February 21, 2011

Gallup: "Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President."

Lincoln comes in second. Third? Bill Clinton!

Obama is 7th, with 5%.

There's a partisan quality to the numbers. If you look at Republicans, it's Reagan, Washington, Lincoln. Democrats' top 3 is: Clinton, Kennedy, Obama. (FDR and Lincoln tie for 4th.) Independents put Lincoln first (and then Reagan, then Clinton). Actually, I think the main thing going on here is people are being asked to come up with the name of a President, and they don't have that many names floating around in their heads. It's always safe to say "Lincoln." Beyond that, they're rooting around in the decades they remember personally.

AND: Set your DVR. It's the big Chris Matthews special, "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon": "Bill Clinton's position in the world continues to grow. He's part dignitary, part humanitarian, part politician, part international statesman, and somehow, greater than them all..." Sounds like the old Matthewsian leg is all a-tingle.

120 comments:

knox said...

Obama! LOL

Sofa King said...

Obama in the top three? That's embarrassing, considering Lincoln was fourth.

Kirby Olson said...

Highly fluid. The best jokester was Calvin Coolidge, although Lincoln and Reagan got off some good bits.

Obama is very poor in the humor category.

W. wasn't bad, but you had to be there.

Garfield was funny, but he wasn't on stage long. He could apparently write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other simultaneously, as some kind of party trick.

There are some presidents about whom there is almost no lore. Franklin Pierce, for instance, what is he known for? I'm sure he must have said something memorable, or done something memorable, but nothing comes to mind.

sofa said...

sofa king- great nic !

(from a twin, separated at birth)

shoutingthomas said...

Hell.

I can remember when Ronald Reagan was just a stupid yokel like Sarah Palin.

And, he was a dangerous, stupid yokel who believed in bringing down the Evil Empire.

Our incredibly nuanced intellectuals thought it was better to compromise with the Soviet Union. They're so smart.

wordsmith2 said...

The conclusion about personal experience is a little odd. Does that mean that Republicans are old enough to have personal memories of Washington and Lincoln? Or that they were the only ones paying attention in history class?

Phil 3:14 said...

Clinton, Kennedy and Obama higher for Dems than FDR. Boy this poll says more about our sense of history (or maybe just our memory). And poor LBJ. Did so many of our modern "archetypal" liberal, government programs but still gets no love.

sofa said...

Top Domestic Enemies to the Constitution- Lincoln, Coolidge, Obama, FDR, LB Johnson, Clintoon

Best ever- Washington, Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, ... ummm... (any since Jackson?)

MadisonMan said...

How come James Knox Polk is never ranked higher?

peter hoh said...

Clinton doesn't deserve to be highly ranked. His presidency was a series of wasted opportunities.

JP said...

"Bill Clinton's position in the world continues to grow. He's part dignitary, part humanitarian, part politician, part international statesman, and somehow, greater than them all..."

Wow, all those words due to a few blowjobs, Chrissy?

IF that is the case Chris, you should try them. NO, not receiving them, but giving them.

On second thought, maybe just maybe, that is how you got ahead in your chosen field.

Quayle said...

Mathews forgot "part Hugh Hefner."

TerriW said...

Kirby Olson: Franklin Pierce was the only president from the great state of New Hampshire! And ... uh, that's all I got.

Madison Man: James K. Polk did get a tribute song from They Might Be Giants, you really can't ask for more.

rcocean said...

Will Chris Matthews show Monica's Blue Dress & remind us what a Lewinsky is?

Lincolntf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lincolntf said...

For a book that stands apart in the sea of books written about Abraham Lincoln I recommend "Dear Mr. President" by Harold Holzer. A barely edited compilation of letters received by Lincoln. It gives a great sense of what the concerns, expectations and realities of his times were.
(ISBN: 0201408295)

For a different twist (or for the Lincolnophile who has "every" Lincoln book) I suggest digging up a copy of "Lincoln in Caricature", a political cartoon collection (with commentaries by Rufus Rockwell Wilson) that was published in 1945 and reprinted in '53.

Chip Ahoy said...

I just now visited the Organizing America site. Uh oh. Something is wrong. Please pardon me while I repair damaged brain cells.

* initiates reboot *

There. Back. OMG, that was awful. Still feeling a little shell-shocked. Crawling with all kinds of trojans and worms. I made the mistake of reading comments to Organizing for America blog posts. A total infestation of teh stew-pid, I tells ya.The misinformation there and straight up wrongness pervading the place is amazing. Glemcrack frezip ultumatepound forners. Hang on.

* initiates reboot *

Back.

* runs system analysis *

This is going to take awhile.

rdkraus said...

