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Inspired by Barack's Brackets

By Harold Witkov
web posted March 28, 2011

I have to admit it. With all the tumult going on in this country and the world, for Barack Obama to take time out from his busy schedule to do his bracket-thing on ESPN proved to be an inspiration for me.

I figured that if he could do it, I too could find the time to create my own bracket of 64 and write about it. Watching the President on ESPN make his picks made me wonder how he would do in a match-up against all former Commander-in-Chiefs. Not in basketball, mind you, but in a competition to see who was the best ever President, or in his case, the worst ever.

That is right. My March Madness brackets were for determining the worst ever President.

I began with a 64-slot tournament bracket sheet. It was going to be an open tournament with no rankings. Match-ups would be strictly by chance. Because there were only 44 American Presidents (Grover Cleveland counted twice because he did not serve successive terms), I placed a "BYE" in each of the first ten brackets on both the left and right sides.

I then wrote the names of all 44 Presidents on small pieces of paper and mixed them in a hat. As I removed one name at a time, I then filled in each bracket space on my sheet moving from top to bottom first in the left column, and then in the right.

At this point, I had all the first round match-ups. Using my best judgment, I chose the President who was the worse of the two competitors and wrote his name on the space allotted for the next round, and continued on until the end. Click here to see the chart.

As you can see, I had some interesting match-ups. In the mismatch category, poor Richard Nixon drew Abe Lincoln and Jimmy Carter had the misfortune of going against Thomas Jefferson in first round competition. How fast can one write Carter and Nixon into the next round bracket space?

William Harrison, who died one month into his term, drew Grover Cleveland (2nd go round). How much trouble can a President get into in one month? So I picked Cleveland as the worse of the two.

I had some very difficult decisions too. U.S. Grant, known for an administration of unparalleled scandal and corruption, went up against Woodrow Wilson, signer of the American curse known as the Federal Reserve Act. I chose Wilson as the worse of the two.

I also chose to put Herbert Hoover in the final four of bad Presidents when he went up against Andrew Jackson in a quarterfinal match. That was probably my most difficult decision of all in that I have a crush on Hoover's great-granddaughter Margaret and practically fall out of my chair every time she guest visits on O'Reilly. Still, wishing to remain objective, it was Hoover by a nose.

The Obama competition odyssey was intriguing to the end. As fate would have it, President Obama first went up against JFK, in a battle of the two Democratic "Camelot Presidents." JFK, the President who once said, "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates," versus Barack Obama, our esteemed Taxer-in-Chief. Put another way, JFK, who faced down the Russians, or Barack Obama, who plays pansy for the Russians.

As Obama merrily moved along to the next bracket, he faced off with President McKinley, and then GHW Bush. Bush 41 once made the politically fatal mistake of promising no new taxes, a la, "Read my lips." President Obama's lips change message daily.

Then there was Andrew Johnson versus Barack Obama. Who was worse? President Andrew Johnson, who almost lost his presidency during America's first impeachment trial, or Barack Obama, the President who acts with utter contempt for the Constitution and is by far more deserving of an impeachment trial than Johnson ever was. I went with Obama.

After giving Obama the go ahead over Hoover in the semi-finals, it was time for the big match. Who, in my opinion, would be the worst president ever: Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama? Jimmy Carter, utter incompetent, a one-termer who had no clue of what to do while America suffered through high unemployment, high inflation, an increasingly dangerous world and an embarrassing Iran hostage crisis, or Barack Obama, who many believe to be "Jimmy Carter, second term."

After much deliberation, I chose as my worst ever president: Barack Obama. The way I looked at it, much more than former President Carter ever did, President Barack Obama has ransacked the private sector, swelled our debt, burgeoned unemployment, weakened our military, emboldened our enemies, and literally brought us to the brink. He has dug us a hole so deep that even the great Ronald Regan might not be able to pull us out (as he did with Carter). And Obama did it all in two years!

In 1967, Bob Uecker led the league in passed balls, a dubious distinction for a catcher accentuated by the sad fact that he only played in 59 games. Barack Obama has been President for little more than half a term. Not only is he the worst ever President but, as Al Jolson put it, "You ain't seen nothing yet." ESR

Harold Witkov is a Chicago-based writer and a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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