Skip to comments.Historians rank Reagan #8 among presidents
Posted on 06/10/2004 8:55:07 AM PDT by Cableguy
More than 3 years old, but still valid. Clinton should go down next time, given his failures on Al Qaeda and North Korea. Reagan will probably move up.
------------------ The Wall Street Journal Survey on Presidents
RANK NAME MEAN GREAT 1 George Washington 4.92 2 Abraham Lincoln 4.87 3 Franklin Roosevelt 4.67 NEAR GREAT 4 Thomas Jefferson 4.25 5 Theodore Roosevelt 4.22 6 Andrew Jackson 3.99 7 Harry Truman 3.95 8 Ronald Reagan 3.81 9 Dwight Eisenhower 3.71 10 James Polk 3.70 11 Woodrow Wilson 3.68 ABOVE AVERAGE 12 Grover Cleveland 3.36 13 John Adams 3.36 14 William McKinley 3.33 15 James Madison 3.29 16 James Monroe 3.27 17 Lyndon Johnson 3.21 18 John Kennedy 3.17 AVERAGE 19 William Taft 3.00 20 John Quincy Adams 2.93 21 George Bush 2.92 22 Rutherford Hayes 2.79 23 Martin Van Buren 2.77 24 William Clinton 2.77 25 Calvin Coolidge 2.71 26 Chester Arthur 2.71 BELOW AVERAGE 27 Benjamin Harrison 2.62 28 Gerald Ford 2.59 29 Herbert Hoover 2.53 30 Jimmy Carter 2.47 31 Zachary Taylor 2.40 32 Ulysses Grant 2.28 33 Richard Nixon 2.22 34 John Tyler 2.03 35 Millard Fillmore 1.91 FAILURE 36 Andrew Johnson 1.65 37 Franklin Pierce 1.58 38 Warren Harding 1.58 39 James Buchanan 1.33
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
Arthur may have risen to the occasion in some sense, but he is still one of only two sitting presidents of less than two terms who was NOT renominated by his party (the other was Fillmore, btw). Not exactly a favourable verdict of his presidency from his colleagues, eh?
Your criticisms of FDR reek of Monday morning quarterbacking. They remind me when intellectual leftists criticize the founding fathers for not abolishing slavery. Most didn't like the practice but they didn't know what to do about.
FDR needed the Soviets cooperation to get rid of Hitler and defeat Japan. He achieved that goal. To turn on an "ally" after a brutal war was not advisable at the time.
A year ago I would have agreed with you. Lately I have seen two presentations on the Top Secret Corona Project that Eisenhower funded to put spy satellites over the USSR. The project proved that there was no bomber gap (they had less than 50 long rang bombers) and probably no missile gap. Eisenhower was willing to fade the heat over problems that did not exist to keep the secret. Kennedy who ran on a platform to close the gap almost let the info out by changing his tune within days of being sworn in.
So where will these same guys put GWB? I think they won't even consider him average due to their probable left leanings. This poll is a farce due to who is doing the polling.
Don't get me wrong, they really were up to evil and it is probably a good thing we defeated them and Germany.
On the other hand I recall reading in Churchill's 6 volumn history of WWII that we had not accomplished anything at the end of the war. He said they went to war over Poland and ended up giving it to Russia which was just as bad as the Nazis.
>>William Clinton = average? The average president gets impeached?<<
I could nitpick this list, but the one that jumps out at me as a glaring injustice is Nixon as "Below Average". It seems to me that Watergate is being given a bit too much weight here, as usual. Give it another generation.
Truman & Reagan. The bookends of the Cold War. Both should be higher.
This is a GREAT suggestion. Here's to hoping it becomes reality.
Great thread, Freepers. As a former history major, I've enjoyed everyone's thoughts.
TRYING to be objective about this, I think you've got to have FDR and Truman up there. McCullough's biography of Truman is a classic. The guy did what he thought was right and didn't care what the media or polls said. FDR gave us leadership when we needed it. Not to rank FDR high is equivalent to libs not ranking Reagan high, IMO.
OTOH, how can LBJ be above average? He's below average at best, and only getting worse with time, as the failure of his policies continue. Ford is average or above average--what the heck was he supposed to do given the hand he was dealt? And Carter was a failure. Wilson is overrated, IMO.
You would have thought Clinton would have been higher with historians. Guess it depends on the historian.
