Who Has Been America's Best, Worst President?

In honor of Presidents' Day, let us know your favorite commander-in-chief.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Credit: morgueFile
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Credit: morgueFile
By Hunt Archbold

Monday is Presidents' Day, which honors George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, along with our nation's other 42 commander-in-chiefs.

See here to the learn more on the roots of this federal holiday.

In honor of the day, Patch wants to know who you think has been our nation's best president. Of course, if you'd like to tell us who you think has been the worst president, we'd welcome those comments, as well.

While you're mulling it over, take a look at this roughly three-minute video on the presidents from KCAL-TV out of Los Angeles.

In it, political analyst and Loyola Marymount University Professor Michael Genovese, who has authored more than 30 books on U.S. presidents, gives his opinion on an array of presidents, including Barack Obama. 

Do you agree with him?

Safety first February 16, 2014 at 08:09 PM
I must look at what each President has done to bring this country together. With that said Barrack Obama would have to be the worst president since Lincoln. Two Presidents that tore this nation apart. The Best I would say is Franklin D. Roosevelt who brought the country together like no other in a great time of need. Brook. You want achievements? Lincoln and Obama achieved something few others have. A division of a country. True leaders do what must be done to bring a people together for the good of all. That is called leadership.
Jim Burnetti February 16, 2014 at 08:21 PM
Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot. He snookered Gorbachev into bankruptcy with the idea of a missile defense system. Jimmy Carter was book smart, but an awful leader.
Brook Hubbard February 16, 2014 at 08:27 PM
"I'm not looking at achievements or failures." And that's your problem right there. What is it you're looking at if not those? What else determines how well a person does their job than what they've achieved and what they've done wrong? Explain what sort of logic you're using to come up with your conclusion.
Brook Hubbard February 16, 2014 at 08:37 PM
"I must look at what each President has done to bring this country together." What about George W. Bush? His election created an outrage, he started the most unpopular war since Vietnam, and he's had a higher percentage of ~true~ disparaging remarks spread about him than any other recent President. He's consistently ranked highest for "most polarizing President". What about FDR? His "New Deal" faced more anger and backlash than Obamacare, causing unity among Conservatives on a level unheard of, with their gridlock and control only being broken by the start of WW2. No, I'm sorry, if you just read a history book you'll find far more divisive administrations than Barack Obama, so even by that faulty gauge he falls short of "the worst".
Anthony D Paul February 16, 2014 at 09:27 PM
Seeing as no President has reduced our country to ruin, I'd say the de facto "worst" would be he who didn't really serve at all—accomplishing the least. In an act of arrogance, to prove macho fitness against criticism of being too old for office, William H Harrison gave the longest inaugural address, on a cold and wet day, without proper attire, only to die of pneumonia within a few weeks of election. Runner up would of course be James A Garfield, who also died within the same year of inauguration, but not by his own hand. His is a fascinating assassination story to study up on. The assassination should have been unsuccessful and was, by historical analysis, a non-lethal gunshot to the lower spine. The trouble was, the US hadn't adopted sterilization methods yet so doctors fished around in his body with bare, uncleaned hands, not finding the bullet stopped at the bone. He of course, was overcome by infection and thus bed-ridden. They were concerned about the possibility of the bullet having punctured his intestine, so they refused to feed him orally, and instead gave him nutrient enemas consisting of beef broth, egg, milk, and whiskey. Over a couple months of suffering from infection and starvation, he finally died. The saddest part of the story is that x-ray was invented only a short time afterward, in addition to sterilization techniques—both of which would have saved him. In fact, the lawyer for the attempted assassin even tried to appeal with the claim the doctors were at fault for Garfield's death and as such the homicide charge should be overturned.
Mary Vecellio February 17, 2014 at 07:30 AM
I remember President Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs situation and how we had to be prepared for war, even in school with drills, etc. I would have to put Kennedy up there with President Obama who orchestrated the killing of Bin Ladin who was responsible for the deaths in 9/11, as contenders for the best President. For the worse President? Hmmmmm....I don't have one. I didn't always agree with their Politics, but I don't think we've ever had a "worse" President,
John W. February 17, 2014 at 08:18 AM
