There’s always been contention about who are the best and worst presidents in American history. For the best, a certain group of familiar faces always seem to show up: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt.
But what about the wimpiest presidents? The vacilltating and aloof men whose lack of spines sometimes spelt ruin for the nation. Not everyone can sweat testosterone like Teddy Roosevelt (who delivered a speech even after he was shot). No, here’s a list of wimps and pussies who, by their lack of spines, made them ineffectual disasters.
Warren G. Harding
If you think crooked leaders are a fairly recent blemish on American politics, Harding’s administration serves as a sort of blueprint for corruption. Harding won the 1920 election on a campaign to “Return to Normalcy”, which apparently meant letting his cronies fleece the country for all it was worth. When one of them was found out to be illegally selling medical supplies meant for wounded veterans, Harding let him flee America rather than face prosecution. The other, more famous scandal, called Teapot Dome, would have the dubious honor of being the biggest corruption case before Watergate.
While historians debate whether or not Harding had an active hand in the corruption that festered inside his administration, he did little to stop it, which makes him one of the weakest presidents in American history.
To clarify, Nixon’s “propensity to be a pussy” doesn’t come from his policy, but rather a story how Nixon was so desperate for his future wife’s approval that he drove her around on dates with other men. That’s just sad. Oh, and Watergate too. Teddy Roosevelt would have destroyed those tapes with his bare hands.
Ulysses S. Grant
Despite his victories in the American Civil War, Grant seemed to have lost his spine when he assumed office. Like a 19thcentury Warren G. Harding, his administration was so mired in corruption that political scandals acquired a new nickname: Grantism. It wasn’t entirely Grant’s fault though, his appointees were some of the most crooked men of his day. And yet, despite being the man who beat Robert E. Lee, Grant couldn’t even keep his own house clean.
Carter is often criticized for his ineffective leadership during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the gas shortage, and while all of that is extremely valid, we’re placing him on the pussy list because of his brother, Billy Carter. The President’s bumbling brother frequently embarrassed him with vaguely anti-Semitic comments and a bizarre loan from Libya which the press dubbed ‘Billygate’. Jimmy Carter’s inability to whip his little brother into shape made him look like a total puss on the world stage.
Rutherford B Hayes
The bitterly contested election of 1876 almost divided the country again, a little more than ten years after the end of the Civil War. In exchange for the Republican candidate, Hayes, becoming president, the Party agreed to certain stipulations from the Democrats, namely, the removal of Federal troops from the remaining three occupied southern states: South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida. Hayes agreed with the assurance that the southern blacks would be treated equally, only to have the Jim Crow laws pass and the south remain solidly Democratic for almost a century.
William Henry Harrison
Poor President Harrison caught pneumonia from a cold and died in a month. Although we totally understand that medical care was somewhat lacking in those days, we can’t imagine someone like George Washington or Teddy Roosevelt letting a mere cold kill them.
Poor Herbert Hoover. While he had little responsibility for the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression, he got all the blame. In popular culture he was often attacked as a weak, impotent leader without compassion for the common people. This is not entirely untrue, although there is considerable debate regarding Hoover’s intrusiveness into the economy. But one thing stands out: his signing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Never heard of it? Sure you have, if you’ve watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that is. Anyway, in 1930, the Great Depression was worsening every day and fueled a feeling of isolationism and protectionism. Enter Congressmen Smoot and Hawley who sponsored a tariff that almost every economist at the time opposed. Hoover himself opposed the tariff, but signed it into law anyway, mainly because he didn’t want to fight his own Republican Party over it. The result severely limited trade with foreign countries, thus exporting the depression worldwide.
Fillmore is most remembered for signing the Fugitive Slave act into law, which is exactly why he makes the list. He wouldn’t be considered a puss if he actually approved of the law, but instead he wanted to avert an impending civil war of the slavery issue. Fillmore was anti-slavery, although he didn’t oppose, slavery extending into the western territories. In order to avert catastrophe, Fillmore approved of the Fugitive Slave Act, which made it legal for slaveowners to pursue slaves into the northern states. With this law, and allowing slavery to spread westward, tensions lowered but remained simmering. They came to a boil with the election of Abraham Lincoln, who firmly opposed slavery spreading westward and guaranteed secession. Fillmore, like so many presidents before him, simply kicked the can down the road for others to deal with.
While most people remember him as the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, he makes the list for his ineffectiveness during the Panic of 1893. Though not his fault, Cleveland came into office right before the worst economic catastrophe prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Cleveland offered little help initially, and by 1894 the depression deepened. Though he intervened in the Pullman Strike, his inability to really combat the depression sealed his fate. In 1896, he lost the candidacy to William Jennings Bryan, showing that even his own party had didn’t have much faith in him.
Buchanan frequently tops the ‘worst of’ lists, and with good reason. After all, he’s often blamed for indirectly causing the American Civil War by doing absolutely nothing to stop several southern states from seceding. Not only could he stop the country from splitting up, he wasn’t even able to keep his own Democratic Party together, which fractured in 1860 into Northern and Southern wings. Despite being anti-slavery and having personally freed slaves, he still supported Kansas’ entry to the Union as a slave state in an attempt to curry favor with Southern Democrats, but only succeeded in enraging his Northern base.
All that being said, Buchanan was regarded as a pretty decent guy, but in the world of politics, nice=pussy.
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