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Top Presidents Review Part 2

Readers may recall that every so often I like to get a sense of how they rate the Presidents of the United States. This go-round, I am doing something a little different; I randomized the list and then cut them into sets of three. Each day I will ask you about two sets, in each set rank the presidents 1-2-3 within that set. Here are today's sets:

Set Three
Calvin Coolidge
Grover Cleveland
James Buchanan


Set Four
Warren Harding
George W Bush
Chester Arthur


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Comments (27)

Did Bush get put in the los... (Below threshold)

Did Bush get put in the loser's bracket? Chester Arthur was never actually elected to be President. He was a VP who became Prez after an assassination and he lost the Repub primary. Harding died in his first term.

Why don't you compare all one term Presidents and then see if any deserve to be considered with the two term Presidents? Comparing Bush to two Presidents who didn't even serve a full term is not going to tell us much about how good or bad Bush was.

Not much for reading compre... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Not much for reading comprehension, are you Blue?

Read what's there and try again. Or just let the adults handle this one, you can go back to your comic books and hack/slash video games.

Ditto Blue Neponset. But I'... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Ditto Blue Neponset. But I'll opine.

1)Arthur, 2)Harding, 3)Bush

(Set Three: 1)Cleveland (by a mile), 2)Buchanan, 3)Coolidge, all of whom exceed Set Four)

I understood every word my ... (Below threshold)

I understood every word my good man. I was being facetious when I suggested Bush was put in the losers bracket.

Picking them randomly isn't a very good way to do it. You could wind up with FDR, Jefferson and Lincoln in the same bracket. You could also end up with Bush and two guys who never served a full term (like you did by the way).

You still miss the point, B... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

You still miss the point, Blue. I must now presume it is deliberate. Again, if you do not wish to participate as set up, feel free to find something else. But if you do take part, please show a modicum of respect for the way it is set up, there is a reason though I suspect you are not even trying to understand why. To that end I might suggest you consider why you have chosen that manner of discussion.

There have been forty-two men who have served as President of the United States, and there are dozens of ways in which they may be compared. Some scholars have made a good case that head-to-head comparisons are not really valid, since each President faces unique conditions. Therefore, my purpose is not to provide a definitive answer for rankings nearly so much as to suggest that each should be considered in new lights, to which end the random selection method serves a valid and reasonable purpose. Not everyone is interested in considering historical contexts, nor revisiting judgments to test for bias or correct assumptions. No one here is likely to "prove" their case to universal agreement, though the ones who just refuse to consider the question without showing spite and discourtesy will indeed damage their own credibility.

I'll play by the rules:... (Below threshold)
galoob:

I'll play by the rules:

1. Cleveland, 2. Coolidge, 3. Buchanan

1. Arthur, 2. Bush, 3. Harding

Set 3Coolidge (one o... (Below threshold)

Set 3
Coolidge (one of my favorites)
Cleveland (just fine)
Buchanan (worst ever, even worse than Pierce (which is saying a lot))


Set 4
Arthur (just fine)
Bush (but definitely a mixed bag)
Harding (an argument against smoke-filled rooms if there ever was one)

Until the financial crisis, and Bush's pathetic mis-handling of it that is leading us pell mell into a fascist economy, I would have put Bush above Arthur.

1) Any President #1<p... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

1) Any President #1

2) Any President #2

3) George W. Bu$h

Set 3Coolidge... (Below threshold)
kbiel Author Profile Page:

Set 3
Coolidge
Cleveland
Buchanan

Set 4
Arthur
Bush
Harding

Set FourGeo... (Below threshold)

Set Four

George W Bush

Warren Harding

Chester Arthur

Set Three

Calvin Coolidge

Grover Cleveland

James Buchanan

i like the way DJ went off ... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

i like the way DJ went off super-troll style on a poster for responding a bit too thoughtfully...