Hey Brook!! You are the one who needs to go read a book...some suggestions, The Communist Manifesto, Animal Farm, 1984, The Constitution as written by the forefathers (It is NOT a living breathing document as most liberals like yourself would have everyone believe). The person in the White House that usurped the Presidency by way of a forged birth certificate will have this country bathed in Communism if he isn't stopped. For that matter read his own books where he praises Islam and slams capitalism & democracy. His own brother belongs to a terrorist organization. Wake up and smell the roses. It's "sheeple" like yourself that led to the rise of Stalin, Hitler & Mao. And yes I include Obama in with those three.
Buck Harmon February 17, 2014 at 08:37 AM
There are no definitive answers to these questions...only opinions...history will continue to repeat itself as long as our Country maintains the apathetic majority. That is our destiny. We are only mere human beings and our ability to reason tends to stifle perceived progress. Both parties have consistently failed on a regular basis throughout history despite who the presidents may have been.
Buck Harmon February 17, 2014 at 08:39 AM
With such divisiveness the best for one will always be the worst for the other...dumb comparison.
Brook Hubbard February 17, 2014 at 08:44 AM
And here comes the ignorant ad hominem attacks, all because I don't agree with your absolutist viewpoint. How do you know I'm a "liberal"? How do you know who I voted for or support? How do you know what I've read? Just because I don't believe Obama was the worst President in history doesn't mean I'm a "sheeple" or even like the man. Unfortunately, you have the deluded schema that anyone who doesn't agree with your conspiracy theories, conclusions from books, or other media-created extremism, is automatically a puppet of "the enemy". Congratulations, you've shown everyone just how invalid and unintelligent anything you say is.
Ed February 17, 2014 at 01:11 PM
Bush Jr. Worst. Lincoln or FDR best.
Jessie Grey February 17, 2014 at 08:34 PM
Worst Obama, barely eeking out a win vs GWB. Best, FDR or Clinton. Reagan was pretty good, but drove up the debt.
Mary Vecellio February 17, 2014 at 08:45 PM
WHY is it that President Obama NEVER gets any credit for anything he does??? He had Bin Ladin killed after 9/11 and no one seems to care, YET we were after him in the Clinton Administration and no one did a thing about it even though Clinton ADMITTED on the air that "It was Bin Ladin who did this!" Every time President Obama wants to do something to help the American people and to reduce the deficit, the Republicans just defy his efforts to do so! If Obama says the sky is blue, the Republicans counter saying it's gray! Go figure! We need to get rid of Boehner -- he's nipping too much whiskey and it shows on his sanquine expressions and his argumentative attitude!! He has nothing better to do with his time than to argue with President Obama! President Obama invited the Republicans to the White House to discuss different issues on several different occasions but all the Republicans could do was argue -- BUT they didn't have any other ideas! Obviously, their JOB is to argue with the President on anything -- they are good at THAT! I could say WHY I think they are so disrespectful to President Obama but I'll pass on that one! However, it's only obvious!
Buck Harmon February 18, 2014 at 08:27 AM
By any objective measure Obama has failed: The economy is in shambles. Incomes are shrinking. Welfare rolls are expanding. Unemployment is historically high (when measured properly). Confidence in the future is abysmally low. Confidence in Washington is at an all-time low. Foreign policy is a disgrace, leading to an increasingly and unecessarily dangerous world. Government is insolvent and being made more so by the profligate spending of this Administration. Defaults are inevitable. Obama’s signature program, ObamaCare, is a Rube Goldberg contraption (apologies to Rube) that is unwanted, unneeded, unimplementable and unworkable. The hubris of the Boy Wonder and his cohorts in the Democrat Party protect this stillborn program. It provides fewer choices, lower quality providers, higher premiums, higher deductibles and unnecessary fear and consternation to millions of Americans.
Buck Harmon February 18, 2014 at 08:31 AM
Obama’s World What is it that makes this man tick? He seems unable or unwilling to recognize reality. Like a peacock, he struts around believing that he is a great and successful leader, “the one we are waiting for.” His is a world lacking duty, honor, responsibility, reality or accountability. His is also a life devoid of any accomplishment other than fooling many of the people at election time.
Brook Hubbard February 18, 2014 at 08:53 AM
But do these failures make him the "worst" President in all history? That's the debate here. Nixon's continuation of Vietnam, his blunders in the foreign arena (USSR, Cambodia, Pakistan, Chile, etc.), poor program choices (Anti-Ballistic Missiles, Boeing), disastrous economic decisions, and nepotism and corruption in his cabinet. None of that even begins to touch on Watergate and his own tax fraud. Obama has made some very bad choices (although we may disagree on what those were), but I think there were far more disastrous administrations prior.
Buck Harmon February 18, 2014 at 10:59 AM
