We're now onto the 2nd round of our 'Worst President Ever' Tourney as 32 men from past and present compete to see who was the most incompetent, unethical, immoral And/Or just plain Awful of all those who've sat in the Oval Office.
After today will be what is known in NCAA basketball circles as the 'Sweet Sixteen' but for our purposes, will be referred as the 'Rotten 16' for in this competition, you "win" by being the bigger 'loser'...
So let's see how the combatants fared:
John Tyler was the first President to succeed a dead President and it is because of him, the line of ascension when a President leaves office before finishing his term is established. He also vetoed the 2nd Bank of the US and annexed Texas.. All good things. James Buchanan by comparison was an utter do-nothing. J.B. beats J.T.
Difficult battle here.. James Garfield only served 200 days before being assassinated while Reagan was almost assassinated and lived to serve two terms. We give the 'victory' to Reagan because Garfield fought corruption in the US Post Office while Reagan pushed horrible economic programs which only benefited the wealthy while expanding the US debt to over $1.5 Trillion by 1988; astronomical for its day.
FDR v Ford.. This match up is so lopsided, there isn't much need to analyze. Its not that Ford was so 'horrible' as that FDR was so Great and important.. In this competition where accomplishment and prestige are negatives, FDR suffers the 'loss' here...
Both Presidents engaged the nation in long, bloody drawn out and Needless wars that drained the US Treasury. The main difference being Bush's wars cost a couple thousand US lives to this point while Lincoln's war cost 600,000 or 2% of the Entire US Population at the time, north & south.
Both Presidents also greatly weakened the Constitution by giving themselves powers to arrest and incarcerate people for long periods without judicial process under the guise of it being a necessary war power. Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus and Bush created the Patriot Act..
Bush never set fire to newspapers and put publishers in prison like Lincoln.
People are usually harsh on Bush and understanding of Lincoln because of love of 'Union' thus what happens is a mindset where illegality is accepted because 'ends justify the means'... Nope.. Never.
Some may disagree.. That's fine..
So who 'wins' this battle of two Terrible Presidents..
On the record, we think Lincoln was a despicable parasite; a master manipulator and criminal; a politician in every negative meaning of the word..
BUT.. We can not ignore that the origin for this current recession-depression started with Bush's and he had opportunity during his last months in office to really make Wall Street and the banks howl in pain..
He gave them $$ instead..
Bush is more horrible than Lincoln by a millimeter..
If Jimmy Carter competed against most US Presidents, he would end up winning as the worse of the two because he really was a poor ineffectual leader..
However he lucked out by facing Warren Harding, a corrupt man who put many of his friends and political cronies known as the "Ohio Gang" into positions of power and they 'rewarded' Harding with the Teapot Dome Scandal (bribes accepted by private oil companies in exchange for low rates to drill without competitive bidding). W.H. gets the 'W'
Eisenhower v McKinley.. Both were good Presidents overall.. The McCarthy witch hunt hearings did take place under Eisenhower but he had spoken out against them. Of course as President he could have done more as well.. McKinley was assassinated in office but while President led the nation to victory in the Spanish American War. This one is honestly a coin-flip..
Ultimately we believe McKinley was the better President because he promoted the 1897 Dingley Tariff to protect manufacturers and factory workers from foreign competition, and in 1900, he secured the passage of the Gold Standard Act. which meant our currency then was to be pegged to gold to avoid the valueless QE money printing monstrosity we have today..
~ McKinley Museum & National Memorial..
We don't like Millard Fillmore because he used military might via the sending of Commodore Perry to force Japan to open itself to trade when the nation was content and wished to be left alone. But Grant was a bastard and we despise him 1,000x more..
Under Grant's leadership the Indian wars to decimate and eradicate the Native American populations were stepped up, the Panic of 1873 occurred during his Presidency and his cabinet was rife with scandal... Just a total loser who if not for his Civil War success, would not have elected as a local dog catcher. Grant advances..
Woodrow Wilson led America into World War I by false pretense (to be guarantor to US bankers and investors who would have lost a fortune had Britain and France not won) and in the process severely clamped down on American's freedom to dissent, even kicking immigrants out of the country who spoke out.. Does it really matter what Franklin Pierce did or didn't do?
