Trump: worst president of all time?

April 7, 2020 • 9:15 am

Max Boot, author of the provocatively titled piece below, isn’t exactly a liberal, but he isn’t a conservative either. His Wikipedia bio says this:

Max A. Boot is an American author, consultant, editorialist, lecturer, and military historian. He worked as a writer and editor for Christian Science Monitor and then for The Wall Street Journal in the 1990s. He is now the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written for numerous publications such as The Weekly StandardThe Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, and he has also authored books of military history. In 2018, Boot published The Road Not Taken, a biography of Edward Lansdale, and The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right, which details Boot’s “ideological journey from a ‘movement’ conservative to a man without a party” in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.

According to his op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post (click on screenshot), Boot once thought that Trump was the worst American President of modern times. He’s now changed his mind: he sees Trump as the worst President of all time.  Well, I’m not a historian, but based on what I know of American history, I have to agree with him.

A couple of excerpts:

Until now, I have generally been reluctant to label Donald Trump the worst president in U.S. history. As a historian, I know how important it is to allow the passage of time to gain a sense of perspective. Some presidents who seemed awful to contemporaries (Harry S. Truman) or simply lackluster (Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush) look much better in retrospect. Others, such as Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, don’t look as good as they once did.

So I have written, as I did on March 12, that Trump is the worst president in modern times — not of all time. That left open the possibility that James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding or some other nonentity would be judged more harshly. But in the past month, we have seen enough to take away the qualifier “in modern times.” With his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus, Trump has established himself as the worst president in U.S. history.

His one major competitor for that dubious distinction remains Buchanan, whose dithering helped lead us into the Civil War — the deadliest conflict in U.S. history. Buchanan may still be the biggest loser. But there is good reason to think that the Civil War would have broken out no matter what. By contrast, there is nothing inevitable about the scale of the disaster we now confront.

The foreseeable consequences, and Trump’s bungling have, says Boot, greatly contributed to the coming death toll (perhaps more, he says, “than the U.S. fatalities in all of our wars combined since 1945″), and the huge unemployment rate of about 13%—the highest since the Depression of the ’30s.

Boot recounts all the warnings Trump could have acted on, including from media experts, leading Democrats, and even officials in his own administration—information apparently thoroughly described in a Post article on Saturday.

The Post article is the most thorough dissection of Trump’s failure to prepare for the gathering storm. Trump was first briefed on the coronavirus by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jan. 18. But, The Post writes, “Azar told several associates that the president believed he was ‘alarmist’ and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue.” When Trump was first asked publicly about the virus, on Jan. 22, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

We all know what happened next: Trump’s continuing failure to recognize the seriousness of the problem, his claiming that it was under control, his contribution to bidding wars for vital medical equipment, his dissing of governors and claim that he’d favor states whose governors toadied to him, his touting of an untested drug as a panacea for those infected, and his lying about testing. All of this produced not only deaths with their horrible concomitant of sorrow and grief, but also to massive unemployment and now to tremendous anxiety and confusion on the part of Americans. It is the very opposite of leadership.

Combine that with all his other lies, missteps, and other pieces of harmful narcissism emitted since 2016, and you get Boot’s conclusion:

This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.

Trump is characteristically working hardest at blaming others — China, the media, governors, President Barack Obama, the Democratic impeachment managers, everyone but his golf caddie — for his blunders. His mantra is: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” It remains to be seen whether voters will buy his excuses. But whatever happens in November, Trump cannot escape the pitiless judgment of history.

Well, you can disagree with the assessment of Carter, but it doesn’t matter. Trump is palpably worse than any President I’ve known in my lifetime, and I’ve lived through Nixon, W., and Reagan.  Frankly, I don’t care much about how history judges Trump (it will be harsh), nor does he care, because in his warped mind he’ll see post-presidential assessments as “fake news.” What I care about is what happens in November. We cannot let this man be re-elected.



172 thoughts on “Trump: worst president of all time?

  1. He certainly will be judged the worst. So far, at least.

    As will all of the Republicans who support him and those here in Wisconsin who have forced polls to be open today. It matters little whether they do it for political advantage or because they think Democratic voters in cities like Milwaukee are more likely to contract COVID-19.

    1. I’m glad you brought up Wisconsin, because I have a question about that that I wanted to ask on WEIT but I didn’t want to derail a thread.

      The election that cannot be postponed in Wisconsin is a Democratic primary to elect the Democratic candidate for the POTUS election in November. As I understand it, the date is set by the legislature, which is currently Republican controlled and the supreme court (the Wisconsin one?) has just ruled that the governor cannot postpone it.

      Why does the governor of Wisconsin and the state legislature have any say at all in when or how a political party selects its candidates?

      1. A few facts, as background…

        After Scott Walker lost in the last gubernatorial contest, the Republican legislature pushed through lame duck laws that removed many of the powers of the Governor. Part of this was to require the legislature to make changes to healthcare policy, accepting federal money for Medicaid expansion, for example.

        Fact two… there is a State Supreme Court contest. Republicans wanted a special election because the right wing extremist candidate always does better when turnout is low. When they were unable to separate that contest from this primary election (potentially high turnout) they were not happy. COVID-19 emergency gives them the chance for a low turnout election. Normally here in Milwaukee there are hundreds of polling places open. Right now there are exactly five. Older folk, like me, who normally work the polls are not willing/able to expose ourselves to the high risk.

        Fact three…. they are just dicks. Plain and simple. Any opportunity they have to “stick it to the Governor” they will take, damn the consequences.

        This is the end of the line a few minutes ago for the polling place I normally work. The actual polling place is five blocks away.

        1. That wasn’t really what I was asking about. I was more asking about why the state legislature has any jurisdiction at all over a political party’s internal affairs. Why can’t the Democratic Party hold its elections whenever it feels like?

          1. It is not just a party primary election. We’re electing many non-partisan (in principle) positions. Our County Executive, State Supreme Court Justice, etc.

          2. FWIW… it is also the Republican primary here. There just isn’t any name on the ballot for that position except the Orange Menace.