Americans = Teh Stoopid.

Most Americans could not tell you one thing about at least 25 presidents.

Quaestor said...

Chris Matthews dictates the promo:

"Bill Clinton's position in the world continues to grow. (slurp... slurp) He's part dignitary, part humanitarian (slurp ... slurp) part politician, part international statesman (slurp... slurp... slurp... slurp... gasp) and somehow, greater than them all... Did I get any on my tie?

David said...

Time will tell, but no matter how much time Reagan can never outrank Washington or Lincoln. They assured, each in their own way, that there is a United States.

I'd place Jefferson third, mainly for the Louisiana Purchase.

Roosevelt's greatness other than as a war leader should continue to fade, but he probably stays in the top 6.

Obama has the challenges that make greatness a possibility, but he keeps voting present. Because of this, he also has a chance to go down as one of the worst presidents ever.

rdkraus said...

Chip

One of us spelled

the stupid

wrong.

Uh oh.

rdkraus said...

Chip

One of us spelled

the stupid

wrong.

Uh oh.

David said...

"Franklin Pierce, for instance, what is he known for? I'm sure he must have said something memorable, or done something memorable, but nothing comes to mind."

He's memorable for failing to confront the great issue of the day: slavery and possible southern secession. He punted. Obama will be remembered in the same way, if he continues on the present course.

aronamos said...

Pierce bought what's now southern New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase, thereby fixing the Mexican-US border, mapwise at least.

Alex said...

People who are not educated in history should not be allowed to vote in such a poll.

Alex said...

I'll take Calvin Coolidge over Reagan.

AllenS said...

Hey, Matthews, ask him what the proper use is for a cigar.

woof said...

Franklin Pierce campaign slogan - "We Polked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852!"

Alex said...

Define what "greatest" means anyways. This is popularity contest! To me greatness in a President is measured in his ability to stay strictly to his Constitutional duties, to roll back the march of government and to secure America's safety with his foreign policy. Any other criteria?

edutcher said...

Like one of those 100 Greatest Movies of all Time list with 80 - 90 from the last 25 years.

Reagan may be in the top 10, but no way 1.

Washington
Lincoln
FDR - WWII only, he screwed up the Depression royally
Jackson
Madison
Monroe

then people like Polk, Coolidge (faced the same economic issues as FDR, but let the market work), TR, etc.

MadisonMan said...

How come James Knox Polk is never ranked higher?

PC, dude. We're supposed to be ashamed of the Mexican War.

Quaestor said...

David wrote: He's memorable for failing to confront the great issue of the day: slavery and possible southern secession. He punted.

To be fair to Franklin Pierce (Said to be the most handsome man to ever hold the office, Chris Matthews would have tingled in both legs over Pierce) he was only following established procedure. Everybody punted.

Jeff Gee said...

Hey, I don't want to go off topic but could you slap up a cafe so we can find out what happened to Crack's blog? It's gone!

President-wise, I'm going with Polk for the TMBG song.

rhhardin said...

Polk, for his quips.

"Shunted from Pillow to Polk, eh?"

OT: amazon apparently doing a free super-saver upgrade to next-day-air

Subtotal of Items: $35.43
Shipping & Handling: $50.37
Super Saver Discount: -$50.37

weird

David said...

"Everybody punted."

Lincoln?

Lincoln was clear enough in his policy that the southern states ran screaming from the Union even before his inauguration.

Here in South Carolina, people occasionally spar about the proper name for the Civil War.

I call it "The War of Southern Suicide." That usually slows them for a little while.

Fen said...

Will Chris Matthews show Monica's Blue Dress & remind us what a Lewinsky is?

To be fair, Matthews was the only channel I could turn to during the Clinton Impeachement for *both* sides of the story. And he did a decent job covering the "sexual abuse in the workplace" angle of the story (while all the others were parroting the "its none of our business" bullshit).

I have no idea what happened to Matthews since then. Someone must have pics of him sucking off a horse.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Sofa:

Coolidge was an enemy to the Constitution? Coolidge?

Would you expand on that, please?

Quaestor said...

David wrote: "Everybody punted."

Lincoln?


Don't be coy David, you know very well what I meant.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I have an idea for a prank...

Someone should invent a president, and locate him vaguely in the 1840s or 50s. I call him Tucker--that sounds like a possible name for a president doesn't it? But it could be Symmes or Clay or Calhoun, etc.

No question you could spoof lots of ordinary people and get them to rank him, especially if you had a survey in which you gave a brief summary. But the real payoff would be if you could spoof some politicians. Imagine doing a survey of Congressmen and Senators of how they rank presidents, and have them rank "President Tucker" somewhere in their list!