No debate here Brook, the best and worst can't possibly be identified completely... for a second term president that has a very poor track record that only seems to worsen, I would say that Obama will go down in history among the worst presidents.
Mary Vecellio February 18, 2014 at 01:52 PM
While I appreciate your comments, Buck and Brook, I think the reason President Obama seems to have not accomplished a lot in his Presidency, is because of the REPUBLICANS! At his State of the Union, President Obama said he would take matters into his own hands if others did not cooperate. Well, I enjoyed seeing him get TOUGH! He's been waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too patient with the REPUBLICANS! Aaaaaaaaaaand, the Republicans, because of their aversions to supporting our President, are not looking very good in the eyes of a lot of voters!
Buck Harmon February 18, 2014 at 03:54 PM
Mary, I am of the belief that our Constitutional Republic has been screwed equally by both parties...to assume that one has done more damage than the other would tend to contribute to the massive divide that continues to grow out of control. Presidents are human beings that can not possibly have the skill or care to be effective in this world. Taking a specific side of the divide could be considered an apathetic stand to those that truly do want to see improvement. Adding lots of a's to words makes you look dumb.
Mary Vecellio February 18, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Dear Buck, The fact that the REPUBLICANS refuse to communicate with President Obama is only OBVIOUS because their demeanor hits the airways everyday! I have a right to defend the President and take "a specific site of the divide" as you say. Others think Obama is the worst President -- well they are taking a specific side of the divide TOO! President Obama NEVER gets any credit for the GOOD he has done and I know why -- the Republicans want CONTROL of everything and do not want him receiving any CREDIT for what he does for the GOOD of the country! The Republicans are a sad lot.... and please speak for yourself about looking dumb.
Buck Harmon February 18, 2014 at 05:16 PM
Sorry Mary, That may have been a bit harsh..
Shawna Ginocchio February 22, 2014 at 01:03 PM
Let's see, Obama brought Obamacare, stopped the Bush recession catastrophe from the freefall of our monetary system and ushered in a stabilization and now growing economy, orchestrated the killing of Osama bin Laden, stopped the fleecing of Americans by the banking industry's greed, saved the auto industry, brought our soldiers home from a ridiculous and pointless war, stopped our environmental suicide path and has begun the perilously slow turnaround. He's definitely up there but he can't be best because of the vast corruption and racism in congress, sadly both sides of the aisle. I'm sure they were all bought for a purpose that they really can't be delivering on. So I guess I'd have to go back to a time before we were so completely corrupted. Lincoln held the nation together and picked the right side against a tide of opposition and FDR for his leadership and diplomacy through crisis. Worst? Bush Jr perhaps for handing the nation, including the US military to the 1% to waste and pillage. Bush entertained Osama bin Laden in the White House. George Bush Sr. and bin Laden Sr. are long-standing business partners. George Bush Sr. and the bin Laden family are on the board of the Carlyle Group, a large defense contractor. The bin Laden family financed George Bush Jr.'s early failed businesses. His handling of Katrina was disgusting--yup, he's awful. US news ranked Bush Jr. as 39th and Obama as 15th with Reagan at 18th. Hopefully America can vote Obama a congress he can work with and we can get him to 12th or better. So even though US news put 5 worse than Bush Sr. I would say he deserves a lower rating. I mean Tyler just died, Bush allowed thousands and thousands to die. If Bush had died as Tyler did he would've done much less damage.
Wayne Adamson February 25, 2014 at 04:21 AM
As someone who has been around since Roosevelt, I can say without a doubt that Obama ranks number one as the worst President ever. Obamacare is a disaster. Iraq and Afghanistan are going to hell, the economy stinks, spending is out of control,he has no respect from any nation. His only accomplishments are playing more rounds of golf and taking more vacations than anyone in the history of the Presidency.
Mary Vecellio February 25, 2014 at 06:55 PM
Dear Wayne, I'm sorry but I do not believe a word you say about Obama. Prove it that President Obama plays more golf or takes more vacations than any other President! I know Republican Presidents who played golf and vacationed and were never in the White House when they were needed.
Shawna Ginocchio February 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Wayne, Obamacare is no more a disaster than Medicare or Social Security were when they started up, in fact, it's doing better. Iraq and Afghanistan were going to hell long, long before Obama was even born and probably will continue to long after he's gone. Us going to hell with them was the mistake that Obama got us out of. The economy stinks thanks to Bush. It has done nothing but improve with Obama in office. Considering the absolute collapse of our monetary system that Obama was handed, it smells quite nice I'd say. If you learned any economics, you would see that Obama probably should have spent more than he did, but, considering what he had to work with congressionally, his spending was low. Regarding golf, Obama is far from the president who played the most golf. Woodrow Wilson reportedly played about 1,200 rounds during his presidency. Dwight Eisenhower is the runner-up at 800, according to his memorial commission and there were others. Perhaps Fox news is not the best information source.