In order from best to worst... (Below threshold)
nunchick:

In order from best to worst:

Set Three
Grover Cleveland
Calvin Coolidge
James Buchanan


Set Four
George W. Bush
Chester Arthur
Warren Harding

DJ, you know how we rate Bu... (Below threshold)

DJ, you know how we rate Bush; excepting you and a few of your fellow kool-aid drinkers, we pretty much rate him at the bottom of any list.

Thus Bush comes in 3rd in Set Four only because there are only 2 others ahead of him. If there were 10 names, he would be 10th, 20 names, he would be 20th. Heck, even Jimmy Carter didn't screw things up so bad (although to be fair, Carter only had 4 years to work with).

Set ThreeGrover Clev... (Below threshold)
Crusty Dem:

Set Three
Grover Cleveland
Calvin Coolidge
James Buchanan

Set Four
Chester Arthur
Warren Harding
George W Bush

Although deciding between Bush and Harding is a bit like having to choose between being sodomized by a cactus or a pineapple. That these two ended up in the same random set is amusing, they belong together...

Grover ClevlandCalvi... (Below threshold)
scrub_oak:

Grover Clevland
Calvin Coolidge
James Buchanan

George W Bush
Chester Arthur
Warren Harding

... someone always tests th... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

... someone always tests the boundaries ...

someone always te... (Below threshold)
jmc:
someone always tests the boundaries

It's a failing of mine. When someone is acting illogically, I usually have to comment.

Speaking of which I see you gutted my post rather than respond to it. Why are you randomizing the results?

jmc,Stick around f... (Below threshold)

jmc,

Stick around for a bit, and you'll see it more often. It's not randomizing, but "disemvowelment", and it's quite effective at getting rid of the crap. You can still read it (assuming their spelling and grammar is correct) if you really try, but it's easier just to skip it.

Back to the topic of the post, though, I really don't get the derision for Bush. At least, not the mindless crap. I mean, let's just take a look at Bush vs. Franklin Pierce. Bush may have had some policies you disagree with, but he was not partially responsible for driving the US into the Civil War. Nor was he as corrupt as Harding nor as loyal to his incompetent subordinates as Grant nor as disastrous on all policy and morale fronts as Carter nor as manipulative and self-serving as either LBJ or Nixon. Basically, he was a middling President who got foreign policy largely right after 9/11, though he did a bad job of explaining it, and managed to get social policy disastrously wrong (egregiously aggravating one set of people by his symbolism and their opposites by his actions) and muddle through economically until just recently. Yeah, in the last couple of months, he's mucked us up economically for generations to come, but the economic problems weren't his fault; it's just that his response was terrible. So is he in the bottom half of Presidents? Yes, though he is probably in the third rather than the fourth quartile.

So is it just utter historical illiteracy combined with blind partisanship? That's the only reason I can see for so hating Bush and everything he is, says and does. It's the mirror image of the fringe Right during Clinton's presidency, except that it seems to have swallowed up far more than just the fringe on the Left.

jeff - i voted for bu$h in ... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

jeff - i voted for bu$h in 2000. i am not a dem. im definitely no longer republican though

i, and by all indications the large majority of this country feel the iraq war was at best totally misguided, and at worst a criminal enterprise fraudulently sold to the american people

iraq had nothing to do with 911. nothing. just and before it happened, colin powell himself stated that saddam was not a threatening player in the middle east theater. every single threat used to scare up support from the public vaporised into thin air. none of it was true. all the concocted evidence they did have was passed over the heads of the intelligence analysis community and injected directly at the top into cheney's office of special plans. its never supposed to work like that

the world did not believe saddam had the WMDs and the nuke programs. some heads of state, under pressure from the US, went on record to say that if he did, there would be consequences. lapdog england of course was the big exception, helping us "fix the facts around the policy" as their own prime minister's office wrote internally

the US is taking several effective measures against terrorism, which bu$h deserves little credit for, and they are not the ones involving invading unconnected countries. they are investigative and policing measures that result in networks being dismantled in an organized fashion. reckless bombing and invading may make the politically connected of the US more powerful but it only drives up the recruitment of al quaeda and the taliban, accoring to the pentagon

bu$h is a war criminal
depp=true

Stick around for ... (Below threshold)
jmc:
Stick around for a bit, and you'll see it more often. It's not randomizing,but "disemvowelment", and it's quite effective at getting rid of the crap. You can still read it (assuming their spelling and grammar is correct) if you really try, but it's easier just to skip it.

