Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 25, 2007
POLITICS: The Ultimate Opening To A NYT Book Review

I guess the best that can be said of this opening paragraph of a NY Times review of "Supreme Conflict," a new book on the Supreme Court, is that it leaves no doubt as to the reviewer's, er, perspective:

Even as more commentators on both the left and the right are using the adjective "incompetent" to describe the administration of George W. Bush, historians like Douglas Brinkley, Sean Wilentz and Eric Foner have begun to argue that Mr. Bush is in contention for the title of worst president in history, citing reasons like the metastasizing war in Iraq, a ballooning deficit, the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina and a widening credibility gap.

In the second paragraph, the reviewer mentions the book.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:33 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

Doug Brinkley also once said: " It's as if suddenly, an entire generation's optimism is deflated, and all that is left is the limp reality of growing old."

...about the unfortunate death of John Kennedy, Jr. a few years ago

...and he's the one who wrote the tome to John Kerry: "Tour of Duty" for Eric Foner, this Columbia U. guy (which says a lot right there) han't just begun to rank this President as THE worst ever - he's been doing it since 2004 to anyone who will listen.

Strangely, both he and Sean Wilentz (Sean wrote his dissertation on the subject for the prestigous and non-partisan Rolling Stone) manage to somehow write up a list of worst president's ever without ever mentioning Jimmy Carter. Brinkley doesn't mention Carter either...that's all I need to know about their credentials to judge.

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at January 25, 2007 7:41 PM

Look, I'm a NY liberal, and I KNOW Carter is among the worst ever. However, I put W right up (down?) there with him. I still think Buchanan was the worst; yes, he ran into a confluence of events. However, his stint as Kansas governor helped to create the final crisis, so screw 'em.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 25, 2007 8:58 PM

They used to say:

Roosevelt proved a rich man could be president;
Truman proved a poor man could be president; and Eisenhower proved we really didn't need a president.

To that I'd add, George W. Bush proved just how badly a dumb president could #$@!@ everything up. Look back at the transcript of his Dean Martin style speech at Yale in the final spring before September 11. He basked in his mediocrity, noting that he may have read a book at Yale - he couldn't remember. I guess some people found it funny then. Does anyone still?

Carter had his faults -- but he was only a one termer -- so even if he was equally bad, W did twice as much damage.

Posted by: PatrickG at January 25, 2007 9:15 PM


Not that I expect you to make much sense, but which president do you think was a Kansas governor? Buchanan was from Pennsylvania and never served as governor of either state. The closest we've come to having a Kansan as president is Truman from neighboring Missouri.

I guess I should just be glad that when Bush's presidency is actually evaluated it will be by better historians than you or Patrick.

Posted by: largebill at January 26, 2007 12:05 AM

I guess I should just be glad that when Bush's presidency is actually evaluated it will be by better historians than you or Patrick.

Ok, so it is cool for Foner & Wilenz to rate him. I think, Largebill, you'd rather have Daryl doing the rankings. He'll only put Bush near the bottom as opoosed to making him rock bottom.

If I told you in summer of 2000 that the next President would experience a terror attack on US soil, military quagmires in two countries, an historic expansion of the debt, and a massive increase in the scope of the Federal government, you'd declare that man the worst Prez in history without hesitation.

You'd have assumed I was talking about Al Gore, but nonetheless, you'd rank this man LAST.

Posted by: Mike at January 26, 2007 10:27 AM

Well, the news media has been calling Iraq a quagmire since about a week after we invaded. Repeating a lie may not make it true, but it will make people believe it, eventually.

And as for 'historic expansion of the debt', go look at -- the highest the debt has gotten as a percentage of the US GDP in the last 50 years occurred under Bill Clinton, not Bush.

Posted by: Finrod at January 26, 2007 12:48 PM

Ooops, right on finding me wrong. For some reason, I recalled (obviously incorrectly) that Buchanan was governor of Kansas Territory, when the vote was rigged to make it a slave state. Yes he did urge to bring it in as a slave state, but I wasn't there so I can't really get on him can I? Still it's hard to rate lower than the fella who was there when the walls came tumbling down.

The debt under Clinton (as a percentage) may have increased, but so did our military capability.

Of course, I could still say he was in Kansas...sounds better, and when the legend sounds better than the fact, print the legend. Maybe Liberty Valance was the governor.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 26, 2007 1:53 PM

The closest we've come to having a Kansan as president is Truman from neighboring Missouri.

Actually, Eisenhower considered himself a Kansan, and he grew up and went to high school in Abilene, Kansas.

Posted by: Jinnmabe at January 26, 2007 7:32 PM


You're right I should have said Ike instead of Truman. In fact Eisenhower's Presidential Library is in Abilene. Either way, I should not have disparaged the fine state of Kansas

Posted by: largebill at January 26, 2007 10:53 PM

I don't know enough about the Buchanan period of history to judge who was worse, but if ever there was a president worse than George W. Bush, it says a lot about the resiliency of the American people. The war in Iraq is going to cost this country dearly, for many years to come. It was a strategic blunder, but even worse, the prosecution of it has been criminally negligent. These people have bullied their own generals, intelligence agencies and anyone else who didn't march in lockstep with them for four years now. They have no respect of the American people nor for democracy itself for that matter, so they sell their programs with lies and coercion. Winning this war (regardless of whether it was smart or not to start it in the first place) should not have been that hard, if serious people had been listened to, instead of marginalized, intimidated, entrapped, outed, bullied and swift-boated. McCain would have won this war, Powell would have won this war, jeez....

Posted by: Rene at January 27, 2007 3:57 AM

Given the reviewer, this link seems appropriate:

Posted by: Gary at January 27, 2007 9:39 AM

The irony of the review's second paragraph is even more telling:

"[The book's author] argues that in one area President Bush has succeeded where his father, as well as Ronald Reagan and Richard M. Nixon, did not, achieving a longtime conservative goal: he has moved the Supreme Court decisively to the right and shaped its direction for the next three to four decades."

Too bad he only nominated the uber-qualified John Roberts after his first nomination, Harriet Miers, was greeted with howels from both Democrats and Republicans (including Crank). His first choice better epitomizes the Bush Administration and its track record of mediocrity, but for once, he listened to his critics, responded, and actually accomplished something. Unfortunately the same thing never happened in Iraq.

Posted by: PatrickG at January 27, 2007 2:18 PM


Some factual problems there. Roberts was nominated before Miers. Roberts was nominated to replace O'Conner. When Rehnquist died Roberts was renominated to replace Rehnquist as chief justice. Then Miers was nominated to replace O'Conner. When she withdrew Alito was nominated. Personally, I think Miers would have been fine. Some conservatives (okay most) were unhappy with her nomination mainly because she didn't have a track record and after the Souter mistake they were afraid she'd turn out to be as screwy as him.

Posted by: largebill at January 27, 2007 9:15 PM

I stand corrected large bill.
GWB deserves credit for selecting John Roberts on his own. Alito replaced the Miers nomination. So much happened on the Court in that short period, that it blurs together a little. I still think Miers and her lackluster record better epitomizes the Bush administration. I remember when Greenspan stepped down shortly thereafter, Pat Buchanan joked that Bush was going to nominate his accountant for the job.

Posted by: PatrickG at January 27, 2007 9:51 PM
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