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View Diary: Daily Kos Elections Martin Luther King, Jr./Inauguration Day Open Thread (272 comments)

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  •  I meant underrated in that (3+ / 0-)

    I'd easily put both Truman and LBJ in the top 10.

    Overrated presidents?  Jesus H Christ George Washington.  The guy was a total figurehead and yes his "cabinet" tradition makes him look great but John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were running the government more than he was.  In fact I'd almost say George Washington is the most overrated American in history although maybe Thomas Jefferson too.  Really I just hate how we have a culture of deification around the founders leading to shit like constitutional originalism, the tea party movement, etc. etc.  These were real people who had flaws and not all of their ideas and actions were good.  Jefferson in particular demonstrated how horrible his ideas were when executed as president.

    Among my top ones would probably be in no particular order, Lincoln, FDR, Truman, LBJ, Hamilton*, JFK, TR, and maybe Garfield, Wilson, and Grant coming up somewhat after.

    Hamilton really is our most valuable founding father in my opinion.  His plan to federalize the state debt from the Revolutionary War was one of the single most important and constructive acts our country's history as well as his championing of modern economic institutions such as a national bank.

    NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

    by sawolf on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 02:43:15 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Substitute Garfield for Arthur (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY, lordpet8, betelgeux

      momentary brain fart.  Arthur's redeeming quality being the civil service commission, but that's mostly it.  Presidents from that period were incredibly weak compared to the party machines and it's amazing that they were able to get anti-corruption measures passed given how the sole purpose of the parties other than tariff policy was the spoils system.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 02:51:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tipped for contrarianism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      betelgeux, Christopher Walker

      But seriously, Washington was the second-greatest president because he was offered the kingship and vehemently rejected it. Without Washington's dedication to democracy, who knows what would have happened to the US? He was certainly a grievously flawed person, though, as shown by his slave-holding, and how he treated his slaves.

      With the caveat that I really need to learn more about 19th-century presidents, I think my ranking would look like this:

      And then probably Jefferson.

      I'm not sure who should go next. How good was John Adams? Maybe, eventually, Obama might be on this list.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 03:07:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've always liked Wilson (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY, betelgeux

        Not that he was one of the greatest Presidents, but that he is underrated.  He was one of our most intellectual, worldly Presidents, and he literally killed himself doing the job so he gets an 'A' for effort from me.  He is usually not considered to be a very good President, though, because his plans fell apart near the end of his term.

        Jefferson... I don't know.  He was a great philosopher but he didn't really do anything remarkable as President.  He tried to keep us out of Napoleon's wars in Europe, but alas was unsuccessful and we had the War of 1812.  Or something like that.  His foreign policy was probably the closest thing to a "Ron Paul" foreign policy this country has ever had; he had an army of sailboats with guns.

        John Adams was not a very good President.  I don't remember much about his term but that he was the first President to stomp on the Constitution with his Alien and Sedition Acts.

        •  Good point about Alien and Sedition (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Wilson was the worst president on race relations in the 20th century, without a doubt. He supported the KKK, did nothing about lynchings, and segregated the White House. He also got the US into an imperialist bloodbath in World War I. If it weren't for some important good domestic legislation, he would be a good candidate for one of the worst presidents in American history. As it is, his legacy is very mixed but I consider it heavily weighted toward the negative.

          Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

          by MichaelNY on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 04:22:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Jefferson is way overrated (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sawolf, MichaelNY, bumiputera

          His supposed conflicted feelings about slavery were nothing of the sort. He was an extremely strong supporter of slaveholding rights, and if anything grew more extreme. The CSA later held Jefferson up as a progenitor, and they really weren't wrong in that; he would almost certainly have supported secession had he been alive.

          Add to that his disastrous economic policies, his desire for an extremely limited federal government... he was not a great president. Influential - not great.

          Wilson was overrated and is now a tad underrated - his record was rightly corrected to reflect his failings on civil rights and civil liberties, but the backlash to him in the academy has arguably gone too far in the other direction, greatly downplaying his real achievements in the domestic sphere and blaming him for major elements of WWI that weren't his doing.

    •  Actually, modern assessments... (4+ / 0-)

      ... are that Washington was a very active figure in his administration, even if Hamilton was something of a prime minister at the time. (And Adams had little-to-no-role in the administration.)

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