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3/18/2006

Is Bush the worst ever?

Matt Yglesias has a puzzling post:
...seriously, what's with Harry Reid saying George W. Bush is "the worst president this country has ever had" or Hillary Clinton's similar claim that he's "one of the worst" in American history? On domestic policy, he's certainly been a bad president in the sense that I would gladly prefer Al Gore or John Kerry or Howard Dean or Joe Lieberman or Wesley Clark or Russ Feingold or pretty much whomever you like ... bad in a run-of-the-mill, parties- alternate-in- power, rightwingers- are-all-bad kind of way.

On other fronts, the Afghan War was necessary and it's been handled okay ... This just isn't the stuff out of which world-historical badness is made.

But wait! I forgot something: Iraq.

I still don't know that "worst ever" is the right thing to say, but certainly when Iraq comes into the picture you can start to see the case that Bush is super-bad. That was a big, giant, important blunder whose consequences we'll be living with for years if not decades. But then again, Clinton and Reid both . . . supported the war and don't support substantially changing Bush's war policy right now. So what can they be talking about? Who knows?
Now, what the import of this debate is I can't even imagine, so I don't even know why I'm commenting on it (but then again, few of these debates we have do matter, in the sense of actually having an effect on anything). But first of all, the Afghan war was neither necessary nor proper, and it has certainly not been "handled okay." And Yglesias ignores Bush's "handling" of the Katrina disaster, as Scott Shields points out.

It's true that it's hard to imagine Clinton and Reid basing their comments on the Iraq war, considering their support for it, but that's not really relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim that Bush is the worst ever.

I don't know if Bush is the worst ever; certainly Andrew Jackson and Harry Truman would deserve to be mentioned in that conversation, along with a few others. But he has been a disaster on every front, with basically nothing positive to point to, a track record which certainly puts him in the running. And he's still got three years to go.

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