Breaking News: Barack Obama May Not Be History’s Worst President

 

At least that’s what Gail Collins is telling us over at the New York Times. Because it really takes time for the historians to sort these things out. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

After all, Warren Harding is remembered as one of the worst presidents in history, and he was… well… probably not as bad as Andrew Johnson. Right? Hey, did you know that he wrote intimate letters to his wife’s good friend, who may also have been a German spy? Isn’t that totally the coolest thing ever?

Believe it or not, that’s a reasonably fair summary of the argument Collins made in her most recent column.

So, if that’s the kind of defense you’re currently getting from people who pulled out all the stops to drag you over the electoral finish line, you know your presidency is going awesome.

Harding is an interesting choice, because he is largely remembered for the nasty scandals that took place in his administration, most notably the Teapot Dome scandal. I find it interesting to reflect on what history will most remember from this administration. Might Barack Obama be in the running for the most corrupt president in US history? (I’m not historically savvy enough to comment on that, but I’d be interested in hearing more knowledgeable opinions.)

Will Obama be remembered for irreparably eroding our respected place in the world (and in the process destabilizing the world)? For exploding our health care system? Or, maybe we’ll somehow manage to put health care back together and it’ll be his toll on education that will be remembered? Or will his legacy be, as Peter speculated in the last podcast, his success in reducing the Judeo-Christian faiths to a persecuted and harried moral minority?

Oh wait! I’ve got it. Healthy school lunches! That’ll be the Obama legacy.

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  1. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Rachel,

    As long as Barack the Magic Dragon has his hand on all of the Grant Money historians are not likely to say much.  Once his capability of crippling your academic career is no longer operative, you can expect it to rain criticism.

    It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
  2. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    It’s rather a sad commentary on one’s career when one is in the running for “Not Last Place.”

    • #2
  3. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I’m such a sucker, I actually read the Gail Collins column.  Well, skimmed it.  That’s 3 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.  But yes, from “The One” to “Maybe Not the Worst One” in the estimation of an in-the-tank journolist has-been like Collins is a big comedown.  It’s gratifying indeed.

    • #3
  4. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    He might be remembered for finally ending the Cold War with his reset button.

    • #4
  5. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    C. U. Douglas:

    It’s rather a sad commentary on one’s career when one is in the running for “Not Last Place.”

    That about covers it.  It is amazing the length these folks will go to in order to defend their guy.  

    • #5
  6. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Well at least he still has one fan left:

    In 2008, when Obama was elected, our country was in the tank. Now we’ve got universal health care, an unemployment rate so low it never comes up on the Sunday chat shows, and a stock market that’s nearly doubled in value since Inauguration Day 2009.

    Obama is intellectually gifted and a man of great integrity. What he lacks is conniving and treachery skills, which is not the case with many of the politicians he has to deal with in Washington. On a scale of 1 to 10 for honesty and principle, the Washington crowd ranks below 3 and Obama scores a 10.

    We Americans have a great president, and sharing ratings with the younger Bush and Tricky Dick is the ultimate insult.

    His problem is that he’s just too honest and principled for his own good.  No, seriously, why are you laughing?

    • #6
  7. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    Merina Smith:

    I’m such a sucker, I actually read the Gail Collins column. Well, skimmed it. That’s 3 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. But no, from “The One” to “Maybe Not the Worst One” in the estimation of an in-the-tank journolist has-been like Collins is a big comedown. It’s gratifying indeed.

     True story: I clicked on the link by mistake, and was then mad that I had wasted one of my ten NYT links on a dopey Gail Collins piece. But then I read it and was sort of pleased that an Obama apologist was now offering up, “Obama may just be misunderstood. History will rehabilitate him like it has… Warren Harding.” Nice.

    • #7
  8. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Does it really matter if he’s the worst or the second worst?  Can’t we just compromise and say he’s terrible?

    Actual, this sort of historical comparison is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.  It’s hard enough comparing presidents within living memory where you faced all kinds of different challenges.  Then, we heap upon that most people’s historical ignorance of presidents before their time.  Most people don’t know the policies of Franklin Pierce or Zachary Taylor, never mind being able to compare them in any meaningful way to Obama.

    And then to top it off, the biases that going into even educated people’s knowledge of presidents.  If we talking about Warren G. Harding and not Woodrow Wilson, you might want to consider how much you know about the presidents is influenced by liberal bias in the academy.

    At best,this is a combination of parlor game and a rough gauge with a wide margin of error.

    Anyway, how do you know that he hasn’t yet done the thing he will be most remembered for?

    • #8
  9. george.tobin@yahoo.com Moderator
    george.tobin@yahoo.com
    @OldBathos

    I am ashamed that we all let Obama down.  The fairy dust was in place, the ruby slippers clicking live on major networks and all we had to do was wish harder and believe and we failed.

    The Pulitzer will go to the first one to write an Obama biography about how he did everything right but circumstances and a flawed nation let him down.  Instead of worst, he will be unluckiest. So darned unfair!  And racist!

    He was not a grossly under-qualified, rather small man further crippled by a sophomoric, dated lefty ideology but a visionary that the illuminati among us were wise to support.  It’s just the sheer unfairness of it all.

    You may laugh, but the same people who say that Reagan and Thatcher were minor players in the Gorbachev drama that ended the Cold War, that the New Deal saved the economy (rather than slowed recovery) and that Adlai Stevenson was a great intellect unlike dim bulb Dwight Eisenhower will rally to paint Obama as victim of the sheer meanness of white people and the failure of Muslims and Russians to see a friend where they really had one. So unfair!

