What is the “Worst” Behavior? Don’t Ask Conservative Bloggers!

John Hawkins of Right Wing News persuaded 43 conservative bloggers to send him their list of the twenty worst Americans in history. He then compiled a list of “The 25 Worst Americans” using their responses, with the rankings based on the number of blogger who listed an individual.

The list is disturbing, but not for the reasons you think.  What does it say about the priorities and values of conservative bloggers that the “worst American” among all the criminals, serial killers, scoundrels and sociopaths America has produced is, by this method of measurement...wait for it…

...Jimmy Carter?

To be fair, Hawkins’ system is guaranteed to fail: if Carter was listed as the twentieth worst American on 25 of 43 ballots, that would make him the #1 Worst on Hawkins’ list. I doubt that any of the bloggers believe that Jimmy is that bad, though looking at the whole list, there is reason to question their judgment, if not their sanity:

Here is the list, from last to first, with the number of bloggers who included each included:

23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)

There are at best six names on the list that conceivably belong there, and that’s counting the Rosenbergs as two. the list demonstrates that in addition to appalling historical ignorance, the bloggers’ cannot distinguish between political opinions and ideologies they disagree with, real unethical conduct, and the various degrees of harm done by unethical conduct. This is reflected in our political discourse, in which anger, fear and hatred dominate policy debate rather than reasoned discourse.

Consider some of the unequivocally terrible people who didn’t make the list, such as…

Ted Bundy…Charles Manson…Ed Gein (who skinned, stuffed, and ate his victims)….Bernie Madoff…John Wesley Hardin…Jeffrey Skilling…Charles Keating…David Berkowitz…Henry Lee Lucas…John Wayne Gacy…Jeffrey Dahmer…Al Capone…John Dillinger…William Calley…James Earl Ray…Sirhan Sirhan…Lee Harvey Oswald…Capt. Henry Wirz (the Andersonville prison camp commandant)…Andrea Yates (who drowned her five children)…Aileen Wuornos…O.J. Simpson?  That’s twenty-one, without anyone who isn’t or wasn’t a criminal.

You want political villains? How about Nathan Bedford Forrest, who launched the Ku Klux Klan…Huey Long, who made a mockery of democracy while enriching himself…J. Edgar Hoover…Aaron Burr, who tried to split the nation…Jefferson Davis…Boss Tweed…George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party…David Duke…Sen Joe McCarthy?

There are lots of figures who we could have lively debates about, too; I have some inclusions on my private list that others may reasonably regard as heroes (Robert E. Lee, for example). But if conservative bloggers really believe that Hillary Clinton, Jane Fonda and Jimmy Carter are worse human beings than Ted Bundy and Al Capone, it is clear that bias, anger, zealotry and hate have completely addled their priorities and ethical values.

If so, their opinions are not really trustworthy, are they?


Note: It is unfortunate that nobody has performed this same test with liberal bloggers, for I have no doubt that their 25 Worst using the Hawkins method would be just as silly as the conservative list. Just for the fun,  here’s my best guess of who would be on it, in no particular order:

  • George W. Bush
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Sarah Palin
  • Richard Nixon
  • Justice Antonin Scalia
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Tom DeLay
  • Dick Cheney
  • Bernie Madoff
  • Karl Rove
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Phyllis Schlafley
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Benedict Arnold
  • John Wilkes Booth
  • Timothy McVeigh
  • Jesse Helms
  • Aldrich Ames
  • Justice Clarence Thomas
  • Sen. Joe McCarthy
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Ken Starr
  • Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Bill O’Reilly
  • Dr. Laura Schlesinger
  • Andrew Breitbart

9 thoughts on “What is the “Worst” Behavior? Don’t Ask Conservative Bloggers!

  1. I don’t think liberal bloggers would list the Rosenbergs. It wasn’t that long ago that they were hailed as heros railroaded by evil conservatives on trumped up charges and martyred. Substitute them for Clarence Thomas.

  2. Is Michael Moore one of the six? I keep counting five I think deserve to be on the list, but I doubt he would make it (mostly because he’s been irrelevant since 2006 or so, and it’s hard to get worked up about him anymore).

    • Ames, Booth, Arnold, the Rosenbergs (they count as two, remember), and McVeigh. That gets to six without Mikey. I detest Moore, who I think is a self-righteous liar,but he’s not really all that important. I feel the same way about Alger Hiss, though he is obviously worse than Moore.

  3. Ah.

    Sadly, I don’t even know who Ames or Hiss are (Hiss sounds familar), and I can’t say I know that much about the Rosenbergs or Arnold.

    Jack, what would you say to a list of “Top 10 Worst/Most Evil/Most Negative People In History,” but with the rules of Scattegories (in which if a blogger picks someone that someone else picked, they take them off the list), the goal being to get the most diverse list of worst historical figures possible?

    • For logic’s sake, to properly do any list, each contributor has to rank them from 1-10 (or whatever) and then give a 1st place vote 10 points, a 2nd place vote 9 points, etc. Then you have a list with everyone’s top ten, which might be 50 names, and they all start accumulating points depending on who ranked them where on their own list.

      • Which, is what is pretty deceiving about the list above. Jimmy Carter may have been a borderline inclusion as #25 on everybody’s list, but because he’s last on so many lists, that makes him #1 overall? This format/formula used by John Hawkins (in addition to what Jack wrote) is flawed at inception.

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