            1. Thank you for clarifying this. I also had wondered. I know that each state handles such things in their own way. But, I’ve never read a book or article specifying how this works in each state.

              I am one of the lucky ones who lives currently in Washington and previously in Oregon, both of which have vote by mail. If only we could get that for all the states, but that won’t happen.

              1. We have vote-by-mail option here but it is not what most people do because it isn’t systematically encouraged. I voted by mail this time.

                “How it works in each state” would be interesting, but difficult. Just here in Wisconsin it would be hard to write because Republicans have made confusion central to the process for more than a decade. One strategy for reducing voter turnout is to change the rules constantly. It makes it hard for voter registrars to keep up with, let along voters themselves. (I work as a registrar at the polls in normal times.)

        2. “Normally here in Milwaukee there are hundreds of polling places open. Right now there are exactly five.”

          And Democratic voters are mostly urban. Rural polling places are probably open for the most part. There is no low to which these Republicans won’t go.

        3. “After Scott Walker lost in the last gubernatorial contest, the Republican legislature pushed through lame duck laws that removed many of the powers of the Governor.”

          Exactly what also happened in North Carolina after the most recent gubernatorial election.

    2. I read about some of the attempts to postpone the election there but the article did not explain why the Republicans forced it to be today. I mean other than the governor is a Democrat so maybe they just wanted to be dicks. What motive could they possibly have? How does this hurt the Dems or help them Republicans? Is it really just shitheadedness (we can do this to you so we’re going to) or is there a strategic reason?

      1. By suppressing Democratic turnout, it helps the Republicans keep a reactionary hack by name of Daniel Kelly, who’s on today’s ballot, on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

          1. Same strategy at the federal level for Repugs not wanting vote by mail. According to T-Rump, Republicans couldn’t get elected. Same rationale for gerrymandering, cracking & packing, and trying to modify the census. I don’t know what the count is now for the Republican judges that this administration has gotten in, but it seems they’ll continue packing the courts as long as they can.

            1. It is one of those random times where tRump says something correct/accuate. Republicans would have no chance if not for gerrymandering and low voter turnout.

  2. I am not an expert on historians at all but did not think Boot would make the grade. No matter, he is terribly slow to come around to an opinion many already had locked in. When you have to travel back to a pathetic racist president from the 1850s, Buchanan, to make your case you are really digging. But who is Trump comparable too. Before it’s all over I think he matches up well with good old Hoover. Our man from Iowa who still looks like a deer in the headlights of history.

    1. I would say that ship already sailed, if you like puns. The military in general is kind of getting what they deserve with this guy. They back republicans and they got them.

    2. How? What’s happened to the Navy? You can’t be referring to the aircraft carrier commander’s dismissal; unfair perhaps but in no conceivable way does it jeopardizes the Navy. Have I missed something?

      1. “Have I missed something?”

        Two ship collisions in recent times, for example. I am not suggesting that these things will take down the Navy but it is clear that our Armed Forces are in need of some repair.

        1. Don’t forget all his interference in the navy trials just a while back. One sec. of the Navy already resigned over it. That was the real damage done to the Navy.

          1. Exactly. The more time passes the more Trumpists float to the top levels of Navy leadership. That’s the most serious damage.

            1. Aren’t the Trumpists involved in this affair actually civilians rather than Navy people proper? I thought all the real Navy people were against Captain Crozier’s firing, or at least willing to wait for a proper investigation before taking action against him.

              1. With respect to the Crozier affair I was thinking of SECNAV Modly, a graduate of the US Naval Academy who, as required by law, is “a civilian at least five years removed from active military service.” But SECNAV is the chief executive officer of the Department Of The Navy, which includes the military branches the Navy and the Marines.

                So yes, he is technically a civilian, but he’s in charge of the Navy and Marines in all respects limited only by law and outranked in the chain of command only by POTUS. He’s also incompetent and if not an outright Trumper malleable enough to do whatever it takes to stay on Trump’s good side.

                From what I’ve seen in various discussion threads around the internet, including ones among military officers, I think your characterization of what Navy personnel think of the Crozier affair is pretty accurate. There’s no doubt that what Crozier did broke the rules. But it’s one of those things where if the powers that be think the situation justified what you did you might not get in trouble, maybe a slap on the wrist and a well done, but if they don’t you are toast.

                In the more general case I was thinking of Trump’s other interferences in Navy/Marine matters that a POTUS has got no business getting involved with and which gave support to personnel likely to be fans of his. Like the CPO Eddie Gallagher affair.

              2. Thomas Modly is now out. Resigned today. Yes, Donald Trump is the worst American president of all time.

              3. Yes, I saw that. I’m thinking that Trump just did a successful one-two punch. He hinted that it would be nice if the nasty captain was dismissed. Modly took the suggestion and acted on it. Trump then saw all the negative publicity it got. Trump recognized that if he dismissed Modly, it was a total win-win for him: he got rid of the captain while making it seem like someone else’s fault for which he punished them.

              4. Loyalty in the Trump administration is like Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower — strictly a one-way street.

      2. Trump’s acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, showed himself to be an absolute asshole in addressing the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and telling them that their recently relieved captain (who was trying to protect them from a coronavirus outbreak) was “naive” or “stupid.”

        1. I agree. He is an absolute asshole and personally I think (not that it matters) the commander’s removal is a bad decision, but neither of these will result in the destruction of the Navy.

        2. Modly was totally emulating Trump in that speech to the crew. My son in law is in the Navy, though not on a ship, and recently re-enlisted. He told my wife yesterday that, after this incident, he wouldn’t have done so. Perhaps the military rank and file are turning against Trump. That will make a huge difference in the Red States’ support for Trump once these opinions filter back home, which they will do by November.