    • #9
  10. user_604199 Member
    user_604199
    @SwanningintheBeltway

    Setting aside the fact that Gail Collins is spinning history to suit her party.  Something this administration regularly does.  I would like to cite the example of James Buchanan (D-PA), 1857-1861.  In spite of his northern birth he was highly sympathetic to the Southern cause, supported the illegally instituted Lecompton Constitution which tried to violently spread slavery to Kansas despite the residents wishes.  Buchanan totally mismanaged the simmering secessionist sentiment leading up to Lincoln’s election.  He also tried to sway the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the defendant during the famous Dred Scott case. During the secession winter of 1860 he opposed military efforts to stop secession and gave the Confederacy a head start in preparation for war leaving Lincoln with a far worse military situation. He had a wide opportunity to protect Federal Arsenals and forts across the south from being seized and their arms falling in the hands of the new Confederate States leading to a much worse conflict.

    • #10
  11. user_11047 Inactive
    user_11047
    @barbaralydick

    Old Bathos: I am ashamed that we all let Obama down. The fairy dust was in place, the ruby slippers clicking live on major networks and all we had to do was wish harder and believe and we failed.

     Priceless.  In fact, your whole piece is a winner!

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Breaking News: Barack Obama May Not Be History’s Worst President

    Gail Collins may not be history’s worst political commentator.

    But she’s on the short list.

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Obama is the first unpatriotic President. I might put Wilson into that slot, but he at least was a nationalist. Obama was weaned on the milk of post-modernism to such a degree the man does not like America, and does not like Americans. Heck, he does not like the work of being President. 

    I don’t care about his polices, but the man is just a lousy American. He is not a patriot at all. Even Hillary Clinton believes in America.

    • #13
  14. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    hoo boy.  Obama will likely be remembered “officially” as America’s first black president.  Everything else will be washed away until such a time as the media (and yes, I’m including biographers) feels that it can be honest without being racist.  I honestly cannot think of anything good to say about Obama, and if he was white, he would be unilaterally declared the worst president we’ve ever had….  of course, he’d have never been elected in the first place.

    Please let the first female president be a republican so she can be judged on her merits.  Well…  not that they would do that, but at least it wouldn’t be a free pass.

    • #14
  15. tabula rasa Inactive
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    Gail is correct that a bit of historical perspective is important before we can make a “final” assessment of a president.  Calvin Coolidge looks better all the time.

    On the other hand, I can’t think of a single accomplishment that will be the hook for a historical reassessment.  Jobs?  No.  Debt?  No, no.  Foreign policy?  Not unless “feckless,” “naive,” and “ineffective” suddenly become the next generation’s new virtues.  Health care?  No way, no how.  Uniting the country? He loves the idea in the abstract, but it can only happen in his universe when we all agree with him.  Immigration?  Unlikely.  Transparency?  The glass through which we view the government has never been more opaque.

    He stinks as a president today and is on track to become the twenty-first century challenger to James Buchanan as the worst ever.

    He has an edge.  Buchanan only screwed the country up for four years.

    • #15
  16. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Whether or not he is the worst president ever is irrelevant. Harding, however, is “remembered” that way because of the progressive bias of so many doing the remembering. In reality, Harding rescued the American economy from now forgotten depression after the war and cut back greatly Wilson era spending and government regulation.

    • #16
  17. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    kylez:

    Whether or not he is the worst president ever is irrelevant. Harding, however, is “remembered” that way because of the progressive bias of so many doing the remembering. In reality, Harding rescued the American economy from now forgotten depression after the war and cut back greatly Wilson era spending and government regulation.

     And had a thing for (maybe) a German spy. Don’t forget about that!

    Seriously, that’s interesting though. 

    • #17
  18. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    tabula rasa:

    Gail is correct that a bit of historical perspective is important before we can make a “final” assessment of a president. Calvin Coolidge looks better all the time.

    On the other hand, I can’t think of a single accomplishment that will be the hook for a historical reassessment. 

    I’ve always said that the only good thing about Obama is his voice. He does have a very good, sonorous, impressive voice.

    My husband says that he would have been quite a good TV president. If he’d stuck to that, we’d probably all like him fine.

    • #18
  19. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    tabula rasa:  Calvin Coolidge looks better all the time.

     
    TR, Coolidge has always looked good! In the meantime, BHO will take a distinct place in American history as the only president who willfully and purposefully worked to weaken the country.

    • #19
  20. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    EThompson:

    tabula rasa:
    In the meantime, BHO will take a distinct place in American history as the only president who willfully and purposefully worked to weaken the country.

     He is apparently trying to get Elizabeth Warren to run for president.  If elected, he won’t even hold the distinction as the only one.

    • #20
  21. Ralphie Inactive
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    If Obama had just voted present, he’d have been a better president.

    • #21
  22. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Rachel Lu:

    kylez:

    Whether or not he is the worst president ever is irrelevant. Harding, however, is “remembered” that way because of the progressive bias of so many doing the remembering. In reality, Harding rescued the American economy from now forgotten depression after the war and cut back greatly Wilson era spending and government regulation.

    And had a thing for (maybe) a German spy. Don’t forget about that!

    Seriously, that’s interesting though.

     i’ve never heard that, and when you mentioned it above wasn’t sure you meant Harding. i’ll have to look it up.

    • #22
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