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tv   Lectures in History Presidential Legacies  CSPAN  October 20, 2022 2:00pm-3:12pm EDT

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ago was those words -- a new nation, conceived in liberty, and the dedication that all men are created equal. it was those words than him or -- abraham lincoln consecrated a battlefield not far from where we sit today. the brilliance of those words were not recognized at the time. in fact, lincoln was not the featured speaker at gettysburg. it was actually edward ever, senator from massachusetts who spoke for two hours while lincoln waited until the very end to give his closing words. today, of course, we recognize the gettysburg address as one of the greatest moments of presidential speech in history. the fact that people don't necessarily see the speech that were at the time, lincoln wasn't the featured speaker a gettysburg, points to the fact that lincoln's greatness was unnecessarily recognized at the time in general. when lincoln became president, he hadn't served in public office for ten years. the country style of dress, is speaking mannerism, his self
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education, all of that meant that lincoln was looked upon with some degree of condescension from the eastern elites in the country. perhaps not much was expected from his presidency. although today, there is little dispute on lincoln's greatness. i always encourage my students to see political science not as a science, but at the debate. there are no laws, no findings, no discoveries. what you have is people making arguments that may or may not be persuasive to you. i think it is in person to know when we talk about presidential greatness. look at five different ways of measuring presidential greatness, we are gonna see these polls these academic studies that involve hundreds of historians political scientists and others that lincoln was the greatest president. today we might have some concerns about some of the things that he did. he certainly took liberties with the constitution. he suspended the right of habeas corpus.
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he forcibly closed some newspapers that were printing material critical of the union effort. money that congress was appropriated. he raised the size of the military without congress approval. he did this for a great and. preserving the union at a time of absolute peril for our country. he gave the civil war a moral impetus with the emancipation proclamation, which committed the government to freeing the slaves. and he never lost sight of what america was fighting for. there was a lot of pressure in 1864 to call off the presidential election. you couldn't go through with an election during a time of war. think it would totally be justified canceling this conflict. what lincoln said, when lincoln believed, if the united states were to do so than the rebellion would've already succeeded. the country would've lost its character as a free democratic people. what i wanted to do today is think about presidential greatness. the whole class has been leading up to this point. we've been standing present
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power, presidential leadership, trying to understand how presidents are or are able to overcome these obstacles in their way. they can successfully navigate the challenges and when they failed to navigate those challenges. the whole point of doing so is to become! great to achieve greatness. what i wanted to do is think about how we might understand presidential -- how it might conceptualize. we look at ways the different scholars trying to rank the president, from 1 to 44. and we are going to talk about why, potentially today, greatness is more difficult to achieve. we may never see another person like abraham lincoln. the modern presidents -- they have not achieve the level of greatness the lincoln have. we want to try to understand why that might be. why if there are systematic reasons, it's the fault rely in the individuals who held office in recent terms. one thing we know is that
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americans love to rank things! i estimate that maybe 67% of the content on the internet our list of things. buzzfeed, list articles. here are some interesting rankings that i came across in the hard work that i've been doing. as a professor. definitive list of stupid people on twitter version four point oh. let me tell you, four point a much better than three point oh and two point oh. the 20 inundates 25 with passwords and what they say about you. if your password is on that list it is saying enough. top 25 college football teams ranked by stupidity a fan. a definitive ranking of every big brother season from worst to least work. the 26 best rake memes that have ever existed. the definitive ranking of the 50 worst selfies i proposed on the internet. i look at that one. the messages, don't take selfies and funerals. that is the takeaway message there. americans love ranking the
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president. we've read richard new stats presidential power. the most famous book ever written on the presidency. a book that has been influential for scholars and presidents alike. somewhat of a machiavelli's, the prince. a guidebook on how do successfully execute executive authority. the very first center of the book. in the united states we look to rate a president. we measure and weaker strong in call what we are measuring his leadership. we do not wait for the man to be dead. we measured him from the moment he takes office. indeed that is true. gallup began surveying americans on the approval of bracket mammals presidency the day after his inauguration. that rating, it starts immediately. of course there are all these benchmarks that are set in the presidency when we stop and consider his legacy. how does the presidents first hundred days compared to franklin roosevelt or any other president? the midterm election? the reelection campaign. you also get opportunity for voters to cast judgment on presidential performance.
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all along you have pundits, columnist, asking how anything a president does affect their legacy. which is a way of saying how it affects their place in history? even though we like to do this, ranking the presidents is actually really hard to do. there is some systematic reasons why it is difficult to try to rank presidents. why it is difficult to rate their performance. number one, we are not neutral observers. we all have our opinions we all have our own vice ease. that is how we value any performance ideology play the role in assessment of presidential greatness i'm sure that that the does not come as a surprise to you. conservatives will be more likely to think ronald reagan is a great president. liberals are more likely to think jon kennedy is a great president. the impact of our own biases does not stop there.
