A Few Reasons Why Republicans Have to Stop Saying President Obama is the Worst President in History

President Obama visits Bagram Airfield

Republicans often claim that President Obama is the worst president in history but how does he really compare to the worst of the worst?

The rhetoric constantly streaming from Fox News and other members of the extreme right would lead you to believe that Barack Obama is, in fact, the worst President in American history. I can hardly turn on the TV or read the paper without seeing some republican making this claim. They usually attempt to back-up this ridiculous assertion with anecdotal evidence relating to financial policies, human rights violations, constitutional infractions or civil rights abuses. With a few easily found examples I will show you why this claim is not only outrageous but also why it does nothing more than showcase the complete lack of historical knowledge of the person making the claim. And I will do it all without mentioning the name, George W. Bush. You’re welcome, conservatives.

“I would love to hear the argument that says giving healthcare to American citizens is as bad as raping slaves.”

Republican politicians, like Paul Ryan, love to claim that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as they like to call it, is the most fiscally irresponsible policy in American history. This clearly means that they have forgotten about Herbert Hoover and the rise in tariffs. Tariffs were used for many years as a way to pay for government spending. The republican thinking for nearly a century was: If you need money to keep the proverbial lights on, just raise tariffs and all will be well. But when the Great Depression hit in 1929 and Hoover decided that the best way to compensate was to once again raise tariffs, the inevitable failure of such an irresponsible policy came to pass. Nearly every economist in the country and several key businessmen attempted to persuade the President not to sign the act. Henry Ford spent an evening with Hoover where he told the president that the act was “an economic stupidity” and asked him not to sign it. J.P. Morgan even threatened to beg Hoover to veto the bill. But the president could not be dissuaded from his chosen course. He signed the Hawley-Smoot Act and thus created an economic instability that would worsen the depression and prolong the suffering of already struggling Americans.

Ok, so maybe fiscal policy isn’t enough to stop republicans from making hyperbolic remarks about our current President but maybe clear violations of human rights will be. You may not agree with the President’s domestic policies but at least he doesn’t own people. That’s right, twelve of the men who have held the highest office in the USA owned slaves. Eight of them owned slaves while they were serving as President. This is more than just a shameful time in American history; it should be all the proof one needs to understand why President Obama can’t even break the top twelve of the worst presidents in history. These men bought and sold people, mostly unapologetically, and several are accused of the raping young slave girls. These are men that we count among the fathers of our nation and hold in the highest regard but many of them may have been nothing more than human-rights-denying rapists. I would love to hear the argument that says giving healthcare to American citizens is as bad as raping slaves.

“Have we forgotten that we are United as one nation?”

While conservatives take their time to decide if they want to make that argument I will move on to a lighter topic, genocide. If one is in search of the face of evil, one must look no further than the twenty dollar bill. Andrew Jackson, who raised his fortune as slave trader, should be remembered for nothing more than being the racist engineer of Native American genocide. He was a believer in Manifest Destiny and the idea that white people needed to move across the western half of the United States in order to expand cotton farming and slavery. But to do so he first needed to engage in what was then referred to as “Indian Removal.” Jackson’s Presidency was responsible for the removal of at least 45,000 Native Americans (some estimates are closer to 90,000) from their land; 4,000 of whom died on the Trail of Tears but many more would die due to the policies implemented by his administration. But he wasn’t just a horrible President; he was also a horrible person long before he reached the oval office. During the Seminole Wars, it’s been said that Jackson ordered troops to fire into crowds of unarmed women and children, even if they were waving white flags.

Now I don’t know about you, but I just don’t see how the domestic policies of our current President could be equated to the horrors that took place under Andrew Jackson. I should say that the point of me writing this was not to point out how crazy or misguided republicans are, even though on many accounts I do believe that. My point is merely to show that America has become so partisan that we have stopped looking at the actual actions of an administration and only look to see if there is an (R) or a (D) by the person’s name. These biased statements that have no real substance do nothing but drive us further apart as a country. We are the United States of America for a reason, but I only hear people refer to America or the States. Have we forgotten that we are United as one nation? In other words, we are all in this together and until we become united we will continue to act like children fighting over our favorite toy.

But just in case you are still not convinced, I will leave you with some quotes from a few of our worst Presidents.

“This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men…”

Andrew Johnson

“Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.”

Woodrow Wilson (speaking about immigrant Americans. Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans…etc.)

“A lady who has been seen as a sloven or slut in the morning will never efface the impression she has made, with all dress and pageantry she can afterwards involve herself in…”

Thomas Jefferson

“The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”

Richard Nixon

“I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.”

