Sunday 2 November 2008

There have been worse Presidents than George W Bush

The subject of Dubya's place in history came up over dinner among the international speakers at the SP.a conference in Brussels a couple of weekends back.

I put forward the controversial proposition that he might not be the worst US President ever. Indeed, given how seriously Presidential rankings are taken by US scholars, perhaps the focus of his quest for a legacy should involve a kind of reverse Mount Rushmore process: trying to establish which previous Presidents might possibly have a worse record than his own.

I felt Bush's advocates at the court of history might try to target Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge, but I wasn't too sure how many others I could identify.

Now The Times has put together a high powered expert panel to rank all of the US Presidents to date.

Its conclusions suggests that I was being unfair on Coolidge and perhaps Hoover too, who are both ranked ahead of the incumbent.

But The Times panel does find four worse Presidents than Dubya - step forward William Harrison, Martin van Buren, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

But they do rate George W Bush, equal with Nixon, as the worst President since the start of the 20th century.


Robert Alcock said...

A litany of criticisms of GW Bush’s two terms in the White House are featured in this essay by Juan Moscoso del Prado, a Socialist member of the Spanish Congress, published here on the Fabian Society website.

Interestingly, del Prado refers to what he believes the US can learn from Europe, and specifically from European social democrats. So far, amid all the hope and fervour generated by Obama’s campaign, discussion has centred on what we over the Atlantic can adapt from the US elections. (A key contribution to that debate has been the Fabian Freethinking paper 'Yes We Can', by Nick Anstead and Will Straw.)

Del Prado declares that he feels his “social democratic convictions are today more valued than ever”.

He says: “We (Europeans) are ready to share with the new US government and all its citizens good examples and good policy practices of our policies in fields such as health care or social security.”

The Spanish parliamentarian also argues that a longstanding question — first posed by Henry Kissinger — has now been answered.
Who should the US president call when he (or surely in the future, she) wants to speak to Europe?
Del Prado suggests the Oval Office should patch through to “the permanent President of the European Council or the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

“Call any of them because we all trust them equally.”

But he adds: “Of course, that needs the Treaty of Lisbon to be ratified, in the first place, if Ireland recovers some sense, and a different international scene where multilateralism and trust for international law prevail.”

Crowqueen said...

When the US president wants to speak to Europe he should probably call the President of the Commission. When the US president wants to speak to Europeans, he should call Brown, Sarkozy, Merkel, Tusk or any other national leader. The EU is kidding itself if it really thinks it can usurp the place of national governments when it comes to foreign policy.