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Who Makes the Cut for the Worst Presidents Ever? (What a Question)
Townhall.com ^ | February 13, 2013 | Michael Medved

Posted on 02/13/2013 7:59:52 AM PST by Kaslin

As President Obama prepares his State of the Union Address and the nation looks forward to a Presidents Day holiday, Americans should consider the warning examples of our worst chief executives.

While few of Washington and Lincoln's successors could hope to replicate their epic achievements, every president can — and must — focus on avoiding the appalling ineptitude of John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and their feckless fellow travelers on the road to presidential perdition. The common elements that link our least successful leaders teach historical lessons at least as important as the shared traits of the Rushmore Four: Broken promises and gloomy temperaments lead inevitably to an alienated public.

All the chief executives unmistakably identified as failures displayed a self-destructive tendency to violate the core promises of their campaigns. Take Tyler, the unbending Virginia aristocrat who won election to the vice presidency in 1840 and assumed the highest office when his predecessor died just a month after inauguration. The new chief executive, dubbed "His Accidency" by critics, used 10 unpopular vetoes to block implementation of his own party's longstanding ledges. Most of his Cabinet resigned in protest, and eventually they all quit while the hostile Senate voted down four new Cabinet appointments — a record that stands to this day.

Between 1853 and 1861, Pierce and Buchanan completed back-to-back disastrous terms in which personal weakness and pro-Southern sympathies shattered confident promises of unifying leadership. Buchanan pledged to stop "agitation of the slavery question" and to "destroy sectional parties." By the end of his term, seven Southern states seceded from the union and the nation lunged toward the Civil War.

After that war and Lincoln's assassination, Andrew Johnson (Lincoln's vice president) defied members of the martyred president's Cabinet and congressional leaders, ignoring commitments to lead former slaves to dignity and full civil rights.

In the 20th century, Herbert Hoover's slogan promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," but he presided over the beginning of the Great Depression. Similarly, Jimmy Carter's 1976 platform pledged to reduce unemployment to 3%, but Carter ran for re-election with more than twice that rate.

No wonder that Hoover and Carter, like other unsuccessful presidents, came across as gloomy, self-righteous sufferers. Hoover's secretary of State said that a meeting with him was "like sitting in a bath of ink." Carter staked his presidency on a notoriously sour televised address that became known as "The Malaise Speech," warning the appalled public of a "crisis of the American spirit."

None of our least successful presidents displayed the self-deprecatory humor of Lincoln or the sunny dispositions that powered the Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin) and Ronald Reagan. A visitor described the Pierce White House as a "cold and cheerless place," noting the isolation of the invalid first lady, in deep mourning for three dead sons.

When Buchanan welcomed successor Lincoln, he plaintively declared: "My dear, sir, if you are as happy on entering the White House as I on leaving, you are a very happy man indeed."

The result of the depressing and erratic leadership of our six most conspicuous presidential failures is that all managed to estrange a once-admiring electorate within the space of a single term. Tyler,Pierce, Andrew Johnson and Buchanan all earned rejection by their own party, failed to win their own party's nominations, entering retirement as discredited figures. Hoover and Carter appeared on national tickets and campaigned vigorously but got wiped out in historic landslides, with each incumbent carrying a mere six states.

Democrats, who denounce George W. Bush as the worst president ever, along with Republicans who apply the same ugly title to Barack Obama, can't explain away the inconvenient fact that both of our most recent incumbents won re-election with 51% of the vote. Regardless of controversies blighting Bush's second term, or setbacks that might afflict Obama's, their legislative and electoral successes place them in a different category from the White House worst.

This baleful history should warn the current occupant and all successors against visibly disregarding commitments while encouraging voters to steer clear of presidential candidates with dour, inflexible temperaments. By selecting aspirants with clear, consistent agendas and cheerful, persuasive personalities, we'll face fewer shattered presidencies that leave reviled incumbents and a disillusioned electorate.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: barackobama; presidency; presidents; presidentsday
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1 posted on 02/13/2013 7:59:59 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Jefferson Davis. He led his country to total defeat.


2 posted on 02/13/2013 8:01:51 AM PST by Tau Food (Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.)
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To: Kaslin

My Pal Cal is in the top 5.


3 posted on 02/13/2013 8:03:04 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Kaslin

Since the idiot sockpuppet living in our White House is not Constitutionally qualified to hold the office of president, I can’t even put him on the list. Probably would put Carter, one of our first openly anti-Semitic and anti-American presidents.


