Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bush as "Worst President Ever?" Hardly

In another of his Socratic (or more properly, Platonic) dialogues, Brad DeLong lays out the idea that however terrible Bush may or may not be as a president, there's no good reason to dispute that Andrew Jackson has a much better claim to the "Worst President Ever" title than he does. What is more, the institutional framework of the United States is so much stronger in our era than it was in the early days of the American Republic that even a truly terrible president is now able to do much less harm than would once have been possible. Or, in the words of one his imaginary interlocutors:

Thrasymakhos: ... You asked, "How stands the Union?" The Union stands strong, sir. The Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper sheathed, one and indivisible: the mightiest, freeest, and most powerful civilization the world has ever seen, in this or in any age. There is much ruin in a nation. George W. Bush and company have drawn our account down more than I would have believed possible in less than four short years, but our balance is still very high.
An eminently sensible conclusion at which to arrive, even if one loathes Bush and his policies. No Virginia, the sky is not falling just because Bushitlerâ„¢ is in power.