Siena College is out with its latest “Survey of U.S. Presidents” (“based on responses from 238 presidential scholars, historians and political scientists”). The overall ranking has FDR on top, followed by one of my favorites – FDR’s cousin, Teddy Roosevelt – second. After that, it’s Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Wilson, Truman, and Eisenhower. Not a bad list!
Also interesting is the Siena survey’s ranking of the worst presidents, truly a parade of the awful: Andrew Johnson (worst), James Buchanan (42 places from the top), Warren Harding (#41), Franklin Pierce (#40), and of course, our pal George W. Bush (#39). With regard to Bush, Siena explains, “just one year after leaving office, the former president has found himself in the bottom five at 39th rated especially poorly in handling the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence.” Other than that, Bush did a great job! Seriously, though, that’s the horrible mess inherited by Barack Obama, and let’s never forget that fact.
Anyway, I was curious to see which presidents were the biggest “downgrades” and which were the biggest “upgrades” from the presidents that preceded them. As you can see from this graph, Andrew Johnson represented the biggest “downgrade,” following the great Abraham Lincoln. Then there’s George W. Bush (#39), who represents the third biggest “downgrade” from his predecessor, which in Shrub’s case was #13-ranked Bill Clinton. Heckuva job!
And what about Barack Obama? Well, it’s only been 1 1/2 years, but Siena ranks him as the 4th biggest “upgrade” from his predecessor, going from the utterly abysmal Bush (#39) to the 15th greatest president ever. Unfortunately, that also means Obama has to grab a gigantic “mop” to wipe up the disastrous messes left by Bush, Cheney, DeLay, etc. This could take a while…