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it will also impact the criteria we used to determine presidential greatness. what our standards are. research has shown that liberals are more than likely than conservatives to think it's something like, idealism. that is the standard of presidential greatness. those are two ways our by seas are going to affect our valuation greatness. we also know that context matters. presidents take office at different times, facing different scent of legal challenges. that is going to have to be taken into account when we try to rate their performance. on the one hand we might give presidents sympathy for taking office in difficult circumstances. if we think about barack obama, at the end of his presidency we might want to step back and say, you know what? he took office at a time of a massive recession with the united states involved in two wars. because of all these challenges even if he didn't achieve quite as much while he deserves to be rated a little bit higher because the context under which
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he served was more difficult we know that voters are capable of doing this we saw that at the time of his reelection if voters had considered obama ambush to be equally responsible for the country's economic condition then obama would've been nine points less popular. people seem to be willing to give president the way for things that they don't necessarily have a lot of things to do with. difficulty is not necessarily a bad thing. crises can also be opportunities for greatness. i don't think it's a coincidence that the two greatest presidents, which we will see in these rankings. the top three, it is always the same. some combination of lincoln, washington, and then roosevelt. or roosevelt and then washington. it is always the same. to those president served in perhaps the biggest crises that america's ever seen. the civil war and then world war ii and the great depression. that gave them an opportunity that other presidents serving in more calm times didn't necessarily have the
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opportunity to do it doesn't necessarily mean they could raise to those challenges but they do have the challenge. this is something that pointed lamented. after 9/11 clinton had privately said he wished he had been presidents that time. to be a great president he had to have a signature moment of leadership. he never had the opportunity to do so. the third problem is presidential greatness is not set in stone. when we rate presidents those ratings are gonna change overtime if new information emerges and as our own values change. an example of a president whose ranking has gone over time would be john kennedy. when john kennedy died he was extremely popular. he died under tragic circumstances and the first appraisals of his presidency that were written written by people like ted sorenson, pierre salinger, flush injured junior. worked in kennedy's presidency. held him in extremely high
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regard. did not criticize anything he had done. overtime we have learn new things about kennedy that has affected our opinion of him. we've learned about his chronic womanizing. organizing that jeopardize his personal security as he was involved with prostitutes another woman his staff procured for him. women i think jeopardizes independents. the affair with chicago mob boss sam giancana. womanizing today that we would consider sexual harassment. being involved with white house secretaries and other employees within the government. we've learned that he had some responsibility for the united states involvement in vietnam. foreign policy that was not in america's best interest. we learned that a lot of the new frontier was more for show than anything else. can i didn't have much of an interest in domestic policy. all the talk that his administration had about culture, those weren't things that were actually personally important to him. he seems to be a president that,
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in the criticize, shows more profile when he needed to show a little more courage to play on his book titled. most overrated president and the last ranking we are gonna see and ranking turn 2014 john kennedy was selected as the most overrated president. two presidents who's gone another direction. len eisenhower left office he was phenomenally unpopular. in february of 1952, harry truman hit 22% in public opinion polls. just 22% approved of the job he was doing is president. since then, we have come to see that his foreign policy had a lot of wisdom to them. establishing nato. shouting the marshall plan to call. these were seen as essential to forestall soviet expansion throughout europe. at the same time truman's
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demeanor, his honesty, his plainspoken ways we gain greater appreciated for that when he was succeeded by lyndon johnson. who repeatedly lied to the country, and richard nixon who was not a crook when he actually was a crook. eisenhower, another president whose ranking has improved overtime. when eisenhower left office he had been generally a nice guy but he had not really worked hard at its presidency. he spent more time golfing than leading. that he was a preside or not a president. new archival evidence showed that eisenhower allowed people to hold that image of him. he actually worked extremely hard behind the scenes to the point of pushing himself to heart attacks. he claimed not engage in personality but he manipulated people left and right. generally speaking we've appreciate his generals political skills that people did not appreciate at the time. we also value some decisions that eisenhower made as president which, back then,
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didn't necessarily seem significant. 1954 the french fall in vietnam, there is pressure in eisenhower to intervene. he says no, a 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 and we have a decade long conflict that doesn't work out in our national interest, that seemed to be a lot of really wise decision with a lot of foresight. 1958 or people are arguing that the government needs to boost defense spending in response to the soviet union launch of defense spending. eisenhower warns about the development of a military industrial complex. this is also why i like bush. not saying that push you can go down at the lincoln. the point is, we don't know is bush's gonna go down. when he left office some scholars raided him as the worst president all-time. for me, that was a preposterous thing to do. he had just finished his
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presidency. so many of the things he did, we won't know the true impact have them -- if you're serena racket him can become free democratic societies and our bellwethers across the middle east and lead to a spread of freedom which ultimately does away with one of the key national security threats facing the united states, terrorism! that bush is gonna go down as a great president. is that likely to happen? right now, it doesn't seem that way. but we don't know. we are gonna have to wait and see. it is a little too early to be sure of where bush is gonna fall in the pantheon of pantsuit -- the other problem with ranking president is, do you get points for trying? there are a lot of presidents who successfully identify key issues before they become a national concern. [inaudible] they didn't do anything to actually fix those problems. 1948 truman support a strong civil rights plank in the democratic party platform kennedy in 1963 finally comes
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out in favor of comprehensive steroids comprehension in congress. something he actually dragged his feet on he numbered a stepson civil rights including discrimination in public housing which he could've done with a stroke of a presidential pan. he did actually take action until the pressure got harder in 1963. nonetheless, they are on the right side of the issue but they don't get that legislation through. it is not until lyndon johnson is president that we see comprehensive civil rights legislation how does that affect and evaluation of the greatness? do they get the credit for being on the right side of an issue? do we blame the more for not actually fixing the issue? the issue credit is a problem in general. a lot of time the accomplishments that we are willing to tribute to a given president are debatable accomplishments. whether they actually had anything to do with those accomplishments or not is sometimes open for discussion. -- this is often used to make an
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argument for roosevelt. roosevelt's great accomplishment is that he ended the great depression. is that true? mild, not really. things that roosevelt did certainly helps the united states set itself up on the path for recovery. public works programs are needed in the immediate aftermath of the start of the great depression. his financial reform legislation help set the context for a more stable economy going forward. by 1937 the country has fallen back into a massive recession. unemployment is back up 20%. the thing that really pulls the united states out of the depression is, of course, world war ii. can we fairly say that roosevelt ended a depression? people who think he's a great president, do. but that is a debatable point to be make. similarly, reagan winning the cold war is the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of any president in the post war period. did reagan win the cold war? i mean, not really.