Do you think it could work? Could be a lot of fun. And if a news organization could be spoofed, that would be golden.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Time will tell, but no matter how much time Reagan can never outrank Washington or Lincoln.

Well he shouldn't as Washington ensured that the country was founded on the principles in the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln made sure it survived and remained a unified nation.

I am amazed though that 1% actually thought to mention Carter. You really have to wonder.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I have no idea what happened to Matthews since then.

I've wondered that myself as he clearly went from a moderate liberal to full blown wacko.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Chip you might need to do a full defrag.

Alex said...

These rankings are for idiots.

Henry said...

Sounds like our presidents keep getting better. We sure are lucky!

ricpic said...

MaMa where's my Pa? Gone to the White House ha ha ha.

Grover Cleveland had the highest presidential sleaze rating until Clinton.

Quaestor said...

Father Fox:

President Marcus Junius Tucker (1780 - 1858)
Party: Whig
Elected: 1836
In office: 1837 - 1841
Notable legislation and actions: The Texas Declaration of 1837, the Kansas Compromise Act of 1840

This could be fun indeed, much like the great Di-hydrogen oxide scare detected by Penn, Teller et al. at the DC Earth Day event in 2002.

Lincolntf said...

I think I'll put some vintage "Tippecanoe and Tucker too" buttons up for sale on Ebay.

Quaestor said...

Someone (Meade?) should wade into the crowd in the Wisconsin Capitol and solicit opinion from those "professional educators" about historic American presidents, being sure to ask about President Tucker and his crucial support for Texas independence.

edutcher said...

ricpic said...

MaMa where's my Pa? Gone to the White House ha ha ha.

Grover Cleveland had the highest presidential sleaze rating until Clinton.


You forgot Harding who died screwing his mistress, on the White House lawn, IIRC. (Irene would know)

Now that should have happened to Willie.

PS And before anybody asks, no, the Living Redwood would not have become POTUS. There would have been a Roman-style civil war between him and the Hildabeast for control.

Revenant said...

These poll results are extremely silly.

E.M. Davis said...

Americans can be very smart when it comes to information that is relevant to their daily existence. However, we are not a well-read nation.

That sucks, but knowing little about Franklin Pierce really only matters on Franklin Pierce Trivia Night at the local pub.

sofa said...

"MJ" "Texas" Tucker
soon to be #4 or #5 on the list

Quaestor said...

edutcher wrote:
You forgot Harding who died screwing his mistress, on the White House lawn


I'd like to know your source for that.

Quaestor said...

M. J. Tucker, the scourge of Santa Anna, the Great Compromiser!

Quaestor said...

"Texas Tucker Whupped Them Beaners" - a popular barroom song in 1839

Lamar63 said...

I blame the public school teachers.

sofa said...

( sofa cannot "cut and paste"! While attempting to update the 'Best' list to add Coolidge, I instead pasted foolishness, hit 'publish', and never proofread. Apologies. I owe everyone a round. )

updated
Top Domestic Enemies to the Constitution- Lincoln, Wilson, Obama, FDR, LB Johnson, Clintoon

Best ever- Washington, Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Coolidge

and of course- Tucker.

madAsHell said...

This list is obviously tainted, and incomplete. It overlooks co-President Hillary Clinton.

Why's that?

John said...

Democrats' top 3 is: Clinton, Kennedy, Obama. (FDR and Lincoln tie for 4th.)

I guess Democrats forgot to squeeze in that history class in between their gender studies and racial sensitivity training back in college.

That is an amazing amount of stupid.

John said...

Best ever- Washington, Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Coolidge

Andrew Jackson? Are you kidding me? He nearly destroyed the economy by closing the bank of the United States. We only called the 1930s the "great depression" because no one was old enough to remember the downturn in the 1830s that Jackson ushered in.

John said...

And there are few things lower than the Lincoln hate. Do you people honestly think it would have been better to allow the South to go its own way leaving an agressive, imperialistic, slave holding state to fight it out with the Union for control of the continent?

Until the maddness of the 20th Century, the Old South was one of the more dispicable causes ever fought for. No amount of stammering about states rights changes the fact that the South held 1/3 of its population in bondage and thanks to the fugitive slave law, Dred Scott and outright terrorism in Kansas was bound and determined to shove slavery down the throat of the rest of America.

Fr Martin Fox said...

John:

Well, the kernel of the question for many is how past decisions have brought about an over-reaching federal government, and which presidents played the largest role in that, apart from their provocations, circumstances and intentions.

Even Washington doesn't escape that scrutiny.

Jackson may deserve credit (or blame) for creating the presidency as the "man of the people," rather than the executive of the federal government; "our guy" who will save us from (fill in the blank).

