A couple of days ago while at Topps, I browsed The Atlantic in the magazine shelf. Several articles, especially Ta-Nehsi Coates on Obama and James Fallows on the election teased my attention. While always supporting print, I wimped out on making a purchase, deciding to read the stories online.
Then this morning we were alerted that Michael J. Nighan, Talker‘s media pundit and presidential historian, had a letter printed in the edition. Rushing back to Topps, I made the print purchase I should have done in the first place.
In his letter, Nighan makes a strong claim that Kaiser Wilhelm II was the Worst Leader of All Time. Nighan’s long view about the consequences of the Great War of 1914 – 1918 is hard to refute. Placing the blame at Wilhelm’s feet is certainly valid.
On the American scene, I would nominate Jefferson Davis as the worst American president. No matter how you look at it, Davis presided over the failure that was the Confederate States of America.
Without doubt the odds were against the Confederacy — maybe about the same that Trump would basically run the Rust Belt table and win an Electoral though not popular victory. But Jefferson Davis was widely regarded as failing to unite the governors of the disparate Confederate states. Davis also missed several key opportunities. First, he couldn’t secure recognition of the Confederacy by England and/or France. Then, he allowed Hood to suffer deep casualties when attacking Sherman, leading to the capture of Atlanta — that sealed Lincoln’s 1864 presidential victory. And, Davis acted far too late by trying to arm black slaves in defense of the Confederacy. As perverse as it sounds, by 1864 arming — and freeing — black slaves was the South’s best hope.
Let’s hope Trump doesn’t surpass Davis as the worst president in American history.
Note: Nighan resists calling Davis an American president, saying:
As an historical purist, I don’t acknowledge Jefferson Davis as an American president given that his
appointment and subsequent election was as illegal as secession itself.
ALSO FROM NIGHAN