The ten worst American presidents

The ten worst American presidents

There’s nothing left to do but get drunk. – Franklin Pierce

In light of Presidents’ Day, a friend and favorite reader suggested I write a column on the top ten worst U.S. presidents of all time. Though the prospect is rife with possibilities, I accepted the challenge, and despite that plethora of choices, I managed to winnow the 46 options down to just ten.

So, without further ado:

10. William Henry Harrison

Though lengthy oratory was far more common in 1841, Harrison still managed to deliver the longest inaugural address in U.S. history, coming it at just under two hours.

But the greater issue was, an avowed outdoorsman, Harrison, who wasn’t as young as he used to be, conveyed said speech on a bitterly cold and wet March day, failing to wear a hat or coat throughout the process. Then he refused to change into dry clothes before greeting guests at the reception.

As you might imagine, he caught a cold, which turned into pneumonia, and he died after just 30 days in office – the shortest presidential stint in history.

Aside from the sheer stupidity of the act (there were no antibiotics in 1840), having the temerity to kick the bucket just a month into the gig proves Harrison had absolutely no sense of executive chief dedication.

If we were grading on an intelligence curve, even with “W” and Trump in the mix. Harrison would’ve been number one because most presidents tend to avoid killing themselves. 


9. Gerald Ford

In the words of The Bard, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Ford fell into the latter category only to shrug that off that potential greatness off like a dog shakes off the rain.

Don’t get me wrong, Vice President Ford was a good man “thrust” into the role by Richard Nixon’s Watergate-induced resignation. He simply wasn’t up to the job. To be fair, Ford inherited one of the most stagnant economies in American history, but his theory to tackle inflation with “WIN” buttons, an acronym for “Whip Inflation Now!” was beyond the pale. He truly believed we could simply will the upward price spiral away.

The there was his infamous 1976 debate declaration that “There is no Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe.”

To be fair again, after the Nixon debacle, no Republican could’ve possibly have won that election, but Ford made absolutely sure it wouldn’t be the case.


8. Ronald Reagan

I truly believe Ronnie should’ve come in at number two or three, but the ineptitude competition gets so tight in the top five that he didn’t quite make the cut.

Ronald Reagan somehow managed to delude himself into believing that a stilted Hollywood financial dynamic somehow applied to the world’s number one economy. And we’re still saddled with nitwit Republicans who believe in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, Donald Trump, and trickle-down economics.

But that economic fantasy has never worked and it never will.

Then, despite his proclamations to the contrary, Reagan created the art of deficit spending by tripling that red ink, a feat that every ensuing Republican president has emulated. He raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office, too.

We won’t even talk about the Iran-Contra Affair and negotiating with terrorists.

To top off that naivete, Lady MacBeth…I mean Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no!” anti-drug campaign was the stuff of late-night laughter legend.

The Republican Party actually meant something before Reagan was elected, but’s it’s been meaningless ever since.


7. George H. W. Bush

He infamously campaigned on the premise, “Read my lips. No new taxes!” Then he proceeded to do just that, joining William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover as the only 20th Century Republican presidents who failed to be reelected.

Bush, who also said, “I have opinions of my own – strong opinions – but I don’t always agree with them,” was an ineffectual leader on his best days, and something much worse on his more frequent bad days.

He was the first president to take advantage of the ever-encroaching news cycle to demonize an opponent through those shameful Willie Horton ads, and the once proud Party of Lincoln has never been the same.

Bush was a racist, warmongering, above-the-law president, who is ultimately responsible for setting the stage for Donald Trump.


6. Andrew Johnson

The first post-Civil War commander in chief did such a terrible job that he comes in at number one on many of the worst president lists. Of course, getting completely shit-faced at your own inauguration never bodes well for the future, now does it?

An avowed pro-slavery politician and bigot, Johnson did everything he could to sabotage the already perilous Reconstruction and post-Civil War civil rights initiatives, turning a blind eye to the recently freed slaves’ sad plight. Those efforts led to his impeachment, a first in American politics, which he survived by just one vote.

There might be a little revisionist history involved in Johnson’s legacy, but even that recognition isn’t enough to keep him off of the list.


5. James Buchanan

If we had to choose a winner based on the number of number one votes, Buchanan is generally regarded as the GOAT of terrible presidents.

Buchanan ignored the hot button slavery issue claiming it was “a matter of but little practical importance.” He did nothing to discourage the Southern states’ secession, going as far as tacitly encouraging them to do so. He endorsed, and perhaps even influenced, the terrible Dred Scott decision fully believing it would finally put the slavery question to rest.

Put more simply, at a time this country needed a strong leader, Buchanan completely failed in that regard.

Perhaps the Civil War was inevitable, but after his administration, the question of war became moot. On his deathbed, Buchanan petulantly whined, “History will vindicate my memory from every unjust aspersion,” but it clearly has not.


4. Herbert Hoover

Archie and Edith Bunker were wrong! Hoover may not have been responsible for the Great Depression, but he made a point of making it exponentially worse. Raising interest rates and instigating absurd trade wars only deepened the economic darkness for so many of the country’s marginalized citizens.

