Note to self: How could Richard Nixon not make my list of least favorite presidents? Because . . .
#5 Andrew Jackson, the president of the people with an unfortunate whiff of Pol Pot. He opened the White House doors to the “common man” while he threw merit out the window by awarding government jobs solely on patronage – all of which pales beside the “trail of tears,” the forced and deadly relocation of all southeastern Indian nations to Oklahoma.
#4 Rutherford B. Hayes shouldn’t have been president at all. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote and led by 19 electoral votes, with three southern states in dispute. A commission, voting along partisan lines, gave their 20 votes to Hayes. The price? The removal of federal troops from the South, the collapse of Reconstruction, and the lethal ascendency of Jim Crow.
#3 Ronald Reagan’s folksy demeanor masked a divisive presidency. His image of the welfare queen in a Cadillac signaled that the poor – at least those who were urban and black – were not just getting what they deserved. They were getting more than they deserved. His pronouncement that trees cause pollution signaled that know-nothingism was a legitimate response to environmental destruction.
#2 James Buchanan. Pennsylvania’s only president spent four years doing nothing while the nation moved with increasing violence toward civil war.
# 1 George W. Bush. After going on vacation for the month of August, he returned just before September 11th . . . to which his response was to tell us to go shopping while he launched two disastrous off-the-books wars, legitimized torture, and instituted tax-and-spending policies that led to the worst recession since the 1930s and left the country in shambles.