          1. I trust that there will be an investigation, in which Modly will be asked how he could justify wasting taxpayer money flying to Guam to give a 15-min harangue to sailors still on board the Roosevelt. I figure it’s a minimum 15-hr flight non-stop DC to Guam. (From my own navy experience 4 hr-plus SF to Hawaii; 6 1/2 hrs Hawaii to Guam.) Imagine having all that time to reconsider the wisdom of that little junket. How beholden to Trump must one be to pursue such a fiasco?

  3. If it’s true (as per NYT) that he has a small financial interest in a French company producing Hydroxycloroquine isn’t he also, definitely, an outlaw?

    1. In any unbiased review of the facts, yes, no doubt about it. And this is just one instance Several times over Trump is definitely an outlaw. Unless you subscribe to the view that a POTUS can’t, by definition (or something), do illegal things because there isn’t anything they aren’t allowed to do.

  4. He (and his sons) are the most abhorrent individuals to me. Not only does it shock me that he got voted in as president – as this is a sad reflection on a large number of the US population – but also shocking that recent polling shows his support & approval higher than ever, when one would expect that the opposite ought to be the case.

    1. On a good day I can have some understanding of political beliefs very different from mine. I do make an effort to see things from other’s viewpoints.

      But how anyone can not see the rot in Donald Trump’s soul is utterly incomprehensible.

      1. My next door neighbor wanders around wearing a tee shirt that reads “Jesus is My Savior, Trump is My President”.

  5. This assumes the GOP can’t do worse. Pence is waiting in the wings. Whereas Trump corruptly and incompetently pursues regressive policies, Pence would competently and efficiently pursue them. Which could be worse.

    …his touting of an untested drug as a panacea for those infected…

    Ed Brayton at “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” suggests that Trump is pushing Chloroquine because Dr. Oz promotes it on Fox. Which would not be too surprising; Trump has been on his show and at one point appointed him to some sports health council. Oz is generally considered a hack and a con, and has promoted Reiki, faith healing, and all sorts of other woo nonsense.

    Which is why we now find a U.S. President promoting a medicine developed to fight a protozoan parasite as a vaccine for a virus.

    1. In this the Classy Carny Dr. Oz reminds me of the Jude Law character in the movie Contagion. I’ve little doubt that Oz and Trump both have a financial interest of some sort in Chloroquine.

    2. He’s pushing the drug because he has monetary interests in it. Here’s an excerpt from an article on apple news. Our Grifter in Chief.

      President Donald Trump reportedly owns a stake in a company that produces hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has repeatedly touted as a coronavirus treatment even though his experts say there’s no strong evidence it works.

      Trump “has a small personal financial interest” in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine, The New York Times reported Monday.

      In addition, Sanofi’s largest shareholders include a mutual fund company run by major Republican donor Ken Fisher, the paper said. Trump’s three family trusts, as of last year, each had investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding was Sanofi, according to the Times. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also had ties to the drugmaker, the Times reported.

      Trump’s “assertiveness” in promoting the drug contrary to the recommendation of top health experts “has raised questions about his motives,” the Times noted.

      The financial news site MarketWatch and The Washington Post later estimated Trump’s stake to be worth between about $100 and $1,500, though the Post noted his trusts may have amassed other investments since his most recent disclosure. “He does look to have more than that modest sum invested in Sanofi, because, unmentioned in the Times report, his trusts also hold broader European stock-market index funds,” MarketWatch pointed out.

  6. 100% agree, and like you I lived through Nixon and Reagan’s admins. Trump is not just the worst president of all time he is one of the most deplorable human beings of all time. I hope I live to see the day when I can wake up and not have to read or hear his name mentioned.

    1. I hope I live to see the day when I can wake up and not have to read or hear his name mentioned.

      I don’t know. If the context is “Trump spends another day in prison”, the WaPo can run that every day while it is true as far as I am concerned.

      1. I can say that the majority of people living in the UK are just as exhausted by the continued employment of this disgusting oil-slick of a man.

        I feel invested in this presidency(ie. in seeing him gone) in a way that I haven’t with past administrations, simply because he’s so damaging to the fabric of every single political belief I hold. He violates them all, either in deed or in spirit and he is having a direct influence on the behaviour of many politicians in the west. The entire political system of liberal democracy is debased a little further for every minute he continues to hold office.

        I’m more and more confident saying it these days: he’s the worst person in the world.

        I know there are people who’ve done more harm, truly evil people. But Trump embodies all of humanity’s most low, tawdry, soulless, ant-intellectual, irrational, nasty, dishonest, corrupt instincts. They’re all combined in one ghastly jabbering hologram of a human, completely two dimensional, no inner life whatsoever.

        I’m not a fan.

        1. They’re all combined in one ghastly jabbering hologram of a human, completely two dimensional, no inner life whatsoever.

          Perfect description…

        2. You have said what I want to say, only so much better. Each day it’s like watching a slow-motion multiple pile-up car crash. I know that our leadership here in the UK is far from perfect, but fortunately we no longer have pretensions to “lead the free world”.

          What Trump is doing to the USA justifies a life term of imprisonment. I feel for all USians right now, even the cult of followers, who clearly have been brainwashed.

    2. That will only happen after he dies. After his presidency ends, which cannot happen soon enough, Trump will still stomp around and constantly call attention to himself. And the press will lead with it.

  7. Max Boot is a die-hard never-Trumper. He’s also spent his career as a quintessential neo-conservative.

    Most historians (including the minority of professional historians who admit to being registered Republicans) rank Donald Trump at or near the bottom of the heap of our 45 presidents.

    On the other hand, just a few short months ago, a majority of regular Republicans told pollsters that Donald Trump is a greater US president than Abraham Lincoln.

    I don’t know what more proof one might need to conclude that a significant portion of the US public (and a majority of the Grand Old Party) has gone batshit crazy.

