Recent "State of the Nation" by Brandon Jones posts this week on Desk of Brian: http://sites.google.com/site/thedeskofbrian/state-of-the-nation/mostoverratedpresidents
A Special Happy President's Day Happy Birthday to Presidents Lincoln and Washington.
For various reasons a President's legacy is defined and ranked in the minds of historians and the American public. Below is a short list of the "Most Overrated" Presidents in our history and why I put them on this list.
Abraham Lincoln: Concerned more with secession and the economy than ending slavery, Lincoln violations of habeus corpus is ignored. Lincoln could not afford to lose the Tariffs from the South and gets to much credit for repairing the damage of James Buchanan and Pierce.
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the
institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have
no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." - 1860
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not
either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without
freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some
and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery,
and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union." - Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862
Lincoln is always mentioned in the Top Five Presidents of all-time mostly as a savior of civil rights which was an afterthought - he was certainly no advocate for blacks or ending slavery.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: The icon to leftists, socialist, and Democrats get credit for surviving the Great Depression and turning the country around.
In fact, it was his endless spending, government intrusive programs and massive national debts that prolonged the Great Depression. Calvin Coolidge faced a similar collapse and used a less taxes and smaller government to lead the country to recovery in months.
FDR's legacy was salvaged with World War II as we should realize that we are still paying the price for many of these bankrupt government programs and agencies today.
Ronald Reagan: A hero to modern Republicans and self-proclaimed Conservatives, Reagan's speeches were far superior than his actions and the results.
Compared to liberals that preceded his administration and those that followed, Reagan appears very conservative. Unfortunately, he hardly deserves his iconic reputation.
Reagan raised the national debt, carrying massive deficits, started the ineffective War on Drugs and has an overrated credit for the fall of the Soviet Union.
A selective memory has given modern conservatives a celebrity of their own.
Barak Obama: A Peace Prize and ranking as a contender to have his face added to Mt. Rushmore - all within months of inauguration. The celebrity, rock star meteoric rise as masked the escalating debt, rising unemployment, apologetic and contradicting foreign policy.
Many historians and Democrats would already put Obama in the top five of all-time -- absurd considering his tenure to date.
I believe Obama's race will garner favoritism and loyalty from many supporters who already hold him elevated asteem.
Obama still has plenty of time to rise to the hype and expectations after the failures of his predecessor; however, he's continued most of those mistakes and avoids responsibility on his lack of success to date.
Theodore Roosevelt: Many credit Teddy with shaping the modern persona of the Presidency and I criticize him for it. The arrogance that led to the formation of the Progressive movement and acquisition of land for the "national good" illustrate the origins of the celebrity nature of our commander in chief.
Liberals ignore the Filipino-American War, Roosevelt's steps to exercise international power (particularly on small countries) and has ill-defined the term monopoly for generations to come.
Teddy's role in "Night of the Museum" will likely perpetuate his likable personality without acknowledging his love of war and big government.
These are hardly our worst Presidents, but they all have reputations and legacies that far outweigh all of the facts.
You could easily include John F. Kennedy, whose assassination and incredibly motivating speeches, lends him unfair positive bias a mediocre presidency.
Likewise, the humanitarian reputation of Jimmy Carter to Democrats masks a term full of countless blunders and tragic decisions or Harry Truman for simply "dropping the bomb."
These men would still be in the Top Tier of "Best Presidents" list (well mostly) but we should challenge ourselves, and more importantly, the next generation to scrutinize facts to better learn from our mistakes.
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana
"All history becomes subjective; in other words
there is properly no history, only biography." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
All pictures from Wikipedia:
Emancipation Proclamation painting, 1862
FDR and Hoover: 1933
Reagan and Gorbachev signing INF treaty, 1987
Obama giving his acceptance speech, 2008
Teddy - around turn of century