Thursday, April 20, 2006

Required reading

It's a lengthy piece, but it's the one everybody's talking about this week. Rolling Stone asks "Worst President in History?" See if you think it makes the case.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rolling Stone hasn't been worth reading in years.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Lindsay Kaye said...

I think I might be the only SMU girl/Texan to agree with this. (I didn't have time to read the entire article, but I definitely agree with the accusation.)

Although they do make the good point that most historians as a whole are rather liberal... but then again, Bush isn't looked too highly upon right now other than the Park Cities crowd.

Before anybody attacks my opinion, I don't doubt that Bush TRIES to be a good president; I'm sure he's a great guy who wants to do his job well. But he's just not.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous lucille said...

I wish I shared Lindsay's opinion that Bush is a good guy who tries. But I go back and forth between deciding he's stupid and deciding he's corrupt. I think he's stupid surrounded by corrupt, which is perhaps the most dangerous combo. But thank god someone has catalogued his failings for a general audience in a mag that isn't overtly political in the way that, say, The Nation might be. Years from now these 8 years (and hopefully only these 8) will be regarded as our fascist era.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this article is a little ahead of its time. It's hard for most Americans to have enough perspective on this to label him the worst. After all, it's been a good while since we've anybody else, and before 2000, we had to deal with the impeachment mess. It's kind of been one scandal after another, tied end to end, for the last 6+ years. People get used to that. I'm sure some young people, many of whom haven't voted in a presidential election without Bush on the ballot, may think, "This isn't the worst. This is just how it is." (Perhaps that's why so many young folks at my university jump to his defense?)

When we get somebody else who does a decent job (in '08, I hope), then I think more people will agree with this assertion. A little perspective will do wonders. I can hear people saying, in ten years, "What the hell were we thinking?" But, for now, the defenses of Bush and the attacks on him have been repeated and rehashed so many times, an article like this will do little to change opinions.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Another SMU student said...

Definitely one of the worst presidents in history.

I always find it odd how people say
". . oh, he's trying his best" or make other excuses for him. Sure, he may not be the most intelligent of beings but he is corrupt, and for that he should not receive excuses and defenses. The men behind him are more corrupt. They have an agenda for greed, power, and domination and as we've seen already, they'll stop at noting to get it.

These men will step on the people who voted them in office. Will provoke wars and civil unrest in countries. . countries with oil and it doesnt hurt that they're usually muslim countries either.

These are definitely dark times in American history and yet no one seems to really care.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Zack said...

Must be about Clinton.

11:07 PM  
Blogger merc said...

You have got to be kidding me.

Worst president in history?

He's got two years left...

As a historian, I find any attempt to paint GW as a great/ good/ average/ poor/ awful/ whatever president mindboggling.

Two whole years left, people.

We certainly don't have the benefit of perspective yet. Heck, it's too early to rate Reagan (in my opinion - give it another decade), much less Bush (41), Clinton or Bush (43)...

Insofar as the comment above by lucille identifying the eight years of GW's presidency as our 'fascist' years...


First off, I suggest you look up what fascism is. Because this country doesn't have it. Secondly, I suggest you refrain from making such elementary slanders. You besmirch every person who had to suffer under fascism (or any other kind of dictatorship for that matter) leading up to, during and after WWII.

But that's just the way I see it.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Merc! Good points about the silliness of rating so soon as well as the definition of facism. I wonder how long before someone trots out the "Bush=Hitler" canard.

Hell, I'm just glad we have a president with balls. The last guy didn't even the guts to screw his intern. Now if he'd just nuke Iran, repeal the Medicare drug plan, and get rid of the AMT, I'd quit pining for Reagan.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

roaring economy, low taxes... wow, it's terrible here in the USA under Bush.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing roaring is the line of SUVs as they rumble away from Exxon after guzzling another $50 tank of gas.

As for the rest of the anonymous post above, I'm just going to let it lie. (No pun intended.) It's better that way. :)

I do agree, however, that it's unfair/inaccurate to judge anybody's job at doing something before they finish. I'd like to think my professors don't grade my eight-page papers after reading only the first six -- or at least not when they've read everybody else's in full.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of it this way: If your professor marks five dozen grammar and spelling errors by the time he/she reaches the sixth page, it's pretty safe to make a guess about the final grade the paper will receive.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True. But that is still not enough evidence to label it the worst paper in history. And that's exactly what this article has tried to do. It may end up being true, but we still can't just skip the last quarter of his presidency.

9:37 PM  
Blogger GrumpyGringo said...

