For President's Day C-Span released a survey of top historians around the country of all political views as well as viewers, and the survey found a consensus that Abraham Lincoln was the best president in the nation's history followed by 2.Washington, 3. FDR, 4.T. Roosevelt, 5.Truman, 6.Kennedy, 7.Jefferson, 8.Eisenhower, 9.Wilson and 10.Reagan. The bottom 10 included 33.Hayes, 34.Hoover, 35.Tyler, 36.George W. Bush, 37.Fillmore. 38.Harding, 39.W.H. Harrison, 40.Pierce, 41.A. Johnson and 42.Buchanan.
Historians and viewers separately rated each president along several lines of criteria including public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with congress, vision/setting an agenda, pursued equal justice for all, performance within context of times.
Some recent presidents such as Jimmy Carter might have ranked highly in some areas such as pursuing equal justice, however poor management of the economy as well as handling of the hostage crisis with Iran helped to drive Carter's overall score down to an unimpressive 22 among all the presidents. The man that Carter replaced, Gerald Ford didn't fare much better at 23, but was better than the dismal 25 of Richard Nixon who scored highly in international relations but poorly handled issues of moral authority because of rampant dishonesty related to the Watergate Scandal.
George Bush's father, George H.W. Bush ranked 20th, with some strong leadership during the Gulf War, but far weaker economic handling skills. Bill Clinton that replaced him actually rated at 21, with scandal drawing heavily away from his economic leadership skills.
Among viewers the results were somewhat different than that of the historians. Bill Clinton for example ranked at 36 with viewers, but far better at 21 with historians. Viewers ranked Reagan at 6, while historians at 11, for the combined result of 10. Historians ranked LBJ at a high 10 for getting passed the Great Society legislation, while viewers ranked LBJ far lower at 19. Likewise JFK ranked higher with historians at 8 but lower with overall viewers at 12. Lincoln did manage to top both the viewer as well as historian results as the best president ever.
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