“President George W. Bush is near the bottom of the heap in the latest survey of historians on presidential leadership.
The five best presidents, according to the historians, were Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, in that order. Rounding out the top 10 were John F. Kennedy at six, Thomas Jefferson, Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, and Reagan.
The worst presidents, according to the survey, were James Buchanan at 42, Andrew Johnson at 41, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore, George W. Bush, John Tyler, Herbert Hoover, and Rutherford B. Hayes.”
So all “its too recent for history to tell” aside, let’s look at the rankings a little closer. So some of the top picks are Abraham Lincoln and FDR, which unlike Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding, and some of the lower ranked Presidents, governed over very traumatic periods of American History.
Abraham Lincoln faced the Civil War and the south trying to leave the union. FDR faced the Great Depression and World War II. President George W. Bush also faced these types of experiences with September 11th and the ongoing wars in the middle east. So when it comes to ranking Presidents by historians they must take more into account then just their “difficulties” they faced in office.
Maybe its how they handled them. Lincoln suspends habeas corpus and jailed thousands of southern sympathizers. FDR creates massive government bureaucracies and sends thousands of italian, japanese, and german immigrants for basically being from countries in which the United States was at war with. Bush instead used Congress to help enact the Patriot Act which allowed law enforcement to bend the rule of law to “suspend suspected terrorists” indefinitely.
So why is it that Bush does not rank up there with Lincoln and FDR?
I would suggest that he wasn’t enough of a tyrant. Who are the most remembered and liked individuals? Brutus, Cato or Caesar? Napoleon or the people that exiled him? Everyone, of course, always remembers the tyrant and rewrites history to make them seem more like a saint.
If George W. Bush really wanted to become a top ranked President by historians, he should have made the Patriot Act and executive order and suspended more of American’s rights.
This is by no means a defense of George W. Bush, nor is it an attempt to say that it is unjust or unfair that he isn’t ranked higher. The point here is that historians enjoy the dictators and tyrants of society and they look down on the Presidents that did little or nothing. When, in fact, it was the founders’ intent for the federal government to be restrained. And yet, we reward the very men who begin its downfall from limited government to massive controlling government with the finest statues and monuments to be remembered forever.
So do I think George W. Bush should be ranked #3 as one of the greatest President’s? Absolutely not. Should historians? Absolutely and there is no reason for them to not to. My personal list is almost a complete reversal with FDR and Lincoln on the bottom as being two of the worst. Now if they would only let me decide who’s faces would be on our currency. Oh wait…