Actually, I often do give up half-way through, especially when I read an education major's writing. I know an F when I see one.

Aside from gas prices, the economy is rockin.
Don't like the gas prices? Then let's drill for oil, build nuke plants, opt for wind power, etc...but the freakin' hippies won't let us. Until the birken-freaks quit bitchin' about the alternatives, we're stuck with imported oil. If you're stupid enough to own an SUV, that's your problem.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Alex Bensky said...

Anyone who gives any credence to the Bush-as-fascist trope simply doesn't know what fascism is. As to what that may be, I heartily recommend A. James Gregor's "The Fascist Persuasion in Radical Politis."

Worst president? Unlikely anyone is going to top Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, for one thing.

I didn't vote for him either, but it would be nice if some of his opponents might mention that having 25 million people out from under the oppression of Saddam Hussein is a good thing.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous KSR said...

Hey Prof,

You seem to be attracting a number of trolls.

I take that as a sure sign of success!

Carry on!

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

I really don't see the other argument... that being Bush ISN'T the worst President in history. Sorry guys, you aren't very convincing.

However, The Rolling Stone should really just change it's title to "Common Sense" and the article should only be 1 sentence long - "President George W. Bush is the worst President in history" instead of once again filling their articles with a bunch of stuff anti-Bush people, well, already know. THat's just my thoughts.

11:20 AM  
Blogger merc said...


So, disagreement=troll?


Common sense?
There are plenty of well-articulated, well-reasoned objections to Rolling Stone's supposed 'common sense' in the blogosphere and on the bookshelf.

I've seen every one of their 'common sense' arguments refuted.

1:01 PM  
Blogger merc said...

Also, why is it the roll of historians to rate presidents' greatness or lack thereof?

I figure a panel of economists, foreign policy experts, military strategy experts, political strategy experts, legal experts and judicial experts as well as historical experts would be more qualified then just a panel of historians.

I'm an historian and an economist by education and it's a rare thing indeed if I run across a fellow historian who understands basic micro- and macroeconomic principles. Yet they feel comfortable critiquing a president's economic policies?

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There used to be lots of History majors, and they used to have to take economics, and historians used to emphasize economics. Now we have 'communications' and 'human development' majors, no one takes economics, and history classes are all about the plight of the 'oppressed.' Why take economics when you can learn about soap operas at TCU?

1:46 PM  
Blogger SuperHolmie said...

My problem with Bush isn't the war. It isn't September 11. Not his kids, wife, dogs, father, any of that.

His administration has completely fucked over public education. Period. I have to work 70 hours+ per week just to keep up with the paperwork created through No Child Left Behind. Honestly. I feel like I've been ass raped by wild reindeer.

What will keep me from voting a Republican ticket ever again is what I've endured as a teacher the past 4 years. I've been too busy with paperwork and nonsense to keep up with oil prices, genocide, AIDS in South Africa, or any other newsworthy topics.

Is he the worst... well, I don't think it is fair to compare him to anyone. Especially the first few presidents, who were in control of a United States VERY different than the one we inhabit.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . .it would be nice if some of his opponents might mention that having 25 million people out from under the oppression of Saddam Hussein is a good thing."

Nice spin. You must work for Bush or you must be absurdly delusional.

Killing 100,000+, maiming and injuring thousands more, having thousands imprisoned for defending their country, and plumeting a country into a devastating civil war. And lets talk about Democracy? There will be none. The US government will but puppets like Muhammed Karzi in Iraq. "Muslim" men who have the same twisted agenda as Bush & Co.

Yes, I can see how with all of those reasons we forget to mention how Bush has "liberated" the Iraqi people from Hussein's oppression. Bush hasn't freed a damn soul, he's systematically hurt a nation of people, and it'll take years and years for them to recover. . . just look at S. America. Didn't we try to "liberate" a few people there?

Stop regurgitating what the mainstream media and your douche bag politicians tell you and grown a brain.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Freedom is for privileged white chicks in London, not brown, poor ones in Baghdad.

Progressives used to stand for freedom and justice, but now they have a deep desire to cuss everything.

Where they once went by the thousands to fight the Fascists of their Age in Spain, they now go by the thousands to Starbucks to cuss Bush over Latte's.

Talk about being co-opted.

Heaven forbid they have to hump 100 pound packs in the Hindu Kush in the snow to chase down some psycopath who just beheaded a man who was teaching a six year old girl to read.

Weak. Really, really weak.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Hmm. Seems there are some sock puppets on here, too.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush is the worst president in the history of my life. Maybe he can't verifiably be labeled the worst president in history for how many years it takes for historians to figure it out, but he's ignorant and corrupt. He's not making the world safer. He's making the world more unstable in many ways education, the war, the environment, the balance of power, upholding the law, etc.

