Franklin Delano Roosevelt – #1 President?

If you missed the last post, catch up here:
I have decided to begin by reviewing the ranking of a couple presidents.
When you’re ready, let’s hit the jump.

The first president I am looking at is Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), who the British poll placed at #1. This placement is not unusual. As you can see on Wikipedia (at this link), he has been named #1 six times. However, closer examination reveals that the other five have all been awarded by the same organization, Siena College. Outside of their polls, either Lincoln or Washington has always been ranked first.

Until now.

It actually makes sense, I find, that the British would identify FDR as the top President. Although the U.S. did not join World War II until late 1941 (despite Churchill’s wishes), the Lend-Lease program was of great assistance to the British in the years prior. Of course, it doesn’t immediately follow that because a Roosevelt program helped the British, that he should be named the best president in U.S. history. However, the survey named FDR the top president in foreign policy leadership, defined by the USPC in the question, “was the president an effective leader in promoting US foreign policy interests and upholding national security?” Given the assistance the Roosevelt administration gave to the British during World War II, before and after the mutual declarations of war by Germany and the U.S., it makes sense that a British poll would consider winning World War II the strongest foreign policy achievement by any U.S. president.

FDR was also named number 1 in Vision and Agenda Setting as well as Domestic Policy. While there is some controversy in the United States as to the nature of FDR’s domestic agenda, it should be expected for there to be less controversy about it in the U.K.

Overall, considering that FDR was ranked first in both domestic and foreign policy, it is no surprise that he achieved the number 1 ranking. Trying to put myself as best I can in the shoes of a British scholar, even a British scholar of the American presidency, I can understand the ranking. Although, as you might have surmised by this point, I would not have Roosevelt quite so high. Since I am only trying to analyze (or analyse, if we’re getting in the British spirit) the survey in and of itself, however, it should be for the best that I stop there.

Look for another president on Friday, and then a wrap up on Monday.

Brits and the Presidents

Since Arthur Schlesinger Sr. headed the first one in 1948, presidential ranking surveys have been an American pastime. The Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN, Siena College, and others have held multiple surveys of historians (and political scientists and economists) to help identify the best and worst presidents. Unsurprisingly, however, such studies have been limited to organizations in the United States.

This changed in 2011. I had no idea that such a thing even existed, but within the U.K.’s “Institute for the Study of the Americas” is the “United States Presidency Centre.” And more than 60 years since Schlesinger’s first survey, the U.K. has gone Teddy and Taft on the American monopoly on presidential rankings. (Okay, those guys were more closely tied to the term “trust” rather than monopoly, and obviously nobody in the U.S. has actively suppressed British attempts at such surveys, but hopefully you can cut me some rhetorical slack.)

These ranking activities have always fascinated me. I’ve picked up the Ridings-McIver book on the subject and actually purchased–and even reviewed on Amazon–the relatively recent Felzenberg work on the subject. Wikipedia has a handy article that I occasionally check to see if there has been a recent study. (You may have surmised as such, but Wikipedia is where I learned of this 2011 study.)

The whole thing is ultimately unimportant but imminently interesting and compelling. Where does President Doe rank? Why is he ranked there? Do I agree or disagree with the rankings in general?

These are questions that I will attempt to answer in the coming days or weeks, specifically as related to this new survey from across the pond.

For now, here is the site of their results:

Classic Post #1

As you can tell, I have been very inconsistent in my writing in 2011. To help alleviate this, I will begin occasionally publishing a past post of mine, from a different blog, in this spot. We’ll see how this works.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

So, I was looking through the channels
Originally Published: April 21, 2006 at

Last night, ABC was airing a show, that I had never heard of, called American Inventor. I was stunned and asked the following question: Will they ever run out of ideas for “reality” television?

Well, since apparently, network execs won’t shy away from any idea for a “reality” TV show, even one as crappy as American Inventor, I have some ideas for them.

Survivor: Inner City Detroit

Normal People, Abnormal Jobs

Behind the Counter at McDonalds

American Hooker

To any TV network employee reading this, I don’t mind if you take an idea, just as long as I get money out of it. And both you and I know you like them.

Yeah… I have no idea what happened to American Inventor. On the very off chance that you do, let us know in the comments!