02 March 2009



Thomas Fleming, writing in the Wall Street Journal, gives us a survey of the esteemed gentlemen who have occupied the White House.

Several polls of historians have named George W. Bush the worst president in American history. This baffles me. I've been writing about presidents for a long time. What I know, and what I presume these gentlemen know, doesn't connect.

Is Mr. Bush worse than John Adams? When a shooting war at sea started between the United States and revolutionary France in 1798, Honest John wrote a letter to George Washington, offering to resign so that George could resume the job. How's that for presidential leadership? Meanwhile, Adams had kept Washington's cabinet officers on the job, although he loathed them. He finally fired them in a fit of hysteria, which made them wonder if he had lost his mind.

Is Mr. Bush worse than Thomas Jefferson in his second term? Rather than build a decent navy to deal with the British -- who had a habit of boarding American ships on the high seas and forcing kidnapped sailors into semislavery -- Jefferson declared an embargo on all trade with England and the rest of Europe. The American economy came to a horrific standstill; smuggling became New England's chief industry. Someone described the embargo as "cutting a man's throat to cure a nosebleed." Nonplussed, Jefferson quit, telling only James Madison, his secretary of state, who was de facto acting president for the last year of Tom's term.

It actually gets worse than this. Before condemning former President Bush, I would suggest that my progressive friends (and President) might want to read the whole article, and give themselves the benefit of some historical perspective.

This adds to my argument that President Bush will be much better regarded by history than he is today.

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