February 16th, 2009

history

Ten random things: February 16

Ten Presidents of the United States and where they rank on C-SPAN's 2009 Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership:

  1. Grover Cleveland (21, down 4 from 1999)
  2. Ronald Reagan (10, up 1)
  3. Gerald R. Ford (22, up 1)
  4. Dwight D. Eisenhower (8, up 1)
  5. Andrew Johnson (41, down 1)
  6. Franklin D. Pierce (40, down 1)
  7. James Buchanan (42, down 1)
  8. Millard Fillmore (37, down 2)
  9. John Quincy Adams (19, no change)
  10. Warren G. Harding (38, no change)

Every ten years, C-SPAN asks presidential historians -- 65 of them this time around -- to rank the American presidents on ten attributes of leadership: Public Persuasion; Crisis Leadership; Economic Management; Moral Authority; International Relations; Administrative Skills; Relations with Congress; Vision/Setting An Agenda; Pursued Equal Justice For All; and Performance Within Context of Times. It is perhaps worth noting that while Pierce, Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson all have a numerical ranking lower than in 1999, their relative rankings remained the same, i.e. they're still the last three names on the list.

The big loser this time around was Rutherford B. Hayes, whose ranking plummeted seven places to 33. Bill Clinton scored the greatest gain, rocketing up 6 points to 15. My man James K. Polk stayed steady at 12 (right ahead of his mentor and patron Andrew Jackson); George W. Bush entered the list at 36, right behind Herbert Hoover and John Tyler. Oh, the ignominity! (Actually, I think Tyler deserves a little better.)