The Votes Are In

A while back, John Hawkins of (which is actually a fairly readable Righty site–the Dean posts are hilarious, what Joe Lieberman might write if he had a sense of humor) took a poll of who fellow conservative bloggers thought were the worst figures in American history, leading to the conservative’s list. Then he wondered how that list compares to ones that liberal bloggers would construct, so he emailed about 100 of us “left wingers” (and “slightly left of center”-ers) and then compiled the liberal’s list.

It was fun coming up with my list, and this week I’ll be posting who I chose along with a short description of why. In the meantime, I do think the lists are somewhat telling about the differences between liberal and conservative bloggers.

First, some conservatives are nuts. Al Sharpton, Hillary Clinton, Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson, and Robert Byrd? There really aren’t 20 people in American history who’ve done something worse than the Tawana Brawley incident? Hillary really annoys conservatives, but what has she actually accomplished that is so bad? Had her health care plan actually involved nationalizing health care, and had it come close to passing or actually passed, I could see including her on the list, but seriously? Chomsky? Sure he says stuff that’s nuts, but what the heck has he ever influenced? Would history be remotely different if he never existed? Jackson–at least conservatives left MLK off the list.

As near as I can tell, Robert Byrd only made the list because he was the most outspoken in his opposition to the war in Iraq, opposition that looks more justified by the day (and also had no impact). Seriously conservatives, can’t you admit that McCarthy was a bad guy, an opportunist of the lowest sort, who actually did have a negative impact on American history?

The Liberals’ List, by contrast, really does seem to demonstrate more historical perspective. I would view including Coulter, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, etc… as loosely analogous to the Conservatives including Sharpton and Chomsky on the list; Gingrich would be Hillary Clinton’s counterpart. None of them made the Liberal list. In Conservatives’ favor, McCarthy almost made the list and they did leave Gen. William T. Sherman of their list.

On the other hand, by virtue of making both lists, the following are truly reprehensible figures in American History: Lee Harvey Oswald, Aldrich Ames, Richard Nixon (I give credit to conservatives for this one–though perhaps he made their list for the damage he did to the Republican party?), Aaron Burr, Timothy McVeigh, John Wilkes Booth, Benedict Arnold, and the Rosenbergs (or at least Julius–he got votes for just him; there were none for just Ethel).

Since Hawkins didn’t put them side-by-side, here they are:

Conservatives’ List Liberals’ List
17) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (6) 20) The Rosenbergs (3) + Julius Rosenberg (3) (6 total votes)
17) John Walker (6) 20) Pat Robertson (6)
17) Lee Harvey Oswald (6) 20) Oliver North (6)
17) Robert Byrd (6) 20) William Randolph Hearst (6)
16) Aldrich Ames (7) 20) Aaron Burr (6)
14) Richard Nixon (8) 20) Aldrich Ames (6)
14) Aaron Burr (8) 18) George Lincoln Rockwell (7)
12) Al Sharpton (9) 18) Robert McNamara (7)
12) Charles Manson (9) 14) Richard Mellon Scaife (8)
8) Timothy McVeigh (10) 14) Lee Harvey Oswald (8)
8) Lyndon Johnson (10) 14) Charles Coughlin (8)
8) Hillary Clinton (10) 14) Strom Thurmond (8)
8) John Wilkes Booth (10) 13) Ronald Reagan (9)
7) Alger Hiss (12) 12) George Wallace (10)
6) Noam Chomsky (13) 11) Andrew Jackson (12)
4) Jesse Jackson (14) 9) Jefferson Davis (13)
4) Jimmy Carter (14) 9) George W. Bush (13)
3) Bill Clinton (15) 6) Benedict Arnold (14)
2) Benedict Arnold (19) 6) Henry Kissinger (14)
1) The Rosenbergs (15) & Julius Rosenberg (5) (20 total votes) 6) John Wilkes Booth (14)
.. 3) Timothy McVeigh (16)
.. 3) Nathan Bedford Forrest (16)
.. 3) J. Edgar Hoover (16)
.. 2) Richard Nixon (25)
.. 1) Joseph McCarthy (26)

Thanks to John Hawkins for putting this together.


UPDATE: Rex Stetson does some additional analysis, of the two lists.