Warren G. Harding

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About Austin Harrington

Austin Harrington is an essayist currently working towards his MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Lesley University. His work has appeared on Word Riot and in Bifrost Literary Journal, among a few other smaller publications. He is currently living in Des Moines, IA with his wife and two sons. You can follow him on Twitter: @freedwords.

Comments

  1. See you’re list isn’t complete, you left off Bush 43′ who is FAR worse than Nixon (who got TONS of stuff done.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is probably some of the worst written OpEd I’ve ever wasted time on reading! If you’re going to make a VALID argument against Republicans or Democrats at least focus on CURRENT events. While I agree that the “atrocities” of our past Presidents may not bode well for our nation’s history, it has NO relevance on how incompetent Obama may or may not be. You can’t defend Obama without citing CURRENT events. All you’ve done is give a history lesson.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      Excellent points all around. I used to be critical of the writers on this cite saying they had a platform for saying outrageous and ridiculous things. But it is a platform in a dessert because nobody takes these people seriously. I read it from time to time to try to get a peak into the liberal mind and when I do it never ceases to amaze me how empty it is.

  3. Terry Washington says:

    As Harry Truman noted in 1951, it requires time and perspective to assess the impact of a given Presidency- often up to half a century or even longer, so GOP hyperventilating over Obama as the “Worst President ever”( worse than say, Franklin Pierce) is pretty much partisan BS!

    Terry

  4. Thomas Jefferson as one of our worst presidents? Just appalling. It’s like people aren’t even trying anymore.

  5. Woodrow Wilson is also commonly considered to be in the top third of our presidents. You’re not even making a minimal amount of effort to judge these men in the context of history.

    • Wilson was a Socialist and a pious hypocrite who promised not to send Americans to war just like his protégé FDR. And like FDR he broke that promise as quickly as he could.

      • I’d call him a “progressive” and I think he was more reluctant to go to war than you might. I bet neither of us agree with everything the man did (I’m pretty conservative) but I think we can agree that an unbiased observer would place him in the upper half.

        • Wes Carr says:

          Progressive is just another word for Socialist. Wilson, he and William Randolph Hearst used the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine to draw America into WWI. What they didn’t mention is that she was secretly carrying arms and was therefore a legitimate target under the rules of war.

  6. Obama is one of the very best presidents this country has ever had. So speaketh I. Of course, only God can know how correct I am, and He ain’t talkin’, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Take the childish obstruction away, and we would have an economic and progressive turnaround that would make all the critics’ jaws drop hard enough to fall off, and we wouldn’t have to hear their vacuous political arguments anymore.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      Paul, open a history and learn something.

      • a history? you can get a whole one of those now? Must be like Ted Cruz’s Internet, I wonder how long it would take to seen an entire History to your office.

  7. I have seen 10 Presidents in my life including Obama, and every one has repeated the same mistakes. Every President who has allowed the UN to exist on American soil is guilty of treason. Every President who has violated the Bill Of Rights should have been arrested. Every President who has put the interests of foreign countries before their own and sent billions in stolen tax dollars to foreign aid is guilty of theft. Obama is no different.

  8. trey1963 says:

    How about the fact that when the other party is in power the Dems label that president “the worst ever”

    Or the ever popular on the left GWB shown as a monkey? Doubt that would fly applied evenly now huh?

  9. courage the cowardly dog says:

    I have twice attempted to analytically critique this op ed piece and twice my posting has been erased when I was almost finished. Granted my critique was long but that was because there are so many glaring problems with this piece. The first thing is that the author without citing his source declares that 12 presidents owned slaves. That sounds like internet research to me and we all know everything you find on the internet is true. I would like to see the author identify his source for this information and name the presidents he is referring to. Moreover, he is presumably referring to presidents who owned slaves at a time when it was legal and accepted to do. The fact the practice of slavery goes back thousands of years and even to Africa where it was and even still is in some remote places for one tribe to enslave another. The author is applying 20th and 21st century standards to 18th and 19th century mores and practices. That’s not fair. Moreover, he compares what these prior presidents did in their personal life but does not what they did in the capacity as Presidents and even though we don’t know what presidents her is referring to my bet is every one of them proved to be a better president than this one. Obama’s record as president is dismal. The ACA is a failure, Benghazi was a terrorist attack that we were completely unprepared for and four Americans are dead because of it, Putin is running circles around this guy making him look like a fool. That is the tip of the iceberg. No question about it, he is by far the worst president we have ever had.

