- Teddy Roosevelt might be a top-10 president, but he's certainly not #2 of all time. His record of progressive accomplishments is dwarfed by Woodrow Wilson's (#8), and Theodore Roosevelt's diplomatic accomplishments are belied by a rather putrid (and nearly racist) nationalism that was extreme even for the time. TR's high ranking merely confirms my belief that these things tend to be popularity contests. TR was a more interesting personality than Wilson.
- The oddest feature of this list is the resurgence of the Founding Father presidents on the top. Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe occupy positions 4-7 on the list, and I find this utterly baffling. I can understand Washington and Jefferson, but wasn't Madison kind of a terrible president? Great man, important man, but all I remember about the guy is that he picked a fight with Britain that resulted in the War of 1812 that America lost. And Monroe strikes me as an exceedingly odd choice. I like the Monroe Doctrine as much as the next man, but I don't think you can point to too much that Monroe did that really changed America. Seems pretty average to me.
- Nice to see G. W. Bush in the bottom five, with all the usual suspects. That's partly because he's rated the second-least intelligent president after Harding, which seems about right.
- The really interesting part is at the end, where they give the top and bottom two presidents for each criterion they use. In so many cases they're spot on: Nixon gets lowest ratings for "Avoid[ing] crucial mistakes" which kind of sums up Nixon, I think.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Historical rankings of presidents
As a history nerd, I can never let something like a new batch of historical rankings to pass by without any comment from me. Check out this Siena Poll of historians yourself. My thoughts:
The Man, The Myth, The Bio
- East Bay, California, United States
- Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.