One Hundred and forty-five years after he became president, Abraham Lincoln appears at the top of a list published by CNN.com that ranks the nation's presidents. Using a list of categories, each president from George Washington to George W. Bush was ranked. When combined, it was quite easy to see who bubbled to the top AND who wallowed in the dregs of the rankings.
It's still a little early to judge the presidency of George W., but as one would expect, he came near the bottom of the list; he was number 36.
Abraham Lincoln came out on top based on his leadership (during the Civil War), moral authority (on the issue of slavery), and vision (keeping the United States together). James Buchanan (who?) came in dead last for his lack of leadership (he squandered the opportunity to address the slavery issue during the 1850's), moral authority (slavery again), vision (that peculiar institution in the south), and job performance (because of you know what).
All 42 presidents (remember that Grover Cleveland's two terms were separated by Benjamin Harrison, but he's only ranked once in the survey) were scored in the following categories:
- Public persuasion
- Crisis leadership
- Economic management
- Moral authority
- International relations
- Administrative skills
- Relations with Congress
- Vision/setting an agenda
- Pursued equal justice for all
- Performance within the context of the times
The Top Five Presidents:
- Abraham Lincoln - managed the Civil War
- George Washington - the first president of a young, fledgling nation
- Franklin D. Roosevelt - ushered in the New Deal during the worst depression in nation's history
- Theodore Roosevelt - heralded as a visionary
- Harry S. Truman - provided crucial leadership after the end of World War II
The Bottom Five Presidents:
- James Buchanan - a Northerner who happened to be a Southern sympathizer who did nothing avert the Civil War
- Andrew Johnson - took over after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and barely averted getting removed from office after being impeached
- Franklin D. Pierce - another Southern sympathizer who supported the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War
- William Henry Harrison - died after only 32 days in office
- Warren G. Harding - only served 2 years before suffering a heart attack
plez sez: no surprises here. even though, it was part of the times, any president during the run-up to the civil war got pretty low scores (buchanan, pierce, and fillmore). the top ranked presidents provided crucial leadership and vision during the nation's most trying times (civil war, depression, the start, etc.).
george w. bush blew it during his eight years of manufactured terrorism fear; if he had actually thwarted an enemy or provided a positive impact on the fear he created, he would've been rated a lot higher.
after reading the results of the survey, President Obama has the perfect opportunity to provide vision and leadership during this trying time. if he can shepherd the country (and world) out of the doldrums of this recession, he will join lincoln, washington, and fdr. if we are still in a malaise (a la jimmy carter in 1980), then he will find himself keeping company with george w. bush at the bottom!
Read the CNN.com article about president top list.
Read the CNN.com article about how the presidents were ranked.