Worse Than James Buchanan

Sorry about the erroneous email yesterday–a glitch on the site.

I’m at a loss to understand people who vote for their own destruction.

In Great Britain–where voters have just opted to be considerably less Great–goofy Boris Johnson will “lead” the country to withdraw from modern reality and economic stability. Here in the good old U.S. of A., the elected representatives of the cult that used to be the GOP continue to support the continuing embarrassment that is Donald Trump (recent example: “I’m too intelligent to believe in climate change”) and the daily insanities being perpetrated by his corrupt administration.

They are so far in his pocket (or up an anatomical entry point) that when he was recently forced  to pony up two million dollars to repay charities (including a children’s cancer charity) from which his “foundation” stole in order to pay legal settlements rated no reproofs from Grand Old Party brownshirts.

How substandard is this “President”? Gail Collins recently explained why historians expect him to replace James Buchanan. She began with a summary of the ways Trump is profiting from the Presidency.

The Trump charity scandal is an old story, but the impeachment process puts it in a new light. Particularly if you combine it with the money he’s piling up from his Scottish golf resort (thank you Air Force visitors), the Washington hotel (welcome, Saudi officials) and from what the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington estimated were more than 2,300 conflicts of interest between his personal finances and his day job.

Collins noted–but dismissed– parallels with Andrew Johnson:

Andrew Johnson was another awful president and history’s impeachment star until now, but he was praised for his financial integrity. “After becoming president, when prominent New York merchants tried to give him a magnificent carriage and span of horses he refused the gift,” noted Brenda Wineapple, the author of a history of the Johnson impeachment. “‘Those occupying high official positions,’ he politely said, must ‘decline the offerings of kind and loyal friends.’”

Trump would find that sentiment inconceivable.

It’s Buchanan, however, who has historically been considered America’s worst President. Yet even Buchanan compares favorably to today’s deeply disturbed occupant of the Oval Office.

“Unlike Trump, Buchanan was a generous man,” said Robert Strauss, who happens to be the author of a biography of Buchanan titled “Worst. President. Ever.” Buchanan “took in college students who couldn’t afford their room and board,” Strauss added. He never reneged on a debt.

It was published in October 2016. Strauss is still sticking with Buchanan, whom he calls “a nice guy put in the wrong job.” Obviously, secession tops being laughed at by leaders of other democratic powers at a cocktail party. But Trump could qualify for the bottom of the barrel if you throw in personal behavior and presume it’s better to be a nice guy in the wrong job than an awful guy in the wrong job.

It’s also highly unlikely that Buchanan ever attacked a sixteen-year-old girl for being (much) more widely admired than he was.


  1. The physical resemblance between Trump and Johnson struck me immediately; their off-the-wall, ego based rants are similar and Johnson’s name Boris with Trump’s Russian connections completes the picture for me. Will Johnson accomplish the amount of deconstruction of, not only the government foundation, but disrupt and split the UK as Trump has done here? These two men are endangering the balance of the allied nations and endangering mutual support, economies and safety of all nations. These are two very powerful and extremely dangerous men who are unqualified to be in their positions of leadership.

  2. Putin’s plan to corner the world’s wealth is I’m sure ahead of his expectations. He leveraged his spy craft through social and entertainment media, following the lead of the GOP, and put all of his economic competitors at risk, the US, Great Britain and the EU.

    Will he get away with it? Republicans say why not because it resulted in power for them to help him. As near as I can tell the only real opposition he faces are Nancy Pelosi and President Macron, light weights without much power of their own.

  3. Pete’s comments here contain much truth.
    While Putin and the right gain power through a manipulation of the media and wholesale corruption of entire segments of society, their opposition loses one power struggle after another because they are stuck in a world view that is as outdated as their solutions to problems. Instead of fine detailed plans and policies that bore the average voter to death, the right offers simple to understand “directions” for where they will take the country. And that is all the voters are asking for… direction and not a detailed road map which most of the country cannot read anyway.

  4. In the list of charities the Trump family stole money from, include one for veterans. And he has the nerve to wear a military-style jacket when he “visits” the troops.

  5. The American people will have an opportunity to apply the brakes to this runaway train next November 3. In order to do so they must elect the Democratic candidate for President AND assure that Mitch McConnell is not the majority leader in the Senate. The question is, “Do we have the will to do it?”

