Is Barack Obama really the worst president ever? Some people think so, and they spout off that view on the Internet. Others said the same thing about George W. Bush – and probably all of his predecessors.
My unsolicited advice: Take off your partisan blinders.
To level such a charge, you should have an understanding of all the other presidents. Not just the last few.
Here is my list of the best presidents:
• George Washington (1789-1797): He united a young country that could easily have disintegrated. He decided against running for a third term, stepping down voluntarily, an unusual act in human history. He saw himself as a citizen first, setting the right tone for the new democracy.
• Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865): In the Land of Lincoln, how could I not include him in the best list? He was a master politician, and I mean that in the very best way. He hated slavery and steadily moved toward his goal of ridding the nation of that evil. His presidency should be a leadership case study.
• Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909): One of history's more interesting characters, Roosevelt gave government a bigger role in the economy – anti-trust efforts, food inspections and environmental protection.
• Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945): He created much of the nation's social safety net in response to the Great Depression, not to mention his leadership in winning World War II.
• Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969): He expanded the Vietnam War, a big blot on his record. But his other achievements – civil rights, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, education – put him in the best list.
The worst presidents:
• Millard Fillmore (1850-1853): A lackluster president who did little other than sign the Compromise of 1850. In his post-presidential years, he took the cause of the Know Nothings, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant party.
• Franklin Pierce (1853-1857): He did nothing to unite the country, standing by as divisions between the north and south worsened. He was a compromise Democratic candidate in the first place, who essentially promised that he would do nothing about slavery.
• James Buchanan (1857-1861): Pretty much the same story as for Pierce. States seceded in his final months, while he stayed silent.
• Andrew Johnson (1865-1869): A stubborn man, he learned nothing from the leadership of his immediate predecessor, Lincoln. He had no ability to bring people together. Congress passed civil rights and Reconstruction measures over his veto. He was probably the most racist president, to boot.
• Warren Harding (1921-1923): He looked like Hollywood's version of a president, but he wasn't much of one. His administration was full of scandals.
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.