And as far as his "No Child Left Behind" charade, I think he was clearly a child that was left behind in the nation's most prestigious universities.

If he's an example of what a high priced, high prestige education will get you, then, I have to say Harvard and Yale should duck their heads in shame that this guy was left behind on their watches. I will no longer look at Ivy League graduates the same again. If he's a bi-product of what they offer, then, I have to say, "No thanks."

2:49 PM  
Blogger milowent said...

i look forward to reading the article, thanks for the link.

one thing i can say for president bush. i used to be in awe of the president (whoever it was). now i think, well if Bush can do it, anybody really can be president! Absolute mediocrity is Bush's greatest sin.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, fascism isn't just a historical period, it's a tendency, as any idle Googling will reveal:
"A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism." (From The American Heritage Dictionary). So: the PATRIOT act, massive "reforms" to welfare, the Enron scandal, and other forms of (admittedly) indirect economic control either underwritten by or connected to the Bush administration, an oligarchic government that arguably stole at least one if not two elections, and the worst policy of "belligerent nationalism" masquerading as "spreading democracy" since at least Viet Nam. Or, to give a concrete recent example, UC Santa Cruz as a "credible threat" because of a protest against military recruiters?! This will have been OUR fascist period, not Nazi Germany redux. Ours.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Jeff the Baptist said...

"Bush is the worst president in the history of my life."

You must be young then. Dubya's presidency has had deeply mixed results, but he still has nothing on Carter or Nixon. Looking at the history of the presidency, most of the "worst presidents" are from the 1800s and Bush really can't hold a candle to them either.

"Worst President Ever" is so much hackery. He still has 2 and half years left in his term! As if we had enough objectivity to make any judgement about him. Anyone making these kinds of statements is either profoundly partisan or incredibly ignorant.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Jimbobjones said...

I hate it when freshman use a dictionary to start a paper. At least use the OED instead of some cheap-ass Wal-Mart knock-off.

3:48 PM  
Blogger merc said...


Fascism is neither a historical period nor a tendency. Fascism is a political philosophy and/or regime.

Your attempt to color the Bush Administration as one who exercises "stringent economic control" is laughable.

Not to mention your other embarrassing attempts to fit the definition of fascism around the Bush Administration.

If you honestly do believe that you are living under a fascist regime then, really, you are so deluded that any attempt to reason with you would simply be so much wasted time and energy.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Mike M. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Mike M. said...

Hear, hear!! I thik the aritlce is absolutely spot on. (And this from a white, male SMU grad!)

Yes, it is a bit early to issue the judgment of history, a point that the author readily ackowledges. But it does make for interesting speculation and one cannot ignore the early returns. And let's face it, the early returns are brutally bad. Bush has mismanaged and lied this country into as bad a spot as it has been in since Vietnam. In fact, one could make quite a good case that at least in Vietnam, we were simply doomed to leave the country in question worse than we found it, with our dignity and prestige tattered, but (theoretically) wiser for the experience. We should be so lucky in Iraq. We'll do all that eventually, mind you. But we'll also leave not just a nation of enemies - but an entire region of enemies, united by a shared ideology and a shared relgion, who are collectively sitting more oil than you can shake a stick at. Oil that we happen to need to fuel our SUV addiction that Bush has been laboring overtime to cure. Opps, I guess he forgot to do that while he was tapping our phones, packing the Federal bench with ideologues, or shredding all the copies of the Geneva Conventions that he could find.

No, it's not a pretty picture. And while I won't be alive and kicking then the jury knocks with history's verdict, I fear that for old George, it will be a hanging jury. But look at the bright side. It's quite an accomplishment to make both James Buchanan and Richard Nixon look good.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Learned Hand said...

In regards to those who hate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT, you should know that it is part of Bush's plan to direct all tax cuts to the rich. When they designed the tax cuts they were perfectly aware that Republican voters like you would be caught by the AMT.

People who are actually merely affluent often think that they are part of the group that is benefited by "tax cuts for the rich." To put it in simple terms, if neither Bill Gates nor Paris Hilton knows who you are, you are not rich for purposes of the tax cut discussion. Instead, you are part of the people disadvantaged by the cuts. The AMT is just the particular way you are excluded.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Who is John Galt? said...

Worst president ever? No way. Maybe in a parallel universe without Jimmy Carter.

Most inarticulate president - now that I could believe.

6:40 AM  

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