Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Presidential Disagreement

In honor of Washington's Birthday on Monday, C-SPAN rated the Presidents. I respectfully disagree with their assessment. First, I list for you their top 10, in order - Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, Dwight David Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan. Once again, I disagree.

First, many who know me know that I am not a fan of Abraham Lincoln. Those who hate Bush for his policies that they feel suspended their rights, need to look at "hero of freedom" Abe Lincoln and note that he suspended the right to habeus corpus, arrested political opponents, put Maryland under martial law to prevent them from seceding, and emancipated slaves in areas where he (at the time) had no political control over. Andrew Johnson continued the policies of Lincoln after his death and is considered one of the worst Presidents by C-SPAN's historian crew. Second, JFK was not a great President...he was a poor President at best. He bungled foreign policy from Vietnam to Cuba and domestically he created the first non-war, non-recession federal defecit, wire-tapped suspected communists (including Martin Luther King, Jr), and led to some large scale inflation. Frankly, that doesn't make a great President...especially since he did not serve a full term in office.

My opinion is more of the line that the greatest President's we have had are in this order - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Calvin Coolidge, John Adams, Ronald Reagan. Why? I'll break down, specifically, my top five.

George Washington established the Presidency and it's role. He kept us focused on domestic issues as our nation was still in it's infancy and kept us safe, secure, and kept the government moving. He may have done little in terms of pushing an agenda - but that was not necessary at the time. What was necessary was vetoing that which deserved it and keeping our nation afloat while staving off potential war.

Thomas Jefferson helped make our fledgeling nation a great one. He stood up to foreign bullies by refusing to pay tribute to the Barbary pirates. He fought against wasteful spending and fought the national debt. He supported an end to the slave trade. He established the Army Corp of Engineers and the US Military Academy at West Point. He did not veto a single piece of legislation, being the only President to do so - but he served well and upheld the office of the Presidency with pride.

Theodore Roosevelt was an outdoorsman who brought some interesting perspectives to the Presidency. He helped to make competition exist again in our free market system - by destroying the trusts which were stifling it. His foreign policy did begin the neo-conservative movement, intervening where he saw fit...but it worked and succeeded in making us a stronger nation. He was a conservationist and found a Constitutional way to help preserve our nation's beauty. He was the youngest man to serve as President, and served well.

Harry Truman had the decisive leadership we needed in the hard times towards the end of the second World War. He made the hard decisions with a heavy heart and led us to victory when he was able. He was a humble servant who didn't try to pack the courts (FDR), suspend rights for our freedom (Lincoln), or lie under oath (Clinton). Truman did his job and left office with our nation safer than when he found it. He may have been thrust into the Presidency, but so were other greats like Theodore Roosevelt.
James Madison was an excellent Secretary of State under Jefferson. When he became President, he successfully led our nation through it's first invasion on our soil. His leadership alone is enough to put him in the top 10. The fourth President led our nation to victory over invasion early in our nation's history - for that he deserves our respect and gratitude.

That's my analysis. I'm no historian, so I can't go as in depth - but I don't think I'm too far off. Feel free to comment with your own list of top 10 Presidents.

1 comment:

Civis said...

I can say I agree with your picks with only a few minor differences. Same people, just different ranks. I also agree with you on the Lincoln part. People always fail to see the correlation between Bush and Lincoln. Perhaps it's a product of the American education system and the glossy image they place on Lincoln.

I digress, though...My top five, I believe would be as followed:

1. George Washington
2. Thomas Jefferson
3. James Madison
4. Andrew Jackson
5. This would be a tie between Truman and Theodore Roosevelt because I can't decide between Truman's leadership abilities or Teddy's conservation plans-both equally admirable.