Political Science Hacks Create Totally Fair and Unbiased Ranking of U.S. Presidents

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/02/21/political-science-hacks-create-totally-fair-and-unbiased-ranking-of-u-s-presidents/

Jimmy Carter was a better president than Calvin Coolidge.

George H.W. Bush was a better president than William McKinley.

Barack Obama was a top-ten president and better than Ronald Reagan.

These howlers are really all you need to know about the American Political Science Association, which released this week a list of American presidents ranked 1 through 45.

The next time you see some bow-tied, goateed, bespectacled tweedy intoning on television about some historical this-or-that, just keep these rankings in mind. This is not just a difference of opinion; it’s lunacy.

Ideology obviously informs how someone looks at political figures. But in the case of these political scientists, ideology doesn’t just color their opinions; it crushes common sense.

The ranking that will get the most attention is putting Donald Trump at 45th, just a little over a year into his presidency – as if he can actually be compared to the others with this little data. At this point the only president who has served less time than Trump is William Henry Harrison. (Who died 31 days after being sworn in.)

But whatever. We know these political scientists hate President Trump. It’s possible that the whole reason for making the list was to put Trump at the bottom of it. So be it.

Where their mental competence must be challenged is these other comparisons. Calvin Coolidge, for instance, is ranked 28th, even though he delivered low taxes, prosperity, and improvements in racial justice. Jimmy Carter, who invented stagflation (that’s stagnant growth with inflation, a combination economists had previously thought was impossible) and projected American weakness in Iran, Central America, and around the world, is ranked 26th.


The rankings don’t come with reasons – apparently, the eminent scholars just voted. But you can fill in the blanks just by knowing how these people think.

Political scientists value internationalism, centralized government, and progressivism. Domestic conditions aren’t as important. So to their way of thinking, Carter’s Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel gets high marks (as it should), whereas double-digit interest rates and “malaise” (his own term to describe his watch) don’t matter as much.

Coolidge, by that thinking, gets no credit for low taxes, little credit for prosperity, and vague (and bogus) blame for the Great Depression, which happened after he left office.

Even if you hold one arm behind Coolidge’s back, though, it’s hard to see how he loses to Jimmy Carter.

How about McKinley (# 19) vs. Bush 41 (# 17)?

William McKinley led the country out of a depression that he inherited with America-first economic policies and won a war that greatly increased American territory. (For good or ill is arguable; but it certainly succeeded on its own terms.)

George H.W. Bush crippled his presidency by breaking his word in order to raise taxes, presided over an economic downturn that he helped make worse, and started an unnecessary war that gained the country nothing but laid the groundwork for the age of terrorism. In other words, he was a bad president as he was going along, and in retrospect he looks worse.

So when it comes to evaluating this list:  It’s not just that McKinley was a better president than Bush. McKinley is a top-tier president; Bush is a bottom-tier president. They shouldn’t be anywhere near each other.

Yet Bush was an internationalist, McKinley a nationalist. If you assume that America’s prosperity on the home front means little and that globalism covers a lot of sins …

Nah, even then McKinley still whips Bush.

Which brings us to Obama vs. Reagan.

Ronald Reagan (# 9) unshackled the American economy, restored American confidence, and won the Cold War.

So how can he end up below a president (Obama (# 8)) who applied a stun gun to health care, exacerbated social divisions along race and religion, oversaw anemic economic growth, and left America weaker abroad than he found it?

We can’t possibly put Obama near the top with this record of failure, right? Well, if we start Obama near the bottom and add about 10 places for big government, 15 for globalism, and another 10 for being black … yes we can.

Lists like this are fun to make, fun to analyze, and fun to trash. The danger of this list is that some people may believe it, because of all the PhDs after these experts’ names. But this list isn’t just off; it’s a sign of a warped outlook on life.

Lest you think this is merely a function of right-vs.-left:  How do you think left-wing hippies ought to feel about putting Lyndon Johnson in the top ten? (Why, he’s almost as high as Obama!)

The Great Society was a disaster, although liberals don’t see it that way. But surely they feel that way about the Vietnam War. (Either you don’t like the Vietnam War and you think Johnson blundered horribly by escalating it; or you like the idea of it and think that Johnson presided over a horrible strategy. Either way, Johnson loses.)

So how can he be anywhere near as high as # 10?

Simple:  The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 and the war on poverty.

That and evidently a dwindling number of political scientists were forced to flee to Canada to dodge the draft.