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February 19, 2012 08:40 AM UTC

Who was our greatest president?

  • by: DavidThi808

In honor of Presidents Day I figured this would be a fun poll. And anyone who votes for “Other” – you’ve got your ideological blinders on.

“No one has a right to grade a President-even poor James Buchanan-who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions.” – JFK

Our Greatest President was

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44 thoughts on “Who was our greatest president?

  1. JFK. He looked at the destruction of our planet and held the cards tight. He also was terrible husband.

    Jefferson. He not only was a prolific reproducer, his signature duplicator was pure genius, but he made the US most of what it is today.

    TDR. He set in place the beginnings of what the Republicans want to destroy, and are actively in pursuit of that in many states and the Congress right now.

    1. I agree the Jefferson & Teddy were great. But I don’t think either tops the 3 listed. As to JFK, he was a mixed bag. He almost took us into WW III with the bay of pigs when it was clearly a dumb idea at the time. He also did a lousy job when he met Khrushchev in Vienna.

      He did a number of good things too from the Cuban missile crisis to civil rights. But I wouldn’t put him in the top 10.

      1. or just a validation of your own?

        I’d assumed that this was a reprinting of a recent Harris poll where (iirc) 55% of Republicans voted Reagan the best (and he usually wins overall), Democrats were mostly split between Clinton and JFK, people from both parties love Lincoln.

        Here’s a Gallup poll that comes to similar conclusions:

        Most interesting is how few Republicans, starting after Lincoln, made the list at all. Reagan doesn’t have to deal with a split party vote to take first place.

          1. No, but it’s not my fault. It seems I had some kind of blinders on.

            We’ll meet again in the open thread when I ask where to post things that don’t merit a diary. Until next week! Same bat time, same bat channel.

                1. to see who others ranked as our best president.

                  You’re new here so maybe you don’t understand. The purpose of many diaries is to state one’s opinion, and then invite others to comment on what their opinion on the same subject is.

          1. From presidential scholars. “Other” accounts for about 94% of America’s history. Only about a third are usually voted for in the polls, regardless of group, so the poll still wouldn’t have been unmanageable.

            Who’s wearing the blinders again? “I agree the Jefferson & Teddy were great. But I don’t think either tops the 3 listed.” Well, you’re wrong, by your own standards.

            1. you get Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States

              George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are consistently ranked at the top of the lists. Often ranked just below those three are Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

              With that said, I put other in the poll so people could vote other and list why. And there were some good comments about why some here thought others were our greatest president.

              1. The only recent poll used to come to the conclusions in your article is the one I posted above.

                Most of those polls are too old to consider JFK, never mind poor Reagan or Clinton. This is important because views of what was good, or bad, and certainly how far reaching policies are change over time. Source? Sure thing – your wiki article even notes it.

                This has the strange feeling of you scrambling to prove your opinion right instead of just admitting that nearly everything you’ve posted in the comments section is pulled from thin air to make you sound authoritative.

                Next time I need a poll from 1948, to cover all American history, I’ll know where to come. Thanks a lot? Although I am curious why you argued a point that you are now stating isn’t important as you were after the interesting comments.

                1. I didn’t think there would be much disagreement over it being one of the three I listed. And I figured if anyone went for other, it would be someone like ArapaGOP claiming Reagan was the greatest president ever.

                  As to my opinion, I’d put it as Lincoln, Washington, FDR.  

    1. A century from now I think Iraq/Afghanistan/al quaeda/whatever will tower over Vietnam as the most dishonest, dishonorable, stupid, destructive-to-our-country, demoralizing adventure in our history–and it belongs to one regime. Johnson’s terrible misjudgements will pale in comparison and he’ll be there right with TR and FDR.

      And I’m still holding out for Obama to join their ranks.

    2. I often think of the phrase “the good, the bad, and the ugly” rolled into one when I think of LBJ.

      Just as I often wonder how different history would have been if that fatal bullet had missed its target in Dallas.  

    3. Or to use your terminology – “you’re full of shit” 🙂

      Without Vietnam LBJ would probably be one of our great presidents due to civil rights and the great society. But I don’t think he would have joined the top 3.

