Only Two of Them Got Impeached? Really?

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Alex Massie holds a contest:

We are familiar with polls in which historians rank US Presidents in order of greatness in which the same names—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and so on—always finish at the top. So let's attempt something a little different. The Debatable Land polling organisation wants you to nominate your choices for the Most Over-Rated and Most Under-Rated Presidents in American history.

Ross Douthat and Megan McArdle have started to set the tone with rankings that exclude the presidents of the 19th century: Too many of them are "forgotten." But they're forgotten because that was the century in which the founders' intended balance between the executive and legislative branches actually held, and powerful House members could lead weak POTUSes around by the collar. It was fantastic. And too many 20th century presidents have already been reassessed. The canonization of Gerald Ford, already underway in the Bush/DeLay era, was completed five or six minutes after he died.

Over-Rated
1. Abraham Lincoln. I'm sorry. By any definition of "over-rating," you have to go there. He has become our secular saint, with a multi-million dollar industry built around his veneration. That just makes it all the easier when some John Yoo or another seizes on Lincoln's abuses of power—suspending habeas corpus, directing funds without the approval of a rump Congress, the "rich man's" draft—to argue that the president has the right to split babies and shoot laser beams from his eyes.

2. Theodore Roosevelt. The ideological and leadership-style antecendent of John McCain: the godfather of American interventionism. I don't know if it should affect his score, but TR became one of the worst ex-presidents (after Millard "sure, I'll run on your anti-Catholic ticket" Fillmore), dynamiting the Republican party, agitating for intervention into World War I.

3. George H.W. Bush. The most recent and disturbing example of presidential revisionism, Bush's renaissance began a few months after Bill Clinton took power and it has grown as Democrats cast about for a Republican they can say nice things about. Awful drug policy, short-sighted Russia policy, unforgiveable 11th hour pardons. Also, sired George W. Bush.

Under-Rated
1. Warren Harding. This is an easy call, especially if you include Woodrow Wilson on the over-rated list (as I almost did, but hedged because his reputation's been sinking). Harding reversed much of Wilson's damage, freeing political prisoners, ending the red scare, ending some of Wilson's rubber-stamped institutional racism. If that's not enough, four more words: Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon.

2. Chester A. Arthur. I'm not sure this is controversial anymore. Arthur succeeded beyond the expectations of even the people who gave him the vice presidential nomination, albeit on issues no one cares about anymore, like civil service reform.

3. Martin Van Buren. If Harding was the antidote to Wilson, Van Buren was the antidote to Jackson. The worst decisions he made were validating Jackson's final decisions, like Indian removal. Yes, he was hilariously venal, as when he sold Joseph Smith down the river because he feared coming out for Mormon rights would  cost him Missouri (which he lost anyway). But the rest of his record was a model of sober, slow-handed executive power. He rebuffed two frenzies for military aggression against Canada and Mexico. It's hard not to sympathize with a guy who got un-seated by an empty suit like William Henry Harrison.

Over to you, commenters. Who should make the Massie Index?

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  1. The canonization of Gerald Ford

    He was delicious.

  2. Add to Over-Rated:

    FDR
    Kennedy

  3. Is it too early to say Obama was overrated?

  4. I always considered George HW Bush to be an empty suit, a nonentity, somebody who was more concerned with the superficial trappings of the office than any deep policy beliefs, and therefore mostly benign. I figured his son would be similar, so imagine my shock once he actually began to “govern”.

  5. George W. Bush will be seen as the worst President ever AND the most over-rated, on the grounds that “worst ever” is still not sufficiently harsh.

  6. Given the GOP’s recent obsessing, I’d say Reagan is close to making the list.

    Hell, pretty much all presidents starting with FDR onwards are overrated. The media-hype and regal status makes it hard to not be overrated.

  7. add to under-rated:

    Grover Cleveland

  8. Coolidge might be underrated. No one I know even remembers he was president.

    There seems to be a consensus forming that Reagan was ‘important’ – no matter whether you love or hate him, he was a big guy.