  10. courage the cowardly dog says:

    Since you are quoting presidents “Gov. Romney . . .a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaida. You said Russia … the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said.

    Uh, Mr. Obama, its the 1980’s on the phone and they are saying the Cold War is back because you were so completely unprepared for the obvious Russian Aggression which you ridiculed your opponent for saying Russia was the world’s greatest threat. MMMMMMm looks like he was right.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      Then of course there is the blatant lies that you can keep your doctor or health plan and your premiums won’t go up. All lies, not true and he knew it wasn’t true at the time he said it. Here’s another good one Obama unwittingly said before the last election. . .In a private conversation about the planned U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe, President Barack Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for space on the issue. “This is my last election,” Obama told Medvedev. “After my election I have more flexibility.” let me fill in the rest for “I have more flexibility to give away the store, you want Ukraine, you got it, Poland, sure why not, Belarus, isn’t it already yours, if not, take it.'” It is unfathomable to me you would say to a Russian leader wait until after the election so I have more flexibility. To do what?????

  11. courage the cowardly dog says:

    Sorry, but our system has recognised you as a spammer. If you believe this to be an error, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation. – See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/auh-a-few-reasons-why-republicans-have-to-stop-saying-president-obam/comment-page-1/?spammer=confirm#reply-title

    why?

    • Chuck Wyllie says:

      Usually, an automated spam filter gets triggered when someone makes more than a certain amount of posts within a period of time, or posts self-replies.

  12. ogwriter says:

    @Austin It feels like we are missing the point.We are focusing on what was said,rather than the focusing on the why it was said.As you stated,this talking point is being repeated over and over again.This is not just an odd coincidence but is part of a tightly scripted campaign.I do not quite get why the media at large plays up these comments as if they are made in good faith.Probably,many of these guys don’t even know enough about the performances of past or current presidents to make such a statement.It would take an apolitical presidential scholar a considerable amount of time and effort to come to areasonable, unbiased, conclusion.The republicans are nipping away at the fringes of the electorate, attempting to muddy the waters and shrink the electorate.This is their best chance to stay in office.This current narrative will be married to a larger one that seeks to weaken the democratic party brand heading into 2016.Right now,it is red meat time…gotta get their folks to go to the polls.

  13. ogwriter says:

    @courage…So,slavery was morally ok because the values of the day said so.Who,may I ask,waved the magic wand and deemed slavery morally acceptable for the entire world?What gives one culture the right to impose its values on another and then claim divine right to do?Oh yeah,colonialism.It would be best simply to admit to the hypocrisy of freedoms promise and move on.The founding fathers were classist elites who did not for one moment believe that all white people were equal.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      First of all, lets be clear. I never said slavery is morally acceptable. It was in the 18th and early 19th century and had been for thousands of years in all cultures including African cultures. You can only measure the quality of a person by the ruler that existed at the time. The author here is measuring 18th and 19th century presidents by today’s standards and then comparing Obama to those presidents; so in effect he has set the bar for Obama pretty low which is the only way Obama is going look good because by today’s standards Obama sucks as a president.

  14. courage the cowardly dog says:

    Og, get a history book and read it. It will help you understand my point.

    • No book reading necessary- just revise that history to fit whatever mode you want. Right here on this page we see one of the leading thinkers of the enlightenment (you know, the movement that encouraged people to start questioning tradition and apply reason, fundamental principles of the rights of man?- you guys know what that lead to don’t ya?) characterized as one of our worst presidents.

      And for those who use slavery as the litmus test- find one single human civilization that did not have a form of slavery.

  15. ogwriter says:

    @courage and cw
    Suffice to say you guys are not the only gentlemen with knowledge of history. Perhaps you choose to interpret history different than others, which does not mean, in anyway that you are more knowledgeable than about history.
    .I am well aware that slavery has been a part of many cultures but to suggest that because that is so excuses should be made and accepted for America is foolishly naïve. There is no way at this time to know,over the course of human history, just how prevalent slavery has been in all cultures. Hell, there is no way to know definitely how many cultures have existed that we have no knowledge of. To imply that slavery has ben ubiquitous throughout known human history is without solid evidence. For instance, even in America slavery existed alongside traditional economies. Oh yeah Northern America did not have slavery. Remember?

    • You don’t think slavery existed in North America prior to the Europeans? The plains tribes would like to have some words with you. As would many many others.

