tv Lectures in History Presidential Legacies CSPAN October 31, 2021 12:09am-1:21am EDT
today's class to a close hope you got some insight and presidential rhetoric will continue to look at our presidency and our virtual class on wednesday, take care. [background noises] >> up next dickinson college professor david o'connell looks at presidential legacies and what makes a presidential term successful prayer he discusses several rankings of president that a been done over the years and compares the criteria and results. >> fourscore and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth onto this content and new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition all men are created equal. it is with those words at abraham lincoln consecrated the battlefield not far from where we sit today. the brilliance of those words was not necessarily recognized at the time.
in fact lincoln was not the featured speaker at gettysburg. spoke for two hours lincoln way to the very end to give us a poignant closing words. today of course, we recognize the gettysburg address is perhaps the greatest moment of a presidential speech and history. i think the fact people did not necessarily see the speech that way at the time, lincoln was not the featured speaker at gettysburg points to the fact it was not recognized at the time in general but you have to remember when lincoln became president he had not served in public office for ten years. his country style of dress, his speaking mannerisms, his self-education all meant lincoln was looked upon with some degree of condescension from the eastern elites in the country. perhaps not much was expected from his presidency. however, today there is little dispute. i always encourage my students to seek political science not
as a science but as a debate. there are no laws, there are no findings, there is no discovery. instead what you have people making arguments that may not may not be persuasive to you. i think that is important to note that we think about presidential greatness. we look at five different ways of measuring presidential greatness. what we are going to see in these polls and these academic studies that involve hundreds of historians, political scientists and others there is a consensus. lincoln was the greatest president. now today we may have some concerns about some of the things he did and he certainly took liberties with the constitution. he suspended the rights he forcibly closed sub newspapers are printing material critical of the union effort pretty spent money congress had not appropriated. he raised the size of the military without congress' approval. but, he did this for a great end, preserving the union at time of maximum peril for the country gave the civil war
with the emancipation proclamation, which committed the government to free the slaves for it and he never lost sight of what the united states was fighting for. there's a lot of pressure in 1864 to call off the presidential election feeling you could not go through an election at a time of war and lincoln will be totally justified canceling this contest. what lincoln said in lincoln believe is that the united states were to do so the rebellion would've already succeeded because the country would've lost its character as the freed democratic people. what i want us to do today is think about presidential greatness. indeed the whole class is leading up to this point. we been setting presidential power, presidential leadership trying to understand how presidents are or are not able to overcome the obstacles in their white when they can successfully navigate those challenges and when they fail to navigate those challenges. the whole point of doing so is to become great to achieve great. what i want to seduce think
about how we might understand presidential greatness how we might conceptualize it. and then we're going to look at ways at different scholars have tried to rank presidents from one -- 44. and then were going to talk about why it potentially today greatness is more difficult to achieve. that we may never see another person like abraham lincoln. that the modern president may have been a week. they have not achieved the level of greatness people like lincoln half but we want to try to understand why that might be. if there are systematic reason or the fault lies in the individuals who held the office in recent terms. something we know is americans loves to run things. so i estimate maybe 67% of content on the internet are lists of things. so here are some interesting rankings i recently came across in the hard work i've been doing as a professor. the definitive list of >>
people on twitter version 4.0. let me tell you, version 4.0 is much greater than 3.0 or 2.0. twenty-five less passwords and what they say to you if your passwords on the list it's already saying enough. top 25 college football teams ranked by stupidity of fans a definitive ranking of every "big brother" season from worst to least predict 26 at best drake means that if that was actually kinda cool. the definitive ranking of the 50 worst, i looked at that one. the messages do not take selfies at funerals that is kind of the take away point there. americans also love ranking their president. we have read presidential power the most famous book ever written on the presidency. a book that it's been influential for scholars and presidents alike. somewhat a guidebook of how to successfully exercise executive authority but very first sentence of the book, in the united states would like
to rate the presently measurements weak or strong and call her measuring his leadership rate do not wait until he meant as deadweight rates and from the moment he takes office. indeed that is true. gallup began serving americans on their approval of barack obama's presidency that day after his inauguration. the day after his inauguration. that rating starts immediately. and of course there are these benchmarks where we stop and consider their legacy. the midterm election, the reelection campaign on presidential performance. all along there asked how anything a president the effect their presidency. how it affects their place in history. even though we like to do this, ranking the president is really hard to do.
there are some systematic reasons why it's difficult to rank presidents whites difficult to rank their performance. we are not neutral observers. well have her own opinions and biases that's going to affect how we evaluate our performance. research has shown ideology plays a role with presidential greatness. i'm sure this does not come as a price you conservatives are more likely to think ronald reagan is a great president liberals within john kennedy is a great president. does not stop there what our standards are, liberals are much more likely than conservatives something like idealism is a standard of presidential great.
