Rating the Presidents
Deaglán de Bréadún
This only just came to my attention although published a few months ago. It is a rating of all the US presidents in terms of best, worst, etc. It was a link on my AOL email homepage today. See what you think by clicking here.
My initial reaction is that they are too easy on Reagan by putting him in eighth place. His policies of freeing up the market contributed to today’s recession. The panel are perhaps a little hard on Nixon (37th out of a total of 42 holders of the office) who opened up relations with China and finally brought the troops home from Vietnam. The more Watergate recedes into history, the more it resembles a series of outrageous party-political pranks that got completely out of control.
Bill Clinton at 23 and Jimmy Carter at 32 both deserved better. Clinton was very good for the Irish peace process and if that makes me provincial, so be it; all politics is local. Carter was an unlucky president but has been a very active campaigner for human rights since he left the White House and should get credit for that.
They are about right on JFK at No.11. He did not achieve that much in his own all-too-short period in office but he restored the magic to politics and to the White House. Would he have had the sense to pull back from the Vietnam quagmire if he had lived? We’ll never really know.
It was to be expected that George W. Bush would be way down the list. I predict that, with time, his legacy may seem slightly less negative than it does now. He protected the US from another terrorist attack after 9/11. Iraq was a disaster in the short-term but if the place stabilises – as it seems to be doing – then his expedition there might look less ill-advised than at present. I would have put him about No. 30 for now.
I’m not comfortable with the choice of Harry Truman at No. 7. He was the common man par excellence but the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a terrible thing to do and even now I cannot excuse it.
FDR at No. 3 is hard to argue with, in the current economic climate. Lincoln comes in at No. 1. Hard to argue with that either. He was such a wonderful speaker (at least on the page) and a sincere man who gave his life for his beliefs. He fought a cataclysmic war that ended slavery. One cannot help wondering if maybe, just maybe, there was a better way, but he was definitely an inspiring leader and marvellous human being.
Now we have Barack Obama as head of the world’s major superpower (Lincoln’s work finally coming to fruition in political terms). It’s a case of so far, so good. Let’s wish him luck but no doubt there will be a certain amount of disillusionment after a while. You can’t please all the people all the time. Irish people still love him, I think, but may grow cool if he adopts protectionist policies that affect US investment and employment-creation here.