Being gracious winners, this week, liberals howled with delight at George Bush for coming in seventh-to-last in a historians’ ranking of the presidents from best to worst.
This was pretty shocking. Most liberals can’t even name seven U.S. presidents.
Being ranked one of the worst presidents by "historians" is like being called "anti-American" by the Nation magazine. And by "historian," I mean a former member of the Weather Underground, who is subsidized by the taxpayer to engage in left-wing political activism in a cushy university job.
So congratulations, George Bush! Whenever history professors rank you as one of the "worst" presidents, it’s a good bet you were one of America’s greatest.
Six months after America’s all-time greatest president left office in 1989, historians ranked him as only a middling president. (I would rank George Washington as America’s greatest president, but he only had to defeat what was then the world’s greatest military power with a ragtag group of irregulars and some squirrel guns, whereas Ronald Reagan had to defeat liberals.)
At the time, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. dismissed Reagan as "a nice, old uncle, who comes in and all the kids are glad to see him. He sits around telling stories, and they’re all fond of him, but they don’t take him too seriously" — and then Schlesinger fell asleep in his soup.
Even liberal historian Richard Reeves blanched at Reagan’s low ranking in 1989, saying, "I was no fan of Reagan, but I think I know a leader when I see one."
Reagan changed the country, Reeves said, and some would say "he changed the world, making communism irrelevant and the globe safe for the new imperialism of free-market capitalism." In Reeves’ most inspiring line, he says Reagan "was a man of conservative principle and he damned near destroyed American liberalism."
By 1996 things hadn’t gotten much better for Reagan in the historians’ view. A poll of historians placed Reagan 26th of 42 presidents — below George H.W. Bush, his boob of a vice president who raised taxes and ended Republican hegemony under Reagan. Four of the 32 historians called Reagan a "failure."
I guess it depends on your definition of "failure." To me a failure is someone who aspired to be a legitimate scholar but ends up as an obscure lecturer at Colorado College.
Speaking of which, Colorado College political scientist Thomas Cronin explained Reagan’s low ranking, saying Reagan "was insensitive to women’s rights, civil rights, oblivious to what was going on in his own Administration — the procurement scandal, HUD, Iran-Contra."
Soon after he took office, President Reagan famously hung a portrait of President Calvin Coolidge in the Cabinet Room — another (Republican) president considered a failure by historians.
Coolidge cut taxes, didn’t get the country in any wars, cut the national debt almost in half, and presided over a calm, scandal-free administration, a period of peace, 17.5 percent growth in the gross national product, low inflation (.4 percent) and low unemployment (3.6 percent).
Unlike some recent presidents with Islamic middle names, he didn’t run around comparing himself to Lincoln constantly.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. ridiculed President Calvin Coolidge as a hayseed who slept too much and took decisive action only once in his life. Schlesinger never tired of pointing out that Coolidge slept 11 hours a day, as if hours of sleep is the true measure of presidential greatness.
Perhaps Schlesinger’s venom toward Coolidge was meant as penance for his once mistakenly admitting that Eisenhower was a good president — another hated (Republican) president among historians.
Under President Dwight Eisenhower, the gross national product grew by over 25 percent and inflation averaged 1.4 percent. George Meany, then AFL-CIO president, said that the American worker had "never had it so good." Like Coolidge and Reagan, Eisenhower was enormously popular with the American people.
In a poll of "leading scholars" taken soon after Eisenhower left office, he was named one of the 10 worst presidents. The distinguished scholars — none of whose names anyone remembers today — called him dumb, dismissing the five-star general who smashed the Nazi war machine as "Old Bubble Head." As Patton said, these "bilious bastards … don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating."
It’s as if geologists took a poll and announced their opinion that gold was heavier than lead.
Reagan and Eisenhower have recently started to move up in the presidential rankings — for the same reason George Washington is always ranked one of the best. Historians ought to detest Washington, but his exclusion from the top ranks of these pompous historian polls would expose the absurdity of their rankings.
Putting preposterously overrated presidents like John F. Kennedy or FDR in the same category as Reagan or Washington is like a teenage girl ranking the Jonas Brothers with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles as the three greatest bands of all time.
Liberals may call him a "war criminal," but historians have inadvertently paid Bush a great tribute this week by ranking him as a "below average" president. I can only dream that, someday, no-name, left-wing historians will rank me as one of the all-time worst columnists.