POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE GUARDIAN
Does it matter whether he is THE worst?
It seems to me this kind of thing only matters to people fascinated by lists - the ten best...the hundred greatest...etc. - always a trivial and unimaginative way to look at the world.
That Bush ranks with the worst, there is no question. He is provincial, unpleasant, uninspiring, and has only set the United States back in diplomacy, respect, human rights, and social justice.
Observations have leaked from many ministers and aides abroad testifying to the sad impression Bush makes.
His changes to the tax structure of the United States are almost as much a disaster as his foreign policy. He has turned the United States into France in 1781. Apres moi, le deluge.
His financial record is a nightmare.
The full impact of his invasions may not be felt for years. He has made an army of enemies.
Of course, historical assessment, as opposed to journalism, takes many years, but Bush's general position seems clear.
The truth is that the United States has had a pretty unimpressive list of presidents. When they weren't madmen like Jackson (who would have been committed in the 20th century), they were mediocrities like Johnson, Buchanan or Grant. Sometimes they were men of talent but no taste or judgment like Adams or Nixon. There's been a lot of pettiness and an immense amount of ranting jingoism.
Perhaps it is a measure of the weakness of American constitutional arrangements and political structures that the record of its leaders is not more heroic, or at least impressive.