Max Boot, a conservative author and Washington Post columnist, has long been a vocal critic of Donald Trump. Boot wrote in a Sunday column that he has “been reluctant to label” Trump the “worst president in U.S. history.” Until now.
In his column, Boot wrote that his background as a historian informs him that presidents are best judged after the passage of time, with some presidents who were admired in their time later falling out of favor. Others who were widely admired while in office fail to “look as good as they once did,” upon historical re-evaluation.
Due to his “catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus,” Trump has now earned Boot’s designation as “the worst president. Ever.”
Trump has been widely criticized for his response to the coronavirus outbreak. One expert writing for Foreign Policy declared last month that Trump is to blame for an intelligence failure worse than the failures that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
According to Boot in his column on Sunday, the signals warning of the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were clear “only in retrospect.” The coronavirus crisis has now claimed more than 9,400 American lives, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and was “the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history.”
Trump’s only competition for title of “worst president in U.S. history,” according to Boot, would be the country’s 15th president, James Buchanan. Buchanan served in office from 1857 to 1861, and was president prior to America being plunged into a civil war.
Buchanan “took no action to unite a country sharply divided over the issue of slavery,” according to a History account, and stood by as southern states seceded from the Union, leading to the Civil War, which remains even today the conflict that took more American lives than any other war.
Buchanan’s do-nothing approach as the country barreled toward civil war has often earned him the distinction of worst American president, or at least one of the worst, according to History. Boot says that even without Buchanan’s inept handling of the slavery and secession issues, “the Civil War would have broken out no matter what.”
Boot says in the column that “there is nothing inevitable about the scale” of the coronavirus disaster, a “fiasco (that) is so monumental” it would make recent “failed presidents” such as Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, “Mount Rushmore material” by comparison.
Despite what he describes as his failings, Boot remains uncertain that Trump will lose the November election. The conservative writer concludes his column by saying that, regardless of the election’s outcome, “Trump cannot escape the pitiless judgment of history.”