I will call a spade a spade and FDR was;
1.)The founder of the nanny state.
2.)The founder of the Soviet Union and modern marxism.
He brought us the "Great Society." See post #52 for the answer.
FDR #3 and "great"???!!! This whole list is suspect after seeiing this.
I'd put Reagan above TJ, Jackson, TR, Truman, and even FDR. Only Washington and Lincoln were better.
He was a member of the Pendergast gang in Missouri. He took a proactive role in stealing the Senate seat from Coke Stephensen and giving it to LBJ. He didn't do what was right he did what was evil.
He presided over an administration that was chock full of commies and he knew it. He did everything he could to support them and attacked the ones trying to rid the government of them.
By the way, Cleveland and Coolidge are so far ahead of any of the rest of these guys---other than Lincoln, Washington, Reagan, TR, and maybe FDR---that it's a shame. Cleveland and Coolidge were great, great presidents.
FDR was the founder of big government liberalism and yes for that he is owed criticism.
Historians also love warrior presidents. Notice, that the best guarantee of great or near great status is to get us into a war.
Not bad but I would like to see how GW resolves the Iraq situation. Right now GW is about average in my book.
1. George Washington
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. Thomas Jefferson
5. Harry Truman
1 Jimmy Carter.
President Reagan is definitely in my top four. He defeated our biggest foe and in the process helped free millions of Eastern Europeans (FDR sold their future down the river at Malta).
I put the last three Dems to be POTUS (LBJ, Carter, and Clinton) at the bottom. I see a trend.
Always popular. But not every "warrior" President started the wars. Sometimes they just finished them. Quite a few became President after the wars were over.
FDR at Yalta upon handing over half of Europe to the Soviets (when Russia was in rubble and weakened) set the Soviet Union in motion. It would have taken the Russians centuries (if ever) to acquire that much real estate. And your great hero FDR hands it to them on a silver platter. OK you're right FDR should be ranked as the third greatest president BAAARRRFFFFFF!!!!
Perhaps you are right, but I rank the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clarke Expedition (which I am almost certain he commissioned but not absolutely certain as I am writing this), and the abolition of slave trade as extremely significant.
The Louisiana Purchase was a bold act that he (as a strict constructionist) arguably had no right to do. However, it set the table for manifest destiny that dominated 19th century politics and served as the backdrop of many major accomplishments of future administrations.
The Lewis and Clarke commission was a minor thing for someone to commission (not minor to the Lewis and Clarke crew to endure and accomplish, mind you). Whether he had the forethought to realize it's import for the 19th century might be argued, but is is inarguable that it was an extremely significant accomplishment for the future of this nation. Perhaps it compares very favorably to the race to the moon. The accomplishment itself is amazing, of course, but its execution was not the most significant thing. All the things discovered, invented, enhanced, etc., in putting a man on the moon and the propulsion of these things via the private economy to escort us into and beyond the information age is the enduring legacy of the race to the moon. Likewise, most every significant accomplishment of the 19th century traces its roots and owes tribute to the Lewis and Clarke expedition and the Louisiana Purchase.
The abolition of the slave trade was an important act that set him apart from virtually every other 19th century President until Lincoln. Virtually all of them "kicked the can down the road" on this issue until Lincoln. None that I remember even lifted a finger to use the bully pulpit to even try to move public opinion. And according to some Lincoln would like to have done the same but to his everlasting credit (pure motives or not) he did embrace it and abolished the practice of slavery via the civil war.
Again, I am not a scholar and someone more knowledgeable than me may correct me about the slavery issue (it could be that other Presidents indeed did try to do something to help the slaves) or the Lewis and Clarke Expedition commission date, but if I am right I think these accomplishments significantly shaped the 19th century adn beyond for this nation.
What would you say were the things they did that made them great?
FDR has no business being on this list. Neither does Harry Truman. Thomas Jefferson should be number one without a doubt.
There should be 41 names on the list. I can see why William Harrison was left off (died a month after taking office), but who else was left off?
And who was Commander-in-Chief of the American Armed Forces?
We had a good industrial base and a willingness to serve. That's actually not true. We were in the middle of a depression. Our industrial capacity was limited and we needed to upgrade our armed forces in a hurry.
When faced with a Supreme Court that correctly found his proposals unconstitutional, his reaction was to attempt to amend the Constitution to add a jurists that would allow him to do as he pleased.
