I'm thinking of a president that is well known by people everywhere. He was elected as a Republican and won with less than a majority of the vote. He was elected for two terms. This president was controversial and divisive. Despite his education and experience, he was viewed by many people as a hick. People in large parts of the country disagreed with this president. He acted and started a war that lasted for most of his presidency. During a good deal of this conflict, the military saw very little success and was losing by many counts. It wasn't until relatively late in the conflict that things started to turn around. He acted in ways that is viewed by many to be unconstitutional. In fact, there were many who wanted him out of office, and they thought that if he were out of office many of their problems could be solved. Finally, he was first elected in a year divisible by 20.
Have you guessed who this president is? Did you guess George W. Bush? I'm sorry if you did, because that wasn't who I was thinking about. I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln. George Bush is no Abraham Lincoln, for sure, but I'm getting pretty sick of people saying that George Bush is the worst president that we've ever had just because they don't like him.
I recently had a conversation with someone in one of my classes, and I said that in my opinion the Bush administration's greatest failing was their PR. My point in case is Woodrow Wilson. Do you remember him as being a good or bad president from history class? He united the US through WWI and brought about the League of Nations. He was the voice of reason at Versailles, right? The Espionage Act of 1917 and Sedition Act of 1918 were his brain children also. This caused widespread xenophobia and punished any who spoke out against the presidency. He had goon squads that broke up political demonstrations. Great guy, right? The difference between him and George Bush, besides fascism, is that the press went along with him. Why do you think we don't have very good figures for the influenza epidemic from around that time?
The moral of this story: there have been some very good presidents and some very bad presidents, but we shouldn't be so quick to put our current presidents in either of those categories without understanding the competition.