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did he do things to help and the cold war? absolutely. reagan's program of increased defense expenditures, including the strategic defense initiative, star wars missile defense system, where's the soviet union to engage in an arms race when they were no longer capable of doing so. that led to internal reforms within the soviet union which ultimately led to their downfall. other people had a role to. pope john paul the second. mikhail gorbachev of. if you take them out of the picture, maybe you get a different outcome. you can certainly argue that the soviet union had internal vulnerabilities that met it was going to collapse someday anyway. maybe reagan hastened that collapse but didn't necessarily cause it. either to the biggest accomplishment that these presidents who are seen as great, raegan is on the edge of the top ten now, are often given credit for. another problem is is it fair to compare premodern in modern presidents? whenever we look at rankings of
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presidential greatness in the same system we put barack obama and george washington. their tasks of leadership the resources that they had to lead, they were very different, right? pre-modern presidents, presidents before roosevelt one more clerks. they would distribute patronage. they would interview job seekers and they were appoint people to government offices it wasn't entirely thankless class. and they president was assassinated for this system. james garfield assassinated by patron seeker in 1881. there is no support for the president is not until 1857 until congress appropriates money for a president to hire his own single clerk. george washington hires his nephew to copy his letters. presidents have to take loans, like thomas jefferson.
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it lead to andrew jackson saying that being president that dignified slavery. it is unfair to compare premodern to modern president. the office is different. it is not until teddy roosevelt that the president even leads the country. a related problem is to be judged president by the standards of their time or hours? our morals have changed. we can have normative impression of presidential greatness. that can play a role in how they did things in office. things which may have not been controversial then are going to be controversial. i call this the andrew jackson problem. by many standards into jackson's gonna be a great president. we define a whole h by him. the age of jackson. jacksonian democracy. jackson himself is a symbol. a frontiersman who, by reaching the presidency, and the powerful message of what is capable in this country. his common rhetorical report
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for regular people changes the tenure of our politics. he democratize -- treating government jobs from personal property they would hang on to for their entire lives and then pass on to the sun. he builds the first mass-based political party. democratic party, coming out of his own personal following. but, he was a slave owner. but, most closely associated in addition to his democratic impulses with backing forcible removal of native americans from the travel land in open defiance of supreme court decisions. when the cherokee nation is forced out of their historical land in georgia, a fourth of them are going to die on the so-called trail of tears out the midwest. this leads to a lot of problems in terms of how do we interpret this. owning slaves, not treating native americans with respect, that was not something controversial in the early 19th century but it is certainly
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controversial today. you see a lot of state democratic parties they're typical yearly fundraisers or call the jefferson-jackson dinner. many have moved to change names because associate-ing dinner to slave owners is not the image they want to present today. finally, can we really understand what it's like to be president? this is the monday morning quarterback problem. i watch the dolphins on sunday, as you all know. right and now throws an interception. i will read him, i'll get upset. but i have no idea what i'm talking about! i never played quarterback in the nfl. i don't know why he threw that. maybe the receiver was in the wrong spot. maybe that defense mass there -- the coach needs to be blamed. we did not know what was going
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on. we don't know the decisions he needed to make. we don't know what the conditions were like at the time. it might be unfair of us to cast judgment and something we have no chance of understanding. when john kennedy, talking to arthur solutions or junior with his ranking the presidents was dismissive of the whole thing. saying, you don't really know what's going on. i'm not even prepared to do this. no i'm not willing to do this -- i need much more study have to being in office for a while. now that we said we can't rank president, we can't write them, let's do it anyway! let's start by considering some theoretical way of assessing greatness. the standard element of this problem. one book, landing at milken since presidential great argues that a great president must be a democrat and a republican. small d democrat small are republican. what you mean by that is you have to involve people in the process and teach people civic virtues. that is the democrat party.
