Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ranking the best presidents; Lincoln tops C-Span

C-Span conducted a poll of 64 historians concerning the best presidents as far as leadership.

I'm a bit surprised at the top 10 results, but here they are, followed by my judgment:

Historians Survey Results Category

Total Scores/Overall Ranking
President's Name 2009 Final Score Overall Ranking

Abraham Lincoln 902 1 1
George Washington 854 2 3
Franklin D. Roosevelt 837 3 2
Theodore Roosevelt 781 4 4
Harry S. Truman 708 5 5
John F. Kennedy 701 6 8
Thomas Jefferson 698 7 7
Dwight D. Eisenhower 689 8 9
Woodrow Wilson 683 9 6
Ronald Reagan 671 10 11
Lyndon B. Johnson 641 11 10

From my perspective, Reagan, FDR and LBJ belong in the top 3 -- with the advantage going to LBJ. But it's very close.

JFK does not belong in the top 10. His presidency was mediocre at best. While he stated worthy goals, it was LBJ who accomplished them. His assassination glossed over major failures such as the disastrous Vienna meeting with Kruschev and the Bay of Pigs fiasco which secured Communism's future in Cuba to this day. Kennedy's Civil Rights package also was effectively bottled up in Congress.

Eisenhower didn't do anything, really. Jefferson expanded the size of America. But his hypocrisy of owning slaves while writing a sacred document stating that all men are created equal denies him moral standing to be in the top 10. After reading David McCullough's book, I'd put John Adams in his place.

Lincoln and Washington and Teddy Roosevelt belong in the top 10. But I would not put Lincoln at the top. He picked horrible generals, which prolonged a war the North should have quickly won with its industrial and manpower advantages. Even Grant was a butcher of his own men. The Emancipation Proclamation was a political ploy. And Lincoln's military build up before secession sealed the fight with the South.

Wilson's League of Nations push was admirable but not solely worthy of a ranking of the best presidents. And it failed to be adopted by Congress.

Truman had some very tough decisions that preserve his ranking, and he desegregated the military.

I would have loved to have seen how Howard Zinn would have ranked the presidents.

Surprisingly, Goeorge W. Bush did not rank at the bottom of the historians' list. He finished seven spots above the bottom. Barack Obama -- with his disastrous first month -- may help him rise in rankings each year. Incredibly, Bill Clinton finished 14th on the list, which says something to the liberal bias of the historian class.

Tennesseans Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk finished 12th and 11th respectively, which shows that the liberals don't care that both played key roles in the massive malevolent mistreatment of the American Indian. Polk initiated the greatest immorality in American public policy -- Manifest Destiny, and invaded another country without cause for which the United States had to pay $15 million in reparations.

But the bias and blindless of this historian class is quite profound. I remember a segment of Sean Hannity's show when a group of Harvard eggheads had joined with Sen. Kennedy in protesting President Bush's Patriot Act. They called it an unprecedented attack on civil liberties.

Hannity then asked one of the elitists which president was his hero. He answered FDR. Theh Hannity reminded the egghead that FDR had put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. How's that for an abuse of civil liberties?

Historians come with their prejudices, just like the rest of us. But theirs is more geared to ideology than the pursuit of truth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're going to leave Jefferson out because of hypocrisy then you need to leave Lincoln out as well.

Lincoln left the slaves in the north and border stats on the hook with no freedom after the phony Emancipation Proclamation, really meant only to incite war in the confederate states.