    Hasn’t there also been some movement on the Hoover front, with people finally noticing that he tried to create a New Deal but it was blocked? That should raise his clout among people who love FDR (though probably not among this crew here at Reason)

  9. Most Overrated … Lincoln, TR, FDR and JFK
    Most Underrated … Cleveland, Harding, Coolidge

  10. Underrated:
    Grover Cleveland

    “The President So Nice, They Elected Me Twice. . . Non-consecutively!”

    Seriously, though, one of the finest Presidents we’ve ever had. Check out his career:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Cleveland

  11. I’ve got to wonder who you’re talking to that allows you to put Bush I on the Overrated list. No one I know thinks highly of him and only a few think anything of him at all. He’s the Gerald Ford of the 90s.

    James Polk is SO underrated it’s not even funny.

  12. When I said to my mother that my favorite president (as opposed to hers: FDR) was Coolidge, she replied, “What!!! But he didn’t do anything.”

    I rest my case.

  13. In 1844, the Democrats were split
    The three nominees for the presidential candidate
    Were Martin Van Buren, a former president and an abolitionist
    James Buchanan, a moderate
    Louis Cass, a general and expansionist
    From Nashville came a dark horse riding up
    He was James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump

    Austere, severe, he held few people dear
    His oratory filled his foes with fear
    The factions soon agreed
    He’s just the man we need
    To bring about victory
    Fulfill our manifest destiny
    And annex the land the Mexicans command
    And when the votes were cast the winner was
    Mister James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump

    In four short years he met his every goal
    He seized the whole southwest from Mexico
    Made sure the tarriffs fell
    And made the English sell the Oregon territory
    He built an independent treasury
    Having done all this he sought no second term
    But precious few have mourned the passing of
    Mister James K. Polk, our eleventh president
    Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump

  14. Coolidge was the best republican president. I guess that means he is very underrated.

  15. I believe that the most important Presidential decisions ever made were by Washington and Adams: They both left office, one voluntarily (setting a precedent of no President for life) and one in response to an election loss (setting a precedent that election results would matter).

  16. Most presidents who we can remember quickly are overrated, because they:

    Took us to war
    Implemented vast new government
    Did expansive things like National Park Service/Manifest Destiny
    Expanded executive power massively

    Therefore, most presidents who you can name off the top of your head are overrated, GW, TJ, etc. excluded.

  17. Overrated (not necessarily in order):

    Lincoln
    FDR
    Kennedy
    Reagan
    TR
    Polk

    Underrated:

    Coolidge
    Eisenhower
    both Adams

  18. Polk is somewhat of an enigma … wonderful on some counts like tariffs and not seeking a second term … but nakedly imperialist. Most would argue that his victories on the border issues and the Mexican-American war redound to his credit … this is tough for me. While I support what he did in the short term to secure valuable space for America to flourish ( he is THE Manifest destiny President)he set a precedent that TR picked up- the logical extension of Polk’s policies was a robust nationalism.

  19. I really wish Aaron Burr could qualify for this list.

    Oh well…

  20. Gah! Megan McArdle not only agrees with me, but she agrees with me in almost my exact words!

    Do I get to have a drink now?

  21. John Tyler, for standing by principles. The first vice president to become president after the president died, he rebuffed calls to be “Acting President” and returned mail that was so addressed. On constitutional grounds, he resisted pressure to go along with the Whig Party (his party) platform of subsidies and government-picking-winners. After he vetoed the tariff bill, an armed mob marched on the White House; Tyler issued guns to his servants and stared the mob down. Congress re-passed the bill, and he vetoed it again. His entire Cabinet resigned in protest, the Whig Party expelled him, the Senate rejected five Supreme Court nominees in a row, and the House nearly impeached him, but he stood his ground. He used his veto so frequently he was nicknamed the “Veto President.” He also married a woman 30 years younger while President, after her father (the Secretary of War) died in an explosion. Later, near death, he led a peace conference seeking to avoid the Civil War, though after it failed his loyalty lay with his native Virginia.