4 posted on 02/13/2013 8:06:33 AM PST by laweeks
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To: Kaslin

Sorry...Obama= worst.president.ever.

and he hasn’t done all his damage yet.


5 posted on 02/13/2013 8:06:50 AM PST by big'ol_freeper ("Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" ~ Ronald Wilson Reagan)
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To: cripplecreek

Cal is awesome. :)


6 posted on 02/13/2013 8:12:32 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (Texas is a state of mind - Steinbeck)
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To: Kaslin
Democrats, who denounce George W. Bush as the worst president ever, along with Republicans who apply the same ugly title to Barack Obama, can't explain away the inconvenient fact that both of our most recent incumbents won re-election with 51% of the vote.

Even Bush, with Michael Moore and the entire left-wing news media establishment screeching about Iraq, won more of the popular vote in 2004 than he did in 2000. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and even Richard Nixon improved their standing in the popular vote from one election to the next.

In my lifetime, the only incumbent who ever declined in his percentage of the popular vote, while still managing to scrape out a win, was Barack Obama.

7 posted on 02/13/2013 8:14:31 AM PST by Bryan
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To: Kaslin

Woodrow Wilson who set the country on a path of socialism and central government control.


8 posted on 02/13/2013 8:15:00 AM PST by Hostage (Be Breitbart!)
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To: big'ol_freeper

worst and last president before presidential elections were abolished


9 posted on 02/13/2013 8:18:19 AM PST by molson209
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To: Kaslin

They all stunk.

Each President has left office with a bigger federal government than he began with.


10 posted on 02/13/2013 8:19:04 AM PST by AtlasStalled
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To: Kaslin

Worst president ever...
Is that limited to US presidents?
If not then I’m torn between Obama and Idi Amin Dada for worst president ever.


11 posted on 02/13/2013 8:20:48 AM PST by BuffaloJack (Your only guarantee of Free Speech is the Gun in your hand.)
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To: Kaslin

Sadly in my life I have seen a more terrible presidents then any other generation. Starting with LBJ, then Nixon, then Jimmy, then Bush and then Obama. The worst of the above has to be LBJ after that it’s a tie. I’d put Clinton in there too (Kosovo, China), but Clinton let Newt save his presidency domestically.


12 posted on 02/13/2013 8:21:08 AM PST by jpsb
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To: Kaslin

Hate to disagree with Medved’s assessments in many places.

Lincoln is overrated and possibly the worst in terms of carnage and tossing out principles of our government.

Certainly FDR is 1 of the worst, as are Wilson and Teddy.

Sometimes the best presidents are those you DON’T hear about, more obscure. They are more likely to have done as little as a hands-off government probably should do.


13 posted on 02/13/2013 8:21:28 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Kaslin

I prefer to judge them based on the amount of damage they did (or did not do) to the country and their fealty to the idea of limited government. Thus, the worst: Wilson, FDR, Lincoln, Obama, LBJ, TR, Hoover.


14 posted on 02/13/2013 8:22:58 AM PST by rashley (Rashley)
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To: Kaslin

In my lifetime it is Carter and Obama. The sad thing is that we re-elected an epic fail. Cleaning up the mess of a bad president takes a long time; for example, we are still cleaning the mess that Carter left.


15 posted on 02/13/2013 8:23:12 AM PST by KC_Conspirator
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To: Kaslin

(every 20th century Democrat - Truman- JFK) + Obama + Jackson

In order, worst to bad:
Obama
Wilson
FDR
LBJ
Carter
Clinton
Jackson


16 posted on 02/13/2013 8:25:29 AM PST by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Kaslin
Good grief! Obama won re-election by buying votes with entitlements and promises of more!

His voter base doesn't care about jobs! They only want another hand-out!

Obama is the worst POTUS ever...to those who love America!

17 posted on 02/13/2013 8:26:17 AM PST by lonestar (It takes a village of idiots to elect a village idiot.)
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To: Kaslin

Buchanan did nothing with the country rushing to Civil War.