we also note context matters. that is going to have to be taken into account we rate their performance but on the one hand we might give the president's sympathy for taking office in a difficult circumstance. we think about barack obama would mount a step back and say he took office at a time of a massive recession with the united states engaged in two words and because of this challenges even if he did not achieve as much as other presidents might have he deserves to be rated a little higher. because the context in which he served was more difficult. we note voters are capable of doing this. we saw at the time of his reelection of boaters had considered obama and bush to be equally responsible for the country's economic condition, then obama would've been nine points less popular but people seem to be willing to give it
president leeway for things they did not necessarily have a lot to do with. difficulty is not necessarily bad thing. because of crises the crises can also be opportunities for greatness. the top three is always the same it's some combination of lincoln, then washington than roosevelt or roosevelt and washington. two of those present served and perhaps the biggest crises america has seen, civil war and then world war ii in the great depression. that gave them an opportunity to do things other presidents who served and calm times might not have to do. did not disseminate meant those challenges they could potentially do others could not. this is something clinton hasn't lamented. after 911 clinton was said to have privately said he wished he would have been a president at that time because to be a great president you had to have a signature moment of leadership and he never had the opportunity to do so.
the third problem is presidential greatness is not set in stone. we rate president, those ratings are going to change over time as new information emerges and as our own values change. an example of a president has ranking has gone down over time would be john kennedy. when john kennedy died he was extremely popular pretty died under tragic circumstances in the first appraisal of his presidency that were written written people like ted sorensen, people who had worked held him an extremely high regard pit and did not criticize anything that he had done. over time we learned new things about kennedy that has affected our opinion of him. we have learned about his chronicle womanizing, womanizing that jeopardizes personal security as he was involved in prostitutes and other staff procured for him.
womanizing jeopardizes independence, his affair of the girlfriend of chicago mob boss. womanizing we would consider to be sexual harassment be involved with white house secretaries and other employees within the government. we have learned he has some responsibility of the united states involvement in vietnam, foreign policy certainly was not in america's national interest rate we learned a lot of the frontier it was more for show than anyone else. he did not have an interest in policy all of the talk his administration had about culture those are things are personally important to kennedy. he seems to be a president in the critics eyes showed more profile when heat needs to show a little more courage to play on this book title. as a result, the last ranking we will look out of political scientists, john kennedy was selected as the most overrated
president. the most historically overrated president. two presidents have gone the other reputation there's improved with truman and eisenhower. when truman left office he was phenomenally unpopular in february of 1952, harry truman had 22% in public opinion polls just 22% approved of the job he was doing as president. but since then we have come to see the foreign policy has a lot of wisdom to them. shepherding the marshall plan through congress, these things were seen as essential members with expansion. at the same time it truman's demeanor his honesty has plain spoken ways gain greater appreciation when he was succeeded like lyndon johnson and richard nixon who is not a crook when he actually was a crook. eisenhower, in other president has been approved his ranking
has improved over time and eisenhower left office people thought he was genuinely a nice guy. but he had not really worked hard at his presidency. he spent more time golfing then leading he was a preside or not a president. new archival evidence shown that as an image eisenhower strategically allowed people to have of him. he worked extremely hard behind the scenes to point to pushing himself to a heart attack. he claimed to not engage in personalities. but he manipulated people left and right and generally speaking he developed political skills people did not have at the time. we also valued some of the decision eisenhower made as president back and then did not necessarily seem significant. 1954 the french fallen vietnam there is a pressure on eisenhower to intervene. he says no, ground war in southeast asia cannot be one and therefore should not be fought. ten years later the united states begins to seriously get involved in vietnam with eight
decade long that does not work out and our national interest. that seemed to be a really a wise decision. similarly in 1958 people are arguing the government needs to its spending, eisenhower warns against a military industrial complex. another warning. this is why i also mentioned bush. not saying bush is going to go down as a link in to the point is we do not know where bush is going to go down. some people wrote columns, some scholars rated him as the worst president of all times. he had just finished his presidency in so many of the things he did we do not know the true impact of those decisions are iraq and afghanistan become free democratic societies lead to a spread of freedom ultimately does away with when the key
national security threats facing the united states, terrorism bush is going to die was a great president. is that likely to happen? right now it does not seem that way but we don't know we have to wait and see part it's a little too early to be sure where bush is going to fall in the pantheon of presidents. the other is due that for trying? there's a lot of president successfully identify key issues before they became issues of national concern they were on the right side of history per they took important moral stances but they did not do anything to fix those problems. 1948 truman support the strong civil rights plank and the democratic party platform. kennedy in 1963 finally comes out in favor of comprehensive civil rights in congress is something he dragged his feet on, he had promised a number of steps for civil rights including ending discrimination of public housing which you can do at the stroke of the presidential pinprick did not take action until the pressure got too much in 1963.
