Because it’s President’s Day Weekend, Reuters carried a story about little Georgie Bush, Jr. touring the White House. Given how much he vacations, he probably needs a tour just to remember what the place looked like.
On these tours, apparently Bushie fondles priceless artifacts from Abraham Lincoln. He also (allegedly) likes to linger in the Queen’s Bedroom and think about British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. I suppose Bush might as well do these things. It’s the closest that he will ever be to great leadership.
Right now, we are witnessing a man in serious denial about his role in history. Bush told C-SPAN that he thinks historians will be kind to him in the future. “I tell people I'm reading books on George Washington,” he said, “and they're still analyzing his presidency." This statement shocked me. Bush is literate?
Whatever the case, it takes a lot of delusion for a man with such a horrible record on leadership to compare himself to the first president of the United States. I am surprised that George Washington didn’t rise up from the dead just so that he could spit on Bush.
Bush need not wait to hear what historians think of him. Prominent U.S. historian Eric Foner already condemned Bush as the Worst President Ever in a scathing essay. You might ask, “Ever-ever?” Yep, ever.
What about Bush’s “leadership” on September 11? Oh, I don’t think so. Historians will remember that Bush ran away and hid in a bunker on September 11. For most of that dark day, Americans didn’t even see Bush.
Sure, Bush has two more years to go (When will this long, national nightmare end?). Let’s be honest: What could he possibly do that will improve his image in those two years? Unless he starts handing out platinum nuggets to people on the street or puts on a uniform for duty in Iraq, nobody is going to think highly of this man. In the unlikely scenario that the Iraq (and Afghanistan) conflict(s) find resolution, he still seriously bungled those wars from the start. Everybody is going to remember Bush as a man who should never have been president.
Still, it makes one wonder: Who is Bushie competing with when it comes to the title of Worst President Ever? On Presidents Day, we tend to only talk about the great ones – or at least the sort-of-okay ones. Everybody can think about the traits of people like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR. Those are the “gimmies.”
This nation, though, has had a whole stable full of mediocre presidents. Can anybody that you find on the street name an accomplishment of Calvin Coolidge (without using Google)? Do they remember why James Garfield was shot? Do they even know he was shot? Or that he was President?
With these lackluster folk, naming the worst is a lot harder than you might think. Nixon doesn’t even end up at the bottom of that list. Nope, that sweaty, paranoid, lying fool fares at about the middle of the list. This should tell you something about the caliber of some of the men who have been in the White House.
So, with such a list, how bad does Bushie have to be to find himself declared the all-time suckiest? Well, Bush’s stumbling into the White House should earn the gratitude of three dead Presidents: Warren Harding, Andrew Johnson (who, btw, would be my choice for worst), and James Buchanan. Bush’s presidency redeemed them from being known as the worst.
Warren G. Harding’s ghost was probably already grateful for Bush. With Bush’s intellectual void, no longer would Harding be considered the dumbest President (though Ronald Reagan’s simple-minded view of the world always put up a strong contest as well).
Harding and Bush share a lot of parallels. They both became President because of other men’s ambitions and political connections. Both administrations became synonymous with corruption and greed. Like Bush, Harding never really wanted to do all that much work. Instead, he spent his time playing golf, gambling, and inviting his mistress, Nan Britton, to the White House for sex (What? You thought Bill Clinton invented the blow job?).
Since Harding was neither smart nor in control, the rest of his administration made a fortune through crooked deals. Most famously, Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, accepted bribes from oil companies so that they could have access to government petroleum reserves (And we historians say that history doesn’t repeat itself).
Why is Harding better than Bush? Harding at least had the brains to realize that he didn’t have the brains to be president. Instead of bluffing, Harding admitted, “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here." Oh, how great it would be to hear those words from Bush – Like tomorrow, when he and Cheney resign.
Other than Harding, we have to go all the way back to the Civil War to find the other two contenders for worst president ever. Yep, not since the nation split into two have we had a worse president than Bush.
Ever wonder how Lincoln attained such god-like status? Well, it helped that both men who came before and after him were either useless or evil (or both). James Buchanan was vain and irresponsible. (As a side note, he is also the first “bachelor” ever elected to the Presidency. It doesn’t do my queer heart any good, but it does seem that Buchanan liked to – How to phrase this? Oh, right – Live and sleep with William Rufus King for fifteen years (What? You thought Bill Clinton invented the blow job?). Andrew Johnson referred to Buchanan as “Miss Nancy” and also King’s “Better Half.”)
Buchanan did nothing productive in four years. Maybe he was just mourning because King had died a few years earlier. He started his administration by basically endorsing the Dred Scott decision before the Supreme Court even handed it down. He ended his administration by refusing to do anything to stop southern slave states from seceding. Hey – There’s a model of greatness: Indifference and Inaction.
Why is Buchanan better than Bush? Buchanan, though very misguided and generally incompetent, didn’t actively try to make the situation worse. In simply doing nothing, Buchanan still ends up better than Bush’s unwavering insistence that the nation follow his march to war(s).
Bush’s stiffest competition is Andrew Johnson, probably one of the most hateful men to ever be in the White House (though Ronald Reagan’s callous indifference to human suffering...). As president, Johnson worked to undermine Reconstruction, permitted members of the white elite to retain their authority in the South, and side-tracked the nation from its goal of ensuring equal rights to all citizens. Although Johnson disliked plantation owners, it turned out that he hated African Americans more. When he met with Frederick Douglass in 1866, Johnson declared, “Those damned sons of bitches thought they had me in a trap! I know that damned Douglass; he just like any nigger, and he would sooner cut a white man’s throat than not.” Johnson was racist and crazy.
That bizarre mess of a man stumbled into the presidency by accident. He had been the only Southern Senator to stay at his post after secession. Lincoln, not really planning on being shot, decided to make him his Vice-Presidential candidate in 1864 as a political gesture. After all, what does the vice-president do anyway?
Why is Johnson better than Bush? Uh – Actually, I am not sure that he was. Can we call it a tie?
So, these are the folk that Bush now jockeys against for his position in history: A drunken idiot, a vain coward, and a racist maniac. Hmm – It almost seems like this could be some sort of Sartre play where we find these four men locked for all eternity in a hotel room together.
For Bush, hell is other presidents.