All about the Best and Worst American Presidents

Manila Bulletin, October 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

All about the Best and Worst American Presidents


AT the present time we still dont know how President George W. Bushs performance is ranked by todays American historians and journalists among the US presidents of the modern times and the living past. But it is presumed that every American knows the best presidents. Published surveys till the present have shown that it has been the consensus in America, and even among peoples in the world who are familiar with the American history, that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt have always topped the list. Among the near greats, the lists have usually included Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Woodrow Wilson. But what about Americas worst chief executives?

* * *

Nathan Miller, an award-winning reporter for the Baltimore Sun for 15 years, who formerly worked as a US Senate staffer, nominated five times for the Pulitzer Prize, and the author of 12 books of history and biography, had a book titled StarSpangled Men: Americas Ten Worst Presidents published Scribner, New York, NY in 1998. In the book, Miller portrayed the presidents notable for their abject failures. The book presents a rogues gallery of those chief executives who were both incredibly fallible and occasionally farcical. Of course, Miller made a caviat that his selection of the worst presidents was purely subjective.

* * *

The book is amusing and instructive. It is accompanied with the authority of his credentials and spices of humor. Despite the lightness of his treatment, in many pages of the historical narration of the presidents faults can be cruel. He wrote about the personal and political weakness of men like Richard Nixon, who had to resign to avoid impeachment for the bungled Watergate cover-up. Jimmy Carter is mentioned as the chief executive who showed that the White House is not the place for on-the-job training. He described how Warren G. Harding gave a new meaning of being in the closet as he carried on extramarital interludes in the House.

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