Best/Worse Presidents in the 20th. Century.

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Zekk

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This question has come up in my American History class and my history teacher wants us to write an essay on "Who were the five best or worse (our choice) U.S. Presidents in the 20th. Century (1900 through 2000).

George W. Bush doesn't count because he is 21st. century president.

Maybe y'all can help me with my essay. You can list your reasons for your choice if y'all want too.

Thanks.
 
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FullMetal

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Nixon...Watergate scandal.

Pierce...He is the 'cause of the civil war' (not literally)

Lyndon B. Johnson was also an arse and did not help in the fight of equal rights among African Americans but fought against it.

Are you only looking to do the worst or do you want to also consider doing the best?

FullMetal
 

Zekk

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I'm like undecided. I have 2 weeks to do it. I am leaning towards doing the best.
 
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Falkio

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Once again, this is only an oppinion. So please keep it civil...

Worst:

Bill Clinton (5.3 Trillion deficit, sex scandal)
Jimmy Carter (weak president)
George W. Bush (the unconstitutional Patriot Act)

Best:

Theodore Roosevelt (strong leader, exemplifies American values)
Harry Truman (had the courage to drop the Atom bomb to save 1,000,000 GI's)
 

doubledbbw

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I will also keep this civil and the worst presidents since I was born back in 1958 are as follows. 1. Jimmy Carter 2. Bill Clinton. The best was the great Ronald Regan.:twocents:
 

IncompleteDude

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I'd say Paul von Hindenburg was one of the worst Presidents, and whoever makes the picks for President's Choice is one of the best. That's damn good food.

Oh you meant US Presidents?

Well #1 is FDR. Not only was he elected twice as many times as any other president, but he created much of the regulatory structure that keeps the modern financial market running smoothly... or used to. Unfortunately, most were slowly eroded (the SEC), underfunded (Social Security) or outright repealed (the Glass-Steagall Act) by the successive Presidents Regan, Bush Sr and Clinton. The Glass-Steagall Act is particularly interesting, because immediately after it was finally and fully repealed in 1999, American banks were enabled to create their exotic asset backed securities that created the credit crisis. The erosion of the one Act is likely the one single strongest cause of our current economic maliase. If FDR's pricipals had not be ground to dust through the 80s and 90s, we would not be in the mess. Some griding was necessary, to free up the economy for greater growth, but it went too far.

The worst President imho is Bush Sr. I do not blame Regan for the current crisis. I believe that many of regulations built up since FDR did go too far, and there is a certain but limited truth to supply-side economics. I think Regan was right to curtail regulation, though the momentum of that went too far. Therefore, I blame Bush Sr for not willingly stepping back, and only doing so when forced to by the Democrats. On top of that, if he had never been President, there is little doubt that neither would have Bush Jr.

One other thing, I think these kinds of evaluations are non-sense. If I were to say who were the two most important Presidents, it would be FDR and Regan bar none. Both of them reshaped America tremendously. Much of what they did was good, and much of it was bad. After FDR was gone, the following Presidents cut the bad from FDR's policies, culminating with Regan's changes. If anyone is to blame for our current problems, it's the Presidents following Regan who did not correct his bad policies. Instead, Clinton and especially Bush Jr took America's greatness for granted, and they let their pet projects and special interests take first priority.

Lastly, for my fundamentalist Conservative friends, here's who I think is the best/worst for their personality and physical appearance, while ignoring the effects of their policies:
Best: Regan, a genuine nice guy. Though FDR is an inspiration to all disabled people.
Worst: Carter, he looks kind of retarded, and his Presidency is full of moments ineffectiveness, failure and generally seeming to be on another planet (mentally).
 
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daria7483

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FDR got us through the Depression and brought about some economic programs such as food stamps, welfare, social security, etc., so depending on how you feel about that he could be in the best or the worst. Plus, he got re-elected, what, like three times, before he finally just died. We had to impose term limits because of him.

I'm no economist, but the story I've always heard is Clinton left us in good financial shape. Bush screwed that up. I'm not sure that a sex scandal is enough to make someone one of the century's worst presidents. I wonder how many previous presidents have had mistresses, and how many of them would have gotten the same publicity had we lived in the 24/7 news cycle that we do today.

I've also never heard anything but good things about Teddy Roosevelt. He was a conservationist and a lover of the outdoors, which might have set a good example for Americans today.
 

bdb2004

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Ok I am going to try to keep this fairly non-partisan as best as I can... we will see how that works out, these are not listed in any particular order:

Best:
-Teddy Roosevelt (No explanation needed)

-Franklin Roosevelt (I don't agree with a lot of his policies but WW2 puts him on this list, and winning so many times...)