Well, actually What I meant was why is DJ randomizing the presidents he is squaring off head to head. I'm sure DJ will know or knows what i meant, but I probably could have been clearer for everyone else.

In regards to the derision for Bush I'd say two things (and i'm speaking as a liberal)

1) The present. By which I mean, Bush is president today and so most peope are making comparisions based on their lifetime. So if you are say, 28 years old. You might remember Reagan, will remember the elder Bush and President Clinton and that's it. Your frame of reference is three maybe two other presidents.

Historians of course are not able to claim that excuse it is their job to know how incompetent say Grant for example was (as you pointed out) and make their historical comparison based on that.

The second reason, let me diplomatic and say it really comes down to perceptions.

You for instance said that Bush got a lot of things right on foren policy, liberals would disagree and say we are in trouble in Afghanistan and Iraq was a waste of resources there were no WMDs etc...

As a conservtive you would probably dsagree with that and maybe argue that we haven't been attacked again, we freed iraq from a pretty bad guy etc... I suppose it mainly comes down to how you intepret events based on your world view. We are all seeing the same data (well usually) we are just drawing different conclusions based on the data.

That's why history wil be the ultimate judge. I really think (and I'm not trying to offend for once) that Bush was a very bad president, but if somehow Iraq stays together ad real western style democracy forms there and the econmy turns out to be nothingmore than a typical recession he might be judged favorably. I don't think it will hapen. Some here are probably dead it certain it wil work out great. In 60 years we will know a lot more.
depp=true

"That's why history wil be ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"That's why history wil be the ultimate judge."-jmc

True. But that can/will require 150 years:
http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Cry-Freedom-Oxford-History/dp/0195038630

Example, the German impetus toward a United Europe has left WW2 ultimately undecided, despite the May 1945 expiration date. The Prussian expansion into Denmark in 1866 to the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993 is one straight line which continues on.

My suggestion to DJ is to avoid "history". Instead, a'la Suetonius, employ a best/worst factor to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of each subject (one at a time, bitte). The weight will tip accordingly and (suprisingly) more objectively than not, ie. Tiberius. Suetonius cites treasury and graffiti alike. Don't we still?


1) President George W Bush<... (Below threshold)
DrDeb:

1) President George W Bush
2) Arthur
3) Harding

1) Coolidge
2) Buchanan
3) Cleveland

A tough set for me. Many... (Below threshold)
Arthur:

A tough set for me. Many I'm only dimly familiar with.

Set Three
Calvin Coolidge
Grover Cleveland
James Buchanan

CC
GC
JB

Set Four
Warren Harding
George W Bush
Chester Arthur

WH
Going with Harding over Bush just because he got rid of Wilson and the whole "return to normalcy" (reversing Wilson's polices) deal. Freeing Wilson's political prisoners was a big deal

GwB
CA

Grover ClevelandCalv... (Below threshold)

Grover Cleveland
Calvin Coolidge
James Buchanan

George W Bush
Warren Harding
Chester Arthur

1) Cleveland2) Cooli... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

1) Cleveland
2) Coolidge
3) Buchanan

1) Arthur
2) Bush
3) Harding

Set One:CCGC<... (Below threshold)
Pam:

Set One:
CC
GC
JB

Set Two:

GW
CA
WGH

Warren G was way to corrupt; reminds me a lot of Clinton.

Set ThreeCalvin Cool... (Below threshold)
Rheinman:

Set Three
Calvin Coolidge
Grover Cleveland
James Buchanan


Set Four
George W Bush
Chester Arthur
Warren Harding




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