Avoid editorial exaggerations


Dear Steve Greenberg and Brian Kelly,

In your Kelly-Greenberg editorial of July 10, you referred to President Obama as “the worst president in the nation’s history.” I have not been an avid Obama supporter since he ran for President. However, I haven’t been a really zealous supporter of any presidential candidate, since the days of Ross Perot. But, I am an avid supporter of avoiding editorial hyperbole in politics and history. As editors and citizens, you may consider Mr. Obama the worst president in history, but that does not make it so. At least, not to date, in the minds of many presidential historians. A 2010Siena poll of 238 Presidential scholars ranked Obama 15th out of 43 presidents!

Ever since the dawn of the American presidency, newspaper editors have been vicious towards opposing Party presidents. Thus, in 1796, the Philadelphia Aurora editor, Benjamin Franklin Bache, wrote of President George Washington: “If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington. If ever a nation was deceived by a man, the American nation has been deceived by Washington.” To get some “fair and balanced” ideas of how former presidents have been perceived in their own time, I recommend to your readers, and to you, books such as William A. Degregorio’s “The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents.” Pay particular attention to the sections where each president is criticized or praised by contemporaries at the end of each chapter. Perhaps, someday, your own comment of July 10 may be in the “Obama Criticized” section. Most Americans know so little of how each president was hated and ridiculed by opponents. Most only know American mythology, not American history.

Bruce Braden

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