He did attempt to amend the constitution. Today's leftists would have just sued the Supreme Court for lack of diversity.
He designed and implemented policies which not only did not shorten the depression, they thwarted the ability of market forces to restore the economy to health. He created the precedent that the people of the United States should first look to government for the solutions to their problems.
I agree with all of the above.
But to credit him for those achievements is the same as giving Clinton credit for the economic strength that was the result of economic policies of his predecessors, and changes in technology.
There is no comparison between Clinton and FDR. Clinton is a shameful disgrace who flaunted the law, couldn't be honest with his own cabinet, kidnapped a Cuban boy from a private home and sentenced him to live under Communism, murdered his own Commerce Secretary, took bribes for pardons and slept at the wheel and possibly even covered up terrorists attacks while the US faced grave threats to its civilian population.
I refuse to argue this anymore b/c I am not by any means a fan of FDR but he is deserved credit for winning WWII.
George Bush should not be considered great until his presidency is over. The war in Iraq is over but we still have a ways to go on the war on terror. 9/11 did happen on his watch. He has agreed to programs to let illegal aliens agree to stay in this country. He is the government to grow at a rate that even Clinton did not. He states that he is against abortion but does not seem to be willing to do anything against it. He may one day be considered one of the great presidents of this country but I would like to see what he does in his second term.
I'd rank Carter so low he wouldn't even make the list (Like #43 on the list of 42!). Even today the thought of living through Carter's Presidency sends shudders through me. JFK really doesn't belong on the list since his Presidency was cut short by his assassination. I don't know why people are so hot about LBJ, I always thought his mis-management of the Vietnam war should have ranked him just above Carter's.
I'd Rank President Reagan at least #5, though I've always had a sneaking admiration for Truman. And I'd definitely agree with more than a few of you who feel that Nixon got a "Raw Deal", and probably over time that will change. Despite his shortcomings, Nixon knew politics, especially foreign relations, and he deserves better.
I put FDR sixth out ten. He should not be ranked in the top three.
It was necessary for Truman, Johnson, and their ilk of big-spending socialists to make certain that Speaker Coke didn't interfere with their grand social programs.
Besides stuffing Ballot Box #13, Truman and Johnson used Yale attorney Abe Fortas to seal their LBJ Senate election theft (a favor repaid by nominating Fortas to the Supreme Court later - which further begets the whole Chief Justice Warren Harding/President Nixon feud, et al, including Fortas' eventual resignation from the Supreme Court - the first to ever do so - after getting caught accepting a $20,000 bribe masked as a retirement pension payment).
I stopped reading this ranking as soon as I saw two things:
1. There was no ranking that one could use to give a negative score to an XPOTUS. A catagory named "Dismal failure and Harmful to the Country and the Office".
2. That "historians" ranked old X42 as No. 24.
It is extremely obvious that X42 should have been placed into the "Dismal Failure and Harmful to the Country and the Office" with a mean score of -5.
The rankings - as they exist - ain't worth spit.
C#133 on Truman...
All kidding aside, he probably didn't go straight into the toilet because of the economy that Reagan setup for him.
Lincoln elevated the issue of slavery to the place where it needed to be, namely to the moral plane. He got it out of "practical politics" and forced people to make the hard choice that they had ducked for 80 years. Moreover, to keep the "war coalition" together was a tremendous feat---he was far more of a "minority president" than Bush was. Talk about red and blue states---Lincoln didn't get a vote below the Mason-Dixon line.
it doesn't matter as long as he is below the top two tiers. It will bother him to no end that he is not #1 he he he.
Nixon should be higher, Clintoon should be lower.
I put FDR as Failure.
Historians today, who are preponderantly Marxists, don't know shit from shinola. They're mostly ivory tower academics who've bought into the whole panoply of leftist bullshit that they've gladly and stupidly eaten from undergrad to grad schools. Anyone who is mildly familiar with American history would find practically all of their rankings on this list absolutely laughable!
I call that speculation, not history. Just my opinion.
Lincoln elevated the issue of slavery to the place where it needed to be, namely to the moral plane.
Nonsense, he advocated sending the slaves away from America. He never made it the issue until it suited his needs.
Moreover, to keep the "war coalition" together was a tremendous feat---he was far more of a "minority president" than Bush was. Talk about red and blue states---Lincoln didn't get a vote below the Mason-Dixon line.