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you also have to govern within the constitutional system and abide by restrictions on your authority. for them is the key message is to political party. a great way to publish people into the process and also a natural check on the presidents aristocratic impulses as they see it. for them great presidential leadership requires extraordinary partisanship. a great presidents are those who build up their political parties. people like washington jefferson jackson nft arm -- you can see using the standard. andrew jackson is a great president? right building modern democratic party out of his personal following. if it includes something like presidential character, maybe it is not going to mean that jackson is a great president no president since fdr according to them has achieved this a little greatness the two closest would be lyndon johnson
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and ronald reagan. johnson ultimately sales, he says, by his embraceable rights but across the democratic party. drive southern democrats to the republican party. reagan fall because he's not really interested in protecting the republican party he's more interested in protecting his own popularity. another interesting argument is gilroy's book on why moderates make the best presidents he argues the key to greatness is muscular moderation and does not mean simply doing what is popular at the moment that would be spineless centrism what he tax london for it is boldly governing from the center it is charging the leadership path between the american politics and building consensus around your political position this needs him to re-examine fdr is considered the liberal chief executive in
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the modern era. according to troy he was really a moderate on the left he's dealing with people who want to create a socialist society in america on the right he is dealing with individuals who want to do nothing who want to maintain a laissez-faire system of economic systems like that which flourished under coolidge and hoover. something like social security is a moderate policy. people on the right don't like it because it may destroy personal responsibility. personal left don't like it because it's finance as a pay as you go manner where the benefits of certain workers go to pay current beneficiaries his approach to regulating bags is another moderate policy. the left one of them nationalize the right wanted fewer regulation. the right -- moderation, according to troy, is not enough to achieve
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greatness. you have moderate presidents like nixon and carter who failed to reason specifically to themselves. it authors the best path to presidential greatness. i think it illustrates the problem of even setting standards for a presidential greatness. these are diametrically opposed standards. one set of scholars is saying to be a great president yet to be really partisan. to be a great president you have to do the exact opposite. you have to be in the middle! weif we then try to actually rk presidents from 1 to 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. marie busing in 1988 sent out questionnaires to about 2000 ph.d. holding assisted professors of history which were listed in the american historical association guidebook. these questionnaires were
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intense! 19 pages, of an 80 questions. took more than our to complete. there are only asking people to sign a love of greatest reach president, they are also asking them specific questions about events, policies, was hoover right valuing balancing the budget and controlling the federal government? why was kennedy successful, what skills were important? by asking those internal questions they also want to determine why a president is great, not only if they are great. we won't necessarily look at that part of the argument. we will focus instead on these evaluations and scholars assigned a ranking of great, near great, but of average, average, below average, or failure to reach president. ultimately they had 846 surveys. be aware, this is not necessarily a representative sample. only 59 women actually participated in the survey. their ranking goes abraham lincoln one, franklin roosevelt
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to, george washington three, thomas jefferson for, those are the four presidents that had an average score of being a great president the near greats were theodore roosevelt woodrow wilson, andrew jackson and harry truman. i think the bottom two are interesting inclusions. john adams and lyndon johnson. we will not see these presidents on other rankings. perhaps this is partly because in this study scholars tend more favorably rate the presidents that served in the era that they did their research. if you did research on colonial america in the early american republic you would be more likely to think john adams was a great president. we are today perhaps criticize him harshly for the alien and sedition acts. sedition act criminalized because the united states was gearing up with a potential war with france enforcement with entirely political adams
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opponents were affiliated with jefferson. lyndon johnson another president who is certainly going to be a controversial one scholars today generally like his domestic policies but find a lot to be desired in his views on war where he can seals the few extent of the united states involvement in the korean war and make sane 1987 publish writing the presidents they make a poll of 719 people. 97 of these individuals -- or political science. the other individuals would be public officials attorneys and so forth. they are asking their sample to rate president on five different dimensions. leadership qualities accomplishments crisis management political skill appointment character and integrity.
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also asked to rank the relevant and importance of these five dimensions if you think character is most important to presidential greatness leadership qualities it sat around. according to this system, lincoln's number one. fdr's number two during washington's number three, thomas jefferson number four, theodore was about number five, woodrow wilson number six, harry truman number seven, andrew jackson number eight, dwight eisenhower number nine, eight management number 10. a couple of interesting things to note here, one is that roosevelt actually might have prevailed over lincoln if it wasn't concerns about his character, all right? rated the 15th best character president. he is one out of two in the other four dimensions. similarly, andrew jackson would rate higher if it wasn't about those concerns of character in
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appointments. obviously reflection of the spoil system where all government officials were fired and people loyal to jackson were put in these positions. this leads, ultimately, to a lot of corruption in the long run. i would also point out the appearance of eisenhower. you can see that this is point 1997 as we learn more about eisenhower you can see his rating improve and he starts to emerge out of the bottom of these lists. arthur slash unger junior publishes an article in 1997. he is taking a poll of 32 experts. experts in quotation because they are really his friends. not that they are experts but mostly their prestigious accordions some pride to saying -- paul simon, united states senator. her to say pence are allowed to develop their own criteria for great minutes. in the article he actually uses
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justice potter stewart definition of obscenity. you know it when you see. scholars will know greatness when they see. all people have to do is rate each president as great, near great, and average or failure. then they will be assigned the appropriate america store which allows us to come up with an average. slush unger's father actually came up with an early system of ranking the president which was published in life magazine. he was kind of following in his father's footsteps. according to this study, we think it is number one, washington number two, fdr's number three. all three achieve great averages. you can see that all individuals gave lincoln a score of four a ranking of great. that it's jefferson jackson roosevelt truman polk and eisenhower c-span did a survey
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in 2009 -- we have read about the scholars are south in this class earlier this semester. they are asked to rate the president on ten different astronauts. public persuasion crisis leadership economic leadership moral authority international relations, administrative skills, relations with congress, vision, whether they pursued equal justice for all, and their performance within the context of the time. you may be saying, that's a lot! ten different attributes of leadership is a lot for any scholar. it tests the limits of the knowledge of our experts. the people know enough about franklin peers to assign him score on all ten of these dimensions. what typically happens in studies like this is people wind up making a global judgment of greatness.
