Longtime political journalist and columnist Al Hunt says Donald Trump is “certainly the worst president in my lifetime.”
“He’s the worst president, not because I disagree with his policies – though I disagree with many – but I think there is a carelessness, a recklessness, meanness and, I think, corruption,” Hunt told David Axelrod on The Axe Files, a podcast from The University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Hunt, who got his start in Washington covering the US Treasury for the Wall Street Journal, sat down with Axelrod ahead of leaving Bloomberg, where he’s been a reporter and columnist for 13 years.
Hunt’s 50-year career in journalism informs his analysis of how Trump’s presidency deviates from past administrations.
Here is how Trump compares with some of his Republican predecessors, according to Al Hunt:
Reagan “knew what he wanted. He had a sense of what his priorities were. He had some good people around him, and that was terribly important,” Hunt says.
One of Hunt’s criticisms of Trump is the company he keeps.
He said he thinks Trump is “someone who doesn’t know any history, doesn’t care about history, and he doesn’t surround himself with very good people.”
Hunt identified Barack Obama and Reagan as the “two most consequential presidents” since World War II. Reagan, in particular, was “more flexible than his critics thought,” Hunt said.
“He was not the right-wing ideologue he was sometimes portrayed,” he said. “He was rhetorically, but not as a governmental practitioner.”
“Nixon had some respect for institutions. He had some respect for the rule of law,” Hunt said. “Sometimes, he said, ‘You know, screw it. I’m going to disobey.’ Trump has no respect for institutions. He has no respect for the rule of law.”
Another area where the two presidents differ, according to Hunt, is knowing when it’s “time to go.” Hunt covered the Nixon administration, including the Watergate scandal.
“I was there the night the committee in Judiciary voted the first bill of impeachment,” he said, “which is one of the most extraordinary nights in my life.”
Hunt remembers then-Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater encouraging Nixon to step down from the presidency. Nixon resigned, but Hunt doesn’t believe Trump would do the same.
“Trump won’t go quietly into the night,” he said. “And I think that if we come to that point … that’s scary.”