Lincoln, of course, comes in for criticism for actions in conflict with the Constitution.

And of course, many subsequent presidents can also be faulted along those lines, D and R: McKinley, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, F.D. Roosevelt, etc.

Apart from the scandals mentioned, Harding and Cleveland embodied a more modest exercise of federal and presidential power. Coolidge, too, who had the poor luck to be followed by a tinkerer, Hoover.

Roger J. said...

Indeed an interesting poll--Mr Clinton, rather like Mr Harding, will be remembered as handome men who had the good fortune to preside over a good economy while screwing every bint in sight.

Mr Clinton's legacy will be a stained blue dress.

And the dems think he is a statesman--a whore monger pure and simple.

Fen said...

And there are few things lower than the Lincoln hate. Do you people honestly think it would have been better to allow the South to go its own way leaving an agressive, imperialistic, slave holding state to fight it out with the Union for control of the continent?

Hey, Mr Hyperbole - the slaves also came into the US under the Union flag. Into Northern ports. Bought and sold in Nothern cities.

Until the maddness of the 20th Century, the Old South was one of the more dispicable causes ever fought for. No amount of stammering about states rights changes the fact that the South held 1/3 of its population in bondage and thanks to the fugitive slave law, Dred Scott and outright terrorism in Kansas was bound and determined to shove slavery down the throat of the rest of America.

You need to some study history. You're wrong on so many things, it would take pages to correct each one.

But yes, I agree with your initial point - without Lincoln, there would never have been an America strong enough to win WW2 or take on the mantle of Protector of Civilization from the UK.

Fen said...

Ah, I see it now John. What you are calling "Lincoln hate" is merely criticism of the precendent his actions set.

Its not an unreasonable gripe.

Roger J. said...

A correction--I referred to the big dawg (WJC) as a whore monger--that terms defames the women he sexually assaulted and abused--

He's just a lowlife rapist.

Roger J. said...

But democrats seem to have a sliding scale when it comes to fidelity--witness FDR who while paralyzed could still get it on with Lucy Mercer and JFK who could similarly fuck every bint in sight.

A great bunch role models dems give us

wv: horses (the only thing the dem presidents didnt screw)

Fen said...

And lets not forget what we recently learned - JFK was strung out on drugs most of his term.

John said...

Fen,

If you don't understand how Dred Scott meant universal slavery, you don't understand much. Dred Scott was a slave whose owner took him from Missouri to Illinois, a free state. The Court held that even though Scott was in a free state, he was still the property of his owner. If a resident of a slave state could take his slave into a free state and still keep that slave in bondage, the free states were in no way free states anymore.

The South was aggressive and very imperialistic. Many southern thinkers thought that they could one day create a slave empire thoughtout South America. And they were committed to spreading slavery thoughout the West.

I don't know what kind of crackpot history you read. But the above is basic American history 101. You might learn something about it, before you start accusing other people of ignorance.

John said...

"the slaves also came into the US under the Union flag. Into Northern ports. Bought and sold in Nothern cities. "

Sure, but not in the 1850s they were not. You sound like a modern liberal. Sorry but "they once did it to" is not an excuse. And the trans Atlantic slave trade was long ended by the civil war. And only a small percentage of American slaves ever made the middle passage. Most were born in America. Unlike the Carribean and South America, slaves lived long enough to raise children in North America. There wasn't much need to import them since the population grew on its own.

Indeed, most of the good farm land in Virginia and the Carolinas had been used up by the 1850s. By then Virginia's biggest export was slaves to Lousiana, Texas and Mississippi where the land was still productive.

John said...

Fen,

It amazes me how ignorant people are of the South's actions leading up to the civil. Most of people have never read Dred Scott and think that its only significance is that it stood for the proposition that a slave was property. They have completely forgotten the implication of a Southerner being able to bring his slaves, as slaves, into free states.

I am also amazed at how people do not understand the significance of the Kansas Nebraska Act and southern terrorism in Kansas. The struggle in Kasas showed that the South intended to use force to ensure that new states voted to become slave states. The idea was to make the entire West slave.

The South was agressviely seeking to expand slavery. The South used its hold on the Courts to allow de facto slavery in even free states. The South was the first one to shoot in the War. And the North or Lincoln never once said they planned to end slavery, only limit its expansion.

Yet, people still have the nerve to call it the "war of Northern Agression."

edutcher said...

Quaestor said...
edutcher wrote:

You forgot Harding who died screwing his mistress, on the White House lawn

I'd like to know your source for that.


