Monday, February 16, 2009

Most Significant Presidents

On this President's Day, I offer my list of America's most significant chief executives. Now, I am neither a presidential scholar, nor the son of one, but I like history, and I am intrigued by the men who have led this country.

The basic criteria for my list is those presidents who have had the greatest impact on American history in terms of politics, economics, culture, and international relations . . . for the good or bad. So, this is not a listing of America's best presidents, but a listing of those who have the most lasting effect, positive or negative. I welcome your comment and debate.

  1. George Washington (the man who got it all started; it's hard to beat that)
  2. Abraham Lincoln (the man who preserved the Union, and, intentionally or not, directed us to a greater social conscience)
  3. Franklin Roosevelt (not my favorite, and many of today's fiscal problems can be laid at his feet, but that's just the point, can you imagine modern America without FDR?)
  4. Ronald Reagan (ended the Cold War and ushered in the greatest economic development in history)
  5. Theodore Roosevelt (the first to carry the "big stick")
  6. James Monroe (Manifest Destiny)
  7. George W. Bush (you scoff, but just wait)
  8. Thomas Jefferson (it's hard to keep him off this list)
  9. Richard Nixon (perhaps for all the wrong reasons, but his domestic and foreign policy accomplishments are overlooked in deference to his crimes)
  10. Andrew Jackson (a certifiable racist, but a populist, and the first to break the "glass ceiling" of elitism)
  11. Barack Obama (for all the wrong reasons; while I would like to remain optimistic, I fear that it will take generations to undo the harm and recover from his policies)