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that is going to affect their score on every individual standard. if you think that lincoln was a great president overall then you're gonna give him a great score in all ten categories. participants are assigned each president leading up to ten all dimensions of leadership. what will happen then is an average will be provided. if clinton was given an average of 8.2 that will be given i will get 82 points but that means is your total possible greatness core is 1000 100 points for each category. according to this system, abraham lincoln's number one with a score of 902, george washington number two, franklin roosevelt number three, you can see the score pretty quickly drop off after that point. was about four truman five kennedy six. jefferson seven, eisenhower a
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wilson nine reagan, ten first appearance of ronald reagan at the very boundary of greatness. finally, why and how chauvin conducted a survey in 2014 of auto 62 members of the american political science association that includes me. i participated in the survey. i can't tell you that much about it, unfortunately. it has not been published as far as i can tell. it had some newspaper stories in the washington post about the research. they emailed all the participants in the study the final rankings i don't really remember what it was like. i know it took me a long time took me 45 minutes to an hour. i remember being kind of surprised by some of the decisions i made. for instance if i myself being a lot more positive towards barack obama than i thought i would be when i was challenged to think about him in individual dimensions instead of a global judgment of his
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performance. some of the attributes that were managers will be diplomatic skill integrity military skill legislative skill i think you can see that somewhat reflects a political scientists mindset you include something like legislative skill something we know. political scientists have tried to measure in quantify. each president then receives a possible score out of 100. the results lincoln's number one. almost a perfect score. 95 point 27. washington number two, franklin roosevelt number three. the to roosevelt for, jefferson five. truman six. either now or seven. the first appearance for bill clinton. andrew jackson is nine, woodrow wilson's ten. although again down here the score is much lower even though they are not separated that far in the rankings the scores are actually quite lower.
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some patterns we may have noticed. lincoln's number one in all five rankings. consensus, lincoln is the greatest president. all five rankings also breathe at the top three greatest presidents are lincoln washington and fdr. you probably noticed that washington and fdr alternated between two and three evenly split. roosevelt and jefferson also did well. pretty commonly four and five. neither president fell lower than seven in any of these five rankings. we didn't look at this but i thought you should know that there is also agreement on the worst presidents. the two worst presidents would be warren harding, warren g. spent his time writing embarrassing love letters to his mistress in the white house while his friends robbed the government blind. his most famous quotation, i am not fit for this office and i should never have been here! james buchanan.
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dickinson's own james buchanan who did nothing as the turn three lurched towards civil war out of a misguided sense of constitutional-ism. >> one of the other things we may have noticed in the pattern, we are not seeing many modern presidents post franklin roosevelt show up on these rankings. clinton shows up once, reagan shows up once. truman is there, eisenhower the here and there. it's not consistent. what i did here is i took the president since franklin roosevelt, all five ratings. i average out the score. bear in mind, of course, these are taken at different times. the total number of presidents that are going to be ranked is not constant throughout this, right? presidents -- the more presidents in 2014 than there were in 1988. that will affect the average somewhat. if great president came after that point. that does not turn out to be
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the case. when we can see here is 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 a rehabilitation of their reputation after they left office even then the reputations are not that impressive going down the list we can see it gets pretty bad. nic -- carter 4.4. reagan in 18 [inaudible] bush, 36. if we took the average ranking of all these presidents it is 19th. president since franklin roosevelt receive an average ranking of 19th greatest. why is that? is that the result of their individual flaws? to some extent, sure.
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over the course of the semester i have been very, very, critical of jimmy carter. not out of any personal opposition from anything he tried to accomplish but out of a criticism of his understanding of executive authority and his use of power and leadership. carter's ranking, as we saw, we just put back for a second, not good. 25, 19, 27, 20, 5:26. pretty consistently mediocre. we can identify very specific reasons why carter fell short of greatness that only he can be blamed for. one he undermined the prestigious of the presidency prestige is key. how the president is viewed by people outside, or other how the president is viewed by people in washington trying to determine how the public views him that is keys to bargaining. to successfully be able to convince people that what he wants is in their own interest.
