I've posted this each President's Day for ten years but have found no reason to adjust the rankings.It's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln's was the 12th, Washington's is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we're taking it today. But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.
#5: Calvin Coolidge
Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.
#4. Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase). He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.
#3. Grover Cleveland.
He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now. He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later. This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character."
#2. Ronald Reagan
He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above). He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash. It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.
#1. George Washington
Could have been King. Wasn't. Q.E.D.
#5. John Adams.
There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2.
#4. Woodrow Wilson.
Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918. He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, reinstituted segregation in the Civil Service, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy. The fact that Progressives love him (and hate George W. Bush) says all you need to know about them.
#3 Lyndon Johnson.
An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.
#2. Franklin Roosevelt.
America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle. He also rounded up a bunch of Americans and sent them to Concentration Camps. But they were nice Concentration Camps - at least we're told that by his admirers. At least Mussolini met an honorable end.
#1. Abraham Lincoln.
There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to. Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history. Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit. Needless to say, Progressives adore him.
So happy President's Day. Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven't gotten this bad. Yet.