I believe I qualified the White House lawn with an IIRC (and, if I didn't, I should have). The business with the mistress I read in several places. Since Harding was an R, I'm assuming that was accurate.

PS FWIW A good many Conservatives and Libertarians denounce Abe as the first statist POTUS, irregardless of the morality of ending the Peculiar Institution.

I think he can be praised for ending slavery and preserving the Union, but still criticized on his methods.

Fr Martin Fox said...

John:

You make good points, but I think one can still be very troubled by the federal government making near-absolute war on the seceding states.

No question, it would have been a catastrophe to have the union split apart. I find myself wondering if it could have been preserved by a turn of events prior to 1861; and if so, what the alternative history might have been.

On the other hand, would there be no limit to the methods the federal government ought to have pursued in pursuit of restoring the union? It is the harshness of what some did to restore the union--during the war, and after--that lies behind the moniker, "War of Northern Aggression."

Oh, if only President Tucker could have lived long enough to mediate the crisis! Alas!

Fen said...

The South was the first one to shoot in the War....Yet, people still have the nerve to call it the "war of Northern Agression."

We've already been over this on several threads. From the South's perspective, Fort Sumter belonged to South Carolina and Union forces refused several requests to abandon it.

When the Union send ships to resupply forces at Sumter, SC fired on them. But you already knew this.

But claiming the South "started" it because they fired on ships resupplying union troops squating in a SC fort is very dishonest of you.

Adding to your hyperbolic damnation of the South upthread, I think its more evidence that you really need to study the other side's pov.

Big Mike said...

The best:
#1: Washington

#2: Lincoln

#3: Jefferson

#4: Reagan

#5: Arthur

#6: Teddy Roosevelt

#7: John Adams - mostly for leaving the presidency after losing the election in a peaceful manner and despite his Alien and Sedition Acts. That may have been the first time in history that a person willingly turned over the government to a political enemy as the result of an election and not as the result of force.

#8: Taft

The seven worst, in no particular order:
Jimmy Carter, LBJ, Useless Grant, James Buchanan, Warren Harding, Rutherford Hayes, and Barack Obama.

Good war presidents:
Lincoln, FDR, George H. W. Bush

Terrible war presidents:
LBJ, Polk (for getting the country into its only unjust war)

Wildly overrated:
Andrew Jackson, for his abysmal failure to recognize that the federal government had a necessary interest in national road-building and national banking.

JKF, for getting us deeper into the Vietnam war, not to mention screwing up the Bay of Pigs.

Franklin Roosevelt, for deepening the Depression. If he had done nothing at all it would have been better for my parents' generation. He does get credit for getting out of the way of George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower during World War II, but he is overrated anytime he is listed in the top quartile.

Truman, who gets little credit from me for dropping the atom bomb (if he hadn't dropped it, and if the worst case scenarios for casualties during an invasion of the Home Islands had come even close to being realized, far from being reelected in 1948, he'd have been lynched in 1946). His government was thoroughly corrupt.

Woodrow Wilson, who famously segregated the US Civil Service while loftily informing the African-Americans who voted for him that segregation was actually a blessing for them. His Attorney General, Mitchell Palmer (he of the Palmer Raids) was the worst in history, at least until Eric Holder. It's hard to say which was worse, Wilson's reelection in 1916 on the slogan "he kept us out of war," while secretly planning to have the US join the war on the side of Britain and France, or his Sedition Act of 1918.

Barack Obama, 'nuff said.

Badly underrated:
Reagan (by all Democrats, but not by Republicans and other sensible people).

George W. Bush, particularly when contrasted with his successor

Dwight Eisenhower

Fen said...

John: Sure, but not in the 1850s they were not. You sound like a modern liberal. Sorry but "they once did it to" is not an excuse.

Its not meant to be an excuse. You made this morally righteous damnation of the South while pretending ignorance of the North's contributions to the practice.

Also, you're making the mistake of judging slavery out of context and by today's culture. Indentured servitude and sharecropping were common variations of it. Until the culture evolved.

You might as well damn the Founders for not including Animal Rights in the Constitution.

Fen said...

John: If a resident of a slave state could take his slave into a free state and still keep that slave in bondage, the free states were in no way free states anymore.

From the Southern pov, that was merely about protecting property rights.

The South was aggressive and very imperialistic. Many southern thinkers thought that they could one day create a slave empire thoughtout South America. And they were committed to spreading slavery thoughout the West. I don't know what kind of crackpot history you read.

Ah yes, I'll just assume your "crackpot" ad hom is indicative of all your other arguments.

Its unfortunate you've invested your own need for Moral Superiority in all this. It makes your otherwise reasonable arguments reek of bias.

Have a nice day.

Revenant said...