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carter didn't seem to understand that. he did things like carrying his own luggage. ending the practice of playing hello to the chief when the president arrives at a public event. selling the presidential yacht, the sequoia. giving a national address in a cardigan sweater, i see that being someone who loves cardigans! he doesn't necessarily understand that these things make him seem like a regular person, instead of someone who is above the public. he made poor staffing choices. carter decides to bring the individuals who worked with him in georgia to washington. the so-called, georgia mafia. they didn't fit in with their jeans and their shaggy haircuts. they offended the sensibilities of washington. he appointed poorly prepared people who had no national experience. but -- jordan as a chief of staff. jordan is known for allegations
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of unsavory behavior. putting women at women and bars. making lewd comments about the cleavage of the wife of the egyptian ambassador. he appoints for lance to run the budget. but friend of his from georgia who describes himself literally as a country banker. burt lansing put in charge of shepherding the government finances when he is 2 million in debt, personally. he will be involved in a series of investigations into his own personal finances which will drag down investigation throughout he thought he could run the white house on his own despite forward having learned very quickly that you need a chief of staff carter comes into office and he acts as his own chief of staff having for the first three years having on his top aides report directly to him he is trying to make every decision himself that ones up >>. a series of unnecessary
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details. this is a true story. cardi b would actually approve the why would president bother himself with this kind of detail? carter also had some character flaws when carter would disagree with people he said i would rather not talk to you. not a consensus building approach you need at the president. he also had something of a mean streak which really emerged in the 1980 presidential campaign. if reagan is elected you would see a return to segregation in the united states. he didn't realize that the best is working within your own party. you have a democratic congress, speaker of the house to pony, that is a relationship you need to cultivate. and then says give me 45 priorities says weren't work on them. here's 12, we gonna do on them. he says don't try to govern
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over ahead let's work. no, i'll do what work for me in georgia! o'neill ends up being aggravated by little sites like, his ticket at the inauguration that target took away breakfast at nato meetings. even nixon gave them breakfast! right? ultimately what winds up happening is carter gets primary by ted kennedy. imagine that? . he has to fight for his own renomination fern women in his own party. he failed to nurture his relationship with democratic leaders in congress finally, he overestimated his speaking powers he did try to govern over that of congress on the subject of energy, carter gave five national dresses we know that speaking flowers are grossly overestimated. when a public goes public, they cannot move an opinion on an approval rating --
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and carter didn't recognize that. now i would ask you as well, who are some of the great quarterbacks, i'm going with the football team today, who are some of the great quarterbacks of nfl history? i imagine that you are going to say modern type quarterbacks, people like tom brady, peyton manning, someone would've said then marino, because they would've tried to suck up to me and that would've been a very good answer. because dan marino was clearly the greatest quarterback, a president of, all he would've been the greatest president because of quick release -- but these are modern presidents, modern quarterbacks. that is a reasonable thing when you look at statistics. these are the top ten quarterbacks in terms of yards in a season. what we see here is that all sides dan marino's historical season in 1984, where he got 5084 yards and 48 touchdowns,
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it's all happened since 2008, these great seasons in terms of the yardage that these quarterbacks have thrown for. but you see quarterbacks are simply not gonna go down as great core quarterbacks, like matthew stafford, ben raffensperger, probably not type all of dame time quarterbacks. so what's happening here? the difference is the game's change to help quarterbacks. you've seen an emphasis on officiating that makes it easier to throw the ball, that officials are concerned with -- they're gonna police contact over the middle of the field. -- he said this was one of the reasons why. he could no longer just play the position because he had to constantly be worried about getting a penalty. he can no longer just react. you can't touch a quarterback. you can't hit him a pie, you can't make contact with the helmet, you can't hit him in the knees, and that makes
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quarterbacks more comfortable in the pocket. you see new offensive systems that preferences short passes instead of runs. it's easier to four quarterbacks to wreck up yards. -- colleges and high schools of adopted sophisticated offensive systems also, so quarterbacks are better prepared to re-defenses when they reach that level. and you see a change in the personality that team staff. someone like -- a size of a defensive end and can run like a wide receiver. so tom brady gets to throw someone who's uncomfortable with -- all this has made it easier for quarterbacks to achieve greatness. troy akerman has a lower quarterback rating for his career then the backup of the champ of a buccaneers, -- but if you look at the systematic changes, when it comes to presidency, things that change to make it more difficult for presidents to achieve greatness. some of the things we might think about. number one, congress has polarized. the roots of congressional
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polarization or long-standing. you can dated back to the 1960s as a democratic party fully embraces civil rights. you see a migration of the southern democrats to the republican party. ultimately, that is going to leave the democratic party that is just left with liberals, and a republican party that has become much more conservative. when you increase gerrymandering, you've got the safe district, that mina very radical to republican or democrat can win a seat that they would not be able to win if it was fairly drawn. -- polarized outcomes and congress where they may not naturally exist. all this means it's more difficult for presidents to get what they want out of congress. that polarization may speed up action in the majority house, but it slows down -- the senate has become the
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burial ground for any major presidential piece of legislation. and, there's no possibility of compromise. you want to be a moderate, who were you going to negotiate with? the stone left in the middle. the affordable care act passes with zero republican votes in the house, zero republican votes in the senate. how is obama gonna get through legislation through congress now that he doesn't have these huge democratic majorities when he took office in 2009? a divided government. when you have a president being at one party, and the congress being of the other party, that's become the norm. for most of history, that wasn't the case. biden governments, -- majority governments, two thirds of the time since 1852. -- david mayhew has categorize laws in terms of their significance in terms of if they were just significant at
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the time the repast, or if they were just significance later over history. you see about 11, 12 significant law that are going to be passed for every two-year period of a divided governments, as opposed to -- significant legislation is more likely to fail under conditions of divided governments 6.7, six or seven -- the president also has a worse relationship with the media. think about all the things the media covered up for jon kennedy. they covered up his affairs,
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which they knew about. they covered up his health problems, his addison disease, and variety of other ailments which have which have shocked the public if they. new they covered up that he didn't write his books, and his book was only a bestseller because that bought thousands of copies in an attic in is placed in hyannis. i am unable to get my dad to buy thousands of copy of my book. but it's a good idea. but that changes. that changes when you have things like the pentagon papers, the secret governments -- which shows that presidents have pretty consistently misrepresented u.s. policy. you have the aftermath of watergate and nixon's repeated lies about his involvement in a cover-up. so much so, that is press secretary is going to have to later say that all previous statements were -- and you see because of the impact of exposing watergate,
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-- as a result, the media has become much more hostile towards the presidency. there's no longer that collaborative relationship that presidents used to be able to count on. -- the amount of negative views news that the president has to face. the total share of news coverage for the president has gone down. it makes it more difficult for the president to lead publicly. that's related to this fourth problem, people are paying less attention to presidential justice. we might think, but now you can watch a presidential speech on so many different platforms, broadcast, cable, on your phone, on your tablet, on your computer, that you are going to see higher ratings for presidential speeches. that is not what's happening. presidents used to benefit by having a captive audience. with just a few channels. the president comes on to give a national address. people just watch because what else are they gonna do, turn off their tv and talk with their families?
