing. No leadership in any county since the days of Pharaoh are perfect. Bill Clinton worked for the people, and worked very hard, in spite of the burdens of the GOP, who hated him for it (for ex...Whitewater). He was successful before the outcome of his decisions because they were made on behalf on the will of the people, and not the party or special interests.

    It's clear that Bush made decisions against the will of the people. He stayed the course in Iraq even when 80% of the country wanted us out. Many of his decisions were supported because they were made "after the fact" and the people believed him at the time, which most later turned out to be wrong.

    You mention Waco, but you don't talk about Katrina, which had a far worse outcome, which took Bush 3 days to respond. "Brownie is doing a good job", says Bush, then 3 days later he's fired.

    High Crimes? Clinton was impeached for having sex and lying about it, based on evidence that was obtained illegally. Plain and simple. Yes, he lied under oath. Should Bush have been put under oath for his misleading us into Iraq, and changing the "goal", and recommitting our funds and soldiers lives, every time the prior goal didn't pan out?

    Clinton's so-called failures left America with a thriving economy, a record surplus, 22 million new jobs, record home ownership, retained respect with the international community, and a legacy of fiscal responsibility.

    Ask the average American today if they are better off today then in the 90s.


    Pawl442 - 4/5/2008

    I am an american citizen also and I wish the trial started yesterday.


    Pawl442 - 4/5/2008

    Nicholas Taylor,
    what about 9/11 and 3000 plus dead on his watch? buSh was warned by at least 40 foriegn intelligence agencies and heads of state. He just ignored them until late August when it was to late.
    But worst of all are the 1 MILLION PLUS INNOCENT DEAD IRAQI'S. Does the number have to be 6 million before its called what it is, genocide, and to be compaired to Hitler? I see, they're not Americans so their lives aren't worth anything to you.


    Rodney Huff - 4/5/2008

    The people who attacked us were from Saudi Arabia and the coordinator was hiding out in Afghanistan. IRAQ had nothing to do with 9/11. If the Bush administration had heeded the warnings, the towers might still be standing.

    Now, if you're so convinced of the morality and absolute necessity of the Iraq war, show us the strength of your conviction, strap on a helmet, and get over there. Even if they deem you unfit for uniform, I'm sure you could find an administrative position or scrub some toilets.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/5/2008

    If the West had taken a few thousand casualties and stopped Hitler in the Rhineland, it would have saved 20 million lives in World War II. Our volunteers who died in Iraq should be regarded from that perspective. We are fortunate we had a president who was courageous and willing to take the heat to stop the Muslim killers in the Middle East before they could get rolling in North America. Had Bill Clinton had made that same decision, the World Trade Center would still be standing. Listen to your father.


    Rodney Huff - 4/5/2008

    "I'm not saying Bush will not be ranked among the worst, but we don't have the full record yet."

    How much more evidence do you need?

    If we ever find out what Dick Cheney discussed with big oil execs and Enron executive management during those secret energy task force meetings, do you really think we'll find something redeeming for the Bush presidency?

    Or, how about what Bush and Cheney told the 9/11 Commission during their secret interviews? Do you think we'll ever find out why Bush and Cheney refused to be questioned separately, refused to go under oath, and refused to have anything they say go on record? Or why Bush resisted even the very idea of an investigation into 9/11? If we do find out, do you really think it would be good for Bush?

    Or how about all that money lost in Iraq? The looting of the Iraq Oil Fund by Bremmer's CPA, as well as all the contract fraud that's costing American tax payers billions of dollars? If we ever get the exact total, do you think that will look good for Bush?

    Yes, we are working with imperfect knowledge. BUT everyone works with imperfect knowledge. Every single field of science deals with imperfect knowledge.

    We will never have the full record. Even though Enron execs shredded tons of paper, preventing us from having the full record, there was no waiting for history to judge Lay, Skilling, Fastow, and Arthur Anderson.

    Thus, your contention that we must wait to pass judgement is preposterous. As long as we postpone judgment of Bush's undoubtedly destructive and costly actions, we are unable to hold him accountable. How convenient for him.

    I've noticed that the people who think that we must wait for "history" to judge a president's actions tend to sympathize with Bush, believing him to be a good man in a tough position making tough decisions.

    Well, how tough can those decisons be if he knows they won't be judged until he's long gone? How tough a position can he be in if he knows he won't be held accountable for his decisions?

    For that's precisely what makes a decision a tough one - knowing in advance that you will be held accountable for it. Insofar as accountability is not tied to decision-making, decisions are made irresponsibly.

