People love lists, good or bad, rich and poor, best and worst. Who’s on first? What’s the score? Who’s number one?
The three greatest American presidents were George Washington (Federalist, 1789-97), Abraham Lincoln (Republican/National Union, 1861-65), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat, 1933-45).
Here are the dregs, my unlucky 13 worst, a baker’s dirty dozen.
- Franklin Pierce, Democrat (1853-57). An ancestor of No. 2 George Walker Bush, he remains the only president not re-nominated by his own party. Spent most of his term dead drunk.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61, Republican). He allowed the Dulles brothers to run wild and begin a still cancerous-pattern of overthrowing the elected governments of small countries like Guatemala, Iran and so many more. The term “Ugly American” was coined for the Dulles dullards.
- A tie between Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-69), and unaffiliated John Adams (1797-1801). Johnson’s domestic record (The War on Poverty) is second only to Franklin Roosevelt’s. His downfall was the Vietnam War which still haunts and weakens America today. Adams was Johnson’s mirror image. He pushed the Alien and Sedition Acts which allowed him to imprison any critic of the government. On the other hand, he settled our undeclared war with France, something Johnson could not do.
- Warren G. Harding (1921-23, Republican). Had he not conveniently died, he would have been impeached, convicted and removed from office for wholesale corruption.
- James Buchanan, Democrat (1857-61) who did little or nothing to avoid the Civil War.
- Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921, Democrat). Re-elected on his anti-war promise, then promptly got us into World War One. He also jailed lots of uppity women who wanted the right to vote as well as many of his critics.
- Andrew Jackson, Democrat (1829-37). The genocidal general is Number One’s favorite. Jackson loved killing both Indians and the future. Because the Bank of the United States would not loan him money for his plantation, he destroyed it when he became president. The lack of a central bank hurt the US economy for decades. Like Number One, everything was a personal reaction. Policy and propriety mattered not at all.
- Richard Milhous Nixon (1969-74, Republican). Yes, he really was a crook who, with war criminal Henry Kissinger, intentionally prolonged the Vietnam War for five years. But he also signed some beneficial liberal policies into law including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Harry S. Truman (1945-53, Democrat). He caved to French President Charles de Gaulle and double-crossed Ho Chi Minh by giving Vietnam back to France because the Michelin Tire and Rubber Company wanted its rubber plantations back. He also nuked Japan because he couldn’t tell that his generals were lying to him and wanted to play with their new toy.
- Andrew Johnson (1865-68 Republican/National Union; 1868-69 Democrat ). Lincoln’s greatest mistake was making this guy VP. His racism led to a century of Jim Crow which left us with the racist hangover of slavery which still metastasizes today. Missed conviction and removal by one senator’s vote.
- George Walker Bush (2001-2009, Republican) and his shadow president Richard Cheney lied us into two middle eastern wars which will plague us for at least the next century.
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL. NUMERO UNO: He Who Must Not Be Named (2017-present, sorta Republican). That cancer thrives on publicity, so why grant him more?
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: Hiram Ulysses Grant (1869-77, Republican). Like Eisenhower, a war hero who was a lousy administrator and presided over perhaps the third most-corrupt administration until number two Harding and our current monarch.
Millard Fillmore (1850-53. Whig) Considered by some the Jude the Obscure of presidents. But hey, he got a comic strip about a conservative duck named after him. Used to run in this newspaper back when we could afford such things.
William Henry Harrison, March 4, 1841 -April 4, 1841. Ole General Tippecanoe made a long-winded inaugural speech in frigid DC weather, caught pneumonia and croaked.
Herbert Hoover (1929-33, Republican). An otherwise able public servant who made the mistake of listening to his patrician treasury secretary, Andrew W. Mellon, who said the wondrous invisible hand of the free market would automatically fix the Great Depression.
Ronald Reagan (1981-89, Republican). Misrepresenting his health, he was our first Alzheimer’s president, thus making Nancy Reagan the second woman president. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson served when her husband suffered a stroke.
George H.W. Bush (1989-93, Republican) for marrying Franklin Pierce’s descendant, Barbara Pierce, and giving us No. 2 as well as several wars.
PRAY FOR KENNY. Retired firefighter and former Reno-Sparks NAACP President Kenny Dalton just underwent kidney transplant surgery. Say a prayer for him. Updates will be posted with this column at NevadaLabor.com and at RenoSparksNAACP.org/
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 50-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail email@example.com Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.