  6. https://www.guilford.com/covers/large/0885579X.jpg

    DJ … that poor petulant child. Railing from the bottom of the garbage pail while looking up to a powerful petite teenage girl who beat him out of person of the year for cover of TIME. But wait! Though Congress lifted only two articles for impeachment, what if The Journal of Personality Disorders named little DJ most influential narcissistic personalty disorder of the year! Not impeachable by his enablers, but imagine Greta, Tweeting congratulations, you are a role model from Anger Management School.

  7. Boris Johnson is a liar, philanderer, clown, nativist and demagogue. Sound familiar? And he just retained his leadership of Britain by a sweeping electoral margin. And he did so largely in spite of these characteristics .

    What we need to remember is that Trump will not be running against his unfavorability ratings, but rather a person. And the choice will be binary. If we nominate someone too far out like Corbyn (read Sanders or Warren) or with too much baggage like Hillary Clinton (read Biden), I predict Trump could be easily reelected. I don’t think we have found our candidate yet.

  8. Once again the Old Master says it best:
    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
    ~ Winston Churchill

  9. John Neal, it does not seem to matter on either side of the Atlantic what the character of elected leaders is. What matters is what they say they will do in order to solve the “perceived” problems of the majority. And that solution must be put into the simplest of terms. “Make America Great Again”. “A thousand Points of Light”, “I’ll get us out of Vietnam”, “I’ll go to Korea.”
    Liberals and Democrats of all shades do not get this. They want to debate the fine points (put the public to sleep), persuade by using reason and logic (lost on the uneducated and greedy), and present solutions that require the cooperation of entities that are diametrically opposed to those solutions (can we all say Wall Street?).
    The left needs to get its head out of the clouds and take a real look at what is happening to the masses… and have some respect for their world view.

  10. In case you missed it, Moscow Mitch McConnell preempted his oath of being an unbiased juror in the coming impeachment trial. Talk about a naked display of raw power…. He’s already violated every other written and unwritten law and procedure to protect this criminal president and preserve his own power in the Senate.

    Forget the 200+ bills passed by the House. This bastard is wantonly perverting the very essence of judicial law. I wonder if the people of Kentucky even have a clue about what McConnell is doing to destroy democracy and their Constitutional rights to remain ignorant.

  11. Vernon brings up Moscow Mitch, and his sitting on all the bills the House has passed, plus his obstruction of Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

    Contrast this to the Democratic Party’s lack of backbone as exemplified by Nancy Pelosi in the House.
    Atrocious’: 188 Democrats Join GOP to Hand Trump $738 Billion Military Budget That Includes ‘Space Force’ Just 48 members of the House, including 41 Democrats, voted against the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which increases the Pentagon budget by $22 billion. The final vote was 377-48.

    In a floor speech ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), “Let’s speak in facts,” said Khanna. “This defense budget is $120 billion more than what Obama left us with. That could fund free public college for every American. It could fund access to high-speed, affordable internet for every American. But it’s worse. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Yemen: stripped by the White House. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran: stripped by the White House.”

    Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who hailed the measure as “the most progressive defense bill we have passed in decades.”

    According to the New York Times, Smith—chairman of the House Armed Services Committee—negotiated several provisions of the NDAA directly with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

    “It was Mr. Kushner who helped broker a deal to create the Space Force, a chief priority of the president’s, in exchange for the paid parental leave [for federal employees],” the Times reported Wednesday. “It was also Mr. Kushner who intervened on measures targeting Saudi Arabia that would have prohibited arms sales or military assistance to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. He said they were nonstarters for the White House.”
    Jared Kushner??? When did Kushner become a Defense Expert???

    The Democrats in the House also handed President Agent Orange a victory on NAFTA 2.0, now called USMCA. “If you are calling a president illegitimate and corrupt, you can’t then give him the big wins that he will need when he goes into key states,” Katz said. “He gets to brag about his victories.”

    Trump has already begun doing precisely that. Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, Trump called the USMCA “one of the greatest trade deals ever made for our country” and claimed Democrats only agreed to the deal because they are “embarrassed” by the impeachment process.

    The Democrats simply do not know or want to play hardball.
    “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell” – Carl Sandburg.

    As an addendum when the Republicans pound the table and yell like hell – The Democrats hide underneath it.

  12. Thank you, Vernon and ML!

    Once again, the actions taken by the Democratic Party “leadership” goes against the will of the people. They’ve described Trump as a “threat to national security” then hand him a $750 billion NDAA and removed all language punishing Saudi Arabia for their genocidal war in Yemen and murdering and dismembering a WaPo reporter.