In other words, all the people who wanted to leave the Union, and they had the right IMO, didn't vote for him. Not surprising.
He crapped all over the constitution to get what he wanted. He wanted the Union preserved, it was the only thing he really cared about, by his own admission.
I disagree on Lincoln. Washington was the rare guy who did what he was supposed to do. It made him a hero, I guess. I don't have any problem with him and most others don't either, that's why he is always rated high.
And if you like sending American off to die for no reason, fighting wars you don't intend to win then Truman is your man.
"George Bush should not be considered great until his presidency is over."
I was referring to his father as underrated.
As for George the Younger, I agree that we will have to wait till his Presidency ends to judge. I would disagree that he not done anything about abortion. He did sign the ban on late term abortions. I would also disagree with your criticism of the growth of government under his watch. It is a little hard to compare growth under his Presidency with Clinton's because 9/11 and the war on terror created the necessity for higher defense costs and the creation of the homeland defense department. Rick Santorum commented on this this morning on Imus and suggested that if you ignore increases in the military and homeland defense, Bush has a better record then Ronald Reagan on government growth.
Thedistortions and decietes that supporters of Bush will use, even to lie qbout Reagon record to make their man look good, is disgusting.
Will I vote for Bush, yea holding my nose, is Bush a big government, socialists globalist that doesn't give a damn about the USA? You bet he is.
The Russian troops already controled that real estate. What would you have had FDR do? Start another world war to beat htem back to Russia? You're falling into the same line of liberal euro-weenie thinking that blames the US instead of the people who started the Cold War and made it necessary. The US isn't nearly as culpable for not doing something to stop another's evil acts. Blame the party that committed the acts - the Russians. Those countries that got taken over should also shoulder some of the blame for resisting so weakly and/or for being part of the Axis in the first place. I'm surprised you also didn't criticize FDR for not acting preemptively and preventing France from being overrun. Blaming FDR and by extension the US, doesn't make sense in this instance. There was plenty of things wrong with FDR's policies but not attacking an ally right after a long and bloody war to free-up some former enemies because they might be enslaved for the next few decades isn't one of them.
McKinley is only average and the highest Mountain in the country bares his name? That should be Mt. Reagan.
The problem with this type of analysis is that it totally hides the criteria. If one were to be labeled a "failure", then the immediate question should be: "Doing what?"
For instance, if the goal is to prevent the Soviet Union from achieving their stated aim of world conquest, then Jimmy Carter, indeed, was an abject failure. However, opposing the Soviet's was NOT Carter's stated goal. He clearly believed in accommodating the Soviet Union. Based on that goal, Jimmy Carter did a pretty good job and probably should be ranked higher.
Unfortunately, many of the "historians" who participate in these rankings are still lamenting the demise of the Soviet Empire. They clearly would not give President Reagan credit for its collapse.
In many ways, Reagan's achievements dwarf Roosevelt's. The media and the "elite" were not hounding Roosevelt to abandaon his goals. The country readily rallied to oppose a clear Nazi threat. Reagan had to "sound the alarm" himself.
The economic recovery of the U.S. did not actually occur until we were into WWII. It's not plain that Roosevelt's economic programs were any better than a holding pattern. Reagan's tax cuts pulled the U.S. out of an inflationary spiral and provided a major boom which lasted for many years.
I've heard lots of rehashes of Reagan's first two years blaming his economic program for a full recession. Most conveniently ignore the double digit inflation he inherited. It took "Reaganomics" about 2.5 years to turn the economy around. (It took 6 months to pass congress.) By the time the campaigns began for his second term, the country was clearly on the road to recovery. We should compare that legacy with Roosevelt's record. Roosevelt's programs had not solved the depression in 2.5 years!
Albert Fall and the Tea Pot Dome scandal did his reputation in.
I found it curious that when Albert Gore sold the same Tea Pot dome oil fields to Occidental Petroleum for development, that no one in the press made the least amount of noise about it.
Fortunately you do not have to.
Washington's greatest gift was to establish the various precedents for those chosen as President of the United States, including and most importantly, the orderly and peaceful transfer of power to a political successor.
Remember that there were many, including his officers that urged him to take power in his own name, and others that offered him a crown.
For me and for always, he is "First in War, first in Peace and First in the hearts of his countrymen"