Monday, February 16, 2009

Historians (Again) Rank the Presidents

C-SPAN again asked historians to rank the Presidents, updating the rankings done in 2000. Lincoln is again #1, a ranking I strongly diagree with as stated before. Washington and FDR flip-flopped, an improvement as Washington is now 2nd, and FDR down to 3rd. JFK jumped frm 8th to 6th, a welcome sign. Reagan is now 10th, an inexplicably high ranking.

LBJ's ranking of 11th illustrates the problem with C-SPAN's methodology. They ask historians to rank the Presidents in each of ten different categories, and then add up the scores to get the overall ranking. Doing this gives LBJ a high score, even though his Presidency was an abject failure due to his stubborn proseucution of the ill-conceived and ill-executed Vietnam War, a war which tore our country apart. He should be near the bottom, and no doubt would be if a proper methodology were to be used.

Jackson is again too high at 13th, and Monroe too low at 14th. Clinton moved up 6 places to 15th, a welcome improvement in the rankings. John Adams dropped down one place, but is still too high at 17th. Grant jumped up ten places to 23rd, an inexplicably high ranking for this failure of a President.

One hopes C-SPAN will improve its methodology the next time it does this, but I'm not holding my breath as it seems locked in to this faulty approach.

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