    Even when Bush seemingly delegates or outsources all his responsibilities, the buck still stops with the president. That's the "catch" to occupying such a powerful and highly valued position and having your own jet.

    To wait for a fabled "full record" and far-off "history" to pass judgement on a man who is making history in our name and without our consent even as we speak - certainly that is irresponsible.


    James Mignerey - 4/5/2008

    (Nicholas Taylor) "George W. Bush has not been responsible for any "horrific" events during his two terms as president."

    Exactly what do you call killing 4000 fine young Service men and women? A "good deed"? How about wasting three trillion dollars? A "less than horrific fiscal booboo"?
    I haven't been able to figure it out. Just who bears the biggest responsibility - the moron in office? Or those who voted for him, twice, and still support him?
    Thank God the nation has come to it's senses and will put a real American like Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton in the White House to clean up the mess.


    James Mignerey - 4/5/2008

    I have to assume this Brandy person wrote this entertaining parody as a one day late April Fool's joke.
    If not, well, I guess Rush and Sean and Bill have to have somebody left to talk to.


    Nicholas Taylor - 4/5/2008

    To compare George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler is absurd. George W. Bush has not been responsible for any "horrific" events during his two terms as president. Anyone who believes so is blinded by liberal ideology. I believe that President Bush has done what he believes to be the best for the nation and its national security interests.

    There were plenty of people in Lincoln's time that considered Lincoln a tyrant for his actions taken against civil liberties during the Civil War. While certainly not the brightest moment in American history, FDR is not viewed today as horrible president in light of actions taken by him in ordering the determent of Japanese living in states along the West coast. Looking at the big, overarching picture, how are these two men viewed today?

    I do not believe that Bush has been a perfect President, but I do not believe the man to be evil. Hitler is an extreme case. Find a better case study than Adolph Hitler. As I stated in my original post, I truly believe this poll reflects the liberal bias of academia.


    James Mignerey - 4/5/2008

    I have lived thru the past seven and one half years. I don't really think I need anymore time to pass before I can "accurately judge" the monumental incompetence and criminal immorality of the current occupant of the White House. Surely you can't believe that current stupidity will be any less stupid in 10, 20, 30 years? Stupid is stupid, and your wishing it wasn't so is not going to change it.


    Keith Thompson - 4/4/2008

    The motto for Compassionate Conservatism.


    Keith Thompson - 4/4/2008

    I would argue that as more is revealed regarding this most clandestine of administrations, the impressions of this president will likely become worse.

    My expectation is that his performance as president will be seen as the worst in the last 100 years, with Harding as a close tie.

    If there is a positive outcome in the middle east at some distant future, to attribute it to Bush's actions in the present would be a political/ideological decision only. An honest analysis would have to include all of the actions and decisions by others left in front of us until that time comes. We hope they are wise decisions.

    The questions remain - were Bush's primary decisions the best to make in the interest of the whole country? Would a different approach have yielded a more decisive and positive outcome? How can anyone who is capable of more than a bimodal decision analysis say otherwise?




    Dan Stewart - 4/4/2008

    It's hard to believe they're sincere opinions or honest posts.

    They may be done for attention, or to taunt or tease. But, it's just hard to understand that they reflect the genuine assessments of rational, informed people. (Uh, maybe that's the problem...)


    Rich Povero - 4/4/2008

    "So?"

    -- vice-emperor Dick Cheney


    James Draper - 4/4/2008

    How many historians in 1952 thought Truman was the worst president in history? Anyone read McCullough's award winning biography? Or, is he too mainstream for the academic crowd?

    How many historians ranked Rutherford Hayes the worst president in 1880? Anyone read Hoogenboom's work on Hayes?

    What percentage of historians in 1928 ranked Calvin Coolidge the worst president in history? Anyone familiar with Sobel's recent bio?

    And finally, how many historians ranked Gerald Ford the worst president in history in 1976? Look at Mieczkowski's recent work on Ford.

    I'm not saying Bush will not be ranked among the worst, but we don't have the full record yet. Most of the presidential libraries are still declassifying large collections. We need to wait several decades at least for the full story to come out and to see the long term effects of his policies. Professional historians claiming definitively that Bush is the worst president in history (before he even leaves office) seems irresponsible.

    This is a political, rather than an historical, discussion.


    Louis Sensel - 4/4/2008

    I wonder whether people like Brandi and Mr Brooks are expressing their true sentiments here or just fishing for attention-they had to know that their comments would generate a firestorm of outraged responses.