  16. ogwriter says:

    Yes, I use the three fifths compromise, the treatment of women, the of times murderous annihilation of the natives, the horrors od colonialism etc., etc., etc., as my litmus test. I know for many, they would just as soon forget these things ever happened. I pretty sure stealing, lying, cheating, murder, and other sins were wrong during the 17th,18th,and 19th centuries too. It would think this would be especially true of good, devout, upstanding Christians. If slavery did not exist in North America alongside slavery in the south…CLEARLY THEN, slavery was not morally acceptable everywhere just because others engaged in the practice.

  17. John K. Anderson says:

    I’ll leave the moral question of how to deal with the uncomfortable truths of history, like how the same person that wrote the Declaration of Independence (which contained anti-slavery rhetoric in its early drafts) could also be a life-long slave owner, to the historians and philosophers. Suffice to say I think that history doesn’t have to justify itself to anyone, it justifies itself to itself.

    But in terms of presidential rankings I’d say the early news is pretty good for Obama. Of the polls of historians that I’ve seen so far (think of them as trial heats or something) he’s been up in the mid-teens which doesn’t put him up there with Lincoln or FDR, but it’s not that bad either.

    On the downside for Obamaphiles there still could be big problems in the next few years: a Watergate style scandal, a big economic crisis, or a disastrous war. But then again I don’t think any of those are that likely to happen (and no all the Benghazi/IRS/Solyndra/whathaveyou stuff is not what I’m talking about). Or if the 2016 election results in unified Republican control Obama might be seen in a worse light by future historians as well (the same way that the Democratic wave of 2008, and resulting policies, will probably make Bush the Younger look worse in the long run).

    On the plus side for Obamaphiles if you look at the ranking since FDR presidents tend to go up with time not down, especially those that win reelection. I’m just speculating here but I suspect that future historians, that is millennials, will have a more positive view of Obama because of his popularity with that cohort. The same way that JFK is hugely popular with boomers and thus ranked higher (in my opinion) than he should be.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      So I looked at your link, thank you for providing some citation even if it is a Wikipedia article and the article states that Obama is the 10th best president since 1900 according to a Newsweek panel of historians. Including Obama we have had 19 Presidents since 1900. Obama is ranked above Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon and William Howard Taft. I mean, he’s not done with his presidency and there is a lot going wrong for him and America right now so that position could slide. Also, your article said Bill Clinton was a better president than Ronald Reagan. That reflects the political view point of the historians polled and an assessment I would vehemently disagree with. Reagan brought down the Soviet Union. While the economy did do well under Clinton, I don’t believe Presidents really have a great impact on the economy so I think Clinton got more credit than he deserves.

  18. Enjoyed the read.

    I believe anyone with a sound and logical mind would quickly come to understand how there is no way in the world that President Obama is a “bad” POTUS. I mean, that’s just ridiculous.

  19. courage the cowardly dog says:

    OG you make no sense at all, I can’t even begin to respond to your post because it is so ridiculous. According to you there can be no truth, which I suppose if you are an Obamaphile works well because you can shape the truth in anyway that puts Obama in a good light.

    Mr. Anderson, I don’t know what historians you are polling but think for a second what the hue and cry would have been had George W. Bush said to a Russian president “This is my last election,” After my election I have more flexibility.” – See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/auh-a-few-reasons-why-republicans-have-to-stop-saying-president-obam/#sthash.u4RrQ3V7.dpuf. The Main Stream Media is Obama’s personal public relations firm, ever stupid thing he does they minimize. That was also true of Carter. Ronald Reagan called Carter out and Reagan had sufficient enough charisma to overcome the main stream media’s attacks on him and he laid bare all of Carter’s incompetency. I believe when ultimately history views Obama it will not be kindly. If Putin is successful in reconstituting the Soviet Bloc, which he has begun to do, and a good part of it begins during Obama’s presidency you can’t convince me that history will view him kindly if he allows what took us 60 years to bring down, Obama allows to be rebuilt in 2 and 1/2 years. Putin doesn’t give a crap about what Obama thinks and Obama revealed his ignorance of the Russian in the debate with Romney when he snidely said the 1980’s is calling and they want their foreign policy back in response to Romney’s very forsightful assessment of the Russian threat. Moreover, if the ACA fails, that is his signature legislation, and with a big Republican win in the midterms it is likely to fail you can’t tell me that in the light of such failure history will assess Obama kindly. Tell me, Mr. Anderson if the ACA fails and Putin rebuilds or substantially rebuilds the Soviet Bloc what will Obama be known for? What will he have done that will make him notable?

