Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ann Coulter Versus Historians

Ann Coulter takes a swipe at historians with her latest piece, “Why We Don’t Celebrate ‘Historians Day.” Her complaint is that a recent poll of historians ranked George W. Bush the seventh worst president in American history. According to Coulter:

Being ranked one of the worst presidents by "historians" is like being called "anti-American" by the Nation magazine. And by "historian," I mean a former member of the Weather Underground, who is subsidized by the taxpayer to engage in left-wing political activism in a cushy university job.

Coulter goes on to note that this is shocking as “most liberals can't even name seven U.S. presidents.”

I know many very liberal historians and yes they can name more than seven U.S. presidents. Speaking as a historian who has never been a member of the Weather Underground and has never used a cushy university job to engage in left wing political activism, if historians really wanted to go after Bush they would have placed him last. Regardless of what one thinks of his policies, and I am probably more sympathetic to them than most in my profession, it is very difficult to give Bush high marks as a president. Was he effective in rallying his party and a clear cut majority of the electorate around his policies? With the exception of the weeks after September 11, no. Was he a masterful orator? No. Maybe he was like Eisenhower and subtly controlled his advisors without anyone knowing? Time will tell, but as far we could see, this was a president controlled by his staff as few in history have been. I cannot think of one positive way that Bush affected the office of the presidency. While none of this means that Bush was a completely horrible president, he should be viewed as mediocre to well below average. Seventh worst may be a bit tough, but it is not unreasonable. If I were voting I would probably have Bush ranked somewhere between twenty-five and thirty spots from the top. But then again I am biased, I voted for the man.

Personally I do not think whe can properly evaluate and rank recent presidents. One needs some distance for that. I would say fifty years. So we are just about ready to evaluate and rank Kennedy.

1 comment:

Miss S. said...

Uggh...I prefer the "Boondocks" version of Ann Coulter (personally).