18 posted on 02/13/2013 8:27:55 AM PST by AU72
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To: big'ol_freeper
Medved might not put Berry on the list now but he will have to put him at the top of the list within a few years. He is destroying our economy, weakening our military and attacking every moral organization in the country. There will be a serious price to pay for the damage he is inflicting on us.
19 posted on 02/13/2013 8:28:02 AM PST by peeps36 (America is being destroyed by filthy traitors in the political establishment)
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To: KC_Conspirator
I watched the recent multi-part series on History channel regarding the history of U.S. Presidents. Anyway, IMO, Carter was disillusioned, Obama is catastrophic.
20 posted on 02/13/2013 8:28:47 AM PST by ConservativeStatement (Obama is the "Disco Duck" president. A no-substance novelty that reached number one.)
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To: Kaslin

BTW, what Buchanan said on leaving is pretty much what Washington said, the greatest.


21 posted on 02/13/2013 8:30:30 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Kaslin
For one of my upper level political philosophy classes I wrote my paper about the presidential inaugural addresses. I read all of them from Washington to Clinton, each one four times. The Inaugural Address is much like a thankful sermon. It was a very interesting exercise. All of the presidents used Washington's address as their model until Wilson. Wilson and Clinton showed NO humility, in fact both of them used the address as a chance to push for their own ideas. That was not the place to do it. The only president who exhibited distraction was Lincoln, for good reason. For some reason Pierce moved me to tears, and I don't know why. I was also surprised by LBJ in that he seemed to be quite moved by the fact that the people had given him the charge. He spoke quite humbly. Reading Kennedy's four times made me realize that he was not as eloquent as some people remember. If you read between what most people quote there was not much there. I understand that those memorable phrases were absconded from other speeches. My exercise made me appreciate Ronald Reagan a lot. It is evident that Reagan actually took the time to read Washington's Inaugural.

So, in my opinion who were the worst presidents according to their inaugural addresses?

1.) Wilson

2.) Clinton

3.) Carter

4.) Kennedy

In that order.

22 posted on 02/13/2013 8:33:41 AM PST by Slyfox (The key to Marxism is medicine - Vladimir Lenin)
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To: Bryan
That arrogant pos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave got 992,965 less votes in 2012, then he did in the 2012 election. The reason he won was #1 voter fraud and #2 idiots voting for third party candidates. As if they have a chance getting elected.

OTOH President Bush got 11,580,500 more votes in 2004 then he did in the 2000 election.

23 posted on 02/13/2013 8:34:56 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: big'ol_freeper

He is my choice too, and yeah just wait until he has done all the damage. Maybe the idiots will wake up then. Unfortunately it will be to late by then :(


24 posted on 02/13/2013 8:38:11 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: rashley; the OlLine Rebel
I prefer to judge them based on the amount of damage they did (or did not do) to the country and their fealty to the idea of limited government.

Sorry using that basis I would have to agree with the OlLine Rebel in post 13 that Lincoln would be the worst by far. On his watch over 600,000 US citizens died in a very destructive civil war and a major portion of the countries economy was laid waste to.

Then you must factor in that he also used war to force the seceded states to remain or rejoin the union. Before the Civil War it was a generally accepted fact that any state could leave the union at will. This is pretty much an abrogation of the notion of limited federal government.

To be sure I am not saying that the presidents on your list are not bad but by your standard I would put Lincoln at the top.

25 posted on 02/13/2013 8:40:54 AM PST by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
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To: Kaslin

There was a competition for worst President? Who knew?

Actually that was settled long ago, with the rise of “progressive” thought in political affairs, most notably with Woodrow Wilson and his intellectual heir, FDR.

LBJ, Carter, and now Bronco Bama have raised the stakes repeatedly, having bid up the price of entry based on the degree by which each has dipped into the resources of the US Treasury and ended up raising the national debt along the way (and no, Bush does not escape culpability, but he did show at least some concern for preservation of what was uniquely America).

The more liberal, the worse the President turns out to be. And Bronco Bama has raised the bar in ways no sane person could have predicted.

But Carter tried, oh, Lord knows, how he tried.

Jimmy, you have simply been outpaced.


26 posted on 02/13/2013 8:43:16 AM PST by alloysteel (If conspiracy does not exist everywhere, it exists nowhere.)
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To: Kaslin
Just since 1900:

Eventually, Obama leads this list. He's the only President of the USA who actively hated the country and its inhabitants.

Carter, for his sheer incompetency.

LBJ, who actively, if unintentionally, did more widespread and long-term damage to the country than any other president before Obama. His War on Poverty and War in Viet Nam are (were) utter disasters for the American culture.

Hoover, whose administration helped create the Great Depression, just as the Obama administration helped creat the Great Recession. Both insisted upon exactly the wrong medicine -- government intervention, in the form of more spending and more taxes.