    1. There are few things I say with absolute certainty. But, with that degree, I say that Trump will be rated by future historians as the worst ever; most current historians give him already that ranking. He will easily surpass James Buchanan for that ignominious honor. I doubt that most people know why Buchanan was at the bottom of the list. The reason is that he is compared to his successor, Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan let the Union dissolve while Lincoln saved it. Without writing another extended essay (which I can easily do), I would argue that Buchanan, although hardly a great leader, did no worse than almost any other president would have done in his position – being a lame duck during the secession crisis when no actual violence had yet to take place. Also, although he was pro-southern during his administration, in his last months in office he stocked his cabinet with unionists and condemned secession. It must also be remembered that it took the pretext of the firing on Fort Sumter for Lincoln to call for the raising of a mass army to suppress the rebellion.

      The many follies of Trump have been pointed out countless times. I do not need to repeat them here. Compared to Trump, Buchanan deserves a place on Mount Rushmore.

      1. “It must also be remembered that it took the pretext of the firing on Fort Sumter for Lincoln to call for the raising of a mass army to suppress the rebellion.”

        I reasonably take it that all South Carolina had to do was simply not fire on Fort Sumter. Apparently they just couldn’t help themselves.

        1. There was the idea floated a while back that the Civil War was unnecessary. By some standards, then, Lincoln (who is widely considered the best president) now becomes the worst, having caused 623,026 deaths. This clearly doesn’t work of course. tRump could not rank better than Lincoln.

  8. The scary part is that 35-40% of Americans think Trump is doing a great job. Facts and logic will not sway a deeply held ideological belief. Nixon had a 24% approval rating on the day he resigned–that says a lot about Americans.

  9. Trump may weather this storm. Check the maps out on this site:

    The areas getting hit hardest (death/1000) are the bluest, electoralwise. Even within a swing state like Michigan, the counties getting the brunt are in the Detroit area.

    Same for Louisiana–New Orleans…

    This is NOT an endorsement of Trump’s handling of this crisis.

    1. Rural areas will be hit later than cities. They will be hit harder, though, because they don’t have healthcare facilities. Trump’s misconduct will have huge consequences for his base.

        1. I haven’t done the research, but just thinking about the math, I would figure population density to be crucial. How many people get the opportunity to cough near you on any given day, is the key.

          1. That is certainly important. But other factors are, too. General healthiness is important. Age is important. Access to healthcare facilities is important. Small towns and rural areas have less density but they have other, compensating, features that will work against them.

          2. During the 1918 flu pandemic the mortality among urbanites was around 1% but in rural areas it was up to 90%. Today we attribute that to large numbers of flu-immune people in the cities (from previous epidemics). This phenomena is seen in other epidemics too.

            How does that relate to toady’s pandemic? There was no pool of immune people when the virus struck, though there is now. So the rural areas may not see the kind of difference in mortality as is often seen in epidemics and may actually be lower as medical resources to fight the disease in urban areas become available once the pandemic wanes.

      1. Red states and rural areas will get hit hard, unless enough time passes for greater understanding of the virus, new treatments, more ventilators and PPE, etc. to arrive. Rural areas obviously have less density which will help as well.

      2. I’ve been tracking cases/100,000 here in the UK, mostly to see how we are doing in the rural areas where I live compared to my sister in London (where you can get a breakdown borough by borough) and which is the worst hit area. And then to compare the UK to Europe and the US. Here are rough figures from yesterday:

        Me: 27
        Sis: 150-220
        UK: 76

        Spain: 299
        Italy: 219
        France: 142

        US: 105
        New York: 662
        New Jersey: 423

        The US started after us and has already overtaken us nationally. And the NY/NJ figures are really scary.

        1. Indeed. And the reports about “temporary” burials (whatever those are) in NY public parks are even scarier.

  10. I suspect that one of his media advisors told him “Whatever you do, don’t accept any responsibility for anything.” So he just blurts it out, because he is the stupidest person ever to gain a significant position of power in world history.

    (How extraordinary that Max Boot can write an article as damning as that, and half the US hasn’t got the faintest idea what he’s even talking about.)

    1. Donald Trump didn’t need any adviser to tell him that. He’s spent his entire life evading responsibility for his fuck-ups. For the most part, he’s been insulated from the consequences of his actions by the fortune he inherited from his father and by his long-con artiste‘s knack for spewing a never-ending stream of bullshit.

      But Trump has never played for stakes this high before, or had this type of worldwide attention focused on him.

      The tab he’s run up will eventually come due.

      1. That was Roy Cohn’s advice to Trump wasn’t it?

        “Attack, don’t settle, get off the issue, never apologize”

        I recently watched a YT clip of an old debate between Gore Vidal and Roy Cohn. it was absolutely riveting.

  11. Trump has no equal in destroying the modern foundation of our government. If you do not recognize this, then you are asleep. The idea that Boot thinks Carter compares to this toddler is not funny at all. It may show he knows very little.

  12. In addition to the info in the OP, it’s recently come out that one of Trump’s top economic advisers, Peter Navarro, wrote Trump memos on January 29th and February 23rd (while Trump was publicly minimizing the coronavirus risk) warning him that COVID-19 could kill up to half a million Americans.

    Also, Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, learned of the COVID danger last December. He repeatedly attempted to reach Trump to discuss this with him, but could not get Trump to speak with him on the telephone until January 18, 2020. In that phone call, Trump didn’t want to hear Azar’s warnings; all Trump did was bitch at him for banning flavored vaping.

    This is what happens when the nation elects someone completely unfit for office — by intellect, by experience, by temperament, and by character — to the US presidency.

    1. “This is what happens when the nation elects someone completely unfit for office — by intellect, by experience, by temperament, and by character — to the US presidency.”

      And by mental health.

    2. Yeah. So many people have been saying things like, “say what you will about Trump but things aren’t too bad under him and some things are good!” Except that to the extent that there might be some little kernel of accuracy to that claim it’s only because, thank goodness, Trump doesn’t do a whole lot period. Imagine how screwed we’d be if he were a go-getter with a plan? But now that reality has intruded, now that he has to do something in response to a long term crisis, now it’s easier to see how incompetent Trump is.

