Foner would really fit in among the radical wing of the Republican Party in 1859, or possibly among the Parisian tricoteuses of the French Revolutionary Terror.
His editorial notes a current near unanimity of academic opinion on just who the good and the bad presidents were, which is hardly surprising in an era in which former 1960s radicals typically monopolize university history departments. The “great” presidents, if you’re a Marxist, are those who most dramatically expanded the powers of the state: Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson.
The worst presidents, from the Bolshie perspective are all the pre-Civil War presidents who failed to make war on the Southern states on behalf of the Negro, all the post-Civil War presidents not keen on continuing to punish the South, the interloping 1920s Republicans, and the diabolical Richard Nixon.
Foner adds President James Knox Polk to his personal worst list. Polk annexed Texas, balanced the federal budget, negotiated a settlement with Britain securing the Oregon Territory, defeated Mexico, and acquired California and the territories of today’s Southwest United States, all in a single term.
Obviously, George W. Bush ought to be flattered at being compared to Mr. Polk.