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Washington Post editorials debate if Bush is worst president ever

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Ron Brynaert
Published: Sunday December 3, 2006

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Five editorials in Sunday's edition of The Washington Post argue whether or not George W. Bush is the worst president ever.

As Editor & Publisher notes, "The Washington Post editorial page has been a strong backer of the Iraq war from the beginning," and the five editorials "may set off an intriguing debate, pro and con."

In one editorial, Michael Lind, a Whitehead senior fellow at the New America Foundation, argues that it's "unfair" to call Bush the worst, since the policies of presidents James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and James Madison "were even more disastrous."

"By contrast, George W. Bush has inadvertently destroyed only Baghdad, not Washington, and the costs of the Iraq war in blood and treasure are far less than those of Korea and Vietnam," Lind writes.

"He's Only Fifth Worst" by Michael Lind can be read at this link.

Rutgers University professor David Greenberg agrees that Bush ranks ahead of Nixon, but adds that "it's conceivable that the consequences of the invasion of Iraq may prove more destructive than those of Nixon's stubborn continuation of the Vietnam War."

"Should those things happen, Bush will be able to lay a claim to the mantle of U.S. history's worst president," Greenberg writes. "For now, though, I'm sticking with Dick."

"At Least He's Not Nixon" by David Greenberg can be read at this link.

On the other hand, University of Massachusetts professor Vincent J. Cannato, believes that it's too early to tell, and slams the "left-leaning historical profession" for rushing to judgement.

"Much of Bush's legacy will rest on the future trajectory of the fight against terrorism, the nation's continued security and the evolving direction of the Middle East," Cannato writes. "Things may look grim today, but that doesn't ensure a grim future."

Cannato admits that he "worked briefly as a speechwriter in 2001" for the Bush Administration.

"Time's On His Side" by Vincent J. Cannato can be read at this link.

The last two contributors both rank Bush at the bottom.

Columbia University professor Eric Foner notes that although it's "impossible to say with certainty how Bush will be ranked in, say, 2050...somehow, in his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors."

"I think there is no alternative but to rank him as the worst president in U.S. history," Foner writes.

"He's The Worst Ever" by Eric Foner can be read at this link.

But historian and author Douglas Brinkley isn't ready to commit to Bush being the absolute worst, though he believes that he "has joined Hoover as a case study on how not to be president."

"Though Bush may be viewed as a laughingstock, he won't have the zero-integrity factors that have kept Nixon and Harding at the bottom in the presidential sweepstakes," Brinley writes.

"Move Over, Hoover" by Douglas Brinkley can be read at this link.