Historians: Six presidents worse than Bush
Rachel Oswald
Published: Monday February 16, 2009

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Devoted Bush bashers will be surprised to learn that despite what they may think of No. 43ís presidency, according to a survey of historians, George W. Bush is in fact, not the worst POTUS ever Ė heís only the 7th worst.

The honor of worst American president ever this Presidentís Day goes to James Buchanan, who directly preceded Abraham Lincoln as president and who is largely blamed for not doing enough to prevent the Civil War.

To commemorate Presidentís Day, C-SPAN updated its yearly survey of historiansí rankings of past commanders-in-chief.

Not surprisingly Abraham Lincoln was ranked as the best president of all time, followed by George Washington. FDR, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and JFK round out the Top 5.

Among George W. Bushís most ardent critics he is commonly referred to as the worst president ever. A USA Today/Gallup poll,conducted in mid-January this year, found only 34 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing as president.

Bush has received the worst approval ratings of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll. In September, right when the financial markets first imploded, his approval rating sank to 19 percent, according to one poll.

The second worst president ever award, according to C-SPAN, goes to Lincolnís successor, Andrew Johnson, the first president ever to be impeached. Rounding out the bottom ranking presidents are Franklin Pierce in 40th place, William Henry Harrison in 39th place and Warren G. Harding in 38th place.

More than 60 historians and professional observers of the American presidency contributed to C-SPAN's 2009 survey.

Ronald Reagan beat out his two immediate successors, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, for the No. 10 slot. Clinton received a ranking of 15 and Bush senior a ranking of 18.

Somewhat surprisingly, Richard Nixon was not ranked in the bottom quarter percentile. He managed a just mediocre ranking of 27. Though Nixon remains best known in the American public mind for the Watergate scandal, he does receive points from historians and foreign policy experts for his work improving relations with China and the Soviet Union.

Jimmy Carter only did slightly better than Nixon this year with a ranking of 25 (down three places from 2000).

Rankings for Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Reagan have all improved over the years, though Clinton has improved his rankings the most. From 2000 to 2009, Clinton advanced from a ranking of No. 21 to a ranking of No. 15. In that same time frame George H.W. Bush improved his rankings by two slots, moving from No. 20 to No. 18 while Reagan advanced by one ranking to No. 10 from No. 11.

George Washington received the highest ranking of any president in the category of international relations (George W. Bush received the second-worst ranking). Washington also beat out Honest Abe for the No. 1 ranking in moral authority (in this category Clinton came in 37th place).

Clinton did however come in third place behind Washington and Lincoln respectively in the category of economic management (George W. Bush came in 40th place here).

"Bill Clinton and Ulysses S. Grant aren't often mentioned in the same sentence - until now," said historian Richard Norton Smith to ABC News. "Participants in the latest C-SPAN survey of presidential historians have boosted each man significantly higher than in the original survey conducted in 2000. All of which goes to show two things: the fluidity with which presidential reputations are judged, and the difficulty of assessing any president who has only just recently left office."