This next battle is quite interesting.. The President who got passed the Monroe Doctrine which basically said to the world that South and Central America were our exclusive domain and playground vs the President who really exploited it to the hilt in Teddy..
Both men were extremely popular Presidents in their day and accomplished much domestically including a focus on expansion of the global empire, its just Teddy was more colorful a character and as such is much more famous presently.
~ Yes Teddy Roosevelt is actually riding a moose..
But in this battle of two very good Presidents, we give the advantage to Teddy Roosevelt, meaning he was slightly worse. Our reasoning: Even though Teddy was anti-monopoly, he agreed to allowed JP Morgan's US Steel Corp to buy up the Tennessee Coal, Iron and and Railroad Company, thus contradicting his own policy to head off the Panic of 1907 which Morgan and others caused and manipulated for their benefit.
Teddy Roosevelt advances in the competition by a smidge...
As for JFK v Zachary Taylor, Z.T. moves on in the competition not because he was that bad a President but there are just few Presidents who historically were better than JFK excluding Bay of Pigs. So by near default, Taylor advances..
Tired of moderate Johnson getting in their way, the Radicals fought with Johnson over who had the right to fire a member of a President's cabinet.. the President OR Congress? Even though Johnson 'won', he lost and was impotent for rest of his term.
Herbert Hoover wasn't the heartless monster some history books portray him as.. He was just one of those Presidents that embraced principle over all reality even then events scream for those principles and positions to change. A lot of people suffered because Hoover refused to step in and help people get work when private business would not..
Thus, even though Hoover was not evil, he was worse than Johnson..
We do not believe either President was either wonderful nor terrible. Both administration were very similar in fact.. Both raised taxes a little bit; both openly courted Wall Street though Clinton did fawn over the mega-rich and conducted economic policies to cater to Investors to a nauseating extent..
As for the issue with Clinton's Impeachment proceedings, he did lie under oath. If he was a regular citizen, Clinton would have been fined or perhaps jailed for a brief duration. The question is, as President was lying under oath worthy of expulsion? Specifically in the context of what Clinton was lying about, we do not believe that in itself was worthy of Impeachment.
This is a really difficult one to decide.. Bush lost a lot of popularity when he refused to invade Iraq and remove Saddam but history showed his prudence to be the correct call. Clinton tried to use the US military for humanitarian missions but we had absolutely no business in the Balkans siding with the Muslims nor should we have been in Somalia..
~ Black Hawk Down
Ultimately we pick Bush Sr to be just a barely better President than Clinton because of terrorism. During Clinton's administration, we were attacked by terrorists on numerous occasions home and abroad since has World Trade Center in 1993, the Bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, etc and little to no military retaliatory response other than some missiles lobbed here and there.
Some can argue those attacks may have been based on Bush's Gulf War or other factors beyond Clinton's control and they are fair arguments. But the fact we were attacked numerous times in that eight year period means we place onus on who was in office at that time.
As for President Obama v John Adams, even though Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which tried to curtail Americans' First Amendment's freedom of speech and ended up a very unpopular one-term President, here the 'victory' goes to Obama..
The current President is worse. So many reasons why.. But for now, the current needless involvement and handling of the Russia/Ukraine situation and refusal to acknowledge Crimea as part of Russia after a democratic vote is sufficient enough to make the case.
Lastly the battle between James Madison v LBJ... Madison was President during the War of 1812 and his wife Dolly gets great credit for saving many historical paintings and other National treasures when the British set fire to Washington DC.. The war ended as a stalemate even though the Battle of New Orleans, fought after peace was negotiated was a lopsided American victory..
LBJ's little war is responsible for derailing his whole Presidency and cost tens of thousands of US lives for really nothing other than pride.
~ Soldiers in Vietnam, 1966
For all LBJ's domestic policy good including a War on Poverty, the Vietnam war can't be minimized and as a nation we suffered far more as a result of it in blood, treasury and national pride than we did during the War of 1812 stalemate..
So LBJ beats Madison.. he's the worse President of the two...
Here's the updated bracket as we enter the 'Rotten 16'
We got 11 Republicans and 5 Democrats left with 8 of the final 16 being post-WWII Presidents in the mix for all-time Worst.
The bracket at the bottom right should be the most interesting and contentious as Clinton goes up against Obama and Nixon faces off vs LBJ..
Check later on this week to see who reaches the 'Not Great 8'