    It's just so hard to credit such sentiments as they expressed as being sincere, honest opinions.


    Rick Erben - 4/4/2008

    Bush 43 is the only two-term president of the bottom lot. I share your incredulousness at re-election in 2004, although this was still a time of successful obfuscation concerning the war and its success, with a (still) successful campaign to equate objections with naivety concerning terrorism - a classic and cynical reversal of the facts.

    Puppet King - what will be interesting over time is to learn what Cheney's role has been throughout this administration.

    It would also seem that we have been witnessing an example of "CEO" leadership that shows alarming similarity to that of leadership in the various investment establishments that have imploded during the current economic (responsibility) crisis - detachment and willingness to trust too much in delegation, with woefully inadequate delegates. Yet it is certainly the role of the leader to assure that judgments made are reasoned and balanced, wherein seems to be the flaw in this administration.


    Carl A Willis - 4/4/2008

    Lawrence, you're right that you didn't claim the emergence of an Iraqi democracy (which, by the way, happens to put you at odds with the ever-out-of-touch Mr. Bush; remember all the hubbub over those inked fingers years ago?).

    Anyway, my argument was not so much about your own positions as it was about why Bush's leadership will go down as abject failure regardless of the outcome in Iraq.

    The intelligence I mentioned, linking Saddam to uranium concentrates, enrichment equipment, mobile bio labs, and Al Qaeda, has ALL been proven faulty and was declared suspect to Colin Powell even before he went before the UN with it. As the pretext for preemptive war in Iraq, it was bad intelligence, relied on improperly. There's really no point in hashing out whether or not it was "the best" extant at the time; that it was known to be poor, and abused to make a case for war, is beyond debate.

    Abject failure.

    -Carl


    James Lee Winningham - 4/4/2008

    What do you supposed FDR should have done after Pearl Harbor? He would have been kicked out of the country if he had not declared war on Japan. You are also judging the events in the aftermath of WWII on a completely ideological basis. Have you ever done any research on the beginning of the Cold War? How can you say that Roosevelt alone squandered the fruits of victory? By the russian spies on the government? I don't think that can condemn Roosevelt to squandering the fruits of the WWII victory by himself. Many people, both American and Russian, can take credit for the return of fear after the Second World War.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/4/2008

    Carl, You twice allege I predicted Iraq would emerge as a "democracy," which you will see I did not if you go back and look... The invasion of Iraq would have been more "timely" had not Bush sought to assuage his political enemies by flattering the kleptocracy on Turtle Bay, and it probably would have come through Turkey, too, which would have worked better. His reasons for invading Iraq were grounded on the best intelligence extant, and he was supported by most Democrats in that move, which was probably not a mistake.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/4/2008

    FDR, when running for re-election in 1940, declared he would "not send any American boys to die in foreign wars," and then promptly sent more American boys to die in foreign wars than any other president. Not content with that abuse of the public trust, he kicked away the fruits of victory in World War II by allowing his administration to be riddled with Russian spies, who delivered ALL of our nuclear secrets to the Kremlin. He also intruduced class consciousness to our politics, and committed many other sins which I no time to detail.


    Rodney Huff - 4/4/2008

    These are the words often spoken by my father in response to my criticism of this president. My father is an ardent Bush supporter. He sympathizes with this president. He believes Bush to be a good man in a tough position making tough decisions. He believes that Bush's critics treat him unfairly in their "rush to judgment," and that it's far easier to be a critic than The Decider.

    Thinking about my father's words, I cannot help but wonder how convenient it would be for someone as powerful as this president to escape judgment until a hundred years from now - when he and his critics will all be long gone.

    How tough of a position can the president really be in, how tough can his decisions really be, if he believes that his actions can only be judged by "history" a hundred years from now?

    For, if this president's actions cannot be judged until a hundred years from now, then how can he be held accountable for his decisions?

    All this talk of judgment really boils down to the basic issue of accountability. The president is IN a tough position and MAKES really tough decisions insofar as he is held accountable for his decisions. That's precisley what makes a decision "tough" - knowing in advance that one will be held accountable for it.

    If he is not held accountable - if judgment of his actions is reserved for another lifetime - then the president's decisions can only be seen here and now as irresponsible.

    Yet this president still accepts "hurried" positive judgments of those same decisions - decisions that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of US soldiers and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis, as well as the displacement of many others.

    So HERE and NOW this president enjoys all the accoutrements of power and privilege. HERE and NOW he enjoys all the prestige of occupying perhaps the most powerful position in the world, while the accountability that must certainly accompany this position becomes a matter of far-off history, a matter of THERE and THEN.

