- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2018

You can oversee America’s slide into civil war. You can only be president for a month. And according to America’s political scientists, you’re still a better president than Donald Trump.

To mark Presidents’ Day, the American Political Science Association released Monday its quadrennial assessment of the “greatness” of America’s 44 presidents.

In the survey, taken by 170 of the APSA’s presidential specialists, Mr. Trump was judged the worst president in American history despite having only been in office for a year and not having overseen any wars, depressions or other administration-defining catastrophes.

The two men immediately above him — James Buchanan in 43rd and William Henry Harrison in 42nd — have conventionally been called America’s worst presidents for decades.

Buchanan was president as the nation itself fell apart in the late-1850s over the issue of slavery. Harrison died of pneumonia only 31 days after delivering a two-hour inaugural dress without a coat or hat in a cold, wet day in a pre-antibiotics era (1841).

“Trump’s initial rating places him in an ignominious category, but dozens of presidents have had slow starts and have course corrected to improve their public esteem,” wrote Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin Vaughn, both political science professors, in an article at The New York Times outlining the survey.

“Beyond his reputation or ranking, Donald Trump’s very presidency may alter perceptions of presidential legacies as his unique approach to the office continues to surprise,” they concluded.

For decades, conservatives have seen the American academy as having a liberal and leftist bias.

Not only did Mr. Trump place dead last, but his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, leaped into the top 10, coming in 8th ahead of such conservative icons as Ronald Reagan and John Adams and liberal champions such as Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson.

According to Mr. Rottinghaus and Mr. Vaughn, the two presidents who suffered the sharpest declines since the last survey was taken in 2014 were “Bill Clinton, arguably the result of contemporary scorn for his treatment of women, and Andrew Jackson, for evolving attitudes on his treatment of Native Americans.”

Mr. Clinton dropped from 8th to 13th and Jackson from 9th to 15th.

The top seven presidents were the same ones, in the same order, as in 2014 — Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

On a brighter spot for Republicans, Ronald Reagan broke into the top 10 for the first time, moving from 11th in 2014 to 9th this year.

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