-Gerald Ford (Yes he was unelected, yes he didn't do a TON, but in pardoning Nixon he helped allow the country to move on past a difficult time and made a very difficult decision that probably helped end his political future. Basically he was a politician who made the right decision, those are rare enough that he makes the list)

-Ronald Reagan (Probably one of my more partisan picks, but I like the guy, from a more non-partisan prospective, the beginning of the end of the cold war happened on his watch, and he managed to steer major tax reform through a divided congress.)

-Ok the fifth was the hardest and depending on the day of the week and how I feel I could probably change my mind, but I am going to go with Harry Truman basically because he made the difficult decisions necessary to end the second world war.

Worst:
-Herbert Hoover (Great Depression happened on his watch)

-Nixon (Do I really need to explain?)

-Jimmy Carter (Ok, his has done a great job rebuilding his reputation, but as president things were prettey bad, the economy was crap, the whole Iran hostage issue, basically he was an ineffective president, we could have a real discussion about his job since he was an ex-president, but since your question is president he makes the worst list)

-Lyndon Johnson (The horrible mishandling of Vietnam, JFK escapes blames since he was assassinated so we don't know exactly what he would have done.)

-And again, the fifth position could have a number of different people, and I would probably would name someone different on another day but for today:
William Jefferson Clinton ( 1) Hillary-care 2) 1994 elections (though the blame for this also lies on dems in congress, but he was the party leader so he gets some of it) 3) Impeachment, it doesnt really matter if should have gotten out, the fact is instead of just admitting it he lied under oath, and in doing so did commit perjury leading to his impeachment. 4) Tech bubble burst on his watch, basically the economic crash of the early Bush years started on his watch, so even though there were some good years with the economy, it ended on a bad note so he doesn't get any points for that...)

Ok after writing these I will clarify something, the first four are in no specific order and were listed as I thought of them, the fifth position can be considered the worst of the best or the best of worst depending on the list.
 

FairestandFallen

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Best:
Theodore Roosevelt
FDR (got us out of Great Depression)
there was a president in the 80s who we had extra money to spend under- first time the governments had no debts with money to spare
JFK (everyone loved him. that's an acomplishment (there's more, but I'm exhausted and can't remember details))

Worst:
Lyndon B Johnson The other Johnson. The one that killed all the Native Americans. I phial.
Herbert Hoover
 
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Pojo

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Worst: George W. Bush (He probably thinks it's the 20th century, so that still counts, right?)
 
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annierighthurr

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Hmm. I'm (kind of) surprised by how many of you are picking Bill Clinton as the worst president. Surely a sex scandal from his own personal life is not as bad as potentionally fking up our whole nation.
Just a thought.
 
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Everyone's ripping on Johnson. Recall the Civil Rights Act? The Voting Rights Act? Getting those passed may have been made easier by Kennedy's death, but it still wasn't easy. And for a democrat from Texas to push them was no small deal. I'd say he's somewhere in the middle.

Truman was vindicated by history, but was wildly unpopular during his presidency. I prefer FDR, for obvious reasons. He was the first president to ever give the working class a break.

As for Clinton, he oversaw the creation of the greatest amount of wealth in history and left office with a trillion dollar surplus. Not small accomplishments.
 

SteveC1981

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5 Best of 20th Century (un-ordered)
  • Ronald Reagan (orchestrated end of Cold War, stability in the economy after the 1970s chaos)
  • Franklin Roosevelt (somewhat timely reaction to the Great Depression...although it was ended primarily by WWII, which he also decided to respond to)
  • Bill Clinton (despite many personal vices, attempted working WITH the Republican Congress towards fiscal responsibility)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (brought an end to U.S. imperialism and empire-building)
  • Dwight Eisenhower (like Obama was 50+ years later, basically drafted into the job by popular demand by those seeking change...the first of 7 WWII veterans to be President; George H. Bush is currently the last one.)

5 Worst of 20th Century (un-ordered)
  • Jimmy Carter (foreign policy and fiscal disaster, basically handed White House to Ronald Reagan...had infamous younger brother)
  • Woodrow Wilson (insisted U.S. stay out of WWI and then helped in Germany becoming a Third World country afterwards...remember what that did? The only President to hold a Ph.D)
  • Warren G. Harding (the first multi-millionaire to become President...the newpaper publisher from Ohio is historically ranked last or near last when people are asked to rank their presidents)
  • Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam made him so unpopular he knew he couldn't run for election in 1968)
  • Harry Truman (he may have brought about the end of WWII in Japan, but questionable leadership decisions while fighting the Korean War made him consistently less popular in the polls than George W. Bush)
Although Nixon is forever tainted by Watergate (as he should be), I think the fact that he started the beginning of the end of Vietnam should be brought to light. As far as Jerry Ford's pardoning him...that is something that can be argued back and forth for years...the anger over that is part of the reason why Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976.