Wayne Adamson February 26, 2014 at 01:12 PM
First, I don't watch Fox News, never have. Second, stop blaming Bush. This guy Obama has had 5 yrs and spent trillions of our dollars and hasn't fixed the underlying problems of the economy. Absolute collapse of the monetary system under Bush? What are you taking about? Did the dollar value go down to nothing by comparison with other currencies? I must have missed hearing about that CNN news show. I am tired of Obama's lies and his excuses. Since when does US Government spending fix the economy? Roosevelt spent plenty on his special programs and the unemployment rate never got better until US involvement in WW II came along 9 years after his election. Under the Obama administration the debt has risen by 7 trillion in 5 years and you want us to spend more money that the country doesn't have? Just how much overspending by a Democratic controlled Congress would be sufficient? What smells nice about an economy where we continue to take people off the full time working rolls at a rate about equal to the number of new part time jobs added. The slight increase in the number of Americans actually working has been ridiculous considering the number that need to be employed for a successful economy and based on the total population of the country (many of those jobs added are part-time). Doubling the number of people on food stamps is no accomplishment, it's an indication of the sad solutions offered by Obama to fix our economy. Regarding golf, Obama hasn't played the most rounds, as was pointed out, but I can safely bet that Wilson (the golf winner) played 95% of his rounds within 50 miles of the White House, not in Hawaii or Arizona or all of the other spots that Obama has visited as part of his continual campaigning for his left wing agenda. This guy is a fake, a fraud and has continued on a path of making his own rules for running the government without restriction. Why have a Congress? Obama uses executive orders to change the will of Congress anyway. A good example is his changing the rules on the despicable Obamacare law, which the Dems passed without a single Republican vote in favor. I guess for some people, the "best" President is the one who runs the country like a tyrant, in which case that would make Obama no. 1 and Roosevelt no 2 or perhaps vice versa. For me, those two rank as the worst along with Jimmy Carter who didn't have a clue about how to run anything, including the State of Georgia when he was governor. That must be the new requirement for any President now, incompetence in previous jobs. Obama has that requirement sewed up, even the "hated" Bush can't beat him on that.
Mary Vecellio February 26, 2014 at 07:44 PM
Dear Shawna, I couldn't have said it better! Thank you for trying to set the record straight!
Shawna Ginocchio February 26, 2014 at 11:38 PM
Wayne, thank you for reading. You've demonstrated that you are capable of coherent thought so I will entertain your argument. First, Bush created the two unsuccessful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama successfully found Osama bin Laden, allowing him to end the war in Afghanistan. He also ended the Iraq War. The second biggest difference is that Bush did not regulate banks' use of derivatives, thus creating the 2008 financial crisis. Obama pushed through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which does regulate banks. In addition, it regulates credit, debit and prepaid cards and ended payday loans with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Although both President's used expansionary fiscal policy, Obama passed the Economic Stimulus Act. This powerfully created jobs through education and infrastructure, ending the recession in 2009. Bush used tax cuts, which aren't as effective in creating jobs. Bush also spent $350 billion to save the banks with TARP, but did nothing for homeowners. Obama used TARP funds to subsidize homeowners stuck with upside-down mortgages. As for health care, Bush passed the 2005 Bankruptcy Prevention Act. This made it difficult for people to declare bankruptcy, so they took money out of their home equity instead. After the Act was passed, mortgage defaults rose 14% per year. The number #1 cause of bankruptcy is medical costs(Source, NBER, Did Bankruptcy Reform Act Cause Mortgage Delinquency to Rise?, March 2010) In addition, he created the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, which left a "donut hole" in costs to seniors. It also added $550 billion to the debt. (Source: Health and Human Services, Report of the Trustees, 2009) Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, which funds the so-called "donut hole" left by Bush's program. It also provides health insurance for everyone, allowing many people to get preventative health care and ultimately cut health costs over time. I took this analysis from