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Posted by on Feb 17, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 10 comments

100 Years of Presidents — Ranked from Best to Worst


Presidents Day



There have been 18 American presidents over the past century (1920-2020). Our presidents have served short terms (Ford-just 2.5 years) and much longer multiple terms (Roosevelt-13 years). Here’s my ranking from best to worst:


Franklin D. Roosevelt
— America’s greatest president since Abe Lincoln, and it’s not even close. Probably saved democracy both from collapse from within and by his steady leadership during WWII. Launched the New Deal, saved tens of millions from starving via govt, programs, began Social Security, mass civil works programs and government projects; repealed prohibition; inspired and lifted the nation during its worst economy in history

Dwight D. Eisenhower
— Centrist non-politician; great leader; and national father figure; always fair-minded. Slow on civil rights, but presided over the decade when the US was at its economic and global peak; warned future generations of the military-industrial complex and left office highly-respected by both parties

Lyndon B. Johnson
— America’s most liberal president on domestic policy; ambitious advocate for the Great Society; civil rights pioneer; far too many domestic accomplishments to name here–including the creation of Medicare, the “War on Poverty,” govt.-funded scientific research, education, gun control, expansion of immigration –but his legacy remains badly tainted by the drastic escalation in Vietnam.

Harry S. Truman
— Strong record as a Cold War warrior; common man approach to governing; what he lacked in charisma he made up for in honesty. Outstanding leadership in post-War Europe and Japan while holding a fragile situation together while the Cold War ramped up to dangerous levels

Barack Obama
— Inherited an economic disaster and helped to turn around the country; was a “first” in so many ways that inspired people all over the world; steady economic growth during every year while in office; health care bill passed; advanced gay rights and increased government protections; gets negative marks for lapses on civil liberties, use of drones, and poor use of diplomacy in some parts of the Middle East (Syria)

Woodrow Wilson
— Guided America through a tough period of growing pains; minimized US casualties during a global conflict; an idealistic visionary; scholarly; incapacitated in his final years

Gerald R. Ford
— Short tenure, but held the nation together after the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War; didn’t have sufficient time to accomplish a lot, but generally gets high marks from historians (and was the target of TWO assassinations–poor Ford). Like seriously, who would want to kill Gerald Ford?

George H.W. Bush
— Received one of highest approval ratings in history during the late 80s, then a deep recession hit; receives positive marks on foreign policy following fall of USSR and building a coalition to counter the threat in Iraq

Ronald Reagan
— Inspiring; regal; ideological, and charismatic, but also tainted by arms-for-hostages scandal; criminal acts in Central America; begins to look worse as we distance ourselves from the “Greed Is Good” Reaganesque-’80s

Bill Clinton
— After failing to pass universal health care early in his first term, then governed as a centrist, with very strong economic numbers; presidency plagued by personal scandal, including impeachment; Not looking as good in retrospect

John F. Kennedy
— The most overrated president in American history, hands down. Witty and charismatic, for sure. But a disaster on foreign policy (failed Vienna talks, Cuba, Bay of Pigs, Berlin, escalation in Vietnam), completely silent on civil rights for more than two years while Black churches were being bombed, very average record on domestic economic policy; Final Assessment: all style but little substance

Richard M. Nixon
— Very mixed grade….extraordinary foreign policy achievements, but criminal conduct in Southeast Asia responsible for untold numbers of needless deaths in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and elsewhere; remarkably liberal on domestic policy, but destroyed by his own inner-demons revealed during the scandal of Watergate

Calvin Coolidge
— A big fat do-nothing free-market conservative who governed in the midst of prohibition, isolationism, neglectfully silent on the rising tide of racism and segregation; guilty for his Laissez-faire economic affairs

Jimmy Carter
— A good man but a bad president–or at least a weak and ineffective leader; he suffered devastating effects of the energy crisis, high inflation, the Iran hostage ordeal….but is also widely considered to be the best ex-President by many

Herbert Hoover
— Brilliant man who, based on other parts of his life, should have been one of America’s best presidents; but remained stubbornly wielded to conservative economic policies and small government, even after the ’29 stock market crash nearly destroyed the country; now looked upon as a complete failure

Warren G. Harding
— Dumb and dirty: Scandal-plagued failure of a president who was utterly neglectful of his duties while in office. He let the markets run wild, gave unnecessary tax cuts, championed America’s isolationism; slashed immigration; and hired corrupt cronies

George W. Bush
— Launched two pointless unwinnable wars in the Middle East, presided over deregulation and lack of proper government oversight of markets which resulted in the global economic collapse of 2008; legacy tainted by approval of torture, loss of civil liberties, and increased govt. surveillance

Donald J. Trump
— Inherited a strong economy and has been a disaster ever since; increased national debt–now a record high, repeated foreign policy disasters, unprecedented personal and cabinet scandals, record staff resignations-firing-criminality; impeachment and trial, intentional divisiveness, appalling ignorance, and unapologetic corruption. By comparison, Trump makes George W. Bush look like George Washington.



