Sunday, February 15, 2009

Survey of Historians Ranks the Presidents

C-Span invited 65 historians and observers of the presidency to rank the presidents of the United States. Perennial greatest president of all time, Abraham Lincoln, continues to hold first place in their estimation. Franklin Roosevelt and George Washington always seem to vie for second place, and while Roosevelt held the number two spot in 2000, he has exchanged places with Washington in this year's survey: Washington now is number two. Here are the ranking of the presidents; note the position of the Prince Idiot, whom I have placed in bold; a little more on the Moron-in-Chief's contribution after the list:

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
11. Lyndon B. Johnson
12. James K. Polk
13. Andrew Jackson
14. James Monroe
15. Bill Clinton (Clinton and Monroe are tied in the list)
16. William McKinley
17. John Adams
18. George H. W. Bush
19. John Quincy Adams
20. James Madison
21. Grover Cleveland
22. Gerald R. Ford
23. Ulysses S. Grant
24. William Howard Taft
25. Jimmy Carter
26. Calvin Coolidge
27. Richard M. Nixon
28. James A. Garfield
29. Zachary Taylor
30. Benjamin Harrison
31. Martin Van Buren
32. Chester A. Arthur
33. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Herbert Hoover
35. John Tyler
36. George W. Bush
37. Millard Fillmore
38. Warren G. Harding
39. William Henry Harrison
40. Franklin D. Pierce
41. Andrew Johnson
42. James Buchanan

Note that only one president of the 20th century, Warren Harding, ranked below George W. Bush. Even Herbert Hoover outpaced the Prince Idiot. From that perspective, it is at least conceivable that a survey of historians at the beginning of the 22nd century well might rank George W. Bush as the 21st century's worst president. And of course, the magnitude of Bush's failure has yet to be measured. If we never recover from the catastrophe that engulfs us, Bush surely will rival James Buchanan for the bottom wrung of the ladder.

Specific areas of Bush's incompetence in the survey included:

Public persuasion: 36th out of 42
Crisis management: 25th out of 42 (just below John Quincey Adams)
Economic management: 40th out of 42 (just one ahead of Herbert Hoover)
Moral authority: 35th out of 42 (he edges out Millard Fillmore)
International relation: 41st out of 42 (Poor William Henry Harrison, who lived just a month is the only one below W.)
Administrative abilities: 37th out of 42 (sandwiched between Grant and Buchanan)
Congressional relations: 36th out of 42 (edges Richard Nixon)
Vision: 25th out of 42 (the luminous visionary Zachary Taylor just barely outpaces him)
Pursued equal justice for all: 24 out of 42 (tied with Grover Cleveland)
Performance with context of times: 36 out of 42 (Fillmore barely beats him)


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