      Of course in my opinion the damage Trump has been doing to the nation has always been painfully, blindingly obvious and I don’t understand how anyone could miss it. Or discount it. Just allowing him to get in front of a camera and speak as POTUS for all the world to see is damage enough in my book. I first said it about Bush Jr., “I’m embarrassed to be represented to the rest of the world by this person.” My relief just listening to Obama speak was enough to bring tears to my eyes. With Trump it’s even worse than Bush Jr. I can’t endure listening and watching him speak. I have to leave the room.

      1. I ‘served’ under 5 US Presidents, that is I lived in the US from 1978 to 2003. Bush Jr. was by far the dumbest and his style was quite different from Trump’s. It took a while to see he was a puppet manipulated by Cheney et al behind the scenes. But unlike Trump he was not venal, just dumb, in my opinion.

        On the other hand, his invasion of Iraq and the subsequent chaos there led to hundreds of thousands or a million deaths, depending on whose figures you believe. Trump, I suspect, will achieve nothing like this.

        On the other, other, hand, most of those of those deaths were not of Americans so they tend not to count.

  13. Although I was born after his presidency, I thought Herbert Hoover would be considered the worst president. Then I lived through the presidency of Tricky Dick Nixon and thought he would be considered the worst. Then Ronald Reagan was elected – it can’t possibly get worse. Oh, yes it can, we, actually the Supreme Court, elected George W. Bush – this must be the bottom of the barrel. Guess again Charlie, Trump won the presidency (not the election). I shudder to think who could possibly be worse than Trump.

    1. Yes, tRump has succeeded in making even Dubya look presidential by comparison. He was actually seen reading a book in public. OK, so it was The Pet Goat but to the best of my recollection the current occupant of the White House hasn’t even been seen reading something of that calibre.

        1. Well… goats are very agile and can appear to defy gravity?! On the other hand, maybe he was really “M” and not “W” after all…!

  14. I like to think historians will look on the insanity of the whole Trump presidency as ‘non-canon’.

    ‘Those four years? No those didn’t count. They were just a sort of narrative experiment that went a bit wrong.’

    1. ‘Those four years? No those didn’t count. They were just a sort of narrative experiment that went a bit wrong.’

      Right. Those years can’t possibly be part of “American Exceptionalism.”

  15. judging him against the wrong scale … as in he never had any intention of being a ‘good’ president as it is commonly defined. He always only ever saw it as an opportunity to increase his wealth, power, and strokes to his ego. Against that scale he’s done a great job.

  16. I could readily concede that Trump is the most embarrassing president in my lifetime, but when it comes to “worst” I’d place him second—and not even a close second—to Nixon. Nixon was evil; Trump is a buffoon.

    My votes for the three “best” presidents (not that anyone asked) would have to go to FDR, JFK, or Reagan in no particular order—“best” here being defined as those that did most to boost the morale of the country.

    If I were defining “best” as the president with most personal integrity, my vote would go to Jimmy Carter, who, unfortunately, was not a good president by any other standard I can think of.

    1. Trump is much more than a buffoon. If Trump is not evil, then evil doesn’t exist. He cares nothing for people’s lives. He ignored all advice on the pandemic until he realized that it would hurt his re-election chances to continue downplaying it.

      He thinks nothing of destroying people’s careers. To name only one example out of so many, he fired Alexander Vindman’s twin brother for no reason at all.

      This is clearly more than buffoonery.

      1. “He ignored all advice on the pandemic until he realized that it would hurt his re-election chances to continue downplaying it.”

        Much as I respect your opinion, Paul, we’re never going to agree about this. I’m guessing you also think that Dubya lied about the infamous weapons of mass destruction rather than genuinely believed they existed.

        Trump downplayed initial reports of the virus until he realized that they might be true. If that’s “evil” then we’re all evil: I doubt that any one of us, you and I included, would have believed the scope of the pandemic if someone had predicted it. Max Boot’s claim that “the coronavirus is the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history” is downright risible. (I was going to say “laughable” but I don’t want Ken K. thinking I can’t compete with his vocabulary.)

        1. Of course, it is classic whataboutism to bring up Dubya and Iraq. Since you asked, it is most likely Dubya wanted to invade Iraq and/or demonstrate US power and convinced himself that the “yellow uranium” reports were true. In short, a bad case of confirmation bias enhanced by intelligence agencies that wanted to please the president.

          “Trump downplayed initial reports of the virus until he realized that they might be true.”

          This is absolute crap. He still isn’t taking the virus important any greater extent than he is forced to in order to look good to his base and increase his re-election chances. He’s still going with his “gut” in talking about things getting back to normal at the end of April even though no scientist or healthcare leader would say this. He is still dragging his feet on testing while lying about how available it is. The key to getting the country back to work is serological testing so we can make sure people have recovered from the virus. Trump isn’t even smart enough to accelerate that even though it is in his interest (and the country’s) to do so.

          1. I think that in addition to what you said, that some of Trump’s actions are based on his looking for ways to make a buck out of this crisis. That, and his allocation medical equipment and supplies to the states based on how much they’re will to grovel and praise him.

            1. Absolutely. It appears that he’s told the states to order their own equipment, thereby absolving his administration of responsibility (in his mind), and then intercepted the shipments so as to reward states he deems friendly and punish those he doesn’t. On the side, he’s pushing an untested drug after he and his pals invested in the producers. He doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to profiting off his position.

        2. Bush II honestly believed that Iraq had WMD. What he and his administration lied about was their degree of certainty on the subject. They portrayed it as “a slam dunk” when, as they well knew and hid from the American public, there was a high degree of uncertainty in the intelligence-community WMD assessments.

          Donald Trump did NOT intentionally allow Americans (now approaching a half million and steadily climbing) to be infected with coronavirus. But he was grossly negligent, bordering on criminally reckless, in failing to take appropriate precautions to protect the US public.