nevertheless they are in the right side of the issue. they did not get that legislation through congress. it is not until lyndon johnson we see comprehensive civil rights legislation. so how does that affect an evaluation of greatness? do they get credit me in the right side of the issue or do we blame them more for not fixing the issue? the issue of credit is a problem in general. a lot of times the accomplishments we are willing to attribute to a given president art debatable accomplishments paid whether they actually had something to do with those things are not, that is something that is open for discussion. a lot of times people say president is great because the economy was great when they were in office. which is often used to make an argument for roosevelt's great accomplishment as he ended the great depression. is that true? well not really. things roosevelt did set itself along the path for recovery. public works program are needed in the aftermath the
start of the great depression. his reform legislation set a context for a more stable economy going forward. into a massive recession and unemployment is back up around 20%. the thing that really pulls the united states out of depression is of course world war ii. can't wait fairly saint roosevelt and a depression? a lot of people think he's a great president due at the debatable claim to make. similarly, some scholars have said winning the cold war is the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of any president in the postwar period. did reagan win the cold war? not really. did he help and the cold war? absolutely. reagan's program of expenditures of the wars missile defense system force the soviet union at which point there no longer capable of doing so that ultimately
led to their downfall. other people had a role to pope john paul ii second, you can take them out of the picture it may be beget a outcome. you can certainly argue they're going to collapse someday anyway. maybe reagan hastens that collapse but he did not necessarily because it buried the search of the biggest accomplishments these presidents seen as a great reagan's on the top of the top ten now, are often given credit for. another problem is it fair to compare free at moderate and modern presidents question work we look at presidential greatness we are going to put in the same system barack obama and george washington. but, their task of leadership, the resources they had to lead our very different. this pre-modern presidents before franklin roosevelt were
more clerks than they weren't leaders for the 19th century the main job of the president was to distribute they would interview jobseekers and they would appoint people to the government offices. it was an entirely thankless task sent and data president gets for his role in the system. james garfield fascinated by district speaker in 1881. there is no institutional support for the present. not until 1857 the appropriate money for the president to hire a single clerk. they wind up paying their own staffers, the few staffers they have come out of their own pocket. george washington hires his nephews a copy's lettersrsrsrsrs presidents have to take lawns like thomas jefferson, leads to andrew jackson thing the present was a situation of dignified slavery. it may be very unfair to compare pre-modern presidents to modern presidents because the offices are different, the challenges are different. teddy roosevelt that a president even leaves the
country but a related problem is do we judge presidents by the standard of their time or ours? our morals have changed but we have normative impressions of presidential greatness. that is going to play a role in terms of how we interpret what we did in office. things that may not have been controversy will then i call this andrew jackson problem paired by many standards andrew jackson's going be a great president. we define a whole age by hand. is the age of jackson, jacksonian democracy. jackson himself is a symbol he's a frontiersman who by reaching the presidency sends a powerful message what is possible this new country. the rhetorical support for regular people changes the tenor of our politics. democratize is government service of treating jobs as their personal property that they would hang onto for their entire lives and pass on to their sons britt and he built the first political party which is really forming out of
his own personal following. but he was a slave owner. but he was perhaps most closely associated in addition to his democratic impulses with the backing of forcible removal of native americans from their tribal lands and supreme court decisions. when the cherokee nation is forced out of historical lands in georgia, a fourth of them are going to die on the so-called trail of tears. this leads to a lot of problems this is how we interpret it. because owning slaves, not treating native americans with respect was not something that is controversial in the early 1h century pretty certainly controversial today but that's racing a lot of state democratic parties, their typical yearly fundraiser is the jefferson jackson dinner. many have moved to change their name when slave owners like jefferson and jackson is not projecting an image of inclusiveness.
can meet really understand what it is like to be president? this is the monday morning quarterback problem. i watch the dolphins on sunday, as you all know, he throws an interception i will claim him i will get really upset but i have no idea what i'm talking about. i have never played quarterback in the nfl. i do not know why he threw that interception if it was actually the receiver in the wrong place may be defense, the sky is the coverage it was not on the scouting report to the coaches need to be blames. we cannot blame him for that interception. similarly kelly blame a present for any of their pressures? we do not know how decisions were made. we do not know the information they had at the time to know how to act. it is unfair of us to cast judgment on something we have no chance of understanding until we have walked in the shoes ourselves. that is someone like john kennedy when talking about his system of ranking the present was dismissive of the whole thing. saying we do not really know
what is going on. not even prepared to do this now i would need much more study having been an office for just a little time. now that we have said we cannot rank presidents we can't rate them let's do it anyway. so let's start by considering some theoretical ways of assessing greatness. the presidential greatness argues the democrat and republican, small d democrats small our republican paid what that means is that involve people in the process and teach people >> virtues that is a democrat part. you also have to govern within the constitutional system and abide by restrictions on your authority. that is the republican part. for them then, the key mechanism also and check for
them great presidential leadership has partisanship. the great presidents are those who build up their political party. lots of people like washington, jefferson, jackson, lincoln, fdr a great presidents. see the standards why andrew jackson is a great president. presidential character i've it's not going to make jackson is a great president to closest to be lyndon johnson is ronald reagan splits apart the democratic party drives southern democrats and reagan is not interested in helping he's more interested in protecting his perp personal popularity. and it alternative way is why
moderates make the best presidents. you are all familiar with now. he argues the key to greatness is a muscular moderation. that does not mean simply doing what it is a popular at. that would be spineless when he attacks clinton four. muscular moderation is a boldly governing from the center. it is a charting a leadership path between the extremes of american politics and building consensus around your political position. this leads him to reinterpret the politics of it presidents like fdr. fdr is seen as the most liberal executive in the modern era. but, according to troy he was really a moderate. because on the lefties dealing with people who want to create a socialist society in america. and on the right he's done with individuals who want to do nothing. onset a laissez-faire of immigration which that under
coolidge and hoover. by charting a course between the two is quite moderate but something like social security is a moderate policy people on the right do not like it may destroy individual responsibility by people on the left do not really love it because it is a finance in a pay-as-you-go manner where the taxis of current workers go to pay the benefits of current beneficiaries. so, as a result it is a moderate policy. his approach toward regulating banks, another moderate policy the left wanted to nationalize the right want fewer regulations. roosevelt salts fall somewhere in the middle. regulation according to troy is not enough to achieve greatness. you have nixon and carter who fail for reasons specific to themselves. but, it offers the best path to presidential greatness but i chose these two readings in particular it illustrates the problem of setting standards of presidents for greatness. no these are diametrically opposed standards.