    How convenient. How very convenient. And how very irresponsible.






    Daniel S Cochran - 4/4/2008

    *Cleans the coffee of the monitor*

    Thanks I needed that this morning!

    This fellow represents almost half of the people I run into on a day to day basis.


    Carl A Willis - 4/4/2008

    Lawrence Brooks Hughes wrote: "If we emerge from the present mopping up in Iraq with a stable, independent nation [...] the whole experience there could yet prove of great benefit to the U.S. and also to the rest of the world."

    In the unlikely scenario that Iraq should blossom into a vibrant bastion of democracy any time soon, would Bush actually deserve any credit? Leadership is judged on the basis of whether one's decisions are sound, timely, and properly informed, and whether tangible goals are communicated and achieved. By these metrics, the Bush administration is objectively a profound failure.

    Bush's reasons for invading Iraq were grounded in flimsy and fraudulent intelligence (African yellowcake, aluminum centrifuge tubes, mobile biowarfare labs, links to Al Quaeda, and so forth). This is beyond debate.

    Bush set unrealistic and intangible goals in Iraq (benchmarks never met by the Iraqi government, "missions accomplished" prematurely). To this day, certain of his sycophants continue to try to redefine the mission, to move the goalposts ("Give us another six months!" "Let's have a Surge!"), and they often get away with it because Bush himself has never laid out concrete, verifiable objectives for the occupation.

    Are Bush's decisions timely? No, demonstrably quite the opposite. He tabled pre-9/11 terrorism intelligence, then read "My Pet Goat" as the towers fell. While Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, he played a guitar at John McCain's birthday party.

    It's fair to say on today's information that "abject failure" is an appropriate characterization of Bush's leadership. Will Iraq shape up? We can hope, but such an improvement won't be a credit to Bush. Finally: anyone who really thinks Iraq is coming together as a pro-US democracy right now, or is poised to do so soon, is sipping some strong bongwater.

    -Carl


    James Lee Winningham - 4/4/2008

    How can any of those presidents you listed be WORSE than George Bush? Especially FDR, who's New Deal programs, which we all know did not end the Depression, gave help and relief to many Americans during the worst economic calamity in our nation's history. Does George Bush have anything like that on his resume? Also, Bush's father, though he had his faults, confronted Hussein with a broad coalition of nations and a clear mandate from the world community and did not squander the world's respect by rushing to war first and justifying it later. George H.W. Bush also had the common sense to know the limitations of the United States when he conducted the first Iraq war. Go back and read Bush administraion officials explain why they did not take out Hussein in '91. It is amazing how many, including Cheney, predicted exactly what has happened over the last 5 years. You might be right to say that it is too early to judge many of Bush's policies, but if time can only give us an accurate judgement of Bush, then how can you say FDR, Kennedy, GHWB, Ford, and Clinton (who only left office 8 years ago) are worse that GWB?


    peter sampson - 4/4/2008

    With all due respect, Brandy, such monumental naivety is a danger to the human species. I humbly suggest you seek to educate yourself before writing such tripe. I'll even start you off with a few, easily verifiable facts.

    1. Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. Zero. Nada. Not even the addled brains of the fiercest chickenhawks have found ANY conection.

    2. Not only is Saddam not being "coddled", he was executed. Before that his country was subject to harsh sanctions which actually caused the death of numerous, innocent, Iraqis.

    3. It's spelled Bin Laden. You could at least spell check your posts.

    4. American troops, in Iraq, are not engaged in a war. It's an occupation which is running concurrently with several civil wars. Those wars are happening because we removed the rightful (though despicable) government of Iraq.

    5. Bin Laden never had any intention of "coming here". He has stated repeatedly that his fondest dream is to entice America into a war of attrition on ground of his choosing. Your "great leader" obliged him (Bin Laden) and did exactly that.

    6. Mr. Bush has repeatedly said that, and I quote, "frankly, I don't give him (Bin Laden) much thought". Bin Laden is alive and free because of the unwise decisions of the Bush administration.