From the Southern pov, that was merely about protecting property rights.

Similarly, from a pedophile's perspective child rape is about sharing love with another human being.

Fen said...

Another one in need of moral affirmation.

Until he takes his pets across state lines and Arizona confiscates and liberates his dog.

Revenant said...

Until he takes his pets across state lines and Arizona confiscates and liberates his dog.

State confiscation of property that cannot legally be owned within that state is not merely Constitutional, but common.

Arizona, for example, has a long list of animals you may not bring into the state, upon penalty of confiscation and fine.

Fen said...

ie. you only denounce slavery when it doesn't conflict with your own interests.

Sounds like you made another pass at your babysitter and needed a venue to reaffirm your Righteous Dude image.

MarkD said...

No love from the Dems for the guy most like Obama, fellow Nobel winner and economic disaster Jimmy Carter?

MadisonMan said...

Chester Alan Arthur? Seriously?

I admit he had nice facial hair, but I'm gonna lobby for JK Polk again -- he extended the country to the Pacific, for example, and unjust war or not, he won it, quickly.

And, he left after 1 term, after saying he would leave after one term, and he promptly died so the USA didn't have to pay any pension to him! (Although his wife lingered for years after that).

Steven said...

Reagan's rank depends on how much credit you give him for the fall of the USSR and thus eliminating the existential threat of a superpower nuclear exchange to the continuing existence of the United States and its people.

If you rate the threat highly and credit Reagan highly, Reagan really can climb into the top position, assuring both the political survival of the US and the physical survival of its people (and the survival of most of the people of Europe, and the political liberation of much of Europe) at a lower cost in lives than any other President facing a threat of remotely similar magnitude.

If you rate Reagan not particularly responsible or the threat of global nuclear war had the USSR survived low, well, Reagan drops.

But, there is a reasonable, if not necessarily correct, case to be made that Reagan was indeed the greatest President in US history, with Washington and Lincoln filling in the next two spots.

A "Shotgun" Gold said...

Harding died in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco from a respiratory illness, not on the White House lawn screwing his mistress (he could have only hoped to have gone in such a manner!)

Washington and Jefferson are my favorites, but there is a special place in my heart for Theodore Roosevelt-- you have to admire someone who can give an hour and a half speech moments after being shot in the chest.

edutcher said...

MadisonMan said...

Chester Alan Arthur? Seriously?

I admit he had nice facial hair, but I'm gonna lobby for JK Polk again -- he extended the country to the Pacific, for example, and unjust war or not, he won it, quickly.


The Mexican War was hardly unjust; it's a lot of Abolitionist propaganda. The idea was expansionism - and that included Oregon - was some nefarious plot to add more slave states. It was pushed by the likes of Lincoln and US Grant; the fact is there was no such plot and Polk tried to avoid a fight.

People forget he was negotiating with Britain for Oregon and might have ended up in a two-front war.

The war in Mexico was precipitated by the Anti-Santa Anna politicians (ironically, it allowed his political rehabilitation when the Anti-Santa Annistas lost the first round of battles) who wanted to rally the country to them.

Big Mike said...

@MadMan, as you pointed out Polk got the US into the most unjust war ever -- even more unjust than the Spanish-American War.

Arthur established the Civil Service, though as a member of the "Stalwart" wing of the Republican Party he was nominally opposed to the Civil Service and in favor of the spoils system. Seeing Garfield gunned down over the spoils system must have made a believer out of him.

Big Mike said...

@edutcher, no less than Abraham Lincoln agreed with the premise that the Mexican War was unjust.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Wait... so Jesus and Palin weren't available options?

Youngblood said...

Fen wrote:

"Until he takes his pets across state lines and Arizona confiscates and liberates his dog."

Wait, what? You're actually defending the Confederacy by comparing black people to pets?

Revenant said...

ie. you only denounce slavery when it doesn't conflict with your own interests.

That sentence made sense to you when you wrote it? Pity.

Revenant said...

Wait, what? You're actually defending the Confederacy by comparing black people to pets?

I was sort of surprised, too. Fen actually likes pets. :)

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Well, I guess that's the view he defends when he's not comparing gay troops to incestuous orphans.

Seriously, Fen. What's the highest level of education you've achieved?

Youngblood said...

Revenant wrote:

"I was sort of surprised, too. Fen actually likes pets. :)"

Oh! That's gonna leave a mark.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Fen is to other human beings what Michael Vick was to pit bulls.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Conservatives 4:

"Fen is to other human beings what Michael Vick was to pit bulls."

Uh, Vick actually tortured and killed dogs; as far as I know, Fen posts comments on a blog. I think most people could see a difference.