I'm reluctant to include FDR on this list, since his record is actually mixed -- good and bad. His social and domestic policies were failures, as he simply expanded on Hoover's idea. Moreover, he enabled massive penetration of the federal apparatus by Communism. But he gets substantial offsetting credit for winning WW II.

Wilson, the misguided intellectual -- who made a hash out of the Allied victory in WW I.

27 posted on 02/13/2013 8:44:26 AM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Kaslin

Obama 4th Best President Ever!

1 - Ronald Reagan and 9 others tied for first

2 - 15 former presidents tied for second

3 - 18 others tied for third

4 - Obama came in fourth.


28 posted on 02/13/2013 8:46:17 AM PST by Iron Munro (I miss America, don't you?)
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To: Kaslin

My own personal list for WORST US Presidents(in order of “Worstness”)
1. Andrew Jackson
1. (tie) Obama
2. Martin van Buran
3. Woodrow Wilson
4. James Buchanan
5. “Teddy” Roosevelt
6. FDR
7. LBJ
8. Herbert Hoover
9. Abraham Lincoln
10. “Jimmy” Carter
Comments please.


29 posted on 02/13/2013 8:46:44 AM PST by US Navy Vet (Go Packers! Go Rockies! Go Boston Bruins! See, I'm "Diverse"!)
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To: Kaslin
Worst Presidents ever?

1) Valerie Jarrett
2) Zbigniew Brzezinski
3) Hillary Clinton
4) Hank Paulson
5) Henry Kissinger

Oh...you were talking about the worst figureheads! :)

30 posted on 02/13/2013 8:51:06 AM PST by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: Iron Munro

Washington, Lincoln and Reagan stand at the top. The first had a major role in establishing our republic and the other two preserved it in perilous times.


31 posted on 02/13/2013 8:52:44 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
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I’ll cast another vote for the devious, traitorous, piece of diseased dog droppings Woodrow Wilson. There’s quite a few in the mix for 2nd place. It’s not out of the realms of posibility for BOzo to take a shot at his title, he’s got 3 yrs left and has shown a lot of potential.


32 posted on 02/13/2013 8:56:15 AM PST by Hayride
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To: Kaslin

Everyone seems to forget one of the worst...Andrew Jackson, who told the supreme court to enforce their own decision that the Cherokee could not be removed from their homes, he wouldn’t...and neither did his successor, Van Buren, who oversaw the removal.


33 posted on 02/13/2013 8:59:17 AM PST by AuntB (Illegal immigration is simply more "share the wealth" socialism and a CRIME not a race!)
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To: Kaslin

My list is:

1. Woodrow Wilson: He gave us the progressive income tax and that has led to the class warfare we see today.

2. Obama: Obamacare! If we could have beat him and then repealed it, I would have him lower on the list. However, we didn’t and it won’t be and now there will be a complete loss of freedom for our progeny.

3. FDR: Brought us Social Security, therefore normalizing collectivism and shifting the American psyche.

4. Nixon: Thanks to him we have the “war on drugs,” the EPA and a host of other unconstitutional “departments.”


34 posted on 02/13/2013 9:08:25 AM PST by CSM (Keeper of the Dave Ramsey Ping list. FReepmail me if you want your beeber stuned.)
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To: SampleMan

I concur with your list, in that order.


35 posted on 02/13/2013 9:13:29 AM PST by Obadiah (We must commit to remove every Senate Blue-dog Democrat from office in 2014!)
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To: US Navy Vet

Your list is almost exactly what I had in mind. Glad you dropped Lincoln on there somewhere. My Great-Great Grandfather’s brother was Secretary of the convention of the original Republic of Texas and kept a copy of the original Constitution written in his own hand his whole life and his son fought with the Confederacy, arguing in a letter kept to this day :”Is man made for government or is government made for man?”
LBJ was awful, Jackson & Wilson too. We have had more rotten ones than good ones.


36 posted on 02/13/2013 9:15:28 AM PST by februus
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To: Tau Food

No one, not even Davis, expected Lincoln to turn out to be such a savage killer of fellow Americans.


37 posted on 02/13/2013 9:19:31 AM PST by Neoliberalnot (Marxism works well only with the uneducated and the unarmed.)
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To: Neoliberalnot

Yeah, he really miscalculated, didn’t he?


