Tuesday, February 17, 2009

C-Span rates the Presidents

1. 2.
3. 4.
5. ??

C-Span released a survey of 65 presidential historians. They ask these folks to rank the forty-two former presidents of the White House on ten attributes of leadership. Here is the link to the full list of rankings.

In contravention of what the Clarion Content wrote last month, George Bush the II was only rated seventh worst president ever, rating below Herbert Hoover, but above Warren G. Harding and several mid-nineteenth century presidents. No surprise that Lincoln and Washington ranked one, two, and pretty standard thinking that FDR, Teddy Roosevelt and Truman round out the top five, but we were quite shocked to see Kennedy nudge out Thomas Jefferson for sixth. We'd love to hear the reasoning on that one.


Ian M'rock said...

While I, too, was suprised to see Kennedy, a charistmatic President whose only great accomplishment was facing down the Soviets in the Cuban Missle Crisis, beat out TJ, who doubled the size of our nation and was the first president to largely extend our influence beyond our shores.

However, there are a few things I find even more shocking: John Adams and Bush I over James Madison? Jimmy Carter over Richard Nixon? Gerald Ford as a better President than half of our executives?

Aaron said...

I.M. Rock- In reverse order, Ford is ridiculous. Carter over Nixon, your problem with that is what? James Madison, maybe they blame him for losing the D.C. and getting the White House burned down? Plus, it is possible to argue his biggest accomplishments were pre-presidential, i.e. writing the Constitution.

Ian M'rock said...

Nixon's presidency, while largely overshadowed by the scandals that ended it, was not a bad one as history goes. Nixon created our rapprochement with China that would lead to warming relations with the Soviets, as well, as we served as a mediator between them for the next 15 years. Nixon ended the draft, got us out of Vietnam, and oversaw school integration. And he pardoned Jimmy Hoffa.

Carter? Attacked by a swamp-bunny.

Aaron said...

Carter restored honored to the institution of government. The tumult of the late '60's and the early 70's had shaken the foundations of American's belief. Nixon's resignation felt like a culmination of bad times in America.

As far as foreign policy goes, Nixon was awful in Vietnam (and Cambodia) before finally deciding to reverse course. Rapprochement China, I'll grant you, good move.

But it was Carter who negotiated the first real arms control treaties with the Soviets (a bigger deal than opening relations with China, set the stage for Reagan.) And Carter initiated the peace talks between Israel and Egypt which led to a peace that has lasted to this day.