  22. Even John Adams as presented by the HBO miniseries is an enigma as Carlos identified Polk (though kind of in a different way – very anti-imperialist, almost pacifist, but highly desirous of strong “governance” coming from his very dim view of humanity).

  23. Chester A. Arthur is under-rated because no one ever gives him points based solely on his awesome mustache.

  24. The Best Presidents You’ve Never Heard Of

    – Grover Cleveland
    – Warren Harding
    – William Howard Taft
    – Chester Alan Arthur
    – Martin Van Buren

  25. on Lincoln’s abuses of power-suspending habeas corpus,

    “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion

    Yeah yeah, it’s an article 1 power. Did congress tell Lincoln ‘no, no’ on the habeas thing, but Abe thought ‘no means yes’? I think it happened that way.

    Lincoln and Washington are the two ‘essential men’ of US History, so in my estimation, they are always ‘right-rated.’

    But the above didn’t ATFQ, so I’ll say like some above:
    Over: JFK
    Under: Ike

  26. Dang, that should be “I *don’t* think it happened that way.”

  27. thoreau, I’m with you on Washington. After winning the Revolutionary War, he resigned his command, and then as President he refused to run for a third term. These two acts of turning away from power set the standard at an important time for this country. He may be overrated, but not by much.

  28. Over:

    FDR
    Truman
    Wilson

    Under:

    Coolidge
    Harding
    Ford

  29. And since Taktix(R) brought it up:

    The most underrated founder is Hamilton.

  30. I get near the bottom of the thread and, lo and behold, I see

    Over: JFK
    Under: Ike

    which were my two choices as well. I enthusiastically welcome Kolohe to the great minds club.

  31. Hamilton underrated? He’s on the most commonly-printed denomination of currency.

    And he sure did love him some authority-wielding.

  32. Overrated:

    1) Andrew Jackson
    2) John Adams. Generally ranked above average, but his presidency was unsuccessful.
    3) Harry Truman. Underrated when he was President, now we’ve gone too far in the other direction. He was really about average. The Marshall Plan was brilliant, though.
    4 would be JFK, and 5 Woodrow Wilson. Wilson would be #1 except for recent revisionism.

    Underrated:
    1) Chester Arthur
    2) Warren G. Harding. Below average, but people tend to rank him as the worst ever, which he’s far from.
    3) William Howard Taft. Tends to get underrated because he was overshadowed by TR.

    Sometimes Zachary Taylor makes this list. He’s a hard president to evaluate.

  33. Uh, how can a libertarian have the overrated list not start with FDR?

  34. I have nothing intelligent to add, so I will merely say:

    eff Ike and Polk

  35. Taktix is a Republican?!?!

  36. We are the mediocre presidents!
    You won’t find our faces on dollars or on cents
    There’s Taylor, there’s Tyler, there’s Fillmore and there’s Hayes
    There’s William Henry Harrison, “I died in thirty days”
    We are the adequate, forgettable,
    Occasionally regrettable
    Caretaker presidents of the USA!

  37. William Henry Harrison should be the model. Do something stupid that kills yourself off within a month.

  38. Errr…second-most-printed?

  39. Most underrated: Franklin Pierce.

    Just cause nobody’s ever heard of him.

  40. Seriously though… I think Jefferson’s still underrated.

    Putting someone on the $2 bill is almost an insult.

  41. Most overrated:

    FDR, FDR, FDR, and… FDR

    The only good beneficial result of his presidency was the 22nd Amendment (“No person shall be elected the the office of President more than twice…”).

  42. Kolohe,

    on Lincoln’s abuses of power-suspending habeas corpus,

    “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion”

    Whole passage: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

    So, isn’t Art. 1 Sec. 9 covering Congressional Powers and it is not a power of the Executive to mess with?