Conservatives 4 Better Dental Hygiene said...

Fr Martin,

Most people could probably also recognize a false dichotomy.

Here's an example:

"Airplanes fly in the sky. Therefore birds must be confined to dwelling on land."

In any event, I doubt Fen actually enslaves humans and induces them to violently fight one another, despite his strange interest in defending antebellum slavery here. Exaggeration is a form of rhetoric that most people take for what it is, humor and all.

But the point is that the guy does tend to be a bit more inclined to violence and senseless hostility than the average bloke, even on Althouse.

Of course, you're welcome to see it differently, but evidence helps when convincing others is the goal.

Henry said...

All these sorts of polls are heavily biased in favor of recent Presidents. Given Reagan's inability to deal effectively with Federal spending, I certainly wouldn't put him at the top of such a list. George Washington and Cal Coolidge would be way up near the top, along with some other 19th century folks.

But, plainly the very worst, by a large margin, was Abe Lincoln, almost single-handedly responsible for the deaths of 620,000 people. He's known as The American Lenin in some quarters. Not too far behind would come Woodrow Wilson (a particularly loathsome fellow) and FDR.

Methadras said...

Kirby Olson said...

Franklin Pierce, for instance, what is he known for? I'm sure he must have said something memorable, or done something memorable, but nothing comes to mind.


He's a notch or two above Jimmy Carter

Revenant said...

He's known as The American Lenin in some quarters.

Such as, apparently, the quarters occupied by the author of "Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu".

Fr Martin Fox said...

Conservatives 4:

Yes--and my point was that the false dichotomy would seem to trivialize something actually terrible.

These blog-thread comments just aren't that important. Including mine.

bagoh20 said...

Read further and you'll see that the Dems voted Saddam Hussein 5th greatest, but it's theorized that may be just confusion with the other Hussein.

bagoh20 said...

I vote for whoever follows the current guy. The challenges will be unprecedented.

E.M. Davis said...

But, plainly the very worst, by a large margin, was Abe Lincoln, almost single-handedly responsible for the deaths of 620,000 people. He's known as The American Lenin in some quarters.

Does that make Jefferson Davis The American Trotsky?

shiloh said...

Breaking ...

Gallup poll indicates Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga the greatest musicians/composers of all time!

>

Truman had a Gallup job approval of (22%) Feb. 1952 and is now rated the 7th greatest president of all-time by (((presidential historians))) in 2011.

Also breaking:

Reagan is still dead mush as the current Republican party tries to bring Dutch back to life ...

>

50 years from now, if America lasts that long, historians will have a better perspective to grade Reagan's presidency, like they do now w/Truman.

Also, 30/40 years form now historians will know if cheney/bush's unprovoked/idiotic attack on Iraq was just a 90% totally bad idea or a 100% frickin' disaster!

take care

Did I mention Reagan is still dead.

Robert Cook said...

"But, there is a reasonable, if not necessarily correct, case to be made that Reagan was indeed the greatest President in US history...."

Boy Howdy!

And if Reagan fought single-handed against the Thing and the Hulk double-teamed against him, one could argue Reagan woulda kicked both their asses from here to Khyber Pass and back!

Revenant said...

Robert, your opinion on who is or is not the greatest US President would probably carry more weight if you weren't so fond of condemning basically the whole of US history from end to end.

As it is, asking you who the best US President was is like asking me who the best Communist or Fascist theoretician is.

Fen said...

Youngblood: Wait, what? You're actually defending the Confederacy by comparing black people to pets?

You guys really should learn to read. I was pointing out that, for all your righteous anger about the evils of slavery, you still keep animals enslaved.

For a society where slaves are allowed to be treated as property, the reaction to losing your property to another state would be same as if someone took your dog from you.

You continue to make the mistake of damning past cultures by modern standards. No doubt future generations will damn you by the same measure, some years after the Animal Liberation Act of 21xx.

But yes, I expected some feeblemind would whine about comparing slaves to pets. Thanks for the opening.

Revenant said...

You guys really should learn to read. I was pointing out that, for all your righteous anger about the evils of slavery, you still keep animals enslaved.

And the funny thing is that you still think this was a good point to make. You still believe, in your heart, that there are people who will read that comment and say "that was a good point -- only a hypocrite would condemn the enslavement of black people while dogs are still kept as pets".

Fen said...

"only a hypocrite would condemn the enslavement of black people while dogs are still kept as pets".

Wow. I dumbed it down and you're still not getting it.

Youngblood said...

Fen wrote:

"Wow. I dumbed it down and you're still not getting it."

No, he got your point, as did I.

Unfortunately for you, your point is abhorrent and you come across as racist by making it.

