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July 2nd, 2014 9:01 am
Public Ranks Obama Worst President in 70 Years
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Americans have apparently not taken total leave of their senses. A new poll released by Quinnipiac University shows that a plurality of voters — 33 percent — rank Barack Obama as America’s worst president since World War II. Now, a poll’s only as good as its respondents and there’s always a danger in asking people to compare current political figures with historical ones, because the contemporary personalities absorb such a disproportionate amount of their attention (it’s salient that George W. Bush came in second the poll). Still, I think these results just about get it right.

The only two presidents in the post-WWII era that could arguably compete with Obama are Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. Nixon is really sui generis though because of Watergate. Without the scandal, it’s unlikely that he’d be held in such low esteem; Nixon was accused a lot of things, but incompetence was never one of them.

As for Carter, traditionally the measuring rod that those of us on the right have used for hapless chief executives, Obama actually makes him look good by comparison. Whereas virtually every instinct Obama has on domestic policy is wrong, at least Carter can be credited with starting some of the push towards deregulation that really flowered under the Reagan Administration. And while Carter is Obama’s closest analogue on foreign policy fecklessness, there is one key distinction — Carter eventually learned from his mistakes, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan convincing him that a more robust foreign policy was a practical necessity. Judged in a vacuum that’s pretty thin gruel — but it’s fairly impressive by comparison with Obama.

Two other interesting points from the results: a narrow plurality of voters now say that Obama is a worse president than George W. Bush, something that would have been unthinkable to liberals five years ago. Also, by a 45-38 margin, respondents said the country would be better off if Mitt Romney had defeated Obama in 2012. It’s a bit frustrating that it’s taken this long for eyes to open … but better late than never.

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