    Granted, I had a different view until I looked it up this time.

  43. Say what you will about Teddy Roosevelt’s many flaws but the man took an assassin’s bullet before a speech, proceeded to give the speech with the bullet in his chest THEN got medical help.

    My testicles forbid me to speak ill of the man.

  44. Over: Reagan – huge deficits, Iran-Contra, Grenada(!), “StarWars” (SDI)

  45. Uh, how can a libertarian have the overrated list not start with FDR?

    Rimfax, there’s a strong argument for Wilson. Grandiose foreign policy combined with racism, a command economy, and suppression of domestic dissent. Though on Wilson’s side against FDR, it wasn’t USG policy in WWI to imprison German-Americans in concentration camps.

  46. “James Polk is SO underrated it’s not even funny” …Bull. Polk was a warmongering piece of shit. Horrible president.

  47. And since Taktix(R) brought it up:

    The most underrated founder is Hamilton.

    Fuck that dirty monarchist…

  48. I have to apologize and admit I was wrong. Polk was a mucher better president than I remembered. He also defeated Henry Clay so that alone gets him top marks.

  49. FDR has to go to the top of any overrated list. Every one of his attempts to get out of the great depression made things worse. Yes, he was right about World War II. But, he also committed any number blunders in prosecuting the war. He further gave Stalin a blank check to conquer Eastern Europe. History goes to the winners and he did win the war. For that reason I wouldn’t rate him as a bad President, but regardless of the country winning the war under his Presidency, he should never be considered a great President.

    As far as Lincoln goes, I never figured Weigel to be a great defender of slavery and Southern aggression, but you never know. I would encourage all of the Lincoln haters to actually read the Constitution that they are always yammering about. Specifically, they might want to take a look at Article I, Section 9 which says, “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Last I looked the civil war was a “armed rebellion”. It is not like Lincoln suspended it without good reason or without textual support of the Constitution. Further, had Lincoln not gone to extreme lengths, he probably would have lost the war and rather than having the wonderful productive South that we have today, we would have a slavery infested sewer. It is impossible to imagine a nation going into the 20th Century with 1/3rd of its inhabitants in bondage. Yet, had the South won the war that is exactly what would have happened. At best it would have ended up like South Africa, a pariah state shunned by the world into some kind of reform. At worse there would have been a slave revolt and it would have ended up like Haiti. Both results would have been a hell of a lot worse than what happened.

    Lincoln is a Rorschach test of whether someone values principle or reality. If you value principle, you hate Lincoln and see no problem with damning people into God knows how many more years of bondage in the name of limited government. If you value reality, you are so shocked by the existence of slavery that you don’t care what rules he broke or how committed he really was to the cause, you only care that his actions resulted in its end.

  50. Most underrated: Franklin Pierce… Just cause nobody’s ever heard of him.

    I’d imagine New Hampshire schoolkids hear about the one president from NH. They did back in my day, anyhoo.

  51. Andrew Jackson has to be most overrated now that I think about it. The guy practically destroyed the economy when he shut down the Bank of the United States. He also committed one of the great crimes in US history by evicting the Cherokees out of Georgia. Understand that the Cherokees weren’t the Apaches out raiding and killing setlers. They were peaceful. They had their own government. They were farmers. They were so peaceful they were actually dumb enough to think they could sue in federal court to keep Jackson from stealing their land and forcing them to Oklahoma. They were not an inpediment to the country. They were an asset. Had they stayed in Georgia, Georgia still would have developed just fine. Jackson kicked them out out of pure greed and evil. Jackson should go to the top of any list of the worst Presidents in history.

  52. Therefore, most presidents who you can name off the top of your head are overrated, GW, TJ, etc. excluded.

    Wasn’t it Jefferson who went to war against the Middle Eastern terrorists of the day?

  53. an empty suit like William Henry Harrison.

