|Presidential Elections | 2008|
In a 2000 American Perspective Article, "Where Have You Gone, Franklin Roosevelt?", Michael Nelson says:
In his second survey in 1962, Truman ended up in ninth place as a near-great president in the company of John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt. Dwight D. Eisenhower ranked 22nd. Republicans howled that Schlesinger had packed the jury with Democrats.
His son, commissioned a study in 1996. Eisenhower's stock has risen since the 1960s (he now regularly shows up among the top 10) but less because of any new appreciation of what long was thought to be his passive style of leadership than because of recent archival research that shows him to have been a deceptively strong "hidden-hand" leader.
David H. Donald, noted biographer of Lincoln, relates that when he met John F. Kennedy in 1961, Kennedy voiced his deep dissatisfaction and resentment with historians who had rated some of his predecessors. Kennedy said, "No one has a right to grade a President—even poor James Buchanan—who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions."
A 2000 survey by The Wall Street Journal consisted of an "ideologically balanced group of 132 prominent professors of history, law, and political science". This poll sought to include an equal number of liberals and conservatives in the survey, as the editors argued that previous polls were dominated by either one group or the other, but never balanced. According to the editors, this poll included responses from more women, minorities, and young professors than the 1996 Schlesinger poll. The editors noted that the results of their poll were "remarkably similar" to the 1996 Schlesinger poll, with the main difference in the 2000 poll being the lower rankings for the 1960s presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, and higher ranking of President Ronald Reagan at 8th. Franklin Roosevelt still ranked in the top three.
Rankings are based on averages of 6 quantitative rankings by groups of scholars from 1996 to 2016 as listed at Historical rankings at Wikipedia.
Sources included, Schlesinger, Sienna College, C-SPAN, the Wall Street Journal, The Institute for the Study of the Americas (located in the University of London's School of Advanced Study), The American Political Science Association (APSA), 538
The scores were averaged and summarized in a 10 pt. rating (10 - Great, 1-Failure). *
* To compute the 10 pt. rating I averaged the rankings at Wikipedia and sorted them from low to high, giving 10's to the best and 1's to the worst. I gave fewer high rankings, 2 10's, 3 9's, ... Although not a normal distribution it pushed more to the middle. I broke the ratings where there were gaps in the average scores.
Pty - Party: F- Federalist, D-R - Democratic-Republican, R-W National Republican/Whig, W - Whig R - Republican, D - Democrat
The top ten based on individual ranks from 1-43 are:
Princeton University political scientist, Fred I. Greenstein, focuses his 2000' book The Presidential Difference on "emotional intelligence"--a president's ability to "manage his emotions and turn them to constructive purposes." Greenstein also looks at five other, less important, leadership traits.
He judges three of FDR's five Democratic successors to be deficient in emotional intelligence (Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Clinton), but faults only one of the five modern Republicans (Richard Nixon).
Tops with a positive score in all five leadership traits was Nixon. Eisenhower, Ford, Regan and Kennedy also had an overall positive score in that order. Truman, Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Carter had a negative average.
Nelson says "Although Greenstein claims to have "avoided presidential rankings,". Surely the historians were right to place Kennedy, Johnson, and Truman above Nixon and Ford, in contrast to Greenstein's arrangement. But they were wrong to rank Reagan with the average presidents (as they did in Schlesinger, Jr.'s 1996 survey), just as Greenstein is right to rate him more highly."
The greatness of the presidents in Landy and Milkis's ("Presidential Greatness") hall of fame--Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR--has less to do with power than with purpose. Great presidents are "conservative revolutionaries" who in uncertain times "teach the nation about the need for great change but also about how to reconcile change with American constitutional traditions and purposes.
Midterm Approval Ratings
2012 at RealClearPolitics.com
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