Skip to comments.The "greatest" -- and "worst" -- presidents Rethinking the presidential rating game
Posted on 05/11/2009 8:01:56 PM PDT by ReformationFan
The trouble with many of the past ratings of America's presidents is that the "consensus" has been arrived at by academics who act alike, do alike, and think alike. In the view of many, they are suspect of viewing history exclusively through the prism of Ivy League faculty lounge discourse.
Alvin Stephen Felzenberg (Ph.D.) who has taken a fresh and comprehensive look at the nation's chief executives in his book The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game does not challenge the credentials of the conventional historians.
Rather, as he explains in an e-mail to this column, he does challenge "their failure to define terms and inconsistencies in their grading" i.e, What makes a president great? That he got his program enacted into law? Or that his programs proved beneficial to the country?
Dr. Felzenberg notes in his book that former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and former Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-N.Y.) have participated in these "rating presidents" exercises without an identifiable former public official from the other end of the spectrum, "who might have been included for philosophical balance." He suggests that William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, George Schultz, the late Jean Kirkpatrick, and Milton Friedman all with Ph.D.s would have been credible contributors.
Call it "revisionism" if you will a term often intended as a pejorative but as time advances and new perspectives and new information come into play, honest history requires openness to "revisionism." Moreover, as repeatedly noted here, "history" is usually written by the winners, not the losers. At times, events and outcomes sometimes have a way of ultimately proving the losers right, while the verdict of "history" fails to adjust accordingly.
(Excerpt) Read more at renewamerica.us ...
Greatest = Reagan
Worst = Obama
I have to question his view on Taylor. First, ranking someone at 7th based on what they might have done is questionable at best. He also assumes that Taylor’s wishes regarding California and New Mexico would have been met, and that adding those states would have quickly led to an amendment banning slavery. Both are fairly large leaps. Finally, I do not believe an amendment banning slavery would have prevented the Civil War.
As far as putting Lincoln first, I believe Washington deserves that honor. He showed all subsequent presidents how to conduct themselves with restraint and honor, even if they don't always follow his lead. He played a pivotal role in the birth of America and that should never be forgotten.
I have Wilson near the bottom.
Buchanan: let the rebels steal United States property, shipping cannon and small south to be stolen. That theft enabled the 680,000 deaths from the War of the Rebellion.
Wilson: Resegregated the federal government, 100,000 casualties in WWI, and 800,000 casualties from flu due to his policies which put soldiers cheek by jowl during training.
FDR: Actively prolonged the depression, encouraged German and Italian aggression by his flattery. 50 million casualties world wide, with 300,000 war casualties. His vice president (Wallace) was a communist agent.
Truman: Handed off Korea to the communists, then changed his mind, but didn’t want to win either.
Carter and Clinton don’t even get honorable mention on my bad-o-meter.
I have to agree with you on Taylor. Yes, he had some great ideas, but they never came to fruition. You, I, and millions of other Americans have great ideas about how to fix the problems plaguing our nation, but if they do not come to pass, then they remain nothing but ideas.
as he should be...
Greatest = Reagan
Worst = Obama
Worst: Linclon and Carter tied
How about James K. Polk?
Agreed. Washington was truly “the indispensable man” in Flexner’s words. America can’t even be imagined without him. He was sui generis.
Had the Civil War been fought in 1850, there isn’t much doubt secession would have been successful.
During that 10 years the North grew much faster than the South, creating a much greater imbalance. In particular, the railroads and other industry expanded greatly. Without these assets, Union conquest of the CSA would have been very difficult.
Despite him being the President during the Mexican-American war and his securing of the Oregon territory I would move him down my list just because he was a dedicated Jacksonian.
Longer Perspectives.Dr. Felzenberg notes in his book that former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and former Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-N.Y.) have participated in these "rating presidents" exercises without an identifiable former public official from the other end of the spectrum, "who might have been included for philosophical balance." He suggests that William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, George Schultz, the late Jean Kirkpatrick, and Milton Friedman -- all with Ph.D.s -- would have been credible contributors.To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
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Dr. Felzenberg notes in his book that former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and former Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-N.Y.) have participated in these "rating presidents" exercises without an identifiable former public official from the other end of the spectrum, "who might have been included for philosophical balance." He suggests that William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, George Schultz, the late Jean Kirkpatrick, and Milton Friedman -- all with Ph.D.s -- would have been credible contributors.
No re-thinking required.
The book is worth a look. But Felzenberg’s scores rely a little too much on character. For example Jefferson gets bad marks for character and other, lesser Presidents get high marks. So this lowers the scores of the Presidents Felzenberg doesn’t like.
The best; Washington (could have been king, but set the standard that nobody has yet surpassed.), Jefferson, Jackson, Reagan.
The worst; FDR, Lincoln (destroyed state's rights), Wilson.
Zero is honorable mention in the worst category, but it's still early.
The most ignorant part of the article, this on Jackson; "Old Hickory" hated banks per se (was ignorant as to how they worked)
Au contraire! Jackson knew EXACTLY how (central) banks worked, which is why he hated them and fought to end the central bank of the time. (Oh how we need Jackson now!)
Ignorant historians love presidents who make history. Wise Americans like presidents who leave us the h*ll alone!
My faves: George Washington, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Ronad Reagan.
I am firmly convinced that Woodrow "League of Nations" Wilson was likely a sign from the antichrist.
As Presidents, I’ll concede, Jefferson and Jackson were mixed bags.
But Jefferson gets extra credit for his intellect, insight and wisdom outside of government, and Jackson (as I mentioned) for his destruction of the central bank. Great men both.
Cleveland and Coolidge are indeed among the elite.