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238 presidential scholars: Bush worst president of modern era, fifth worst in US history

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It's one thing for a coterie of liberals at a late-night Washington soire'e to say that George W. Bush was the worst president in their lifetimes.

It's another thing when the same is said by the nation's 238 leading presidential scholars, who have been polled annually for the last 28 years.

President Bush ranked worst among modern presidents -- and the fifth worst in history, according to the poll by the Siena Research Institute. Ranking first? President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the country from 1933 until his death in 1945.

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President Roosevelt served four terms, the longest of any president in history. US presidents became limited to two terms after US states ratified the 22nd Amendment to the US constitution in 1951.

President Barack Obama, who hasn't yet served a full term, rated 15th.

Notes Think Progress:

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Since 1982, the Siena Research Institute has polled presidential scholars on whom they view to be best and worst presidents in American history, based on a variety of issues from "integrity" to economic stewardship. This year's poll of 238 scholars found that President Franklin Roosevelt was once again ranked on top, joined by Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt to complete the top five. However, President George W. Bush did not fare well since the last poll was conducted in 2002. He dropped 16 places to 39th, making him the worst president since Warren Harding died in office in 1923, and one of the bottom five of all time, according to the experts:

"Today, just one year after leaving office, the former president has found himself in the bottom five at 39th rated especially poorly in handling the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence. Rounding out the bottom five are four presidents that have held that dubious distinction each time the survey has been conducted: Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin Pierce."

Bush was rated second from the bottom on "intelligence," "foreign policy accomplishments," and "handling of U.S. economy." This despite promises from Bush supporters that "history will be very kind" to the former president, as his Attorney General John Ashcroft put it. Bush's father's legacy "held constant" in this year's poll, with George H.W. Bush coming in at 22nd. President Reagan "dropped two places from 16th overall in 2002 to 18th today." President Obama was ranked 15th.

You can read the full PDF of the survey here.

 

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