Darren Richardson

Terms like “best” and “worst” are subjective at best and reactive at worst, so The Punditty Project has decided to take the subject of the best or worst U.S. president and stand it on its head. That way, down is up and up is down, and the worst part of the best part and the best part of the worst part overlap and intertwine to form some kind of a common ground. Therein is the source from which TPP extracted the following pronouncements.

The 10 best and worst U.S. presidents (in chronologicial order)

1. George Washington. Why he’s the best: He warned of foreign entanglements and central banks. Why he’s the worst: He’s only worth a dollar, and it’s on a Federal Reserve Note. Oh, the irony.

2. James Monroe. Why he’s the best: Ask someone to name a president with a doctrine, and nine out of 10 will go with your Monroe Doctrine. Why he’s the worst: He never made it onto U.S. currency, only commemorative coins, and he never rated more than a 10-cent stamp.

3. Millard Fillmore. Why he’s the best: Someone always brings up bathtubs when Millard Fillmore gets mentioned. Why he’s the worst. He was the 13th president, so he has to be the worst.

4. Franklin Pierce. Why he’s the best: Partially inspired the name for Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on M*A*S*H. Why he’s the worst: Franklin who?

5. Ulysses S. Grant: Why he’s the best: He knew who would be buried in Grant’s Tomb before it was a trick question. Why he’s the worst: Leads all presidents in alcohol-induced blackouts while in office.

6. Grover Cleveland: Why he’s the best: Only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Why he’s the worst: Missed his opportunity to rename the White House Rose Garden “Grover’s Grove.”

7. Herbert Hoover: Why he’s the best: Made it into the “All in the Family” theme song. Why he’s the worst: More people associate the name “Hoover” with vacuum cleaners than an American presidency, but “sucking” is the common denominator for those who are aware of both.

8. John Fitzgerald Kennedy: Why he’s the best: Initials "JFK" are the coolest sounding presidential initials ever, even better than FDR and LBJ. Why he’s the worst: C’mon, Jack – you’re married to Jackie Kennedy, for crying out loud. How’s about a little marital fidelity?

9. Bill Clinton: Why he’s the best: No one could smooth talk Americans like Slick Willie could. Why he’s the worst: Interns simply shouldn’t be taking up that much of any president’s valuable time (see "common denominator" reference in Hoover entry).

10. George W. Bush. Why he’s the best: He knew the public would misunderestimate him. Why he’s the worst: We hold that truth to be self-evident.

If your own subjective selectivity in presidential performance is calling out to you, then take note of the following American Pundit Writing Assignment:

Excluding Obama, who was the best (or worst) president in American history, from George Washington through George W. Bush? Explain your reasoning.

The author(s) of the best response(s) published March 16-31 will be awarded $250 each and will be eligible for the $5,000 grand prize. At least one winner on this topic will be chosen from articles submitted during the second half of March. In general, submissions should be 400 to 1,000 words.


If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.


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