    I don’t know about his suit, but his overcoat was certainly empty.

  54. Lincoln did not have the right or enumerated power to suspend habeus corpus, congress did.

    Lincoln was not facing a “rebellion or invasion”. He suspended habeus corpus to arrest Maryland politicians to keep them from voting to succeed. States had the right to succeed or at least would have if Lincoln and allowed the case to come before the Taney SCOTUS.

    Lincoln invaded a sovereign nation to forcibly annex it. North could have ended slavery in the remaining states, they did not. North could have repealed fugitive slave act, they did not. Civil war was not about slavery, it was about succession.

  55. Off the top of my head:
    Over–No contest, Reagan. Absolute butcher in Central America, AIDS denier, cut and runner (to use current Repub. argot), drug war militarizer, and an utterly useless drooling fool the last three years or so of his presidency. The most recent spate of public ballwashing hasn’t helped his case.
    Under–I’ll go with Ike. Sincere guy. Had the stones to tell people things they didn’t want to hear, damn the consequences. Didn’t care much for his crimes in Guatemala or planning the Bay of Pigs invasion…but no one is pure.

  56. “Lincoln invaded a sovereign nation to forcibly annex it. North could have ended slavery in the remaining states, they did not. North could have repealed fugitive slave act, they did not. Civil war was not about slavery, it was about succession.”

    The Confederacy was a criminal state intent on forcibly imposing slavery across the territories and the West. Had there been no Dred Scott or Southern terrorism in Kansas, you might have a point. But of course those things did happen. The South had no legal to succeed from the Union and was not a sovereign nation. It was never recognized as a country by the international community. Lincoln never invaded a sovereign territory. He put down a criminal rebellion. Anyone who attacks Lincoln for doing so, de facto defends the existence of slavery and the criminal regime that was the Confederacy.

  57. John did the Thirteen Colonines have a legal right to seceed from the British Empire? Why?

  58. Rebellions are necessarily illegal acts. If the rebellion succeeds (a different word from secedes, by the way) then the new country can establish itself as a legal entity. The Confederacy lost, so their rebellion remained illegal.

    At least I think that is how wars work: if you win, you get to be right.

  59. Jesus Christ, people:
    “secession” = the withdrawal from the Union of 11 Southern states in the period 1860-61, which brought on the Civil War.

    “succession” = the coming of one person or thing after another in order, sequence, or in the course of events

  60. I happen to think John F. Kennedy was a helluva a good president, but he’s still vastly overrated.

    There are nuns in Massachusetts who have pictures of him, up in the clouds, with a halo of light around his head. Even a top-10 president falls short of divinity.

    But I’ve got to go with Jackson, our genocidiest president. He will be overrated until his name is spoken in the same breath as Benedict Arnold and Charles Manson.

    Underrated? Hoover. The guy gets blamed for causing the Great Depression! And if we’re including their careers outside the Oval Office, he looks even better.

  61. Er?k Boston, Pre-Esq.,

    Say what you will about Teddy Roosevelt’s many flaws but the man took an assassin’s bullet before a speech, proceeded to give the speech with the bullet in his chest THEN got medical help.

    If that is your standard then you might want to look into Andy Jackson again. He had an old bullet work its way to the surface of his sholder during a regular work day. Had the Doctor remove it and kept working.

    John,

    Understand that the Cherokees weren’t the Apaches out raiding and killing setlers. They were peaceful. They had their own government. They were farmers. They were so peaceful they were actually dumb enough to think they could sue in federal court to keep Jackson from stealing their land and forcing them to Oklahoma. They were not an inpediment to the country. They were an asset. Had they stayed in Georgia, Georgia still would have developed just fine. Jackson kicked them out out of pure greed and evil. Jackson should go to the top of any list of the worst Presidents in history.