38 posted on 02/13/2013 9:22:25 AM PST by Tau Food (Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.)
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To: big'ol_freeper

“and he hasn’t done all his damage yet”

He hasn’t even gotten started yet.

I would liked to be able to go back and get the messages I posted about 4-5 years ago in which I predicted what the 0 would do to this country. For doing so, I was excoriated and called every name in the book.

If I can get my posts from 09, tell me how.

thanks


39 posted on 02/13/2013 9:24:20 AM PST by chooseascreennamepat (Have you thought about going vegan, Karl?)
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To: Bryan
can't explain away the inconvenient fact that both of our most recent incumbents won re-election with 51% of the vote.

Democrats have perfected stealing elections to a fine art.

40 posted on 02/13/2013 9:27:16 AM PST by Rapscallion (Homeland Security is buying millions of bullets - for you. So you can't buy ammo at all.)
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To: Kaslin

Worst to less worse:

1. Kenyan anti-Christ.
2. Carter.
3. Wilson.
4. FDR.
5. Jackson.
6. Clinton.
7. Buchanan.


41 posted on 02/13/2013 9:30:24 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: Kaslin

Already, no one can touch Obama in this category, and he’s only half finished.

America, meanwhile, is completely finished - thanks to him.


42 posted on 02/13/2013 9:34:08 AM PST by Jack Hammer
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To: chooseascreennamepat

Google your screan name. Might find them.


43 posted on 02/13/2013 9:38:28 AM PST by big'ol_freeper ("Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" ~ Ronald Wilson Reagan)
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To: Colonel Kangaroo
Washington, Lincoln and Reagan stand at the top.

Washington towers far, far above all others.

Don't think much of Lincoln as he lead us into civil war with 600,000 dead and 500,000 wounded. That equaled about 2% of the entire population at the time.

Helluva job, Abe.


44 posted on 02/13/2013 9:43:30 AM PST by Iron Munro (I miss America, don't you?)
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To: Neoliberalnot; All

Even though the Confederacy fired the first shot.. Jefferson Davis (No relation) was a crossdressing coward..


45 posted on 02/13/2013 9:45:05 AM PST by KevinDavis (And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.)
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To: sitetest
Worst to less worse:

1. Kenyan anti-Christ.
2. Carter.
3. Wilson.
4. FDR.
5. Jackson.
6. Clinton.
7. Buchanan.

In terms of worse presidents rated by damage done to the country I think LBJ belongs in there around #2.

He was certainly more damaging than Carter.


46 posted on 02/13/2013 10:05:26 AM PST by Iron Munro (I miss America, don't you?)
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To: AtlasStalled

There is at least one notable exception:

“Under Coolidge, the economy grew strongly, even as the federal government shrank.”

http://www.american.com/archive/2013/february/the-scrooge-who-begat-plenty


47 posted on 02/13/2013 10:22:19 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (What word begins with "O" and ends in economic collapse?)
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To: Kaslin

In my lifetime....Osama Obama worst *by far*....that peanut farmer is currently the next worst.I’m too young to judge Truman and Eisenhower but sincerely doubt they were *nearly* as bad as the two mentioned above.


48 posted on 02/13/2013 10:25:47 AM PST by Gay State Conservative ("Progressives" toss the word "racist" around like chimps toss their feces)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
It is hard for modern students of economics to know what to make of a government that treated economic weakness by raising interest rates 300 basis points, cutting tax rates, and halving the federal government — so much at odds is that prescription with the antidotes to recession our own experts tend to recommend. It is harder still for modern economists to concede that that recipe, the policy recipe for the early 1920s advocated by Coolidge and Harding, yielded growth on a scale to which we can aspire today. As early as the 1930s, Coolidge’s reputation and way of thinking began their decline. Collectives and not individuals became fashionable. Sensing such shifts, Coolidge at the end of his life spoke anxiously about the “importance of the obvious.” Perseverance, property rights, contracts, civility to one’s opponents, silence, smaller government, trust, certainty, restraint, respect for faith, federalism, economy, and thrift: these Coolidge ideals intrigue us today as well. After all, many citizens today do feel cursed by debt, their own or their government’s. Knowing the details of his life may well help Americans now turn a curse to a blessing or, at the very least, find the heart to continue their own persevering.
49 posted on 02/13/2013 10:31:29 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (What word begins with "O" and ends in economic collapse?)
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To: Iron Munro
Helluva job, Abe Jeff.

. FIFY

50 posted on 02/13/2013 10:32:34 AM PST by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
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