Focus Point - Presidential RankingsCommentary by Pete du Pont
November 29, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Everybody loves lists. A survey by the Federalist Society and the Wall Street Journal polled 78 scholars to rank the 39 presidents who served more than a few months in office. It's billed as the most politically balanced ranking available.
The four abject failures are also the usual suspects: Andrew Johnson, along with Pierce, Harding and Buchanan.
More interesting were some of the near-greats, including Wilson and James K. Polk, and men whose reputations have undergone an upward re-evaluation over time: Truman, Eisenhower, and -- Ronald Reagan. They were in company with the likes of Jackson and Jefferson. Then again, Reagan was most underrated and second-most overrated, suggesting academics still don't know quite what to make of him.
Below average ratings went to Nixon, Carter and -- unjustly, I think -- Ford, among others.
Ok, so the smart guys have voted. How would you vote?
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, South Africa's Health Care.