one set of scholars the same to be a great present at the very partisan for the other scholars and to be a great present you have to do the exact opposite. you have to be in the middle. we then try to actually rank presidents from one -- 44 we've got five i think really important historical studies that have tried to do this. i think looking at each of them is useful. so murray and blessing in 1988 sent questionnaires to about 2000 holding assisted professors of history who are listed in the american historical association's guidebook. these questionnaires were intensive. nineteen pages, 180 questions, took more than an hour to complete. they are not only asking people to assign a level of greatness to each presidency, they are off single asking them specific actions about events and policy. was hoover right to value
balancing a budget and controlling the federal deficit? why was kennedy successful? what skills were important? by askins additional questions they also want to determine why a president is great. not only if they are great. not necessarily going to look at that part of the argument. we are going to focus instead on these evaluations of whether scholars assign ranking of great, near great, above average, near average below average or failure to reach present britt ultimate 846 surveys but be aware this is not necessarily a representative sample, only 59 women actually participated in the survey. so they are ranking those, abraham lincoln is one. franklin roosevelt, too. george washington is three. thomas jefferson is for. those are the four presidents that had an average score of it being a great president. the near greats were theodore roosevelt, woodrow wilson, andrew jackson, and harry truman. i think the bottom to her
interests include john adams and lyndon johnson. we are not going to see these presidents on other rankings. perhaps this is a partly because in this study, scholars and tended to more presidents that served in the era in which they did their research. so, if you did research on colonial america and the early american republic to be more likely to think john adams was a great president. we, today, perhaps harshly criticize him. the act criminalized as the united states is gearing up for a potential war with france, it was entirely political on adam's opponents that were affiliated with jefferson. lyndon johnson, another president who is certainly going to be a controversial one. they generally like his domestic policies but find a lot to desire in his prosecution of the vietnam war where he conceals a true extent of united states
involvement from the public. and makes a number of tactical decisions that potentially undermine the chances of the united states prevailing. in 1997 publish rating the presidents pray they take a poll of 719 people. ninety-seven of these individuals were professors of american history or political science for the other individuals to be some public officials, attorneys, and so forth. they are asking their samples to rate presidents on five different dimensions. leadership quality, accomplishments and crisis management, political skill, appointments, character and integrity. participants then also asked to rank the relative importance of these five dimensions. so if you think character was most important to presidential greatness or leadership qualities, et cetera. according to this system, again lincoln is number one. franklin roosevelt's number
two. george washington number three. thomas jefferson number four. theodore roosevelt number five. woodrow wilson number six. harry truman number seven. andrew jackson number eight's. eisenhower number nine. madison number ten. a couple interesting things to note here. one is that roosevelt actually might have prevailed over lincoln if it were not for concerns about his character. that he was rated the 15th the best president in terms of character where he was one or two on the other four mentioned. similarly, andrew jackson would rate higher if it was not for those concerns about character and appointments. obviously a reflection of the spoil system all government officials were fired and people loyal to jackson were put in these oppositions. this reads ultimately to allow corruption in the long run. i would also point out the appearance of eisenhower. you see this is published in 1997.
now as we are learning more about eisenhower, you are seeing his rating improved and he starts to emerge at the bottom of these lists. arthur schlesinger junior publishes an article in political science quarterly in 1997. he is taking a poll of 32 experts. i put experts in quotations because they really his friends. not that they are not experts. but, they are moved mostly prestigious historian. some politicians cuomo, simon united states senator. participants are allowed to develop their own criteria for greatness in the article, he actually uses justice potter stewart definition of obscenity. you know it when you see it. these scholars will know greatness when they see it. to all people have to do is rate each president is great, near great, average, below average, or failure. and then they will be assigned the appropriate numerical score which allows us to come
up with an average bird's lessons are's father did an early study of ranking the president in 1948 that was published in life magazine it was following in his father's footsteps. according to this study, lincoln number one washington number two, franklin roosevelt was number three. all three achieved great averages but didn't see all 32 individuals gave lincoln a four, a ranking of great. then is jefferson, jackson, wilson, truman, polk and eisenhower. c-span did a presidential leadership survey and she thousand nine survey and 65 presidential historian. i mentioned because we read and talked about these scholars ourselves in this class this semester but historians are asked to rate the president on ten different
attributes. public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with congress, vision/ascending agenda. whether they perceived equal justice for all and their performance within the context of their time. you may be saying that is a lot comment ten different attributes of leadership is a lot for any scholar. it attests the limits and knowledge of even experts. do people know enough about franklin pierce to assign him a score on all ten of these dimensions? what typically happens in studies like this they end up making global judgment of greatness that will affect their score on every individual standard. so, if you think lincoln was a great president over all you're going to give him a great score on all ten categories. participants are assigning each president score of one meeting not effective to ten being effective in all ten dimensions of leadership.
what will happen then is an average will be provided. so, if clinton was given an average of let's say eight-point to per economic management will be multiplied by ten. they will get 82 points. what that means is that your total possible greatness score is 1000. one hundred points for each category. according to this system, abraham lincoln number one with a score of 902. george washington is number two. franklin roosevelt number three. you can see the score is pretty quickly drop off after that point sprayed roosevelt for, truman five, kennedy six, jefferson seven, eisenhower eight, and reagan ten for appearance of ronald reagan at the very boundary of greatness. and finally we have rotting house and ivanka conducted a survey in 2014 of 162 members of the american political science association.