          Not only did Trump ignore the flashing lights and ringing bells going off in the intelligence community (and elsewhere within his own administration) regarding COVID-19 itself as early as December 2019 and continuing though January and February 2020 (while falsely minimizing the risk in his public pronouncements). He also ignored the 69-page pandemic playbook the Obama administration had furnished the Trump transition team. He also disbanded the pandemic unit within the National Security Council. And he ignored the weaknesses revealed within his administration by “pandemic wargames” conducted in 2017 and 2018, while substantially cutting the budgets for the Center for Disease Control and the Health and Human Services Department (to offset his fat-cat tax-cuts). Fact of the matter is, much of the semi-literate sonuvabitch’s ignorance on this matter is due to his rarely reading his “daily briefing book.”

          (See, Gary? All with nary an SAT vocabulary study-list word to be found. 🙂 )

          1. “Bush II honestly believed that Iraq had WMD”.

            Maybe so, but I can’t help thinking there was a strong bias built up in the administration and other neocon entities, that it was time for a regime change anyway. WMD might have been a pretext for what they had been itching to do.

          2. While he didn’t directly cause US citizens to be infected, I think Trump was more than simply ignorant. A proper response to the many warnings would be to take action because, if it develops into a pandemic, the early your start on protections the better. I’m sure his advisers told him that and he probably asked how sure they were that it would develop into a pandemic. Since they couldn’t be 100% sure, he decided to do nothing and hope for the best. Sure, there’s ignorance and poor judgement but it’s also deliberately discounting the dead bodies on the cost side of the analysis.

      2. More than a buffoon? Yes certainly. And, he’s unlike any of his predecessors. The difference is simply that he’s mentally ill. He’s been all but certified by many shrinks. Very convincingly. Books have been written. Other presidents, like Bush the Younger, were not ill, just intellectually and in character, not up to the job. They exhibited no serious symptoms of the deep personality disorder that we see in tRump. Nixon, especially toward the end, showed signs of a breakdown, with clear paranoia, but it was mainly due to the enormous pressure he was under. tRump has been afflicted for many years.

      1. “Nixon passed a lot of progressive legislation.”

        Those gargantuan wind turbines that blight the landscape along the Columbia Gorge here in Oregon are considered by some to be “progressive,” but you need only to look at them to know that they’re evil. Ditto for Nixon.

  17. Best campaign slogan:

    “We cannot let this man be re-elected”

    Are you listening Mr. Biden?

    I don’t doubt, by most any measure, tRump is the worst president ever, but comparing him to presidents long ago is problematic, and doesn’t really matter. We cannot let this man be re-elected.

  18. Today, just a couple of hours ago, I experienced what might be cause for some hope. I had a longish conversation with an acquaintance I’d characterize as a model Trump supporter. He initiated the conversation. It was about Trump, the coronavirus crisis and Trump’s handling of it. He has changed his mind about Trump! Apparently Trump’s handling of this crisis so far is the lever that moved him.

    I wonder how many Trumpers might have a change of heart like my acquaintance? If even just 10% of his persistent base changed their minds, and stayed changed for at least as long as the election, that could be a big help.

  19. There is obviously a lot of recency and personal bias here.

    Is he worse than Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan who pushed for the Dred Scott decisions, did not stop Bloody Kansas and generally made decisions that led to the Civil War? Is he worse than Warren Harding whose corruption is legendary? Is he worse than Hoover who incompetence extended the Great Depression? Is he worse that Nixon who had Watergate, stagflation, race riots and Vietnam war as the highlights of his administration? Is he worse than Benjamin Harrison who raised tariffs leading to the Panic of 1893?

    In 50 years, it is likely he will be considered one of the 10 worst presidents but I doubt he will be in the bottom 5. We have had horrible presidents before and survived. We will survive his 8 years battered but resilient.

    1. Nixon was awful. But he at least had a base level of competency — and an understanding of the norms and traditions that undergird American democracy — that Donald Trump utterly lacks.

      Plus, with Nixon, we never had to worry that his loyalties to the United States were compromised by foreign entanglements (financial or otherwise) as we must with Trump.

      You’re being perilously naive with regard to the further damage that Donald Trump — freed from the need even to run again for reelection — would wreak upon this Republic were he to be elected to another four-year term.

      1. I’ll never forget being 8 years old and seeing the shamed expression on Nixon’s face as he read his resignation speech and admitted he had made some wrong decisions. Trump is neurologically incapable of visiting such a mental state.

        1. Nixon had his mental demons — paranoia and Trumpian levels of resentment among them. But he had none of Trump’s narcissism or non-stop bullshittery. Nixon’s Quaker momma and poppa had raised him up always to demonstrate public humility.

      1. Out of over 80 other comments, I believe the most positive is mirandaga saying he is the second worst president ever. That sounds like a bias to me.

        Ken Kukec posted a link to the best and worst presidents and Reagan was ranked 9th best and yet several people people are mentioning him as close to the bottom (mirandaga is the exception that praises him.) That sounds like anti-Republican bias to me.

        1. When someone is so obviously such an appalling human being and awful leader it’s impossible for a group of people to pass reasonable judgement on them without it looking ‘biased’.

          The truth is that people agree about this not because they’re biased but because his awfulness is so overwhelmingly, completely undeniable.

          1. Trump is bad and people here are biased. These are not mutually exclusive. Reagan is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 presidents because he helped bring about the end of the Soviet Union and yet here are quotes about him:
            “Then Ronald Reagan was elected – it can’t possibly get worse”
            “From Eisenhower to Nixon to Reagan to Bush II to Trump—it’s like devolution in action.”
            “Trump is palpably worse than any President I’ve known in my lifetime, and I’ve lived through Nixon, W., and Reagan.”

            When Reagan left office, I did not like him. When the Soviet Union fell, I realized my mistake. He was the best president of my lifetime (followed by Bill Clinton.) I have my biases but they are not partisan.

            Here are the first three presidential ranking I found and Reagan is in the top 10 in each.

            1. First of all you claim it’s evidence of bias to believe he’s the worst president of all time – which most people here do indeed believe.

              Now you’re saying commenters are biased because they don’t agree with you that Reagan is one of the best presidents.

              …But AFAICT only a few people have even commented on Reagan’s ranking. Most of the comments have been about Trump. So on what basis does the handful of people who think Reagan was not a good president demonstrate some kind of bias among commenters?

