The "Presidents & Executive Politics" section of the American Political Science Association is smoking something.
Anyway, there is a paper making the rounds by Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin Vaughn, in draft form, "Official Results of the 2018 Presidents and Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey."
It is the political scientists' version of whether or not the Hulk can beat up Superman. You see, Supes is really strong, but the madder Hulk get, the stronger Hulk get, so... The correct answer is that Squirrel Girl can beat up anyone, but now I'm getting way deep into comic book lore.
Back to politics.
Who's more awesome? George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Oh, who cares? What you really want to know is who is the worst?
My colleagues over in the Executive Politics section blew that one. They put Trump at the bottom.
The correct answer, until Trump blows up some shit really badly, is James Buchanan.
I have, on occasion, written in derogatory terms about Trump. OK, I suppose, technically, I have referred to him as, "the dumbest motherfucker in the history of politics." Repeatedly. I have also called him a Russian stooge. I have compared him to Andy Kaufman's "Tony Clifton" character, Mel Brooks's version of King Louis XVI, President Camacho from Idiocracy, and... OK, I would have trouble keeping track of all of the ways I have talked shit about Donald Trump. I... don't respect the man.
Dumbest motherfucker in the history of politics.
And yet, James Buchanan is the worst President in history. How do I justify this comparison?
Simple. James Buchanan is at least as responsible as any one person for starting the Civil War. Basically, he had this stupid thing about how the south had to seceded, but couldn't secede, and tied himself in a set of contradictory knots that set 1861 in motion. I'll leave it to the historians to give you a better description, but... James Fuckin' Buchanan. That dude suuuuuucked at his job.
Trump is really bad. Really bad. Who's dumber: Trump or Buchanan? No question-- Trump. So, why hasn't Trump surpassed Buchanan in horribleness?
A few thoughts:
1) Time. Trump has only been in office just over a year. It kind of feels like a time warp, doesn't it? But, it has only been a year. He could still start a nuclear war over some stupid shit, in which case, look out Jimmy-boy, your last place title will be taken away. Then again, I may not be here to bestow the medal on Donny. The radioactive, glowing medal.
2) Checks. As horrible as John Kelly is, and as horrible as a lot of other people are... remember that line before "Liddle" Bob Corker underwent his Stepford treatment? He called the White House, "adult day care." Maybe it has been working, to a large extent. If people like Kelly and Mattis have been managing Trump's Trumpiness... no Earth-shattering kaboom. Marvin's view of Venus remains obstructed.
3) Opportunity. This is probably the big one. Buchanan was facing a country falling into crisis because of the unsustainable nature of slavery and the north/south divide. Could it have been handled better? OBVIOUSLY!!! It was still the kind of situation that even a really smart president would have had a tough time handling. Trump came into office with a growing economy (despite his lies), a low crime rate (despite his lies), mostly stable international politics (despite his lies)... Yes, North Korea can be dangerous, but all you really have to do to handle them is just understand that they're all bluster and don't shoot first. Yes, Han shot first, and yes, he was badass for doing it, but dealing with North Korea just means understanding that it's bluster. Trump hasn't had a real crisis. Three more years... Do you think he can handle one? Here's my standard question for this kind of thing. Imagine So-and-So as President in October of 1962. Trump would have ended humanity because he's a "fucking moron" (source: Tillerson, Rex).
So, yes, James Buchanan still has the all-time worst title. That doesn't mean Trump won't take the title away. Trump is the least intelligent, and least qualified in terms of knowledge, preparation, disposition, and integrity. He is the most corrupt, and possibly controlled by a foreign power. He lies more than any political figure in history. He is a straight-up sociopath. Sorry, "anti-social personality disorder." Fuck that. He's a psychopath. I hate euphemisms.
Despite all of that, he is not, I repeat, not the worst President in US history. That title still belongs to James Buchanan. Will Trump take the title away at some point in the next three years?
Well, like I said. Imagine Trump as President in October of 1962. He doesn't even know what the nuclear triad is. Right now, Trump is not the worst ever. Those who think he is are smoking whatever Devin Nunes has in his bong. And if it turns out I'm wrong, we'll all be aflame.
Who made that man a President?