president and executive politics, that includes me. i participated in this survey. i cannot tell you that much about it unfortunately. i have not been published as far as i can tell where they've had some newspaper stories and the "washington post" and so forth about the research. they e-mailed all of the participants in the study for the final ranking. but i don't really remember what it was like put every member it took me a long time. it took me 45 minutes to an hour. i also never been kind of surprise but some of the decisions i made. for instance i found myself being a lot more positive toward barack obama than i thought i would be when i was chosen to think about him on individual dimensions instead of a global judgment of his performance. some of the attributes that were measured were diplomatic skill, integrity, military skill, legislative skill. i think you can see that a somewhat reflecting political scientist mindset when you prove something like legislative skill but something we know political scientists are trying to
measure and quantify. each president then receives a possible score out of 100. the results, lincoln is number one, almost a perfect score at 95-point to seven. washington number two, franklin roosevelt number three. theodore roosevelt four, jefferson five, truman six, eisenhower seven. first appearance for bill clinton, andrew jackson nine and woodrow wilson ten. again you seat down here the score is much, much lower even though they are not separated that far in the rankings the score is are actually quite lower. some patterns and then we may have noticed, lincoln is number one and all five rankings. consensus lincoln is the greatest president. all five rankings also agreed the top three greatest presidents are lincoln, washington, and fdr. you probably noticed washington and fdr rotated between two and three.
equally split spray jefferson and roosevelt also did well. they are pretty commonly four and five. neither presidents fell lower than seven and any of these rankings. we did not look at this but i thought you should know there is agreement on the worst president too. the two worst presidents would be warren harding, warren g who spent his time writing love letters -- embarrassing love letters to his mistress while his friends robbed the government blind for his most famous quotation, i am not fit for this office and i never should have been here. and james buchanan, congratulations america. dickinson's own james buchanan did nothing as the country lurched towards civil war out of a misguided sense of constitutionalism. one of the other things we may have noticed in the pattern, we are not seeing any modern president post franklin
roosevelt show up on these rankings. clinton shows up once, reagan shows up once, truman is there, eisenhower's here and there. but they are at the bottom and it is not consistent. what i did not hear such at the present sense, franklin roosevelt, all five ratings and i average their score. bear in mind these are taken at different times. so the total number of presidents that are going to be ranked is not constant throughout this period because the more presidents in 2014 then there were in 1988. that all affects the average, it may be somewhat of great presidents came after that point. but that really does not turn out to be the case. but we can see here only two presidents have an average ranking in the top ten, harry truman and dwight eisenhower. as i said earlier both of them have enjoyed a renaissance of their reputation after they left office. but even then, the rankings are not that impressive.
your the seventh greatest president of all time, then you are not even the top 20%, right? going down the list we can see it gets pretty bad. nixon is ranked 32, 425, carter 24.4, reagan 18, bush 20.5. clinton 15, bush 36. we took the average ranking of all of these presidents it is 19. these presidents franklin roosevelt average ranking of 19 greatest. now why is that? is that the result of their individual flaw? well, to some extent sure. i have been very, very critical of jimmy carter. not out of any personal opposition to anything he tried to accomplish, but out of a criticism of his understanding of executive authority and its use of the powers of leadership.
carter's ranking, as we softly slip back for a minute, not good 25 covid 19, 2726. pretty consistently mediocre. we can identify very specific reasons carter fell short of greatness that only he can be blamed for. one is the undermine the prestige of the presidency. prestige is key. how the president is viewed by people outside or rather how the president as viewed by people in washington, trying to determine how the public views and. that his teacher bargaining. i can convince people what he wants isn't his own interest. carter did not seem to understand that but he did things like carrying his own luggage. and in the practice of playing hail to the chief when the president arrives at a public event. selling the presidential yacht, the sequoia. keeping a national and someone who is an act cardigan
sweater. he does not necessarily understand that these things make him seem more like a regular person instead of someone who is above the public. he made port staffing choices. carter decides to bring the individuals who had worked with him in georgia, to washington. the so-called georgia mafia with their genes and their shaggy haircuts, they offended the sensibilities of washington. he appointed poorly prepared people who had no national experience to the jobs where you needed national experience. when it came to specific individuals he picks hamilton as his chief of staff rate is known for allegations of unsavory personal behavior spitting drinks on women in bars. making rude comments about the cleavage of the wife of the egyptian ambassador. using cocaine at a disco because it's the 1970s. he appointed bert lance for the office of management and budget. bert lance is a friend of his from georgia who describes himself literally as a country
banker. bert lance is put in charge of shepherding the federal government when he is at 2 million in debt personally. he is going to be involved in a series of investigations but his own personal finances for they are going to drag down carter's first year in office for the third problem carter has his he thought he could run the white house on his own. despite having learned very quickly he needed chief of staff, carter comes into office and accesses his own chief of staff. having for the first three years all top aides report directly to him. he is trying to make every decision himself. that ends up bogging carter down in a series of unnecessary details. this is a true story. carter would actually approve the playing schedule at the white house tennis courts. why would a president bothers himself with that kind of detail? carter also had some character flaws. i said he had some degree of arrogance. you got that in the reading
you did when people disagreed with him he would say i would rather not talk with you if you cannot agree with me. not the consensusbuilding approach that you need as a president. he also had somewhat of a mean streak which really emerged and the presidential campaign where he said if reagan is elected you're going to see a return to segregation and the united states. carter did not realize the presence best resource for working with congress as his own party pretty comes into the office with a democratic congress, speaker of the house tip o'neill. that is a relationship you need to cultivate. he says give me three or four parties will work on them carcasses now here's 12 we will do all of them for it o'neill said do not try to govern overheads let's work collaboratively. carter says no i will do with what works for me in georgia print o'neill ends up being aggravated by little sleight like us tickets at the inauguration that carter took away breakfast because even nixon gave them breakfast. and ultimately what winds up happening is carter gets primary by ted kennedy.