    Again, Brandy, I encourage you to learn the facts of a subject before stating an opinion. Especially when you choose to make blanket statements about people you've never had a discussion with, and probably wouldn't understand.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/4/2008

    I don't claim Bush made no mistakes, only that he got all the biggest decisions right. If we emerge from the present mopping up in Iraq with a stable, independent nation, which is friendly to the U.S., and a prosperous example to its neighbors, the whole experience there could yet prove of great benefit to the U.S. and also to the rest of the world.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/4/2008

    Clinton had no philosophy, no idea of anything he wanted to do. His neglect of several al-Quaeda attacks on the U.S. led directly to the World Trade Center disaster of 2001. His balancing of the budget occurred only because he was badly frightened by Ross Perot in 1992. His singular "achievement," the welfare reform, was almost forced on him by the GOP Congress, until he doublecrossed his own supporters out of zeal to be reelected. On top of those obvious deficiencies, he sold federal pardons, rented the Lincoln bedroom, stole furniture from the White House, peddled military secrets to the Chinese communists, created a national park in Utah to aid his shady friends in Indonesia, and presided over the largest military assault in North America since Appomattox at Waco--which Ms. Reno falsely rationalized as fighting child abuse. That short list doesn't even count the high crimes for which he was impeached and then disbarred from the practice of law. He also condoned pornographic ornaments on the White House Christmas tree, for what that's worth... He took too large a "peace dividend" after the Cold War, reducing the armed forces too much. In fact, you can make a good case the Clinton was the worst president ever. His name is certain to remain in very bad odor forever.


    Les Rug - 4/4/2008

    I'm not a historian, but I do enjoy engaging in political discussion and keeping abreast of American politics in particular. I'm curious about how many of these bad leaders were reellected, and fascinated by what that means. I can speak for myself as being utterly dumbfounded in '04.


    Jonathan Dresner - 4/4/2008

    I'm quoted in the article, but Prof. McElvaine left out the part in which I actually explain my vote. I wrote, "It will take a generation, at least, of good governance before we restore effective regulation, fiscal sense and our international standing. From theory to implementation, anything this administration's gotten right, it's been by accident."

    This is the crux of my critique: the Bush Administration seems to have made a fetish of delegitimizing government, debilitating its most useful functions, and pursuing ideological agendas in contravention to facts or reason. Whether or not this makes the Bush administration the very worst in US history is irrelevant.

    Nathan Miller wrote, in Star Spangled Men, "Pragmatism, strong character, vision, political skill, a basic integrity, and the ability to to communicate with the American people are generally listed as the qualities for a great or a good president. If so, then the qualities for a poor president are a mirror image of them: bad character, the inability to compromise, a lack of vision, poor political skills, dishonesty, and an inability to communicate. To these, I have added my own basic criterion -- How badly did they damage the nation they were supposed to serve." (emphasis in original)


    Evgueni Khanine - 4/3/2008

    Dan Stewart, I applaud your analysis. One thing I am surprised to see is someone like Brandy Lewis hanging out on HNN. Shouldn't [...insert a name for a holy book of your choice here...] be sufficient for all queries about past, present and future for these people? There is still hope I guess if they just read something else. Maybe they can think for themselves some day. I hope.


    peter john woelper - 4/3/2008

    tend to have the word "worst" attached to their legacy quite often.

    george w. bush SHOULD be already standing trial before an international war crimes tribunal. with dick. with rumsfeld. with condi. and whomever else was "in the know".

    i am an american citizen.

    i support the expeditious war crimes trial of george w. bush and his partners in crime.


    Dan Stewart - 4/3/2008


    Too perfect! In a mere 91 words written at a 5th grade level, Brandy Lewis captured and embodied precisely all the things that best characterize what the Bush years have been about:

    1. Hatred of Liberals (“All you liberals…)

    2. Anti-intellectualism (“…all your books…)

    3. Hero worship and cult of personality (“…great leader…)

    4. War-mongering (Iraq War…)

    5. War lies (Saddam Insane attacked us on 911…)

    6. Fear-mongering (…they would be here…, country safer…, Ben Ladin [sic]…)

    7. Name-calling and childish idiom (liberals, Saddam Insane…)

    8. Torture (…want to coddle him and read him his rights…)

    9. Lower income Conservatives (I am not rich…)

    10. Christian nationalism (…God made Bush president for a reason, and that is to make the country better…)

    11. Blind stubbornness (I still have my W sticker on my bumper.)

    At first I thought this post was a put on, it was just too perfect to be real. But, alas, no so, they really are out there. Unbelievable!


    John R. Maass - 4/3/2008

    Saddam attacked us on 9/11?


    Dan Stewart - 4/3/2008

    Agreed, hence the "worst" of the worst ranking.


    Dan Stewart - 4/3/2008

    To blithely say you can't "accurately judge the leadership of anyone based on [the] present" seems a bit of a stretch. I certainly understand that the passage of time allows for the unfolding of events and contextual perspective, but that's mere marginal nuance relative to the larger events of the day.

