Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Times US presidential rankings - the 10 worst to have held office.

The London Times have started a project to name each of America's presidents in order of greatness starting with the worst and working their way along to name who they regard as the greatest.

The poll of American historians have named James Buchanan as the worst for his failure to prevent the American civil war.

But at joint 37th place they have named Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Nixon for his role in Watergate and Bush for the obvious reason of the illegal invasion of Iraq.

"Bush Jr. invaded Iraq based on faulty intelligence and then catastrophically mismanaged the war, dragging America's name through the mud." Chris Ayres, Los Angeles correspondent.
I have to say that I think this judgement is rather harsh on Nixon. For all his cynicism and manipulation, Nixon opened China, the Soviet Union and, eventually, ended the Vietnam war. If one made up a list of positives and negatives, it was at least possible to list some achievements on Nixon's page in a way that is simply impossible to do when it comes to Bush.

I well remember when Bush announced his Israel/Palestine road map thinking that it would be ironic if we would have to one day sing his praises for achieving peace in the Middle East but, despite being the first ever US president to publicly call for a state of Palestine, his interest in the subject withered and the situation on the ground has actually worsened under his presidency.

I actually can't think of a single positive thing to say about his presidency.

Looking at this period of history from British perspective one can say that Blair at least had the stunning achievement of a Northern Ireland peace treaty which, whilst overshadowed by his disgraceful participation in the invasion of Iraq, will nevertheless give historians one gleaming jewel to point to when assessing his time in office.

There is no equivalent for Bush that I can think of. So I think Tricky Dicky is being treated rather harshly by these historians when they put him and Bush at a tied 37th place. I would say that, bad as Nixon was, he wasn't actually as bad as Bush and he deserves to have Bush one point beneath him in any scale of awfulness.

There is an equivalence to the way in which they both governed, both believing that their presidency rendered any action they took legal simply on the grounds that they were the president, but that's about as far as the comparison goes.

Nixon was a sly, cunning, manipulative and paranoid man, but there can be no doubting that he possessed intellect. Nixon planned, he schemed. He devised great plans meticulously in his yellow legal notebooks.

Bush preferred to eschew thought and rely, instead, on his gut. He looked into people's eyes and flattered himself that he could see their souls. Indeed, he became the perfect representative of the Republican party's war on intellectualism.

Compared to Nixon, Bush is simply a thuggish boor.

I never thought I'd say it, but that's not fair on Tricky Dicky.

Click title for source.

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