The CSPAN ‘historians’ list of presidential rankings offers the usual suspects:
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Theodore Roosevelt
5. Harry S. Truman
6. John F. Kennedy
7. Thomas Jefferson
8. Dwight D. Eisenhower
9. Woodrow Wilson
10. Ronald Reagan
As usual, the ineffectual Kennedy is vastly overrated for specious reasons. People clinging to Camelot AgitProp like Gollum and his Precious. Cuban Missile Crisis aside his legislative and international accomplishments are essentially nil. And one can make a compelling case that Kennedy’s own callowness led directly from Vienna to the Berlin Wall to Cuba (and let’s overlook Vietnam out of politeness).
We would rank Washington ahead of hollow Lincoln gushing so much in vogue in Sally Quinn’s universe. First, few Americans understand he told the U.S. Army to stand down, not overthrow the Congress in Philadelphia and obey civilian government. He also declined the crown and did not want it offered three times. More importantly, he later stepped down voluntarily. Creating is so much more difficult than preserving or destroying.
Jefferson was actually a calamitous president and his Neo-con-esque Jacobin policies largely not understood by modern scholarship. Points for the Louisiana Purchase geopolitically — although students of republican theory then and today understood the expansion meant inevitably some form of political decay devolving inexorably to an imperial endgame of some sort.
Woodrow Wilson? Please explain to the Stiftung how this disaster is not in the bottom 20.
Overall, morons like Tweety who purport to be be pros with his fluffer Howard Fineman miss the fundamental dynamic with this pseudo intellectual exercise. Tweety suddenly blurts he’s mystified how ‘liberals’ made this ranking. Fineman gushes his number one president would be JFK. Allowing these people more air time is crime against the future.
Contrary to what Tweety and Fineman claim, the Eisenhower re-evaluation began in the early 1980s. The Stiftung had many a conversation back then with Princeton Professor Joanne Gowa about her research on this very topic. Sabato and Brinkley should know better when they did their Mutt and Jeff turn on the Tweety obscenity. Is truth determined by what popularizers like Ambrose churn out? It continues to boggle the Stiftung’s mind how vacant, shallow and superficial our self-styled media (cough) intelligentsia remains.
Modern individuals are given more credence — either way — because of the imperial dimension. Teddy marked a turning point, but FDR marked the dawn of President as Global Emperor. The throne by necessity elevates those upon it, even those named Bush. This essential geopolitical reality can’t be escaped. Hence the Warlord’s ranking.
What will be interesting is to see how the diminished presidency and dissipated American global hegemony affects the re-evaluation prism going forward. Perhaps C-SPAN will be wise enough to allow our Chinese landlords to have input on the next round.