So, where do the Bushes fall? Well, I think that George H. Bush will be best remembered as someone with better foreign policy decisions than domestic ones, but the Gulf War had a reasonable outcome (compared to Vietnam and the Iraq wars)...

As far as George W. Bush, if we snuck him in...he'd be stuck in the middle. However, he won't be forgettable, as he is as controversial as Bill Clinton was scandalous. As Barack Obama hasn't even had the requisite 100 days..."n/a" is his ranking (although see what I said about Eisenhower).
 

MysteriousVisitor

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Worst: (no order)

Wilson (got us into a war we had no reason being in, was also a bigtime racist)
Roosevelt T (Imperialist scum)
Roosevelt F (tried an end run around the constitution to further his agenda)


Best:
Reagan (pushed the Soviet Union over the edge)
Eisenhower (just a kickass guy, but he did make the huge mistake of not putting a satellite up before Sputnik)
Kennedy (started the Space Race that formed the foundation of soviet collapse that Reagan presided over)
 
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BromeTeks

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G. W. Bush says to Bill Clinton, "You may have screwed a few women, but I screwed the whole country." Just thought I'd add that in.

But otherwise, I don't really hold an opinion. Both of the Roosevelt presidents were really good, So I guess they would be up there. As for worst, Nixon's on the list, otherwise I can't really say for only the 20th century.
 

Dark Bringer

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While FDR helped lead the US through World War II, his economic policies were actually a disaster that perpetuated the Great Depression.
FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate / UCLA Newsroom

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces.

As for Clinton, so many of his much more serious scandals were hardly known about which I think is tragic. Vince Foster, White house filegate, selling our nuclear secrets to the Chinese in exchange for illegal campaign money. Why was the media silent about this yet focused on Monica? Three other woman (Paula Jones, Kathleen Wiley, Juanita Broderick) accused him of rape yet all the "women's" groups like NOW supported him anyways. Some lady even said she would personally give Clinton a blowjob just for keeping abortion legal.
Many of you might remember that Bush II fired some prosecutors and that was decried as the latest example of cronyism and corruption in his "regime." Well, where was the outrage when Clinton early on fired more, many of whom were involved in cases against him. The people who claimed Bush was the most corrupt and power hungry president mostly have no credibility since they were pretty much quiet about Clinton.
Sudan offered him Osama bin Laden back in 1996 but he turned it down because he didn't think he would have enough evidence, other countries would protest or something like that. Anybody see his meldown when he was asked about this in 2006 on Fox News?
The Community Reinvestment Act. Maybe not such a good idea considering what we're in now.

Still I don't think that makes him one of the worst presidents of the 20th century. I think having gridlock with a republican congress helped prevent either branch from doing too much harm. And he did sign the Welfare Reform act against many Democrat protests.

Althouth Eisenhower was popular and still is well regarded, I really hate the effects of building all those freeways and plowing through so many neighborhoods.

It's hard to rank Kennedy since he was only in office 3 years but I think he would have done pretty good.

Worst
Jimmy Carter: created Department of Education, after 30 years we've doubled education spending in real dollars and government schools mainly got worse. Created Department of Energy to help reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources. Yeah, that worked. Double digit unemployment.
Plus he's treated as some sort of superstar today when he's a bumbling idiot who meets with Hamas leaders totally without the permission of those who actually are in charge.

Lyndon Johnson: The war on Poverty has made many urban areas look like they are indeed a war zone. Welfare destroyed the black family structure, something slavery and deep racism couldn't.
Used scare tactics (Daisy ad) against Goldwater about Vietnam, then got us into Vietnam. Goldwater basically said that if he went in, he would make sure we won instead of half measures.

Richard Nixon: Sure, he ended Vietnam and opened things up with China but Watergate of course. He also started the War on Drugs which has really created gangs just like Prohibition created mobsters.

Best
Ronald Reagan: here was someone who wasn't afraid to articulate his views and I think he got a lot more respect for someone who was conservative and smaller government instead of someone who talks conservative only when it's convenient like todays pandering Republicans.
Cutting the top tax rate from an astonishing 70% to 30% helped a great economic recovery and rebounded from the misery of Carter.
He sucessfully put pressure on the Soviet Union and though speaking out against the draft isn't major, it's big to me.
Major drawback is "Just Say No."

Harry Truman: a strong leader with a backbone. Something the Democrats haven't had since JFK.

Gerald Ford: vetoed many idiotic pieces of legislation that would have killed the economy further. Carter attacked him for this saying he didn't get work well with Congress. Well, look what happened when Carter did.
Pardoning Nixon was unpopular but it let the country move forward.
 
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