media matters if you're wondering. Basic economics classes at any college teaches that in a recession, government needs to spend. Here is a direct quote, Keynes recommends that,during periods of recession, Congress should increase government spending in order to “prime the pump” of the economy. Here is the basic college article, http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lid=352&type=student Now, let's talk tyranny. Obama has made 161 executive orders in his presidency. George W. made 291, Reagan made 381, Roosevelt was 3522, so ummm..what are you talking about? Speaking of tyranny, how about house rule H. Res. 368 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/10/14/as-democrats-seethe-over-gop-tactics-video-over-rules-change-goes-viral/ Now, that's tyranny. What about the changes to the voting laws designed to keep college students from being able to vote? What about the redistricting of voting districts to grossly favor Republicans? What about Republican tampering of voting booths? You're bathing in Republican tyranny. The Republican party actually vowed to oppose everything Obama offered whether it was good for Americans or not. “If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.” Sounds a lot like tyranny. You're wrong Wayne, in pretty much every assertion but I'm glad you are at least willing to read objections to your assertions.
Wayne Adamson February 27, 2014 at 05:46 PM
Shawna, I am not sure where you get your information but it so off base that there is not much sense responding. Re, tyranny. It has nothing to do with the no.of executive orders produced. I never mentioned number at all but that's your take. EOs cover everything from very minor changes in executive Branch administrative operations to major shifts such as Obama has done, some of them essentially against Constitutional law. The only Obama illegal action that looks like it will be overturned however is the selection of NLRB members during a so called recess of Congress. That was tyranny. Tampering with voting booths? What about Eric Holder refusing to prosecute the Obama favored thugs who were harassing voters in Philadelphia to keep them away from the booths. They were at least charged but of course Holder made sure they weren't sent to jail. I know of no prosecutions of Republicans for tampering with voting booths. Sounds like a Democrat approach in Illinois. If you live in Maryland you know all about the O Malley redistricting to throw Republicans out of office. Maryland voting districts are looking more like swiss cheese, all in the attempt to make this State an all Democrat US House and legislature. Please don't quote the Washington Post to me. It's a left wing rag. I don't believe most of what is written there (except the foreign news, which is usually pretty good). That is why it's readership continues to plummet. As for priming the pump by continuing to spend money that you don't have in your pocket, that is a Keynesian idea that is 70 years out of date. Keynes lived before the global economy but the Democrats hold on to these ancient concepts because they love to spend other people's money and tax them to pay for it. I find it fascinating that your take on the plummet of the economy in 2007-2008 was due to Bush failing to regulate banks. Of course there is no Constitutional basis for that course of action but Obama wouldn't have let that stand in his way if he had been around the office then. Bush recognized the problem with the banks and twice approached the Congress, (which was controlled by the Dems, about doing something about it . He was rebuffed by Dem. Barney Franks who was chairman of the Banking Committee. Franks thought things were just peachy keen and we all know the consequences. You need to know that Bush didn't pass that Act, a Democrat controlled Congress did. Congress passes Acts, not Presidents. His failure was not vetoing it. As for Medicare Part D, it was a disaster concocted by Congress that Bush should have vetoed. Like all entitlement programs, by the time they get to a stage of being voted on, they have so much pork attached that you can't recognize them. In this case, Part D was intended to close the so-called donut hole in prescriptions. Instead of helping those in real need, a significant portion of people who were not in dire need got another government freebie. It was one of the dumbest things that Bush did in putting his signature on that bill. The disaster cases with Obamacare are widely known and documented (despite Harry Reid's opinion that they are all lies). We citizens have paid taxes of over $500 million dollars for a software package that doesn't work and a medical tax system (ACA) that is throwing people out of their insurance and doctors. Many are going into Medicaid which means that the states will eventually have to pick up the costs down the road. When the dust settles, we will have a medical system that is far poorer than the top-notch system we have had before Obamacare and it will cost us more according to the Congressional Budget Office and will put 500,000 people out of work. How great is that. I have no more comments. So don't look for another response.
Shawna Ginocchio February 27, 2014 at 11:27 PM
You are wrong. Picked the wrong team. Good night Wayne.


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