The United States of Politically Crazy

Who’s the Worst Presidential Candidate in U.S. History?


From the pilgrims to the Salem witch trials, the United States has always been subject to bouts of self-inflicted political madness. But has the country ever had a major presidential candidate as unqualified as Donald Trump?

On this week’s episode of The E.R., FP’s David Rothkopf, Kori Schake, and Rosa Brooks, with Financial Times Washington correspondent Ed Luce, dig back into the conversation about the U.S. election. If history is any measure, the United States has had its share of dubious presidential hopefuls. The panel debates whether or not Trump is as crazy as the religious zealotry of the pilgrims or would show the same kind of blatant disregard that marked the career of the sometimes rogue military commander, slave owner, and former president, Andrew Jackson.

Or, the panel wonders, is there a more relevant — and more contemporary — comparison to be made between Trump and the former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi? Is Trump destined to be another “bunga bunga” leader who will do as much damage to the United States as, one could argue, Berlusconi did to Italy?

And if President Trump would be a terrible U.S. president, how scary do the early signs and signals coming out of his candidacy have to be before Americans are convinced to vote for Hillary Clinton?

Rosa Brooks is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and teaches international law, national security, and constitutional law at Georgetown University. Follow her on Twitter at: @brooks_rosa.

Ed Luce is the Financial Times’s chief U.S. commentator and columnist based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at: @EdwardGLuce.

Kori Schake is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where she focuses on military history, and is a former foreign-policy advisor to Sen. John McCain. Follow her on Twitter at: @KoriSchake.

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group. Follow him on Twitter at: @djrothkopf.

Subscribe to FP’s The E.R. and Global Thinkers podcasts on iTunes.

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