Here's why Trump will be remembered as 'the worst president America has ever had': historian

Here's why Trump will be remembered as 'the worst president America has ever had': historian

The Trump era — much to the delight of President Donald Trump's liberal and progressive critics, as well as Never Trumpers — will come to an end this week when Joe Biden is sworn in as president of the United States and former Sen. Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president. Tim Naftali, a history professor at New York University, looks back on Trump's presidency in an article published by The Atlantic the day before Biden's inauguration — and lays out some reasons why he considers Trump the worst president in U.S. history.

Trump is the 45th president of the U.S., and Biden will be the 46th. Saying that Trump was worse than all 44 of the presidents who came before him is saying a lot, but Naftali offers a lot of history to back up his argument.

"As his four years in office draw to an end," Naftali writes, "there's only one title to which he can lay claim: Donald Trump is the worst president America has ever had."

The NYU professor goes on to say that a U.S. president serves as "head of state, head of government and commander in chief" and promises to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

"Trump was a serial violator of his oath — as evidenced by his continual use of his office for personal financial gain — but focusing on three crucial ways in which he betrayed it helps clarify his singular historical status," Naftali explains. "First, he failed to put the national security interests of the United States ahead of his own political needs. Second, in the face of a devastating pandemic, he was grossly derelict, unable or unwilling to marshal the requisite resources to save lives while actively encouraging public behavior that spread the disease. And third, held to account by voters for his failures, he refused to concede defeat and instead instigated an insurrection, stirring a mob that stormed the Capitol."

Naftali notes that some historians have slammed Warren G. Harding as the worst president in U.S. history. Others hold Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan in low regard.

"Does Trump have any modern competitors for the title of worst president?," Naftali writes. "Like Harding, a number of presidents were poor executors of the office. President Woodrow Wilson was an awful man who presided over an apartheid system in the nation's capital, largely confined his support for democracy abroad to White nations, and then mishandled a pandemic. President Herbert Hoover helped drive the U.S. economy into the ground during the Great Depression, because the economics he learned as a young man proved fundamentally wrong."

Naftali continues, "President George W. Bush's impulse after 9/11 to weaken American civil liberties in the name of protecting them, and his blanket approval of interrogation techniques universally considered torture, left Americans disillusioned and impeded the struggle to deradicalize Islamists…. And then there's Richard Nixon. Before Trump, Nixon set the standard for modern presidential failure as the first president forced from office, who resigned ahead of impeachment. And in many ways, their presidencies have been eerily parallel. But the comparison to Nixon reveals the ways in which Trump's presidency has been not merely bad, but the very worst we have ever seen."

Trump's many failures, Naftali adds, range from his "serial subservience to foreign strongmen such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and, of course, Russia's Vladimir Putin" to his "effort to squeeze the Ukrainians to get dirt on his likely opponent in 2020, the cause of his first impeachment" to his disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Naftali observes, "The COVID-19 pandemic… will have killed at least 400,000 Americans by the time he leaves office. In his inaugural address, Trump vowed an end to 'American carnage,' but in office, he presided over needless death and suffering. Trump's failure to anticipate and then respond to the pandemic has no equivalent in Nixon's tenure; when Nixon wasn't plotting political subversion and revenge against his perceived enemies, he could be a good administrator."

Trump's presidency, Naftali laments, is ending with "his role as the chief instigator of the attempted insurrection of January 6," which went "far beyond" Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

"If Trump is now the worst president we have ever had," Naftali writes, "it's up to every American to ensure that no future chief executive ever exceeds him."

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