Normally my opinion means squat, but apparently CNN agrees. In the history of presidential popularity polling (which is about 60 years) we have a new winner.
In third place, with 66% of the nation thinking he’s an ass, is Mr. Richard “I Am Not a Crook!” Nixon, as of the day before his resignation.
In second place, pulling in a 67% hate-rate, is Harry “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One” Truman, in January 1952.
And in first place, setting a new low of lows by three percent is 70% disapproval rating George “Who Me?” H.W. Bush.
Bush and Nixon are probably no surprise to anyone, but Truman caught me by surprise for a moment. See, when I think of Truman I think of the man who played piano behind a closed door with Jack Benny. I think of the man who made popular such phrases as “The buck stops here” and “If you can’t stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen.” But I forgot he was the fellow who picked up after FDR died. And he was the guy who got the blame for the bomb. Except that his all time low happened in ’52, and the bomb was ’53. So what the heck did he do in then end of 1951 to piss off America?
The answer is obvious if you watch TV. Start singing ‘Suicide is painless’ folks. Korea. In April of ’51, Truman fired MacArthur and his approval rating tanked. The war, and if you’ve seen M*A*S*H, you have a general idea why. The war was hugely unpopular and Truman was inches from impeachment. He ended up not running for re-election for a third term.
Side note: The 22nd Amendment means that a president is ineligible to be elected for a third time, or to be elected for a second time after having served more than two years of a previous president’s term. That second clause was put in there to include Truman, but because the law was made after his election, he was permitted to run for a third term. With the Truman-Hate-On running high, he didn’t.
So Truman was less popular than Nixon, which may be a reflection of the jaded times, or that Truman had to follow the much loved FDR. Bush? Well he’s been one of our more popular presidents, hitting up at 80% level for approval, and his father apparently tagged 95% in the Gallup polls. But at 70% disapproval ratings, George H.W. Bush is the all time winner for the shit award. Congrats.