    Other than everything you state here being false, you might have some sort of point. The Cherokee in Georgia were, in essance, trying to establish an extra-legal, independant state within the boundries of other States. A modern description of the type of state they were attempting to creat would be called Socialist, at the kindest, today. And, they did indeed raid farms around them too.

    Also, Andy Jackson did, in that event, complete the Checks and Balances notion of the Constitutional government by tossing the descision back to the Supreme Court and telling them to try to enforce it.

  62. “John did the Thirteen Colonines have a legal right to seceed from the British Empire? Why?”

    I think Zeb gives about as good of an answer as can be given. Further, the thirteen colonies had a much more moral case for succession than the Confederacy did. Also, after Saratoga they achieved foreign recognition. Something the South never achieved. Lastly, I don’t see any scenerio where the South wins the war and where things would not have worked out much worse for both the South and the country as a whole. Lincoln did not declare a dictatorship or end American Democracy. I fail to see how his abuses are somehow worse than the South winning the war.

  63. “The Cherokee in Georgia were, in essance, trying to establish an extra-legal, independant state within the boundries of other States. A modern description of the type of state they were attempting to creat would be called Socialist, at the kindest, today. And, they did indeed raid farms around them too.”

    Every Indian nation in the country operates under exactly the same pretense. The Cherokees were doing nothing that Indian nations don’t do today. The Cherokee case is the seminal case in Indian law. Even though Jackson never enforced it, it is still the legal regime today.

  64. Gore.

  65. Guy,

    The entire pretense of Indian law is that of duel sovereignty and a nation within a nation. It went all the way back to the docrine of discovery. The native nations retained their sovereignty and basically became protectorates of the “discovering nation”. There was nothing revolutionary about the Cherokee’s position. You are dead wrong to believe that they were trying to do something out of the ordinary or not within their legal rights as a sovereign nation, which they were and still are in Oklahoma.

  66. John,

    Just because ‘Ol Hickory was one of the the last to resist Socialism, before it had a name even, does not make him wrong. It makes hime even more underrated.

  67. Add me to the Cleavland for underrated camp.

  68. I took the initiative in creating the winnability of threads. Ryan O’Neal’s fruitless pumping at Ali McGraw’s barren insides was based on it.

  69. Civil war was not about slavery, it was about succession.

    Oh, bullshit.

  70. I agree that given what he actually did, Reagan was overrated, but on the bright side, he had some great quotes about small government. Shame it was doublespeak.

  71. George W. Bush will be seen as the worst President ever AND the most over-rated, on the grounds that “worst ever” is still not sufficiently harsh.

    If nothing else, he’s made us look back and think “Maybe LBJ wasn’t so bad after all.”

    Also, I’m kinda starting to think that Nixon is overrated. I’m unimpressed with the revisionism that’s surrounded him since his death.

  72. Also, I’m kinda starting to think that Nixon is overrated. I’m unimpressed with the revisionism that’s surrounded him since his death.

    America does that with all of our Presidents. I wish we’d grow up and admit “Hey, we Americans elected some real chowderheads to president. Some were venal crooks, and some were downright evil.” Monarchies don’t have this problem because by denigrating their past rulers they don’t have to denigrate themselves or their ancestors.

    Some examples.

  73. Andy Jackson kept the central bankers from taking over the currency, buying the country 77 years of economic freedom until in 1913, Congress abdicated its responsibilities and set us down the path of restricting gold ownership and over-reliance on credit for both government and citizens.

    He may have been wrong on many fronts, but he was right on that one.

  74. Oh, bullshit.

    J sub D,
    Do you forget that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation didn’t occur til half war through the war? The south had other grievances like excise taxes that were low for the raw materials imported by the north, but high on farm machinery imported by the south. This unfair tax structure made it more difficult for the south to end slavery on its own through modernization and mechanization.

    But as the winners get to write the history, your view is the politically correct one.