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i don't think so. they're gonna watch the president on television. now, you can opt out. if you're not interested in the presidential speak, you change the channel, you fire up your xbox, you cue up netflix, whatever you want to do. obama's recent 2015 state of the union address had the lowest ratings in 20 something years, only 31 million people decided to tune in. i was like to remind people of this problem with bill clinton, in 2000, preparing to give a national address, is coming on right after who wants to be a millionaire on abc, which was the hottest show of the time. i told you i addition for. we 19 million people are watching who wants to be a millionaire, clinton comes on, and immediately 10 million people change the channel. another problem is that the predominant campaign is a permanent distraction. running for office today, running for reelection, is expensive. it cost money. these are billion dollar campaigns we are talking about.
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that means the president has to constantly raise money. for a co-bomb, according to research, has attended a fund-raiser every 7.5-day. every 7.5 days he has attended a fund-raiser. bill clinton attended his first fund-raiser as president 12 days into his administration. how are president supposed to govern when they're so busy ratings raising money and engaging in political activities. they're too busy trying to keep their job to potentially do their job. there are also powerful fiscal pressures that any president has to deal with. about 70% of the budget today goes to four things, medicare, medicaid, social security, and payments on the national debt. throw in defense spending, which is something that cannot be adjusted, all that much, especially in light of recent events, that leaves very little money for the presidents to fund new domestic policy initiatives.
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because of the great activist programs we often associated with presidential greatness. we're running this year, if we're lucky, about a 400 billion dollar deficit. those problems are only gonna get worse unless we get control of these entitlement programs that threaten to totally submerged the federal budget. presidents also struggle to fill their administrations. they can't get their appointments confirmed. if we're talking about appointments to the federal judiciary, the rate of confirmation for these appointments has gone down, where a president of eisenhower would get every point into the federal court system upper approve, now you're only gonna get 50 to 60% confirmed. the amount of time it's gonna take to confirm a justice has gone up dramatically. new york times last week had an editorial criticizing republicans for not acting more quickly on some of the nominations that obama's made to the judicial branch and some of the seats or judicial emergency, vacant for a few
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years. -- those appointments have run into obstacles also, forcing presidents to use debatable techniques to get people into office. things like recess appointments, czars and so on. we are talking about their staff. you can't get them to stick around. right now we're seeing 30% of the white house staff, than any given year to change jobs. if you add the two together, what that means is you really have what -- the governments of strangers. individuals are not in the office long enough to learn what's necessary to do well in their jobs, nor are they in their office long enough to learn who they need to work with to get things done. they cannot be an effective team when they served for such a short period of time. finally, people say, the way around, the way to achieve greatness, is to act on your own. unilateral presidential power. this is a fallacy. these unilateral powers are consistently overrated.
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people say governed by executive order. studies of shown that only 15% of executive orders or significant. there are exceptions. truman desegregating the military, mexican nixon setting up the epa, -- certainly some significant policies established by executive order. and even though the new presidents can come in and change these things, sometimes they, like clinton, changing the arsenic standards and drinking water. then when bush wants to go back to the previous standards because you think that the cost-effective fallacy, it makes it looks like he wants more arsenic and drinking water. sometimes these are good way to make policy decisions. only 50% are significant. president, statistically, are more likely to [inaudible] think about abundance
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experiences. he doesn't turn to executive orders on immigration and climate change. -- his immigration plans are tied up in the court system and the outcome of all that remains to be seen. if we're talking about unilateral power like presidential proclamations, according to, studies 88% of these are symbolic. only 20% or significant. the 12% that are significant tend to be on parks -- to talk about things like executive agreements, these are much less useful to a president than treaties which are much more binding and binds the president successor as well. so the govern you unilateral unilaterally is debatable strategy as well. if we take a step back, what are your standards of presidential greatness? we've seen how different scholars have tried to define presidential greatness. -- faiths about building political parties. -- says it's about moderation in different systems, including
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political skill, character, and legislative skill and so forth. that would be my first question. how would you define presidential greatness? and then will consider whether greatness distal possible? yes. >> the way that i define presidential greatness was based off of a president was able to set and then pass a meaningful legislative agenda quickly, which were things that were under their control, and then were they able to mitigate outside events, national and international that would distract them from passing able to pass the religious slate of agenda. >> yes. >> one of the issues with troy's argument and with a lot of the way that we look at presidents is that over time, their ability to do things decreases, regardless of the president. you see that in jfk's last two years, of his presidency, he was unable to pass civil rights, he was unable to pass any of its domestic legislation. and it took johnson's act to
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get that through. -- >> do you think it's somewhat of an issue that the president's ability to get things through congress is also gonna be someone out of the control depending on the numbers they had in congress? johnson had a great advantages that he had a huge democratic majority that are the presidents have not had. >> i think that the thing is, but i don't know [inaudible] [inaudible] i think it matters whether or not you are able to use the legislative process to get the
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things done you want to get done. >> -- he was taking over after carter fails presidency. [inaudible] other standards of greatness? >> i believe a great presidents [inaudible] we might think about going into the second world war, that makes for greatness on his part. -- other events might even be president obama, who is able to pass something other presidents for 60 years couldn't do, which was health care reform. all those great events that allow them to prove their greatness. as much can stem to timing and