    The impeachment process is also null and void — a joke. However, the joke is on the American people. The Democratic Party has in essence given Trump four more years at the helm because they are scared of the progressive momentum within the polls. The MIC and their donors would rather have a piece of shit in the White House versus a progressive.

    As Ro Khanna and Bernie Sanders lamented, the NDAA vote was, “Moral cowardice.”

    Our media will now pivot and point to the Labour Party’s horrendous loss overseas despite the losses Brits will encounter over their haste to leave the EU. If the Brits think the Tories are working in their favor, the joke will be on them soon enough.

    For those of us following geopolitics, these Fascist nationalistic movements are in play across the globe backed by the Western Imperialists and their propaganda media. Much of it is centered on fear and anti-immigration, but the real purpose of the Fascists is to extract resources from the people via privatization of government-run institutions.

    The sheep are walking right into the slaughtering house…

  13. Exactly what use is the Constitution of the United States of America when there is obviously no way to force elected officials who have sworn or attested to an Oath of Office to uphold that Constitution, to do what they are explicitly REQUIRED to do to remain in that elected office?

    The Declaration of Independence is of no use when we are more closely bound to Donald Trump and the current Republican party than we ever were to the King of England. The Bill of Rights no longer has any meaning to or protection for American citizens other than Trump, his party and the wealthy who own them outright.

    Will it require another Revolution to separate us from the current “Course of Human Events” to “dissolve the Political Bands which connected them with another”? We accomplished this separation once, long ago using bloodshed; how has it brought us to where and what we are today as a nation?

  14. Thank you Sheila as always,
    Of all the various aspects of this colossal mess this part of it is the one I find myself racking my brain over again and again. There are all sorts of reasons for it with even more added by our dear friends in St. Petersburg, and I’m not referring in any way to the resort city in Florida. The huge disconnect that is glaringly obvious is where many Americans do not feel that their own Federal government either doesn’t represent them as they feel it should or they seem to think that what goes on in Washington has no bearing on them.

    This is pure poppycock made even worse by the ongoing efforts by the Russian intelligence services and their proxies to ensure that those that feel disaffected in this country are driven further and further from the actual realities of the situation and how they always have a handle on it by voting and voting intelligently. As someone who lived through grade school, high school social studies classes and actually thrived in them, I am amazed at what passes for civic knowledge in this country as you all are within huge swaths of our population, regardless of the respective levels of education reached by these folks, even at the most rudimentary level.

    As it is usually the case, there is always a great deal of reference to our beloved founding fathers and what they set up that passes for governance in this country more than two centuries ago and where they knew then that the majority of citizens would not be so inclined as to pay attention to the affairs of state and be the participants in determining what those affairs of state should be. That’s why, initially, only those that had property and demonstrated some level of personal responsibility were allowed to vote. This of course changed over time but the problem persists.

    One can say that an increase in the level of civic education including critical thinking and exposure, real exposure, to the core values that this country has held dear since its inception is necessary, and it is, time is short and getting shorter everyday thanks to the lawlessness exhibited by this president that these people support in cult like fashion and who is on the verge of derailing the efficacy of all three branches of our Federal government and destroying our democracy, as we have always known it, at the same time. While the House of Representatives will very likely impeach this president the Senate majority leader has already indicated that both himself and his caucus will take their marching orders from the president’s lawyers which will render the actual trial in the Senate of the president into a totally lawless farce unless Chief Justice Roberts does the right thing, a patriotic thing, and brings this total farce to halt.

    We, of course, we’ll watch this spectacle on television but the real risk is that all we will do as citizens is just that and not make our voices heard as to just how bad this all is and pressuring those in positions of responsibility, curiously including all of us as voters and as citizens, into doing what’s best for this country and to ensure that our system of governance survives this amazingly criminal effort to destroy it due to the whims of a single man imbued with a level of narcissism and sense of self-importance heretofore not seen on the national level let alone in the White House itself. So whether we like it are not, whether we do realize it or not, whether we are prepared to think about it are not, dealing with all this chaos remains as being the purview of all of us, the citizens of this country, and when we talk about civic responsibility in this instance it is nothing that any of us can shirk since the consequences of doing so border on being too horrible to even contemplate.

