2.16.2009

Happy Presidents Day


In celebration of this year's Presidents Day, C-SPAN gathered a cross-section of 65 presidential historians to rank the 42 former White House occupants on 10 "attributes of leadership." This second Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership puts Obama's idol Abe Lincoln at the top (as did the first, which was released in 2000), followed by Washington, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, and Truman.

Those attributes were: public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision/agenda setting, pursued equal justice for all, and performance within context of times.

Bill Clinton ranked 15th, up 6 spots from the last survey. It seems that, over time, people have realized that -- compared with declaring war without cause, torturing prisoners, spying on innocent Americans, landing the country in its next Great Depression and so on -- fiddling around with the intern seems rather harmless and pedestrian. I'll take this opportunity to remind everyone that Clinton presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, left the U.S. government reporting a surplus of $559 billion, and left office with a 66 percent approval rating -- the highest of any president since WWII. But I digress.

Dubya ranked 36th in the survey. Out of 42. I think those historians were being kind. Although one of those 6 who ranked lower than he did was Harrison, who died on his 32nd day in office.

For details on the survey and a comparison with the the 2000 version, click here.

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