A notoriously poor communicator, Hoover came across as spiteful and aloof at a time when Americans desperately needed reassurance. In return, the newly homeless designated their shanty towns as “Hoovervilles.”

Perhaps Hoover’s singular “crime” was the failure to rise to a challenge, but that’s more than enough for me to rank him our fourth worst President.


3. Richard Nixon

I really don’t have to explain this one, do I?


2. George W. Bush

George W. Bush proved the apple never falls far from the tree and we should NEVER elect a legacy president. I could write ten thousand words on why he completely sucked.

Bush and Karl Rove finished off any last vestige of Republican Party integrity, a process his father started with Lee Atwater. The whispered claims of opponent John McCain – a war hero and truly good man – having a secret mixed-race child were so far beyond the pale that the devil has reserved a special room for the former president.

Then there was the intelligence issue, or the lack of it on two separate levels. There were no weapons of mass destruction justifying the invasion of Iraq, a conflict from which that county hasn’t recovered 20 long years later.

Then there was the man’s terrifying IQ deficit leading to statements like:

  • I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.
  • Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning
  • Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.
  • You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.
  • There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.
  • One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.
  • Well, I think if you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, that’s trustworthiness.
  • Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.
  • They misunderestimated me.

To say the man was a complete idiot does a vast disservice to all self-respecting complete idiots all across this abundantly stupid country.

Then, just for good measure Bush’s subprime mortgage and other questionable financial policies tanked the economy so badly that Americans finally decided to give the black guy a shot.

Think about it! It took the likes of Donald Trump to lift George W. Bush out of last place.


1. Donald Trump

Was there ever any doubt?

What can you say about a pussy-grabbing womanizing, serial cheating, blowhard megalomaniacal, raging narcissist, porn star paying, orange skinned, thief, business robbing, convicted fraudster, blazing racist, pathological lying, minimal IQ, hypocritical, swamp creating, dictator loving, classified document stealing, anti-Christian, freedom robbing, sleep deprived toddler mentality, ally alienating, science denying, misogynist, white supremacist, snowflake tending, insurrectionist sore loser, election stealing bullshit, silly combover reprobate?

I certainly hope I didn’t omit an essential adjective from that lengthy paragraph.

Donald Trump is the culmination of the Republican Party’s “the truth and ethical standards don’t matter” tactics that started with George H. W. Bush and got far worse under his idiot son. And now the party is imploding to the point where it may never recover as a viable political force.


So, there you go. The worst presidents in American history.

4 thoughts on “The ten worst American presidents

  1. Number one is NOT tRump . . . sorry . . EVERYONE said tRump would get us into a world war and he would crash the dollar . . He may be the only president in my lifetime that did NOT get us into a new war . . . BUT . . Biden has gotten us into 3 wars, so far, and is inching toward WW3 . . because of the weaponised dollar and Biden’s anal obsession with the Ukrainian Nazis, the dollar is on a major decline . . the exchange currency will be a fond memory in a few years . . Seeing I am not a brainwashed lefty, tRump is not in my top 5 . . . Biden, Obama, Clinton, Reagon and the Bushes . . are in my top 6 . . Right-wingnuts, one in all . . .

  2. Thank you for your list of the worst Republican presidents ever. I realize Buchanan was a democrat and a traitor look where he sent arms before the Civil War but he has been forgiven since he is the first Gay President although Andrew Jackson always thought of him as Miss Nancy and his lover Rufus King Aunt Fancy. But not to dismiss your Oak Park Evanston bias can we throw out a few other candidates? First let me defend your candidates: Ford most normal and decent President in our life time tried to do good, like him or not Reagan brought hope to country and was and inspiration after the last few presidents George HW Bus a true selfless American hero check out his war record Hoover actually did more to try and stop depression than any other President and started many of programs FDR used and even Truman used him to help after second world war Nixon was nuts but wanted universal health care gun control and stopped drafted started EPA could go on nd I will Woodrow Wilson fired all blacks and segregated government and decided to remake world which we are still trying to do, but he never served Jimmy Carter another hypocrite worst president ever You like 18 per cent mortgages and gas lines? LBJ so good and so bad Bill Clinton serial rapist and liar under oath Sorry you got me going But after election you will have another candidate for worst ever

    1. I do realize that least is skewed toward more modern president, but considering their greater reach and knowledge, I actually think that’s fair. And now to rebut!

      Reagan brought hope, but he mortgaged the country to do so. I voted for GHWB – even with the Willie Horton thing – and Bush was not up to the job. Hoover tried to stop the depression, but attacked it in ways that made it MUCH worse. I disagree with his successors applying his programs.

      Meanwhile Jimmy Carter was a good man who had the cojones to raise interest rates and finally slay the inflation dragon. He was also truthful to the American public to a fault. And “serial rapist?” That’s going a bit far with Clinton, who otherwise did a really good job.

      Lastly, as I previously wrote, Biden is doing all that bad!


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