  75. most overrated by far…woodrow wilson. racist hack disguised as a mild-mannered academic, got us into the worst and most stupid war in our history, his messianic internationalism-for-the-sake-of-internationalism was only temporarily blunted but has served as the model for everyone right up to GWB, initiated the original red scare, espionage and sedition acts of 1917/18, and palmer raids (which make our current state of affairs look like a frickin picnic), plus let us not forget he presided over the ratification of the 16th A plus the creation of the fed.

    andrew jackson only gets the runner-up prize, for most evil man to ever occupy the white house.

  76. How is John F Kennedy NOT on this list?

    Escalated Vietnam
    Allowed the Soviets to wall off E Berlin in violation of treaty
    Bay of Pigs Invasion
    Escalated pointless, expensive Space Race

    OK, he handled the Cuban Missile Crisis competently, though there’s dispute about that even. I have a feeling if he’d died of old age he wouldn’t be nearly as revered as he is.

  77. If Abe were President, this thread would be “required reading” through both North and South.

    (Right on!)

  78. I forgot to say… after Abe was rated best President in the history of western civilization. Otherwise, Reasonoids would all be in jail now.

  79. I’m cool for Coolidge!

  80. But I’ve got to go with Jackson, our genocidiest president. He will be overrated until his name is spoken in the same breath as Benedict Arnold and Charles Manson.

    I vote with Joe on this one. I read the Marshall trilogy of the Supreme Court, which I believe was influence by a guy named Samuel von Pufendorf, that gave indians autonomy. I then learned how Jackson ignored the Supreme Court and evicted the Cherokee out of Georgia on the Trail of Tears where many died.

    For that, he is A tool and should be removed from our currency.

  81. Guy Montag loves freedom so much that he wants the government to stick a gun if your face if you decide to share too much with your community.

  82. …share too much of someone else’s, etc. etc.

  83. I think if you correct for different times, different places, Jackson isn’t quite so bad. (And if you’re not putting slaveholders Washington, Jefferson, etc. on the overrated list, you’re already correcting for DTDP)

    Besides, I’m not convinced his reputation is that high right now. JFK all the way for most overrated.

  84. JFK definately over-rated. Sure he made a great speech but the best thing he managed in his presidency was somehow avoiding destroying the world and getting assassinated.

    FDR – that’s a bit harsh to suggest over-rated. Sure he dropped the ball on Stalin a bit but he managed to keep Britain in the war notwithstanding congress and turned the US into a world economic and military power.

    Is George HW Bush that overrated? I have never really thought of him as rated at all. Sure he managed a quick war against Saddam quite successfully but as a one term wonder I have never regarded him as rated.

  85. snorts as Nostar’s post. d00d – that bullshit about the gold standard.

    oh fuckit. never mind.

    GPT: no it’s not harsh. war on crime. Japanese-American policies. those two. right there

  86. …share too much of someone else’s, etc. etc.

    Nope. Read what he wrote. He was justifiying the use of force to drive out the Cherokee because they held THEIR OWN lands in common.

  87. Overrated: FDR. FDR was a testament to the idea that people like activist presidents, even when they make things worse. His constant fiddling with the economy frightened away anybody with capital, prolonging the depression. His brain trust, taking their cues from Stalin’s Russia, tried to create a command-and-control economy.

  88. George W. Bush will be seen as the worst President ever AND the most over-rated, on the grounds that “worst ever” is still not sufficiently harsh.
    I doubt that.

    Lincoln did a lot more damage than Bush can ever hope to.

    The war in Iraq pales in comparison to World War I, nevermind the War of Northern Aggression.

  89. I then learned how Jackson ignored the Supreme Court and evicted the Cherokee out of Georgia on the Trail of Tears where many died.
    With presidents like Jackson and Lincoln and Wilson and the Roosevelts, I find it hard to believe that anyone outside the far left would consider George W. Bush to be the worst president ever.

  90. FDR, for his mishandling of the Depression.

  91. Ronald Reagan is massively overrated. Average president at best. Deified by the right to the point that we need to suspend the first commandment.

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