  2. But I would give the edge to Roosevelt due to the lasting impact of the New Deal. A man who could not stand on his own, stood up for the betterment of working men and women and stood up against the economic royalists of his day who in his words “had come to regard the government as a mere appendage of their own affairs”. Not to mention the successful prosecution of a World War.  

  3. But I would give the edge to Roosevelt due to the lasting impact of the New Deal. A man who could not stand on his own, stood up for the betterment of working men and women and stood up against the economic royalists of his day who in his words “had come to regard the government as a mere appendage of their own affairs”. Not to mention the successful prosecution of a World War.  

  4. He didn’t succumb to the clamor for him to continue beyond his alotted two terms. To have done so, he recognized, would have set a dangerous precedent toward autocracy. For an old white Virginia powerholder, that took great foresight and dedication to the spirit of the new Constitution.

    That said, even in comparison with Washington’s wartime heroism and political strength, Lincoln’s courage stands tall. Both were amazingly courageous people. America would not have survived without them both. Even FDR must must sit (barely) below them on the dias of greatness.

  5. yeah, there’s his Declaration authorship but also:

    – Lewis & Clark expedition

    – Louisiana Purchase

    – Abolition of Slave Trade (a little ironic)

    – Father of UVA (founded on education in sciences & complete separation from religious doctrine)

    – Former Gov, Sec of State, VP, & Pres (among other titles)

    – Restarted Library of Congress with his personal  collection after War of 1812

    – Ambassador to France (actually a plenipotentiary but why quibble)

    – likely first US Pres with Asperger’s (subject of some discussion but strong case can be made)

    – Architect

    – D.C. planner/designer

    – early Conan look-alike (6’+ tall with wavy red hair)

    all the makings of the best POTUS thus far

      1. – First president to have a black mistress (Sally Hemmings)

        Not sure that counts as destroying his consideration as he was just our 3rd Pres and the likely very common incidence of sexual relations between VA land/slave owners and their property at the time — but I’ll concede this is a demerit.  

        – Died broke (couldn’t even make money owning slaves)

        Jefferson inherited great debts from his father-in-law and he was a sucker for down & out friends that failed to repay their loans. He cosigned for one friend that then had the temerity to die & saddled him owing considerable money.  TJ also loved living large so he’s was outside of his means as a retired POTUS.  And the 1819 Panic crashed a property & banking bubble that proved to hurt the propertied. He’s likely not the only Pres to experience personal financial mismanagement so not sure that removes him from consideration.        

        1. I think he was the most brilliant and visionary president we’ve ever had. Third on my list overall of presidents behind FDR and Lincoln, in that order.

          My opinion is not affected by personal idiosyncrasies or misfortunes – we all have them. FDR’s marriage was in name only after 1919 when Eleanor discovered him in an intimate relationship with her secretary Lucy Mercer. When he died in Warm Springs, he was with Lucy Mercer, not Eleanor.  

    1. That would be my vote getter. Unfortunately, I was reduced to “other” which means I have my ideological blinders on and do not deserve to weigh in. I’m simply not worthy.

  6. There have been some great arguments so far in favor of Jefferson and FDR, but to me it came down to either Washington or Lincoln. Both defined/redefined what it means to be President. While Washington is great for what he DIDN’T do in terms of setting future precedent, the reason I give the edge to Lincoln is because he is great for what he DID do and the circumstances during which he served.

    Washington entered office with pretty broad support. There was also a lot of energy among Congress and the public to make the experiment work. Lincoln, on the other hand, stepped up and ran for office knowing full-well that a victory meant secession and may even cost him his life. He won one of the most contentious elections in our history and yet was able to unite a country much more divided than we had ever seen, or have seen since. He had the courage to face head-on the one issue that the 15 Presidents before him had punted on (including Washington and Jefferson). Lincoln tested the power of the Presidency like no one else before him. He redefined the way Presidents use executive orders and the role of the President in wartime.  

  7. What a total mess in ’32.

    Just the fact that Faux has spent 15 years trying to destroy hs credibility shows how essential the New Deal truly was in creating the Middle Class, which is now shrinking proportionallly with the disolving of the New Deal.

    FDR’s best validation comes in the phony attacks people like Jonah Goldberg have tried out.

    Also, turning America’s industrial might into the greatest war machine in history actually began in ’36. The President saw the coming war in clear terms, and by 1940 was on war footing.

    Contrast that to our ability to build today.

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