Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Person of the Week: Donald Trump
Worst US President Ever?
By Wolfram Weimer
Arnold Schwarzenegger scolds Trump as the worst US president of all time. After the storm on the Capitol at the latest, many see it that way. But a look at the history books shows – it can get worse. Trump is more in the same category as Richard Nixon. That’s enough.
Presidential rankings are very popular in America. Since Harvard University published its first ranking study in 1948, the media, universities and round tables have regularly ranked the presidents. Commonly, George Washington (founding father), Thomas Jefferson (constitutional godfather), Abraham Lincoln (slavery abolisher) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (world war victor) top the popularity charts. But who is actually the most unpopular US president of all time? In this category, Donald Trump is pushing forward powerfully these days.
According to a poll by the New York Times of 170 leading American political scientists, Donald Trump was the worst two years ago. And since then, his balance sheet has only become really miserable. During his presidency, the USA experienced the worst economic downturn, a mass death with almost 400,000 corona deaths as a result of an incorrectly assessed pandemic, severe race riots and a deep polarization of society. The low point of the Trump era is now considered to be the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters in order to somehow reverse the election defeat through coup-like actions.
For the history books, can there really be anything worse in the White House than this narcissistic 45th President? It can. James Buchanan, for example. He was the 15th President of the United States from 1857 to 1861, and it was a disaster. Not because he was extremely cross-eyed and a strange loner (the only president to date who remained unmarried). Above all, Buchanan paved the way for the civil war from 1861 to 1865. More than 600,000 soldiers were killed, a whole generation traumatized, flourishing cities razed to the ground, entire regions devastated. The darkest hour in American history is associated with the Buchanan presidency. That outweighs Trump’s mistakes.
Warren Harding (29th President from 1921 to 1923) is one of the three worst presidents. Harding is considered the most corrupt US president in history. He not only had connections with the Ku Klux Klan and several extramarital affairs, which were supposed to be hidden with horrific black money. His government became involved in spectacular acts of corruption. Harding helped political friends get lucrative offices. A group known as the “Ohio Gang” used their position to systematically evade government funds. The spectrum of the corruption gang ranged from the silvering of foreign property to the illegal distribution of alcohol and drugs to organized bribery in the allocation of state oil fields (Teapot Dome scandal). Harding’s Home Secretary Albert B. Fall was the first American minister to serve a prison sentence for an official crime.
Trump is more on a par with Nixon
The 14th US President Franklin Pierce (1853 to 1857) also competes with Trump. He was an alcoholic and a racist. With wild foreign policy actions he tried in vain to conquer Cuba, attacked Central America with a private army and was on the verge of a war against Great Britain. Domestically, he fueled the slave dispute. His “Kansas-Nebraska Act” lifted the prohibition of slavery in these states and gave the starting signal for unrest that ended in the American Civil War. When fully drunk, he is also said to have run over an elderly pedestrian in his carriage. He died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Compared to these three really miserable Presidents Buchanan, Pierce and Harding, Trump is more in the penultimate category – on a level with Richard Nixon (37th President). As a result of the Watergate affair, Nixon was the only US president in history to step down from office. His negative balance comes closest to that of Donald Trump. Nixon and Trump are likely to occupy the fourth and fifth worst presidents in the US history book.
Both polarized the US in a wounding way, both were rhetorical rude blocks (Nixon called Willy Brandt “an idiot” and Indira Gandhi “an old witch”), both are convicted of constant political lies, both wanted to undermine the separation of powers, attacked the press and through abuse of office triggered a minor constitutional crisis. Both ended up in parliamentary impeachment proceedings. Nixon anticipated his trial by resigning on August 9, 1974. Trump would have to hurry to do this.