“Presidents Day” +1

Greetings, loyal minions. Often, in the past, on the Federal holiday popularly known as “Presidents Day” your Maximum Leader has given his list of the greatest Presidents of the United States of America.

Well, as we all know, the holiday is actually George Washington’s Birthday (with a nod to Abraham Lincoln). We should celebrate it as such. We should remember Washington (and Lincoln) and be done with it. Don’t give lip service to the “office” and don’t go around ginning up how great this or that President was (or is). The presidency is a job in our Republic. The person in it (Washington and Lincoln notwithstanding) is just a normal citizen doing a job. We don’t need more cults of personality in the world.

And lets be honest… There were many duds and idiots that served as President of the United States… So for this “Presidents Day” (+1) let us throw out the names of some of those duds and idiots to have served as chief executive of our nation…

1) James Buchanan - arguably the worst in our history. Let us not forget that the ineptitude of his man led to the American Civil War.
2) Andrew Johnson. The first president to be impeached (though not removed from office). He was completely out of step with his times and an arrogant bastard to boot.
3) Ulysses Grant. Great general. Great writer. No-so-great President. Scandals ruined it for Grant. (NB: No, I’ve not read the new Chernow biography on Grant yet. I may not ever to be honest. I doubt it will change my view that Grant is a great American overall, but a miserable President.)
4) Millard Filmore. The man’s very name is a synonym for mediocre.
5) Richard Nixon. It pains me to type that, but it is true. We really need a special category for Richard Nixon all by himself. He can be neither great, nor terrible because he was both in equal measures. For every good or great thing you can attribute to Nixon, there is an equally awful or destructive thing you can name. On the balance, the negatives probably outweigh the positives. If Nixon’s presidency should have taught us anything (which it apparently has not) it is that executive power should be limited. Many of the problems that those on the right and left have with a president with whom they do not agree is how they use the power that they have been given by Congress. Give less power to the president and there will be less to be upset about…

Anyway… There you have it. The five worst presidents according to your Maximum Leader…

Carry on.

Robbo said:

I have a book titled “The Man Who Saved The Union: Ulysses Grant In War And Peace” by H.W. Brands.

The first part it about his generalship during the Late Unpleasantness, and doesn’t contain anything I didn’t know already, but the second part is about his Presidency and is illuminating. I won’t argue with your assessment of his administration, but would only emphasize that ol’ Sam himself was not in the least corrupt. He simply couldn’t reign in those under him. (You see inklings of this sort of thing in his frustration over trying to stop black market trading between the lines in his military department during the War.)

I haven’t read the Chernow, either, and probably won’t bother. I’ve got Grant’s own memoirs and my Bruce Catton, which are enough for me.

You bring up a point that I’ve heard throughout the years, but have never bothered to investigate. At some point, the President is responsible for the actions of those he’s appointed in the public trust.

I’ve only read excerpts of Grant’s memoirs. I have read a number of works over the years that cover his Army years. I have also read (and own) the excellent “Grant’s Final Victory” by Charles Flood. (It was quite good.) I don’t know that I have the energy to pick up Chernow. That is, in large part, because Grant himself doesn’t really thrill me. I agree with your assessment that Grant himself was not corrupt in any way, but it speaks to a major flaw in his presidency that he couldn’t reign in the corruption of those in his administration.

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