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circumstances as it comes down to the actual president. >> do you agree with clinton that you need a crisis to be a great president? >> i do agree with that assumption that you need a crisis, or something, that you could prove yourself. you might have the potential, but if you don't have the circumstance or the events happen, there's no way to actually prove that your great president. >> yeah, it's just like a return to the football analogy i've been using, you don't know that the team's great until they beat another great team. you need to have that kind of challenge. other standards of greatness that people would propose? oh >> i think it depends more on how you handle yourself as a person. i think it's really great that you can get legislative matters through and the crisis you reported three given as a president, but to be managing that with -- in the public kind of portray this character of oh, i have it
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all under control, and it's all going smoothly, but then to have those political deals in private because of polarization in congress. >> that's a really good point also, that you have the public and private dimensions of leadership. each prevents different challenges. but you can't be successful unless you successfully navigate each parked. so what people think that? is greatest possible anymore? >> or is the average ranking of 19 just the result of individual failures, people like carter, not living up to our expectations? >> i think that the way the standards you put out, i think that a lot of them you can overcome. the power of the powerful fiscal pressures, if you have a great president, i'll be able to overcome those fiscal pressures and you'd be able to deal with them, which would enable him to become a great president. -- the other problems like divided government, polarization, i don't think, i'm optimistic,
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but i don't think they're permanent divisions. even if they are, you see presidents like obama and bush being able to get an incredible amount done in their first year. that advantage has not gone away, which most presidents, even during a unified government have been able to take advantage of. i think a great president can use those same kind of momentum and can overcome some of the challenges that you mention. >> that's a good. point we talked about polarization slowing down government and making it impossible to get things done. but obama had a very productive first year, hugely productive. presidents are still able to make the system work. not all the time. it becomes much more difficult later on. yes. >> nowadays a president can be great in certain areas, but i don't think they can achieve greatness overall. i think the president can be good in the public sector, the private sector, good at using unilateral powers, or negotiating with congress or
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something like that, but i don't think they can do it all. there's so many different roles of the presidency nowadays that i don't think one president can manage all of them and degraded everything. >> that's a good point also, because we know that the expectations of these roles often deflect reflect that if you're gonna be chief of state, you have to be broadly popular, and you have to participate in these -- and you have symbolic representation of the american people. but if you're gonna be chief executive and leader of the party, you have to take tough positions and upset, people manipulate people and ultimately that can undermine your ability to be chief of state. people like eisenhower came up with creative ways of solving. that all those rules are difficult to play in the often -- -- >> -- >> matt?
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>> i think potentially the next president we have could be great in the sense that we're fighting terrorism pretty seriously, especially with what recently just happened. the idea that if the republican is elected, they will try to do something with the budget. those are two pretty serious things right when they stepped in. at the same time, there are things that exist now, such as abortion and gay marriage aspects that are so different from what certain people, if you don't tackle that, issue versus tackling this issue, that maybe i would think they're great president, but overall somebody else will think the complete opposite because they handle social issues you don't handle social issues the way you handle the economic issues. >> the moral issues are much more difficult. yes? >> you also see that value
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shift overtime. maybe our perception of the great president will shift in the future. and maybe we'll look back and say, oh, bush's -- going into iraq was a great idea. afghanistan. it all worked. out he did. great navy will look back on obama ten years his approval rating will go up because we'll have a president that that's just worse than he was or something. >> does anybody think there is a president in this post roosevelt group that is going to have no -- doesn't anyone think there's a president as time goes on will really look more favorably at? >> i think that -- i think that will continue. especially given that congress is so polarized and so dysfunctional, i think a lot of people revere his legislative skills and he's able to get a
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lot done. [inaudible] >> i think obama is one that is overly criticized right now. his presidency still going on so it's hard to rank him in greatness yet. but i think that for the situation he adopted when he became president, and all that he's done, in his first year, whatever else he's done socially, i think he's accomplished a lot for what he had to deal with in the times he's been president. i think he's one that we will look back and be a little less critical of as we realized all that he has accomplished and all that he is faced in his presidency. >> matt? >> potentially in the future all the presidents recently will undergo distance on circumstances, considering now we have just what's happen immediately after, and as time goes, on we may see these
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issues are not as drastic as they once were. for instance, with bush going into iraq and all those things, no president has had to deal with that type of terror attack. so maybe down the, roads will see his decision wasn't as bad as we originally thought it was. >> and one of the things that helps also, and we talked about this post presidency, that every presidency is a long period of time outside of office where they can take on new challenges that often rehabilitate the reputation. we >> i think an important difference though is that people know a lot more about what the president's is doing now. some of these presidents that rehabilitated, a lot of the time they didn't know. but with the median everything, we know it's like a lot more about what the president's thinking in the data they have to discern formation off of. we know in the moment we. we know much more currently. we look back and we can know a lot more about what bushes than
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the older presidents. -- there's less of that rehabilitation because there's as much information to come out. when across the scandals like we -- >> it works the other way also, there were not gonna have these revelations like that period with kennedy that really hurt their image over the long term, because we already know all the stuff. clintons indiscretions will be revealed at the time, not years later. okay, i will see you all on [inaudible] .
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