              1. I am biased. Towards reality. Trump really is a strong contender for worst POTUS ever. When there is a wide consensus among historians of all political leanings, that’s pretty good support the claim. Of course there is much, much more support.

  20. Strikes me as unfair to compare tRUMP with
    Herbert Hoover. The Great Depression caught President Hoover unaware, but I don’t think Hoover was known to be an infantile narcissist or a congenital liar. In the narcissism arena, the first name that comes to mind is Charles 1 of England. This association then led me to a second thought.

    Maybe utter incompetence at the top, with its consequent elevation of ass-kissers and frauds in the power-structure, might be a significant precondition for the outbreak of revolution. Think of Louis XVI of France or Николай II of Russia. Hmmm.

    1. I don’t think Charles I was anywhere as narcissistic as Trump (and if my court painter was van Dyck I’d have my portrait painted a lot too). And Charles was also a better executive—his years of “personal rule” were fairly prosperous ones. He came undone not just because he was an absolutist, but because the UK was religiously fractured and had problems in government dating back to the end of Elizabeth’s reign that weren’t put to bed until the Glorious Revolution.

  21. It seems Trump is becoming a scapegoat for his own Presidency, when it merely revealed American politics through him. It’s unexplainable how Republicans denied a Supreme Court vacancy pick, and got away with it. It‘s unexplainable why Ivanka was representing the USA in the G20 gathering, and how it comes that Trump’s sons (/ in law) have important functions in the White House; how a televangelist is a President’s “spiritual adviser”, someone who prayed January that “satanic pregnancies” should lead to miscarriages. How he is a President who spends weekends in his own resorts, so that tax money in millions is paid into his own pockets to house the entourage that travels with him. I could go on forever with random facts like these.

    Astonishingly, there is zero accountability or any kind of serious pressure by a public, or political opponents. The public may not even exist. It’s such marginalized that it doesn’t matter. The US public, intellectuals and all may be yelling at clouds; who cares?

    Most of the items I’ve listed would make a third world country look outlandish. But that’s the actual USA. It would be a serious mistake in judgment to put this all on Trump.

    This easy route, I’m sure, is the preferred narrative by any conservative or libertarian think-tank when everything is said and done, and the money was made. Take the money from Trump’s tax break they wanted too, vehemently, but when he’s disposable and the bill comes in, put it on his tab.

    I don’t trust conservatives likes Max Boot. Blaming Trump will be their next trick to eschew responsibility and accountability, and Trump may end up being just their most high profile useful idiot.

    Trump may be the worst President ever, but his enablers and the systems they’ve built will outlast him.

    1. Yes — I am also astonished at how rarely it’s mentioned that Trump is propped up by people far smarter and immeasurably more capable than he is, and are clearly using him as a cover for dismantling the organs of state, while half the public looks on and cheers. And the political opposition still hasn’t figured out a way of countering his rhetoric (or even entering the same ballpark), for fear of appearing to call his followers deplorable or stupid.

      Germany forced its president (Christian Wulff) to resign (different role, obviously to the US), because he screamed into a journalist’s answering machine and got investigated for not declaring a loan his wife got, which he wasn’t legally obliged to declare but was expected to. (And invented a new verb — wulffen: to yell into someone’s answering machine.)

  22. Trump is certainly the worst human being to hold the presidency, being an amoral grifter with no competence in governing. On the other hand, before the virus came his incompetence in limited the damage he could cause. A more competent Republican would have gotten Obamacare repealed and interfered even further with the good economy bequeathed by Obama.

    Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus will cost many lives, but until we know the final body count I think G.W. Bush will remain the worst modern President. His administration ignored warnings about 9/11, inflicted the Great Recession, and started a war that destabilized the world and led to the loss of thousands (probably millions) of lives.

    The near-steady decrease in the honor, intelligence, and morals of Republican Presidents has been frightening. From Eisenhower to Nixon to Reagan to Bush II to Trump—it’s like devolution in action. Who knows what sort of depraved monster will come next?

    1. “Trump is certainly the worst human being to hold the presidency”: do you mean he’s better than the Thetans?

      1. I was trying to make a distinction between being the worst person to be president and being the worst president. Considering his character and vices, Trump is the worst person to have become President. He is much less intelligent than Nixon and even more incompetent than Buchanan.

        But being the worst person to have been a President does not equal being the worst President. It’s quite possible Trump will soon become both, but at the moment it’s GW Bush who has caused more damage to the US and the world.

        1. I appreciate the distinction you make, revelator60. Yes, the two could well converge sometime soon.

  23. The worst president of the United States? D.J.Trump without a doubt. He and his enablers are a rapacious cancer set upon destroying its host. GROG

  24. The more interesting question is how does he compare and rank with a smorgasborg of sinister historical villains.

    1. You mean how would he rate if he posed with a cat on his lap and stroked it with his tiny hands? He doesn’t strike me as an ailurophile, so he would be amongst the worst of the worst, without any redeeming features.

  25. Trump is a vulgarian with delusions of grandeur, with a weasel-like instinct into how to attack the jugular of whatever opponent at hand. To consider this wretched charlatan as out-right evil, or as somehow a Master of how best invidiously to manipulate a certain segment of public opinion, is to debase the coinage of true malevolence.

  26. The President of the United States publicly just recently mocked and insulted the Vice President of the United States for evading a reporter’s question— in front of the Press Corp and a live at-home audience.

    Trump is just a Celebrity Game Show Host, riffing and roasting anyone or anything that comes into his orbit— staff, windmills, even dead people.

    We’ve never really had a President.

  27. I can only speak about the ones I’ve known, but Trump is by far the worst President of my lifetime, and I agree that he’s the worst human being to occupy the office.

