Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  

Because I'm always pleased to help out my fellow blogger, irrespective of ideology (as Tomasky would predict), I participated in a poll of the "Worst Figures in American History" over on Right Wing News. Findings here. Compare to an earlier poll of right-wing bloggers. Not to make too much out of the findings (I approached it humorously, including Bud Selig and the Portland Trailblazers in my list), but even these support the thesis that conservatives are more partisan/ideological than liberals.

On the conservatives list are 12 figures you could call "political" or "ideological," six criminal, and two that fall somewhere in between (Benedict Arnold and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg). Of the political figures, all but one (Nixon) are leftists. Surprises include FDR and Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter? Yeah, his presidency was a failure, but does he qualify as the fourth worst American? Most of the choices are a who's-who of ideological attack, most of recent vintage. No real themes about what qualifies as "worst" is evident--save being a Democrat.

Liberals were more willing to spread the blame. With a slightly larger selection (25), fifteen were political, 5 criminal (including the communist Rosenbergs), and 5 more random selections (a nazi and a clan member, Hearst, Arnold, and J. Edgar Hoover). Of the political figures, 4 were leftists or Democrats (Strom Thurmond also made the list, but I didn't include him in the tally). Whereas the Republicans tended to just hate those on the other team (the only real ideologue on the righties' list was Chomsky; the rest were garden variety Democrats), from the liberal bloggers' list we can definitely discern a theme. For them, "worst" meant greatest threat to the Constitution and democracy.

Without getting ideological, one can argue that McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover (1st and 3rd on the list) were overt threats to the country, while George Lincoln Rockwell and Nathan Bedford Forrest represent the dark foundation that gives rise to the kind of danger McCarthy became. Leftists are also much more interested in equality, and identify those who worked against it in their lives. In addition to Rockwell and Forrest are Andrew Jackson, George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and Pat Robertson.

So it seems from these two, very unscientific lists, that "worst" means something different for lefties and righties (no suprise there). I'll add, ideologically, that it looks like lefties have criteria beyond partisanship.

[Update: Rex Stetson gives some nice analysis on his blog.]

posted by Jeff | 9:39 AM |
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