The Republican performance in this week's midterm elections has led many commentators to describe Bush as the most disastrous leader in US history. But what about the competition? We asked the experts to cast their votes
Published: 11 November 2006
George W Bush: chosen by Owen Dudley Edwards
The question "who is the worst US president" is something I have thought long and hard about and the answer is very simple: it is the incumbent president. I had previously thought that Nixon was the worst and there were other candidates such as Warren Harding - but they all pale in comparison to Bush. He has displaced all his predecessors. Nobody has been quite as appalling.
Immediately after 9/11, he went running like a rat. Every other president would have behaved differently. Theodore Roosevelt had several bullets shot into him in 1912 but he insisted on speaking. Ronald Reagan made jokes after he was shot in an assassination attempt. The whole point of a president is that it is his duty to rally the country in times of adversity. But Bush went into hiding. Then there was Osama bin Laden, who had actually been on the payroll of the CIA. What the situation needed was the clearest statement in relation to why this was the case and when they stopped payments and how this would never happen again.
In terms of the war, this demonstrated the very worst morality. There was an ongoing investigation under the United Nations at the time he went into Iraq. This didn't stop the US - he went in while Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector, was still investigating.
That war was illegal and anyone attempting to defend him must recognise this. He has not redeemed himself in any way since. His statements are intellectually contemptible and morally banal. And as a Christian, I find it intolerable that he constantly prostitutes Christianity. Even most recently, in order to prove he was not a fool, he proclaimed himself a liar. What kind of a president is that? The office has never been lowered to such levels of disrepute.
Bush has shown himself to be a hypocrite and a coward. He has undone a great deal of good work for US inhabitants. He has shown himself to be a man who is more anxious with the profit of his power than the long-term benefits to his people. After an excellent record from US presidents comes this wretched man. These are the lowest depths to which the presidency has plunged.
Owen Dudley Edwards is a historian and author and former Reader in American History at the University of Edinburgh