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August 05, 2003

'Right wing' poll

Right wing news polls a select group of bloggers on who they think are the worst figures in US history and they come up with this list:

17) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (6)
17) John Walker (6)
17) Lee Harvey Oswald (6)
17) Robert Byrd (6)
16) Aldrich Ames (7)
14) Richard Nixon (8)
14) Aaron Burr (8)
12) Al Sharpton (9)
12) Charles Manson (9)
8) Timothy McVeigh (10)
8) Lyndon Johnson (10)
8) Hillary Clinton (10)
8) John Wilkes Booth (10)
7) Alger Hiss (12)
6) Noam Chomsky (13)
4) Jesse Jackson (14)
4) Jimmy Carter (14)
3) Bill Clinton (15)
2) Benedict Arnold (19)
1) The Rosenbergs (15) & Julius Rosenberg (5) (20 total votes)

I'm sorry but I find this list completely wacked. I suppose it's debatable that the Rosenbergs might deserve to top it, but Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton and LBJ are worse than or equal to mass murderer and domestic terrorist Tim McVeigh? (I suppose a paleolibertarian might argue that LBJ is worse because he continued Vietnam but that's not where these right wing bloggers who also put old Noam on the list are coming from). Need we remind people that Dubya is probably a far more statist and socialistic US President than Clinton who along with Gore got the 'reinventing government' movement going, promoted free trade, and reformed welfare? Or that it was Jimmy Carter who started the move towards economic deregulation in the US starting with airlines under the stewardship of deregulation guru Alfred Kahn?

Posted by jason_s at 10:22 AM

Well, the results are wacky, of course. First you have the problem that the respondents were ideologues, then you have the usual flaw that recent figures loom larger in the consciousness and so place improbably high on the list. Including guys like Al Sharpton and John Walker suggests a lack of historical knowledge on the part of these bloggers.

Strange they'd include Jimmy Carter. I'd criticize him for being ineffectual, but worse than (say) Warren Harding? Not likely. Also has the distinction of being one of the few presidents under whom the real national debt decreased (granted he used high inflation to do it...)

You do have to give them credit for including Nixon and Oswald on the list, though.

Posted by: bbartlog at August 5, 2003 10:42 AM

Roosevelt and Oswald? Sharpton and Manson?? Clinton and Mcveigh??? The ties are hilarious!

Posted by: Jason Malloy at August 5, 2003 10:43 AM

Recently there was a documentary on the Rosenberg's which made a convincing case that Ethel was framed--in fact, her brother pretty much confessed as much. Not sure whether this framing included Julius, but I think it did. Has anyone heard about this?

Posted by: MaryClaire at August 5, 2003 11:02 AM

What else do you expect when the best figures poll by RWN included Rush Limbaugh!

Posted by: Zack at August 5, 2003 11:04 AM

Yeah, that's a pretty wierd list. It's interesting that Nixon and Clinton are on there, given that George W. Bush has a lot in common with both of them, at least politically. In many ways Bush is worse than Clinton. Clinton raised taxes, but he (for the most part) kept spending under control with the help of the Republican Congress. Even in the first two years I believe Clinton increased domestic spending less than Bush did in his first two years. Bush has increased domestic spending out of control and has supported a massive, disasterous prescription drug bill. Though Bush has cut taxes, he is setting us up for big tax increases in the future to support his spending and to pay for the massive interest on the ballooning national debt. Currently the U.S. is running a near half TRILLION dollar deficit EVERY YEAR. The $450 billion deficit is $1550 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S., and probably something like $2500-$3000 for every U.S. taxpayer. Yes, the economy is in the toilet and the war on terrorism is not free, but much if not most of the huge deficit is from increased domestic spending that has nothing to do with terrorism.

Bush has also sold out completely on immigration and affirmative action. He opposes racial profiling, in spite of black crime rates that are 9 times as high as the white rate, and Hispanic crime rates that are 2 - 3 1/2 times the white rate. Note also that anti-racial profiling victimizes blacks as well as whites. Blacks are currently 6 times as likely to be crime victims as whites (don't know exact #s for Hispanic victimization rates), so any increase in black and Hispanic crime will affect blacks and Hispanics the most (so much for Bush's "compassion.") In addition to supporting mass unskilled immigration, Bush has supported amnesty for illegal aliens--an economic and national security disaster. On the immigration issue, Bush's sleazy, leftist advisor, Karl Rove, told Congressman Tom Tancredo to never darken the door of the white house after Tancredo called the amnesty for what it was--pandering to the Hispanic vote.

To get back to the list, I wouldn't say Bush belongs on that list, but I would say that Bush is perhaps the worst Republican president since Harding, and the worst Republican president period since the modern party distinctions that developed in the early 1930s.

