Washington # 3? I know the history profs rankings put him high up, and I read your comments on the other thread about how he could've defined the position as a king, and I've heard that before, but is it really true?
We'd just fought a pretty long war to get rid of a King. We had no intention of reforming a Kingdom. Remember, the Constitution was our 2nd try at national governance. Our first were the Articles of Confederation, which turned out to so weaken the national government that it basically couldn't exist over time -- the very antithesis of a King and Kingdom.
While the Constitution moved slightly closer to a strong national government, the national government back then had only a tiny fraction of the powers that we today take for granted.
Could Washington really have said "I've been elected President, but I hereby pronounce myself King. I'm tearing up your Constitution, outlawing your Congress and from now on I plan to rule by royal decree" without the Patrick Henry's and Sam Adams's of the colonies going completely nuts and taking to the hills again?
Why did Buchanon suck? There were a lot of 19th century Presidents I didn't know much about and he was one of them. Was he part of that do-nothing bunch preceding the Civil War?
Even if you're not ready to forgive Nixon for Watergate, don't his Cold War accomplishments have to serve to offset Watergate enough to get him out of the bottom 3?