By Luis Bravo
I was reading an article by Sean Wilentzjan written for the New York Times where he mentions some names of presidents who were terrible presidents and compares them with the current one and suggests that he may be worse than his predecessors.
I understand that historians have always looked for some key criteria to evaluate the beginning of the administration of presidents. In that search, it can be said that any new president should execute public duties with empathy and balance relevant to the highest leader of the nation, but without appearing foreign or arrogant. “The president cannot in any way demean himself in his public character and must act in such a manner as to maintain the dignity of office,” George Washington established at the beginning of his presidency in 1789.
The new presidents should avoid partisan friction, and should strive to unite the country in a great common purpose. In line with the oath of office, it should safeguard and even promote democratic rights and protect the nation against foreign enemies. They should avoid the slightest imputation of political corruption, but above all, financial corruption.
Wilentzjan mentions that “Over time, historians have consistently qualified presidents, and have consigned a dozen of them, at the bottom of the pile. James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, and in recent evaluations, George W. Bush, have been included in the list. Some of these presidents failed because they made disastrous (political) calculation mistakes. Others had circumstances that were not created by them, but that made decisions that made things worse. Others were accidental presidents of limited skills and credibility who succeeded men who died in office”.
But there have always been people that have used the presidential chair to abuse their position or to allow unrestrained corruption, but nevertheless, the first years of these failed presidencies were not always so bad, and in almost all cases they were not as bad as Trump’s.
To mention some of the lousy presidents, let’s take Millard Fillmore who was elected vice president in 1848 and became president when Zachary Taylor died in 1850. Fillmore’s successor, the Democrat Franklin Pierce, a kind man who was docile and prone to depression and drinking, he entered the White House in 1853. Warren G. Harding, darkly handsome, impeccably dressed and widely adored, acquired a reputation for cronyism, corruption, and womanizer, and died of a heart attack in 1923.
The first year of President Richard M. Nixon produced mixed results, but the mixture of arrogance and paranoia that led to the Watergate scandal, could not keep him in the presidential chair and they pulled him out. George W. Bush joins the list of the worst presidents due to the disastrous war in Iraq and the collapse of the economy under his presidency.
The story highlights two failed presidents who had horrendous early years, which, like Trump’s, were largely the result of their own actions: James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson.
But what do the early years of these lousy presidents tell us about Trump? Some worked reasonably well at first, but they fell into a disaster later. Could Trump do something to make us forget his rookie season as the new president? Maybe we should expect more of the same until 2020?
No one knows what to expect from Trump. His first year has been a pompous parade of misfortunes that have demeaned him as president, and the dignity of his office; he has shown that this is how he thinks he should rule. He thinks very strongly that he is the best president the United States has been able to have during its history.
Trump is the first president who does not defend the nation from an attack on our democracy. He is the first to enrich his private interests and those of his family, directly and openly in the noses of all of us who live in this country, and nobody does anything to stop it.
He is the first president to denounce the press as “the enemy of the American people.” He is also the first president to denigrate with racist insults small countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, saying that they are “shithole countries”.
If history is a guide, especially in light of the examples closest to him, such as Buchanan and Johnson: then, Trump’s first year portends an end … That end we leave to your discretion, to your thinking, to your political analysis and your critical thinking.