Monday, February 16, 2009

Hail to the Chief

If you're a government worker or somebody who works for a bank, today's a big deal. It's President's Day. When I was a kid, there was no such thing. I recall celebrating--or at least being cognizant of--Lincoln's birthday on February 12. President's Day is a modern contraption. But if it's a holiday from work, as it is for the people already mentioned, who cares?

It's not coincidental that C-Span released today the historians' latest presidential ranking poll. I've been fairly consistent, nay, totally consistent in adjudging the 43d president, the vile little pretender who occupied the White House for eight long, disastrous years, as the worst president ever. My fellow historians don't agree, ranking Bush as only the 36th worst president out of 43. Well, this is not the first time I've been in the minority. These rankings are fluid, and one thing interesting to notice about the guys who are at the bottom of the list. Of the six below Bush, four are connected with the Civil War era--the assumption being that they made matters worse during their terms at the most critical time in the nation's history. The other two below Bush both died in office. William Henry Harrison is way down in everybody's opinion, but the poor guy was only in office for a month before he died. Warren G. Harding, president in the early 1920s, was a hack Ohio politician whose administration was corrupt. But he has always had a special place in my affections. Of all the guys who served as president, he's the only one who admitted that the job was too big for him. This was true of a number of others, but they would have never said so.

I have every confidence that as the scope of the economic catastrophe Bush has bequeathed to us, not to mention the similarly catastrophic shape our foreign policy is in, becomes clear, the vile little pretender will sink further. What we're about to undergo as a country is as yet unknown. But all the signs are dire. We've got a lot of suffering ahead of us.
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