Fen said...

Try this instead:

"The compelling autobiography of an extraordinary man born into slavery, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is also a powerful inquiry into the question of what it means to be human. From the opening sentences of the narrative, Douglass delineates the context from which this question emerges—the fact that slave owners typically thought of slaves as animals.

... Douglass portrays the breadth of slavery's ability to dehumanize through his insights into the mentality of slave owners. Douglass suggests that if slaves are made rather than born, the same is sometimes true of slave owners. The mistress who began teaching him to read and write "at first lacked the depravity indispensable to shutting [him] up in mental darkness" (p. 81). Under the influence of her husband and, more generally, the institution of slavery, "the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness" (p. 82). The mistress not only stops teaching Douglass to read and write, but she is even more vigilant than her husband in preventing him from learning. The transformation of his mistress raises the question of how much of the behavior of slave owners toward their slaves was learned and how much was internally motivated. Douglass would have us believe that the mistress was the victim of her circumstances.."

http://us.penguingroup.com/static/rguides/us/narrative_life_of_frederick_douglass.html

Fen said...

Youngblood: your point is abhorrent and you come across as racist by making it

Nice timing. Since Frederick Douglass makes the same points, I guess you think his are abhorrent and racist too.

Your comments reveal a lack of independent thinking - you simply go along with what your environment has taught you. No doubt your 1820s self would have purchased slaves without giving it a second thought.

Youngblood said...

Frederick Douglass launched an effective attack on the institution of slavery by making the argument that it dehumanized not only slaves but those who supported the institution as well.

You're defending those who supported the institution of slavery by employing the most debased form of moral relativism.

If you don't see the difference between those two diametrically opposed projects, that's your problem.

Revenant said...

the fact that slave owners typically thought of slaves as animals.

... which would be what made the slave-owners *evil*, Fen.

Now, true, it is funny to see a person who normally makes such a show of condemning Muslim and left-wing barbarity do a 180 an play the Oh That's Just Their Quaint Local Culture card when discussing slavery and treason against the United States. But the problem there, of course, is that we don't have to look to modern times to find countless examples of people who recognized that slavery was fundamentally evil. We can look to 18th and 19th century Americans. By the time the Confederate states desperately rebelled in an attempt to keep their slaves, slavery had been banned in most of the west and was considered morally wrong by the majority of Americans.

You could, perhaps, say "oh, they had no way of knowing it was wrong" if the slavers had lived in a time and a place where nobody had figured that out. But they lived in a time and a place where almost the whole of western civilization -- including the majority of the people with whom their shared a common language, religion, history, and nationality -- had figured that out. They had no excuse.

Fen said...

Youngblood: You're defending those who supported the institution of slavery by employing the most debased form of moral relativism

No. I'm not defending them, I'm saying that comments like "the fact that slave owners typically thought of slaves as animals would be what made the slave-owners evil" are simplistic and ignorant.

Revenant said...

Fen, Youngblood and I believe that slavery is inherently evil. You don't.

You are welcome to claim that it is simplistic and ignorant to think that slavery is inherently evil. I recommend that you do so loudly and to as many people as possible; it helps to advertise what sort of a man you are.

Youngblood said...

Fen wrote:

"No. I'm not defending them, I'm saying that comments like 'the fact that slave owners typically thought of slaves as animals would be what made the slave-owners evil' are simplistic and ignorant."

Let me shoot some Frederick Douglass right back at you:

"Here I understand you to assert the most profligate and infernal doctrine, that any State in this Union has a right to plunder, scourge and enslave any part of the human family within its borders, just so long as it deems it for its interest so to do, and that no one or body of persons beyond the limits of said state has a right to interfere by word or deed against it. Is it possible that you hold this monstrous and blood-chilling doctrine?"

(Frederick Douglass, from his letter to Henry Clay in The North Star, 1847.)

That's Frederick Douglass describing the position you attempted to muster him into service to defend as infernal, profligate, monstrous, and blood-chilling. He is implying that Henry Clay, a slave owner, is evil for holding that position.

I guess you think that his position is "simplistic and ignorant" too.

Revenant said...

That's just your simplistic and ignorant "slavery is bad" mindset talking, Youngblood. :)

Eric said...

It is always amusing to me to see how fast a thread gets hijacked once the subject of the causes of the American Civil war gets brought up.

There should be an internet law for it, like Godwin's law.

sofa said...

call it 'Lincoln/Lenin Law'- There are always folks who embrace a Lenin, as there are always folks who denounce a Lenin.

Mention either Lincoln or Lenin, and the blog topic disappears- To be replaced with arguments about Lincoln/Lenin.