  20. courage the cowardly dog says:

    History evaluates presidents on events or things they do during their presidency. During my lifetime there was Kennedy who is known for the Cuban Missile Crisis (Kennedy as hero), Johnson had the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Vietnam War (hero/goat), Nixon -Watergate/establishing a relationship with China (goat/hero), Ford–Pardoning Nixon (hero/goat depending on your politics), Carter malaise, oil shortage, inflation, Iran Hostage Crisis (goat, goat, goat and goat), Reagan– cutting spending and bringing down the Soviet Union; Bush 41 raising taxes after telling the American people to read his lips “No New Taxes” and the first Gulf War (goat/hero), Clinton welfare reform, surging economy, Monica Lewinsky (hero/hero/goat), Bush 43 9/11, War in Afghanistan and Iraq War (I don’t blame him for 9/11, he was too new into his presidency, but hero for the War in Afghanistan and chasing Al Qeida and Taliban into the hills and goat for the Iraq War. Then there is Obama– yes he got Osama Bin Ladin who was hiding in plain sight and had been effectively rendered moot. I think historically that will look rather small in comparison to the failure of the ACA and the reconstitution of the Soviet Bloc.

  21. courage the cowardly dog says:

    btw Reagan (hero/hero)

  22. No big deal at all says:

    Nice bantering. The best and worst presidents? I look at it this way. Which is better a stubbed toe or a broken foot? I guess it would be a stubbed toe BUT do either have a quality of good. Yup, Obama may be better then some but is there a quality of good? I have’t found it so far. I still know many people who are no better off now then they were when he took office and in fact some are worse off. I’ve been observing Good Men Project I have to tell you, CW and Courage and maybe a couple of others, you guys rock.

  23. 8 years ago – The president is incompetent, war criminal, ignores the constitution, should be impeached, abuses power, worst president ever, applauds depicting him as a monkey.

    Now – How dare you say the president is incompetent, war criminal, ignores the constitution, should be impeached, abuses power, worst president ever, rodeo clown wearing a mask of him is racist and should be outlawed.

  24. ogwriter says:

    @John I prefer that history and historians think for themselves and not interpret history for me.In the end,I hope that common folk will also judge histories merits for themselves too.

  25. Anonymous says:

    @courage I am aware that there were natives cultures where slavery existed.Comparing it to the monolithic,industrial strength American stlye slavery,is akin to equating a cold with MS.We disagree on many things.I can live with that.It is not likely that I will wake up one day with a new found respect for the band of hypocrites who wrote the Constitution.In keeping with one of the best and most famous of American traditions,I dissent.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      @Anonymous you have the absolute right to be wrong and I will fight to the death for you to express that right, but I will also fight to the death to make sure your wrong headed notions don’t prevail in the way of public policy. American style slavery was nothing compared to Ancient Egyptian style slavery either. Or Chinese slavery of the Moueng people of Cambodia or

      Just with regard to Jefferson’s views on slavery I refer you to the following link: http://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery/thomas-jefferson-and-slavery

      Also, of interesting note : The Anti-Slavery Society estimated that there were 2,000,000 slaves in the early 1930s Ethiopia. 65 years after we freed our slaves and outlawed slavery, it continued in Africa.

  26. ogwriter says:

    Thomas Jefferson:When it comes slavery,Thomas Jefferson has perhaps the lest integrity of all the “founding” bumblers.His actions speak volumes,he has no credibility. The world is changing,adapt or get out of the way.Americans have crossed a threshold and are not going back to the days where they blindly follow destructive traditions just because they exist.I understand why courage,cw and other guys swear by Reagan.I lived under his govenorship,he is not my cup ‘o tea.

  27. Anonymous says:

    @courage I read your link on Jefferson.What’s your point?There is no new info and it reinforces all that was already known.In fact,one could argue his ridicuoulsy convulted values were,at the end of the day,a weak rational to justify having his cake and eating it too.His verbal condemnation of slavery, in light of his behavior, means he is a simple liar. I do realize that for people like you ,his egregious hypocrises,his actual behaviors-not his words-are rationalized to suit your worldview.I do agree with his assessment that the founders put this country on a collison course with the Civil War.The Constitution and the men who wrote and signed off on it are responsible for that war.That doesn’t represent greatness that’s utter,rank, selfish stupidity.

  28. If “blindly following destructive traditions” means viewing Enlightenment thinkers in the context of their age, I will do so. You heard it here first- the words of the author of the Declaration of Independence- one of the most important documents ever written mind you- have no credibility. Smh.

  29. ogwriter says:

    …er,slavery still exists in America today.

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