Robert W. Merry has written a book entitled “Where They Stand.” It is a book that attempts to rate our presidents. When I read the review in the Journal this morning it got me thinking. Who would I rank as the best President in history? Then I started thinking about what criteria would I use?
What makes a good leader? Obviously vision must play a part. But vision that stands alone does not create goodness. Therefore, there must be an ability to create shared vision, or vision that people can take ownership of and implement. This does not mean that everyone needs to agree with every point, only that consensus is reached to the point where a common direction can be attained.
In the case of our presidents, does the number of terms play a role in whether they are great or not? Is a one termer less effective than a two termer? Or in the case of Reagan maintaining a third term in the form of George H.W. Bush? Who do I think were our best presidents?
My first two choices will go to Washington and Lincoln. In both cases these two men were able to create a vision which people were able to grasp. They started and renewed the union of this country. Not many will argue against this.
When it comes to my next choice, FDR, the debate is furious. Due to the fact that he wanted to redistribute wealth in this country the rich did not like him. In fact, a couple of the rich families attempted to hire a general to overthrow FDR. Butler exposed this, but the rich families were never prosecuted. On the other hand, FDR was able to navigate us through a depression and a world war. Obviously that says something about his ability to lead.
What about the others? Adams, Madison, Jefferson, and Teddy? Obviously Teddy must have been great? His likeness is on Mt. Rushmore. Ultimately this rating is a action that tries to define greatness.
Lets bring it to today’s crop of leaders. Will Obama be up there in greatness? He is the first African American elected president, so that will play a part. However, he has not been able to create shared vision. The partisanship in congress, and this nation, has not been this bad since the time Lincoln had to sneak into Washington for his inauguration. I don’t think Obama will be high on the list. What if Romney gets elected? I don’t think he has the vision to be able to emerge as a top ten president. It is unfortunate that the Republicans have allowed themselves to be defined by what they are against instead of what they are for. Abraham Lincoln was for preservation of the Union. The current Republicans have been defined as being against women and immigration. They too have not been able to create a shared vision.
Who are your top ten presidents?
And that is my thought for the day!