  1. FDR? He imprisoned over 120,000 American citizens, and used the IRS against his political opponents. He abused his presidential powers far more than any other. HE’s your best????


      Yes. By far. And, there’s not a close second. Was FDR perfect? No. Did he illegally imprison Japanese-Americans? Certainly. Did he do much for civil rights? No. But the preponderance of evidence in support of FDR’s astounding level of leadership and re-invention of the role of government is undeniable.

      — ND

  2. Most pathetic is how Bloomberg is going to steal the nomination from Bernie for a second time and you are STILL going to vote for Bloomberg.

  3. You know nothing of history, economics, human behavior, or how to interpret the causes of anything. I’m embarrassed for your existence. You are a moron for crediting bill clinton with the economy….that was obviously a result of the internet build out which he had nothing to do with. Similarly, Obama was elected at the bottom of the economic cycle…he had no where to go but up no matter what he did. LBJ destroyed this country today with his great society which not only continues to put us into debt for trillions which you now blame on Trump, but also subsidizes and encourages incompetent women to have babies thus resulting in a weak stock of incompetently raised children who will amount to nothing. LBJ is without doubt the worst President of all…he fucked America over in the long run. And, how dare you blame Trump for incurring debt when Obama caused $10trillion in debt in just one year and all democrats love debt. You are disingenuous and you know it.

  4. I mostly agree with all of this. I’d put Clinton above Bush Sr. and definitely Reagan. Reagan and his people ran a very effective two term presidency that got most of there policies through. The problem is these policies created irreversible damage to the US and the world. The deficit he built, BS tax policy, deregulation that made our economy incredibly unstable. Terrible Keynesian economics. He prolonged the Cold War, created a climate in the Middle East that brought about Muslim extremist. Brought about a Russia that eventually gave us Yeltsin and now Putin instead the much more democratic government that likely would’ve happened if Reagan/Bush weren’t there. Oh and the guy negotiated with the freaking Ayatollah to sell them arms so that he could use it to arm fascists/terrorist contras to overthrow a democratically elected government.

    Yeah Reagan belongs right next to Trump.

  5. Donald Trump ” Inherited a strong economy ”

    You’re a funny guy Nolan.

    The USA economy is a total and utter mess and has been for over a decade, propped up with QE and falsfied statistics. There were 100m Americans of working age out of a job, something like 50m on foodstamps and

    Ironically Trump the candidate called the stock market a “big fat ugly bubble” (correctly) and castigated the false unemployment statistics (again, correctly). Now he takes credit for the phoney stock market and the “best ever” unemployment numbers.

    As to your idea that FDR was the “best”, his New Deal was what made the Great Depression “Great”.

  6. Nolan Dalla would even consider voting for Joe Biden to get Trump out.

    The Trump Derangment Syndrome is SO BAD that people would elect a child sniffing corrupt and obvious paedophile* just to get Trump out. It’s so sick.

    The media has a lot to answer for – psychologically abusing old Boomers like Dalla. It’s so sick you’ve almost got to tip your hat to them.

    * unless Dalla is also a paedophile. That would be the only logical explanation why a man woud vote Biden.

    Unless Dall is

    • Nolan Replies:

      I’m glad to allow the post above from “Fran.”

      Thanks for posting, Fran! Please visit more often. And post all you like. Consider this your open forum.

      You’re entertaining as hell. And don’t worry about punctuation or spelling. We can deduce so much about your from your writings.

      Shine on, Fran!

      — ND

  7. I’ll shine on indeed, as you waste your life obsessing about US politics, oblivious to the fact it’s an utterly rigged one party system run by criminal oligarchs and that your vote means nothing.

    You might as well be writing your so-EARNEST essays about the WWE. Literally.

    Politics is all fixed. It’s staged. It’s not real.

    Anyone with a brain stem can deduce this, apart from you it appears. And here you are admittng you would elect a paedophile like Joe Biden because the media has brainwashed you into believing Orange Man is so scary. How pathetic.

    Suckers like you waste your lives believing in this system. Do something productive with your life. Your vote is meaningless and the more you obsess about your 4 yearly ritual, the more meaningless your existence becomes (as your grammar pedantry attests).

  8. Yeah interesting points but you called Nolan a pedophile and didn’t even bother to ensure you spelled pedophile right. So yeah fuck off.

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