imagine that a sitting president has to fight for his own renomination within his party. that as a direct consequence of the way carter failed to nurture those relationships with democrat leaders in congress. finally, he over estimated speaking powers. he did try to govern over the head of congress on the subject of energy carter gives five national addresses. each one shows smaller and smaller audience. and we know speaking powers grossly overestimated pay money president goes public they could not move an opinion on ratings but they certainly cannot rule issue opinion and carter did not recognize that. i would ask you as well, who are some of the great quarterbacks, going with the football theme today who are some of the great quarterbacks of nfl history? i imagine you are going to say modern type quarterbacks
people like tom brady, peyton manning someone of said dan marino because i would've tried to suck up to me that would've been a very good answer. he's clearly the greatest president. he would have been the greatest president because of his quick release and fiery demeanor on the field. these are modern presidents. modern quarterbacks. that is a reasonable thing when you look at statistics is the top ten quarterbacks of dan marino's historical fees in 1984 group of 5084 yards and 48 touchdowns, it all happened since 2008. it's all happened since 2008 these great seasons of the yardage they have thrown for. and you see quarterback that simply are not going to go down this great quarterbacks like matthew stafford, ben, probably not hall of fame type
quarterbacks. what's happening here? the difference is the game has changed to help quarterbacks. you have seen an emphasis on officiating that makes it easier to throw the ball. that officials there going to police contact over the middle of the field. brian dawkins also safety when he retired he said the some of the reasons why he felt he could no longer play the position because he had to constantly be worried about getting a penalty. you could no longer just react. you cannot touch the quarterback. you cannot hit them up high you cannot make contact with her helmet, you can hit them at the knees, that makes quarterbacks more comfortable in the pocket. there's a reference to passes instead of runs and make quarterbacks easier to rack up yards were to get to the nfl with more preparation because they have adopted sophisticated so there better
prepared to read defenses on that reach that level. see the change in personnel. somewhat like iran is the size of a defensive and in runs like a wide receiver. he has to throw to someone who is on cover ball by safety and linebackers. all this made it easier for quarterbacks to achieve greatness. troy aikman has a lower quarterback reading for his career than the backup of the tampa bay buccaneers. but, we look at the systematic changes when it comes to the presidency, things haven't changed to make it more difficult for presidents to achieve greatness. some of things you might think about. one, congress has polarized. at the roots of congressional polarization are long-standing. you can really date it back to the 1960s the democratic party fully embraces civil rights. you see a migration of those southern democrats to the republican party. ultimately that is going to be
a democratic party left with liberals and republican party that has been much more conservative. dethrone the effect of increasing gerrymandering you have these districts that mean a radical republican or democrat can win a seat they would not be able to win if it was fairly drawn. you see harsh use of congressional rules and procedures that have polarized outcomes in congress and it may not actually exist. all of this means is more difficult to presidents get what they want out of congress. that polarization may speed up action. but it slows it down in the senate. we've seen a steady increase in filibusters over time for the senate has become the burial ground for any major presidential piece of legislation. and, there is no possibility of compromise. if you want to be a moderate, who are you going to negotiate with? there's no one left in the middle for the affordable care act passes with zero republican votes, zero
republican votes in the senate. how is obama going to get through congress now that he does not have this huge democratic majorities that he had when he took office in 2009? related problem divided government printing have the president being of one party and congress being of the other, that is become the norm for most of history that was not the case. he seemed divided government about two thirds of the time since 1952. there is a debate and political science about what this means. some argued the divided government does not actually have an effect on significant legislation. david has categorized in terms of their significance by looking at if they were judges significant at the time. and if they were judges significant later over history. we come up with that dataset you see about 11 -- 12 significant laws are going to be adopted every two year period
that was 5 percent of the fact that the presence are like obama now have to deal with a divided government and with a congress controlled by the opposite party and the congress that is polarized and then they can make it very difficult to get your agenda through congress and the president also has worse relationships with the media i think about all the things with the media covered up for john kennedy, they covered up his affairs which they knew about and the comfort of his health problems, his attitudes and disease in a variety of other element illness but truly they would been shot in the dark about the fact that in his latest book, and that his book is only bestseller because his dad bought thousand of copies which he stored up in the attic at their place.
i've been unable to persuade my dad by those copies but it's a good idea. but that changes that you have things on the pentagon papers and government study about the extent of the united states involvement in vietnam which is the present has been inconsistently representing u.s. policy and you have the aftermath of what a great and nieces repeated lies in the cover-up and so much so that his press secretary is going have to leaders say that all statements were in operative and then you see then because of the impact of watergate, reporters all want to be bob woodward and they want to bring that next scandal and the media has become much more hostile first and doorstep presidency there is no longer the glamorous eight the president can, and typically this is the amount of negative news that the president has gone up and the present total shares of these covers have gone down.
