The 5 Worst (and 5 Best) Presidents of All Time
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Citizens of America, you can thank George Washington for your Presidents Day holiday off. That's if you happen to be one who still has a job to take time away from. But there are greater presidents in American history to thank for everything from emancipating the nation from slavery capitalists to going head-to-head with rapacious fatcats. And while these elective paragons are not without their heinous warts, so to speak, they pale in comparison to the madness and waste with which the worst presidents in American history infected the body politic.
Here is our recession-recalibrated list of the worst presidents in American history, starting with a nauseatingly familiar face that probably both Democrats and Republicans alike wish they could forget. Then, we'll run down the top five presidents in American history, which follows the embarrassments below as a much-needed mind cleanser.
The Five Worst Presidents Ever (Post-Econopocalypse Edition)
1. Dick Cheney
With one puppeteering hand in Congress and another behind presidential figurehead George W. Bush -- who spent eight years dodging deserved slings and arrows for everything from his cruel streak to his massacred language -- Dick "Dark Side" Cheney is both the worst figurative president and the worst real vice-president the United States has ever seen. We needed him like we needed a shotgun blast to the face. You can thank him at length for monumental screw-ups such as Halliburton, KBR, the post-9/11 panopticon, the Iraq occupation and further insane escapades. That includes those perpetrated by Cheney while serving as Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush (another nomination for worst president ever), chief of staff under Gerald Ford and even with Richard Nixon, where he teamed up with Donald Rumsfeld, who Nixon memorably called a " ruthless little bastard."
President Obama is still cleaning up the mess both of these disaster capitalists made without apology (which is the chief reason he's incapable of rising above mediocrity). But throwing out the titanic heaps of trash Cheney and Bush created may help him transcend his moribund state if he gets a second term.
2. Warren Harding
Warren Harding can thank Bush and Cheney's bottomless schemes for diluting his renewable resource as the routinely worst president in American history. But they simply yet staggeringly built upon the foundational corruption of the Harding administration, whose benchmark Teapot Dome Scandal was an oil privatization scam that enriched his really long list of cronies, who in turn damned his compromised administration to the historical dustbin. ("I have no trouble with my enemies," Harding once told journalist William Allen White, "but my damn friends, they're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!") Harding and his out-of-control administration more or less founded the modern corporatism and consumption that we dumbly accept today as standard operating procedure. Not even his allegedly significant infidelities and bacchanalian orgies can make him cool again.
3. Herbert Hoover
Hoover is hard proof that trained engineers are capable of making things run not just more inefficiently, but nightmarishly as well. His lazy approach to the Great Depression is routinely referred to when running down his significant list of disappointments, but even revisionists can probably agree that he utterly to failed to institute the reforms they think, or wish, he reportedly wanted to make. Like today's vulture capitalists, Hoover believed that a government directly assisting its disenfranchised, which during his time was a much more vigorous labor base than our own, was tantamount to enabling addiction. For this impoverished economic philosophy, he was hammered by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 election, and ideologically shamed during Roosevelt's next three terms.