Posted by: hh at August 5, 2003 11:30 AM

I don't understand how anyone can still be of the deluusion that the Republicans are conservative or Democrats liberal. They seem to me to have adopted a radical statist/corporatist position, possibly similar to that of the original Federalists but more extreme. Nixon set price controls. The last truely conservative president was Eisenhower, though Clinton was the most conservative president since him.
I would really like to know why godless considers the Democrats the worse of the two parties. I'll vote Tory if they go on the ballot, till then, the conservative thing to do is to acknowledge that under our third president George the unelected, we have a token monarchy over a merchantilist core. Given the situation (which strongly reminds me of Adam Smith's commentary on his contemporary situation), I'll do the conservative (in a historical perspective) thing and not vote.

Posted by: michael vassar at August 5, 2003 12:29 PM

It seems to me that the question that the respondents to RWNs poll answered was not the one they were asked. They largely appear to have answered the question "Which public figure in the USA do you think is a complete dick?". From that point of view the answers seem reasonable.
Michael- Do you not consider Ronald Reagan to have been a conservative?

Posted by: RF at August 5, 2003 12:38 PM

Reagan may or may not have intentionally helped bankrupt the USSR by his defence spending. However I think on economic issues his conservativism was much overrated

Posted by: Jason Soon at August 5, 2003 01:07 PM

It's a blogger's poll, and blogging seems to attract extremists. What do you expect?

Posted by: Diana at August 5, 2003 01:32 PM

You can't draw any kind of conclusions about lists like this -- when people are asked these questions they probably spend no more time thinking about it then the time it takes them to type it out. Bloggers by nature do things fast. File this list under: Strictly for Entertainment Purposes Only.

Posted by: Jeff at August 5, 2003 02:03 PM

Where's OJ, or Farrakhan. I'd like to see coulter's list

Posted by: scott at August 5, 2003 03:18 PM

Eisenhower wasn't conservative by most standards. He made only token efforts to roll back the welfare state. Nixon likewise, and he played footsie with China too.

In fairness, I think that even many conservatives realize that Nixon dragged out the Vietnam war for electoral purposes until 1972. What a vicious piece of shit. And he also has sort of an air of loser because of his forced retirement. The most successful crook is most admired.

Posted by: zizka at August 5, 2003 04:21 PM

The question is not very well defined- if you ask which Americans have been the worst human beings you're likely to come up with a list of serial killers. If you ask which Americans have been the worst Americans, the question takes on a different dimension. I'd still agree with you that a lot of the entries on this list are misplaced- but not Chomsky. He deserved higher placement. I might also nominate Murray Bookchin for a spot on the list, for similar reasons

Posted by: TS at August 5, 2003 08:12 PM

Well, that's it then. I'm going to have to remove rightwingnews.com from my list of 'daily sites to-visit'.

Oh wait, it was never on that list! Never mind.

"Rightwingnews.com - Bias? What bias??"

Posted by: Johnny Rotten at August 5, 2003 08:15 PM

Many conventional conservatives tend to hold a pathological obsession with the Clintons, which I will never understand. Bill Clinton was by no means a leftist -- he was a political moderate (much like myself), who Godless rightly points out was more consistent with respect to free trade issues than Bush. The former president was a classical liberal, but not a "liberal" according to the popular conservative misuse of the term (which doesn't even refer to a commonly held position, but rather to an ideological charicature that exists mainly in conservatives' minds).

Posted by: Chris W at August 6, 2003 12:08 AM

You have commented on the risks associated with Asians being convinced to vote Democrat and with the potential benefits that would arise if Jews could be convinced to "leave the multi-cultural bandwagon" and vote Republican.
Haven't you?

Posted by: michael vassar at August 6, 2003 11:07 AM

OK, gotcha. But could it be a regional split? I suspect that it's not a minority issue so much as a North-East and North-West issue. Maybe about 20% of North-Easterners would never vote Republican, 3% of Southerners would never vote Republican, and 25% of Southerners and Mid-Westerners would never vote Democrat. Since Minorities are clustered, their figures might only reveal the continual national divide between coasts and "heartland" and the unhealed wounds of the Civil War. Personally, I don't feel that the US has a majority. I feel that we have two powerful European cultures fighting a ~180 year old cold war and trying to recruit various immigrant groups from the side-lines.

Posted by: michael vassar at August 6, 2003 04:34 PM

"In other words, if you vote Republican (or, rather, "right-wing") frequently, you have assimilated."

Erm, so since most Blacks consistently vote Democrat,... they haven't "assimilated"?

Posted by: Johnny Rotten at August 6, 2003 10:10 PM

This is probably beating a dead horse, but I just wanted to agree-and-expound on Jeff's post above.

> You can't draw any kind of conclusions about lists
> like this -- when people are asked these questions
>they probably spend no more time thinking about it
> then the time it takes them to type it out.

My point was just going to be that it doesn't makee sene to make much of the _relative rankings_ . That makes the most sense when a ranked list has been compiled by one person. If these responders responded independendly without looking at the results-so-far, then the crazy results will partially reflect different interpretations of the question being squashed together. Of course, there's surely also a certain amount of craziness in the poll-ees themselves.

Posted by: temporary_account at August 7, 2003 05:24 AM