but the mutt makes it more difficult for the present related to the fourth problem and people are paying less attention to the presidential process movement think now that you can launch a presidential on so many different platforms, the broadcast, cable, on your phone, on your tablet, on your computer, that you will see higher ratings from the present speeches and that is not the case and presence used to benefit by having a captive audience a few channels and the president comes on, and it's a national address and people would watch because what else are they going to do, turn off the tv and talk to their families, i don't think so what they were going to watch the president on television now, not interested, changing channels and fire up your xbox, you queue up netflix or whatever you want to do. obama's recent 2015, address and the lowest ratings since twentysomething years over
31 million people tuned in and i always like to remind people of the problem with bill clinton, in 2000, the national address, it was going on right after who wants to be a millionaire on abc which was at the hottest show of the time, i told you i auditioned for it and that 1992, the people are watching who was to be a millionaire in the present comes on and immediately 10 million people change the channel. another problem is a probably campaign is a permanent distraction running for office today and reelection, it's expensive and it costs money. these are billion-dollar campaigns we are talking about now that means the president has to constantly raise money and barack obama according to research has a fundraiser every 7.5 days, he is doing research for fundraiser. and 12 days into his administration clinton did and how a president is supposed to
govern when they are so busy raising money and engaging in these political activities are too busy try to keep a job to do the job. there also powerful pressures than any president has to deal with. about 70 percent of the budget today, goes to four thanks, medicare, medicaid, social security and payments on the national that. throw in defense spending, which is something that cannot be adjusted at all that much especially in light of recent events, that leaves very little money the president to fund new domestic policy initiatives and great activists programs and often associate with presidential greatness. we are running this year, if we're lucky, but a $400 billion deficit and the problems are getting worse and also gain control of these entitlement programs that totally submerge the federal budget. the presidents also struggle
with he and ministration from mechanic in their apartments confirmed ever talking about appointments to the federal judiciary, the race for these confirmations has gone down over time where present like eisenhower would get every appointment to the federal court system confirmed and now you're lucky to get the - 60 percent confirmed in the amount of time that it takes to confirm injustice, that is gone up dramatically, new york times last week and an editorial resizing republicans are not acting more quickly on some of the nominations that obama made to the judicial branch and since on the speech argued printed these emergencies where they had been vacant for four years. the executive branch on those appointments are forcing the presidents to use debatable techniques to get people. it right now are sing that
30 percent of the white house staff will change jobs and if you have the two together, what that means is that what you really have is what you call the government of strangers individuals are not in their office long enough to learn what is necessary to do their jobs more in office long enough to learn who they need to work with to get things done. they can't be an effective key when you sir for such a short period of time and finally, people say will the way around this and you achieve greatness is just act on your own. a unilateral presence of power and this is a fallacy as well, these powers are consistently overrated and people say, by executive order, while studies have shown that only 15 percent of executive orders are significant pretty there are exceptions of course, desegregating the military and stem cells research executive orders in certain company policies established by executive order and even though
these presence can come in and change these things, sometimes there durable by clinton it, changing the standards and drinking water within the bush wants to go back to the previous standards, because their cost an effective policy it makes it look like he was more arsenic in his drinking water so they sometimes are good ways to make policies through executive order pretty the president statistically are more likely governed by executive order at the end of their administration and with our unpopular which makes it perfect timing given the limitations. think about obama's experience that he does not turn to executive orders on immigration and climate change until he has failed at attempts to get congress to do something about problems and out what is happening pretty immigration plans are tied up in a court and outcome of all that remains and unity a lot in front unilateral powers like proclamation, 88 percent of these are
symbolic, only 12 percent are significant in the 12 percent that are significant under things like the parks and trees and nothing else and we are talking about things like executive agreements and these are much less important than the trees which are much more binding and by the president's successor as also the unilaterally government is debated and the debatable strategy as well so i would ask you then, first, take a step back and what are your standings on the presidents and you seen how the different scholars have tried to define presidential greatness. and they say it that it's about building the coast parties and another says is about moderation and the different systems, including political skill, character, legislative skills and so forth. so how you would define presidential greatness will be the fourth question then we will consider whether it is possible. >> the way that i define presence of greatness was based off whether a president is able
to pass meaningful legislative agenda quickly which are things that are under their control. and can he litigate national and international that would distract them from being able to pass legislative act. i think that one of the issues with troy's argument and a lot of the ways that we look at president says that over time, their ability to do things decreases regardless, you see that in jfk last two years of his presidency he was unable to pass civil rights and able to pass any of his domestic legislation to actually get that through. so i look for rapid action and being able to mitigate things that would prevent people actions. >> the presence ability in congress will also be some without their control depending on the number that they have and congressman johnson had a great advantage so that d had these
huge democratic majorities that the seller presence and not past. >> i think the thing is, it doesn't really matter whether or not had substantial majority because you see people aggregate didn't have huge substantial public majorities and he was able to get through both of his agendas in the first month process and is really incredible so i don't think it really matters, the actual numbers of people in your party in congress. i think it matters whether or not you're able to use his process to get things done you want to get done. >> of the reagan had these two is managed as well as he was taken over carter's failure of presidency he was able situation at that time which saw the kind of peak of conservatives conservatism in american politics. in the likable way that he