  28. Certainly can make the case that FDR made the error when there were warning signs about the Japanese, a failure in intelligence that they dispatched an entire fleet across the pacific, Pearl Harbor was unprepared and asleep on that Sunday morning. For Trump there were warning signs, the supply chain for masks and ventilators were outsourced overseas, previous outbreaks of Ebola and H1N1 were contained, press and Dems had country fast focused on impeachment which looked like a charade they jumped into after failed Russia collusion and Mueller. Trump supporters say he acted with China ban though this wasn’t a containable outbreak from an African country with few Westerners except for a few missionaries. Virus badly infected NYC metro because of visitors from Europe as well that had an outbreak. Trump supporters say he is trying to reverse effects of globalism which surrenders our supply chains. Hydroxycloraquine may be effective but scientists need to explain that this is an anti-inflammatory, not a mysterious magic pill. Governors do need to take responsibility because they oversee enforcement in their entities down to law enforcement and hospital management. In spite of his shortcomings, Trump still has a strong case.

    1. We must remember that they didn’t have satellites back then. It was possible for a fleet to leave port (and probably be seen doing so) but then be lost until they get near Pearl Harbor. There were failures in ignoring radar (what good is it if its operators are going to blow everything off as birds?) and, assuming it was practical, round the clock flights around Hawaii. Not having so many ships in harbor might have helped. Seems like the failures were below the level a President would normally deal with.

      1. True but we did have people who could have been in Japan observing their military movements but like 911 and the suspicious flight school students etc. not connecting the dots. But by my post I’m painting a picture of Trumpamerica. The dems have more ammo for another impeachment but Teflon Don’s Fox and Friends Redamerica go to church on Sunday instead of watch Meet The Press or read The Sunday NY Times.

        1. I was assuming we would have known when a ship or a fleet left a Japanese port or navy base. It has been standard for centuries to have spies report on these things. I’m equally sure that any country would assume the same for its enemies. However, it was difficult or impossible to know where they go after that until we got satellites to monitor such things.

          If you are hinting that it would not make sense for the Dems to try impeaching Trump again, I’m with you there. They had one shot and did their best. Another attempt would just feed into the GOP’s story that the Dems only agenda is deep Trump hatred. Perhaps that’s right but no need to make it easy for them to deliver another defeat.

          1. Sadly this thread underscores the explanatory gap between the two sides which may not be as real as the info both sides feed it. Who is the Trump voter? Start with they are older and male or chances are they are property owners with families who can already afford their traditional American dream. Trump is more from the old 20th Century America for example when minorities were “undesirable” mainly in Trump’s high end real estate business because their presence lowered property values. In today’s America that isn’t true and I think property ownership equates with education, not race or national origin. The racism, bigotry and homophobia are a residual of that old America. Some of those Trump voters have members of their extended family and work family in those groups. Just download a high school yearbook from a suburb in the 1960’s and compare to this year’s.
            My theory is Beto’s “you bet” when discussing the confiscation of war weapons. The tautology is a gun is property itself used to protect property. Property and ownership pride is an American mindset the braggadocios real estate developer President knows well.

            1. Your approach is acceptable as a history lesson but, IMHO, we should avoid cultural relativism when thinking about their problems. Just because they share a common vision of who’s to blame for their woes, doesn’t mean they’re right or that we should respect that opinion. Their job loss is real, of course, and politicians need to address that but we have to avoid accepting their social baggage. I get where their fear of immigrants comes from but they’re simply wrong about most of it. I get their love of guns, although I don’t share it, but they’re wrong.

      2. The U.S.’s good fortune that the aircraft carriers were at sea, the incapacitation of which a major Japanese goal.

        1. Some may say it was no coincidence they were being protected by the US. Likewise the Japanese knew they could launch a counterattack on their attack aand fleet. Or may have been neither. Chances are Japanese espionage observed their movement.

    2. “Trump supporters say he is trying to reverse effects of globalism which surrenders our supply chains.”

      Maybe I’m missing something. Are you referring to supply chains (of masks and other protective gear) extending to the other side of the planet? To the extent that these supply chains so extend, and are fragile as evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic, did the U.S. not willfully surrender them?

      1. I don’t think the government willfully surrendered them since it’s normal global business chasing low cost manufacturing and open markets. Truth is Chinese citizens have been using millions of these masks for years in their heavily air polluted cities. Proper pandemic planning by us may have corrected this and given us a stockpile along with ventilators.

        1. “I don’t think the government willfully surrendered them since it’s normal global business chasing low cost manufacturing and open markets.”

          Probably made easier by U.S. corporate demigods and lobbyists sufficiently greasing the Congressional palm, particularly that part casting a shadow over U.S. textile industry “human capital.”

          “Truth is Chinese citizens have been using millions of these masks for years in their heavily air polluted cities.”

          In 2009 a McClatchy newspaper gleefully noted (I have the clipping) that as of then China (pop. ~ 1 B) had surpassed the U.S. ~300 M) in total production of greenhouse gases, conveniently neglecting to point out that not a little of that was due to manufacturing on behalf of U.S. businesses, and, neglecting to note that the U.S. per capita production remained much higher. (No doubt that has changed the last 11 years.) I’m sure U.S. corporations are in sackcloth and ashes over the pollution in China. Perhaps if U.S. citizens were willing to so wear masks we would have kept our industry here.

          “Proper pandemic planning by us may have corrected this and given us a stockpile along with ventilators.”

          As it is, shortages and sacred market forces are upping the cost and depriving those in need. (As someone said elsewhere, “the invisible fist.”)

    Constantly calling the man stupid, unscientific etc. is a misnomer. The guy along with his wealthy friends make it a point to give money to hospitals and medical research. To build his skyscrapers, he depended on professional engineers, architects, accountants and others. As I said he believes in the old America of innovation and business leadership. The real question is how do we get from Trump’s old America to the new America and keep all sides together. It’s ok to attack Trump but don’t denigrate his supporters and fuel this false divide.

  30. Everyone above mentioning Herbert Hoover in this context, pls read his three-part autobiography and then come back here.

  31. That’s a pretty easy yes. Trump isn’t even trying to be president. He is a constant tangerine tantrum. All he knows how to do is sow chaos.

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