The 10 Worst Presidents

It's too soon to judge the current one, but for past leaders, the verdict is in
By Jay Tolson
US News & World Report

George W. Bush's presidency shaping up to be one of the worst in U.S. history? You hear the question being asked more and more these days. And more and more, you hear the same answer. With Iraq a shambles and trust in the administration declining, it is probably not surprising that 54 percent of respondents in a recent USA Today/Gallup survey said that history would judge Bush a below-average or poor president, more than twice the number who gave such a rating to any of the five preceding occupants of the White House, including Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

Public opinion is a notoriously fickle beast, of course, which is why historians and other custodians of the long view prefer to reserve judgment until they can speak of their subjects in the past tense. But clearly something about Bush ii has inspired many historians to abandon their usual caution. Meena Bose, a Hofstra University political scientist who has written about presidential ratings, says that the scholars' rush to rank the current president comes out of an acute awareness of the long-term consequences of his policies. "Since it's hard to see how Iraq will work out for the better,'' Bose says, " it's hard not to pass judgments."

Read more about the worst Presidents.

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