Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rabbi Boteach and US history

Rabbi Shumuley Boteach gives former President Jimmy Carter a well-deserved bashing in his recent Jewish Press article:


But one sentence in his essay goes over the top:

"It would not be a stretch to say that Jimmy Carter was arguably the most hapless president in all American history, and indeed most presidential historians rate him at or near the very bottom of the list."

While nobody considers Carter to have been a successful President, his ranking by presidential historians ranges from 19 to 34 (out of 43). That isn't great, but he isn't at the very bottom:


His consensus ranking is a tie for 27th with Gerald Ford!

Regarding haplessness, Rabbi Boteach should read up on the administrations of Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson -- the incompetance of the first two precipitated the American Civil war, and that of the latter resulted in a failed reconstruction and many of the difficulties the US faced in the 20th century. Only Harding ranks lower in the historians' consensus.

Or, even worse, cry a bit regarding the deer in the headlights paralysis of the current president, who doesn't seem to have a clue as to what to do in Iraq. His last press conference was downright depressing. Bush's consensus ranking, currently a mediocre 22nd, will probably drop as the consequences of the Iraq war sink in over time and are considered by history. But there is a big gap between Ford and Carter, and the 29th place President (Hoover) and all below him. I doubt Bush will ever drop below Hoover, whose (in)action precipitated the Great Depression.