handled that as well with the assassination attempt and are there other standards of greatness. >> i believe the great presidents because of the timing kind of like fdr about going into the second world war that people greatness on his part we might think about one president reagan came into office, he was dealing with an economy that was tanking and other events might be president obama was able to pass something that other at presence or six years cannot pass which was healthcare reform in all of those great events of the allowed them to prove their greatness so i think that much content to timing and circumstances is what it comes down to pretty. >> so do you agree with clinton that you need a crisis to be a great president. >> i do agree with that assumption that a crisis or something that you can prove yourself and if you don't have the circumstances or events happening, there's no actual way
to prove it. >> is just like the return to the football analogy that i've been using, you don't know their greatness until the beat and another great team, you need that challenge and other standards of greatness that people would propose. >> i think it depends on more on how you handle yourself as a person so i think that you get the legislative matters through the crisis that you are afforded given to you as a president to be able to manage that with the political advisor senate seen in public and kind from tray this character that i have it under control and it is all going to have those political deals and private. >> i think that is a really good point that you have public and private dimensions of leadership and present different challenges and you probably can't be
successful unless you successfully navigate each part so what if people then, is greatness possible anymore. or, is this average ranking of 19, just a result of individual layers of people at carter not living up to our expectations. >> i think with the standard you put out that i think a lot of things you can overcome so like the powers of the pressures if you have a great president, would be able to overcome those physical pressures make him a great present or unilateral powers and i think that some of the other problems like divided government had polarization, i don't think mom optimistic about this boy don't think it is a permanent condition and even if they are, you see the presidents like obama being able to get an incredible amount done in the first year so that advantage has not gone away which must presence even during a unified government or non- polarized government has been able to take
advantage of some of the great president can use that same kind of momentum and overcome some of the challenges rated. >> is a good point because we talked about polarization and slowing down government making it possible, even obama had a very productive first year and some are still able to make the system work but all the time becomes much more difficult later on. >> i think the presence nowadays can be great in certain areas but i don't think they can achieve greatness overall like i think that a president can be good in the public sector and the private sector and good at using unilateral powers and negotiating with congress and things like that but i don't think they can do it all. so, i don't think that one president can manage all of them to be graded everything. >> we know that these roles and expectations of these roles often conflict than if you want to be chief of state, you're
probably not going to be popular and the observances and presentations to the american people but if your chief executive and leader of the party you have to take tough positions and upset people manipulate people and ultimately, that can undermine the ability to be. and eisenhower had successful ways of dealing with that but often they often conflict. >> news coverage constantly today is having because of they were under the same scrutiny that fdr and others perhaps our view of them would be different so we knew all their faults and their state and idiosyncrasies, we would say they're not all that great but they had the benefit of not having that word is now we have constant coverage coverage. i think the next president that we would have would be great in fighting terrorism pretty seriously especially with
everything happening in the idea that the republican is elected, they will try to do something with the budget pretty so these are serious things right with a seven but then at the same timee are things that exist now such as the bush and gay marriage aspect that are so different than what certain people that if you don't tackle that issue, versus tackling this issue that maybe they don't think they're a great president but overall somebody would think the complete opposite to be able to handle the social issues the same way you handle the economic issues. >> the moral issues make it much more difficult. >> maybe will shift in the future likely look back and think maybe that going into iraq was a great idea and it all worked out so maybe we will look back on obama ten years and the approval rating will go up
because will have a president that was worse than he was or something. >> and post- roosevelt group is our president that is going to have representation like truman and eisenhower with a. reputation. >> i think lyndon johnson kind of undergoing the shift in his reputation i think i will continue. and especially given that congress is so polarized and so dysfunctional, i think that a lot of people believe his legislative skills the fact that he was able to get a lot done. so long as the tent in front government will be polarized and divided pretty. >> i think obama is one now and obviously his presidency is still going on so it's hard to look at him and greatness but i think that her situation that he adopted when he became
president, and all that he is done in his first year or whatever else he has done socially, think he has accomplished a lot for what he had to deal with in the time that he spent in. so i think he's maybe one that will look back and be a little different little less critical of as we realize all that he's accomplished and all that he faced in his presidency. >> maybe in some circumstances considering now that we have would have immediately after and they may see a few things in these issues aren't as drastic as they once were in for instance, with bush going into iraq and those things, no president had to do that terror attack so maybe down the road we will see maybe his decision was not as bad as we originally thought it was pretty. >> and one of the things and helped his we're talking about
this is the plate in the post presidency now and every president has a long time outside of the law office and take on new challenges that rehabilitate their reputation. >> i think it's a difference with modern presidents, people know a lot more about what they're doing now and part of it was about that they would not have that much information about the presidents take what we know, and now we know i think a lot more up with the president is doing with the information that we didn't know in the moment but we do know much more currently my thinking look back and know a lot more about bush's than they could have with some of the former president immediately after were so i think i would be less about rehabilitation sibling because there's not much to be rehabilitated. like the media knew this information that would not exist. >> will that could work the other way were not quite have the revelations like with
kennedy that really hurt their - over the long-term like the discretions for a real at the time, not years later. okay, i will see you all on thursday. >> did you know you can listen to lectures in history on the go, stream it as a podcast anywhere, anytime and you are watching american history tv. >> director of the fdr library, the leadership and one of the skills that he had in the right person for the right job at the right time. a true among his military leaders they put together an extraordinary team during world war ii. and sometimes ignoringri the seniority in the process of doing it in the questions will ask about the relationshi