Nighan makes print edition of The Atlantic by nominating Kaiser Wilhelm II as the Worst Leader of All Time

Nighan makes print edition of The Atlantic by nominating Kaiser Wilhelm II as the Worst Leader of All Time

atlantic-picA 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.


Michael Nighan

atlantic-pic-2Then 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.


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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