    It’s like saying Hitler’s (you did say “anyone”) leadership could only have been judged in the light of historical perspective. But, how much has the consensus opinion of Hitler’s leadership changed from 1945 to today – only marginally, if that. So, contrary to your ridiculous assertion, if a president is directly responsible for causing objectively horrific events during his term, no passage of time will magically change that fact.


    Dan Stewart - 4/3/2008

    I've never voted for a Dem, but out of curiosity, how is it that GWB's presidency is rated better than Clinton’s?

    I can only guess that your answer must be deeply rooted in ideology, because I cannot imagine what objective set of metrics would lead you to such a conclusion.


    Ralph E. Luker - 4/3/2008

    Um, Brandy, you must be a liberal if you think the Supreme Court is G_d.


    Brandy Lewis - 4/2/2008

    All you liberals think the same. With all your books, you don't recognize a great leader when you see one. Iraq War is making the country safer because Ben Ladin and the other are there like hornets. And they would be here if not for the war. Sure some people die, but it's war, dummy. Saddam Insane attacked us on 911 and now you guys want to coddle him and read him his rights. I am not rich, but I know that God made Bush president for a reason, and that is to make the country better for us. You guys are just mad that you didn't get elected and didn't win. I still have my W sticker on my bumper.


    Evan Bukey - 4/2/2008

    In considering failed presidents, there seem to be two groups: 1) those who were inept 2)those who did enormous damage to our political institutions, to our society, and to our place in the world. In the first category belong Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, and, arguably, Benjamin Harrison. In the second the major malefactors were Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon.
    George W. Bush stands alone in combining ineptitude with wrongheaded policy decisions that leave a legacy of ruination for generations yet unborn to tackle.
    Evan B.Bukey
    University of Arkansas


    Lisa Kazmier - 4/2/2008

    Gee, doing historical research doesn't tell ya anything about the past or the present huh? You mean John Bolton has as valid a view of Lincoln as Doris Kearns Goodwin?

    Try to get a PhD first and see what it's like before you spout that.


    Lisa Kazmier - 4/2/2008

    How is Iraq coming out "well"? I don't see it happening before January. Are you one of those ppl who will blame whatever happens to a successor -- as if Bush is responsible for nothing?

    Or else, can I have some tokes of whatever you're smoking?


    Army Brat - 4/2/2008



    I'd like to know what the previous poster, Mr. Hughes, is smoking.


    Nicholas Taylor - 4/2/2008

    "Historians are in a better position than others to make judgments about how a current president’s policies and actions compare with those of his predecessors. Those judgments are always subject to change in light of future developments. But that is no reason not to make them now."
    --From article

    Historians are in no better position to evaluate the policies the policies of a current president than any other well informed citizen. Historians study the past. Any judgment on the present is an opinion. The liberal bias of academia is no secret. Historians are entitled to their opinions, as any person in a free society. However, they study the past and have no way of knowing the outcome of future events. A PhD does not make one a soothsayer and infallible.

    Anyone who thinks you can accurately judge the leadership of anyone based on "present" information needs to read up on Texas Reconstructionist Governor Edmund J. Davis. The histories written just after the Civil War portrayed him to be a corrupt government official. More recent academic scholarship has shown otherwise. The opinions and biases held by historians do influence their perception of history whether they want to admit to it or not.


    Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/2/2008

    This poll does have some value in that it reflects the current sheepishness in your circle and in the larger academic community, which is nothing to brag about.

    There have been ten presidents in the past century alone who were worse than George W. Bush, in my view, namely his father, Carter, LBJ, JFK, Nixon, Ford, FDR, Truman, Harding and Clinton. Furthermore, if we stipulate that Iraq and the rest of the Middle East comes out well thanks to the present swamp-draining, George W. Bush could easily rank with Ronald Reagan as one of the best ever.


    James Pawlak - 4/2/2008

    Considering the Democrat Party majority (And that chiefly "to the left")among college and university professors, I was surprised only by the low rate of gross disapproval reported of historians as to President Bush.

    Since most states require party registration, would it have been more scientific to report on historians, by such registration, as to rating our President?


    Dennis Slough - 4/1/2008

    Did you actually post this on April Fool's Day? I know it's not meant as a joke, Bush's failures are deadly serious. Perhaps you should post a clarifying comment for anyone that might hope this wasn't a serious effort to get the historian perspective. Thanks for doing the survey and publishing the results.

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