  15. I have a friend in Indiana that posts Dr. Kennedy’s pronouncements as if they were the word of God. I must say that I do not hold that same opinion. However, it is often interesting reading although it seems mostly cut and paste from other sources. A couple of observations on this column. Trump is making money by renting his property to the Saudi’s, the Air Force and anyone else that wants to rent property he owns. At least he is making money from is own property and not selling political access and brokering deals to sell off the 25% of the US uranium reserves, I believe its called pay for play.
    Secondly, John Neal is absolutely correct. The political left in both Great Brittan and the US have the primary responsibility for the election of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, respectively. In Trumps case the Democrat’s candidate was so repugnant to so many people that with only a little maneuvering a political novice was able to out politic the “most qualified person ever to seek the office of the President”. And what’s more, you are about to do it again.
    I would love to see a viable alternative to Trump, but with the cast of misfits the Democrats are fielding to this point, I am afraid we will all be looking at four more years of the same.

  16. Karl Mack; all presidents are REQUIRED to divest themselves of their private businesses to prevent them from making money due to their presidency. Trump has blatantly not done this and has not provided tax records or financial records so the government knows if they are getting money from foreign countries. You may not hold a high opinion of Sheila Kennedy’s views but she is a Law Professor at Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) so we take advantage of her knowledge. This does NOT mean we agree with her every word or opinion; she does not want that from her readers, we exchange information, information sources and personal views. Your’s is welcome even though your views of Trump’s sources of income are entirely against the foundation of the office of the Presidency of the United States. They are however, fully acceptable for Vladimar Putin and all Russian Premiers.

  17. I do not agree with some of Karl Mack’s conclusions. Trump’s opponent, after all, gathered in millions of more votes than Trump, and she was qualified by education and experience as First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State for the job (as Truman called it), and let’s not forget that she graduated first in her class from Yale law – no mean feat.
    Yes, we have civics problems rife among the masses, and yes, we Democrats could do a better job with more plainly stated language in just what we expect to do if elected, like more Warren and less Bloomberg, but Trump was elected with the help of Putin, the rich and corporate class, and an artifact in our Constitution. Hillary “won,” but she was not “elected.” Our election was stolen.
    Bickering among ourselves in a blame game is one of the surest ways to reelect Trump. The way to beat him is to get the some 90 million people who didn’t vote last time to the polls and to make the trip ourselves in overwhelming turnout.
    To wax personal > As a WW II vet, the upcoming election probably represents a last hurrah of sorts for me, so I am going to Belize for a week come January 27 (having already checked out Kamloops in Canada) to check out the digs there for an ex-pat residence in the event Trump is again”elected” and Barr and Bannon succeed in removing Articles I and III from what is left of our Constitution and totally destroy any last vestige of our democracy, but I propose to stay and fight for retention and expansion of our democracy until then.
    Meanwhile, I am open to any means or methods other than massive turnout anyone can provide to remove Trump from office, whether by impeachment or election. Whatever works.

  18. I fear the pundits are at it again. Johnson won, therefore Brits love Brexit, therefore Dems will lose to Trump. BANDERDASH!

    This is an example of McGovern/Reagan analysis – The Labour Party ignored Brexit, even suggesting it was OK, and said let’s bring back the 1950s or 1930s. Their campaign was about nationalizing everything. Great old school socialism, but not a sell today. They blew it, plain and simple.

    For the record, McGovern ran one of the worst campaigns ever (I was supposed to be part of it) – he was rejected, not his policies; Reagan had great public appeal – he was elected, not his policies. Voters pay less attention to policies than to the personality of the candidates – sad, but true.

    For everyone who says “If the Democrats nominate a liberal, Trump will win.” or “if the Democrats don’t nominate a liberal, Trump will win.” — sorry, both wrong. The Democrats do need to nominate a leader with a spine, left or right. The nominee must inspire their people to turn out and must deliver a message that will resonate with the voters. The idea that we must become the party of Reagan wrangles me – that was the Clinton message. Polarization? In a way, but as the Republican Party moved right, the Democrats followed.

    As I see it, the difference between Bernie and FDR isn’t on policy, it’s on presentation. Can Bernie be a big influence on the policy of the Democrats? Yes. Would he be an effective (note the word) standard-bearer, I am not as certain. Maybe Warren can – I don’t know yet.

    Labour lost by running a stupid campaign – afraid to go after Brexit head on and using slogans from the 1930s . The lesson for this side of the pond – a strong candidate that doesn’t avoid the issues.

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