Obviously, there are many perks to being U.S. President. But there are some major downsides, too. In 2011, for example, scientists suggested that presidents were more likely to age faster than the average person. And, so far, there’s little evidence to the contrary. Take a look at these ten presidents at the beginnings and ends of their terms in office, though, to judge for yourself.
10. George H.W. Bush
One-time youngest ever Navy pilot George H.W. Bush took office in 1989 after a previous failed 1980 campaign to become the Republican nominee for president. And while he got off to a strong start with the public at first, a financial crisis eventually caused his approval ratings to plummet.
After a wave of controversial decisions made by Bush, then, Democrat Bill Clinton beat the incumbent to win the 1992 election. Unsurprisingly, by this point Bush had health problems – the extent of which wouldn’t come to light for a while – but they nevertheless didn’t defeat him. Indeed, despite a recent bout of pneumonia, the 92-year-old is still alive and kicking.
9. Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the early days of his 1933 to 1945 presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared a relaxed kind of guy who liked to play cards and even indulge in a smoke. Then World War II happened – and if anything will age you, a global conflict will.
Indeed, the stress of being commander-in-chief definitely seemed to get to the 32nd president. In the month before he passed, for example, he was clearly not physically well in the slightest. And on April 12, 1945, he sadly collapsed and died while having his portrait painted. Roosevelt’s funeral was attended by thousands, however, and to this day he’s still well thought of.
8. William Taft
William Taft rose from an only modestly well-off home to become President of the U.S. from 1909 to 1913. Physically, he was the largest president the country has had to date, and a popular – but untrue – anecdote persists about him once getting lodged in a bath at the White House.
Indeed, although Taft was by all accounts a pretty decent man, he’s still mostly remembered as being “the fat one” of all the presidents. And, unfortunately, his love of food did affect his health in the end. By the time he transferred his power to Woodrow Wilson, moreover, he was noticeably bigger.
7. Jimmy Carter
As president from 1977 to 1981, former peanut farmer Jimmy Carter made a lot of positive changes, such as pardoning draft dodgers and leading campaigns to conserve energy. But a series of bad decisions during his re-election campaign ensured he lost to Ronald Reagan.
However, most political commentators agree that Jimmy Carter actually got more done when he stopped being president. Today, then, he’s still active in politics and charity work and speaks out about his views often. And despite a cancer diagnosis in 2015, he’s still going strong.
6. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Former five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidency by a landslide in 1952. He served from 1953 to 1961 and presided over two of the biggest long-term events in modern history: the Cold War and the Space Race.
Needless to say, all of this took a toll on Eisenhower. He died in 1969, just a few years after his two terms in office came to an end. Still, today he’s remembered as one of the best U.S. Presidents of all time.
5. Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon is infamous for being the only U.S. President to end up quitting the job in the wake of a scandal. That scandal, of course, was Watergate. And though his time in office from 1969 to 1974 saw him make big moves like launching the Environmental Protection Agency, Watergate still overshadows his achievements to this day.
After the older, hopefully wiser Nixon resigned, though, the incoming Gerald Ford pardoned him. Not that that managed to redeem him in the eyes of the public; over two decades after his death in 1994, he still remains a figure of parody.
4. George W. Bush
George W. Bush, son of former president George H.W. Bush, was president from 2001 to 2009, although both the elections he won proved controversial. Before his first year as president was up, moreover, the 9/11 attacks took place and the “War on Terror” started.
As a result of the conflicts he put in place, then, Bush’s legacy remains a much-debated one. But one thing is more certain: his boyish looks were pretty much gone by the time he left office. Now, however, he keeps a relatively low profile and paints in his spare time.
3. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy took the nation through the Cuban Missile Crisis and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, to name just two momentous events in U.S. history. His short presidency lasted from 1961 until 1963, when he was assassinated on a trip to Texas.
Yet although many of JFK’s accomplishments were overshadowed by the manner of his death, he did make an impact. He was also one of the youngest men to ever become President, and his image at his peak was similar to that of a rock star. And the legend still lives on today.
2. Barack Obama
Barack Obama was youthful and incredibly cool when he first took office. And after making history as America’s first black president, he served for eight years from 2009 and was generally pretty popular throughout. Not, of course, that he was immune to criticism, and that came from supporters and detractors alike.
And by the time Obama left office in 2017, he had aged visibly, with much of his hair having turned white. Given the many stressful global events and two campaigns on his plate, though, it’s probably not surprising. But as he’s still only 55, he hopefully has plenty of time left to pursue new and less demanding ambitions.
1. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was U.S. President from 1993 to 2001, and he proved incredibly popular. Indeed, approval ratings for the good-looking and relatable POTUS remained high throughout his time in office – even in the middle of the famous Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
However, his boyish looks had faded by the time his presidency was over, even if his popularity more or less remained steady. He departed office with a soaring approval rating, and the humanitarian work he became involved with made people like him all the more.