First in war, first in peace, seventh in the hearts of his countrymen?

From here.

OK, I can easily see how some people might think Lincoln was the greatest president. I can even see how others might believe F. Roosevelt or Reagan was the greatest. With the aid of a couple of stiff drinks, I can even almost see how some might believe that G. W. Bush or Clinton was (is) the greatest. But John Fucking Kennedy ranking above George Washington?

Washington set precedent with every move he made. A case can easily be made that had he not been the first president, the United States would not exist as it is today. Anybody who does not have Washington in their top three at least is displaying an ignorance of this country’s history that is simply abysmal. And scary.

Strictly speaking, every president did something that if they weren’t the president at the time the country wouldn’t be the same as it is today.

Unless you’re pitting Washington for making the US a paranoid, warmongering crypto-theo-/plutocracy.

People who die get venerated, people who young get canonized. This is not news. Kennedy was young and sexy, blah blah blah hopes of a generation, blah blah he got shot and unlike, say, James Garfield, people who remember his shooting are still alive.

I think he’s referring to how Washington turned down being elected king, and how he bowed out after two terms, instead of for life.

Just as an example.

Remember the Whiskey Rebellion!

E-Sabbath got it. What I’m pitting is the lack of knowledge of history.

Where’d you get that from?

True. I remember his shooting. (An announcement during class at St. Pius X in Norfolk, Virginia.) I also know enough to be aware that Kennedy ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack. That’s what’s bugging me: opinions of history are celebrity driven.

Well, see, in my opinion that was a good precedent. I know your opinion differs.

And now I’m off to watch the race!

These sorts of “greatest President” lists always seem to me to be sort of pointless, especially since they don’t usually seem to get as far as exploring exactly why the people being polled believe what they do. At least this poll doesn’t seem to provide any of that sort of information. How hard would it have been to add a follow-up question asking something to the effect of, “What kind of a moron do you have to be, to believe that George W. Bush is a greater president than George Washington? Seriously, how dumb are you? What have you been smoking?” Although I suppose such a question might have been seen as introducing an element of bias into the poll.

A few guesses/observations:

–Five of the six presidents who ranked above Washington have significant numbers of people who remember their terms of office.

–The highest rated president, Lincoln, is famous for having abolished slavery in the United States. Washington is the first president on the list who actually owned slaves.

–All six presidents ranking above Washington were either Democrats or Republicans. Washington was a Federalist, a political party which few identify with these days.

–Kennedy stared down the Soviets by threatening to unleash nuclear holocaust, had great hair, and bagged Marilyn Monroe to boot. Washington had false teeth and combination skin. Who would you rather identify with?*


Most of the presidents listed are from recent history

Asked who was the greatest president, 20 percent of those polled chose Lincoln. Reagan was picked by 15 percent, Franklin D. Roosevelt by 12 percent, John F. Kennedy by 11 percent, Bill Clinton (news - web sites) by 10 percent and George W. Bush by 8 percent. Washington was picked by 6 percent.

Everyone except Washington and Lincoln are recent presidents (Why no Jimmy Carter?). Most people, myself included, don’t know what Washington did as president. FDR led during WW2, Reagen helped end the cold war, Lincoln freed the slaves but people don’t know what Washington did during his administration.

Fair enough.

This was to point out the ambiguity (or possibly inability to parse the statement) to your “made it what it is today” statment. You see it as X, someone sees it as Y. The statment was starting to go down an “if by whiskey” path.

I reckon I assumed that it would be assumed that I meant it in a good way. Though I’m not a Republican, and I despise Bush, I see no reason to assume that I do not believe I live in a great country with a magnificent system of government.

Aah, I’m more a Lauren Bacall man.

One of James Loewen’s points in Lies my Teacher Told Me is because of the way history is taught in high school many figures come out as bland, boring good two-shoes. Most of the presidents on the list are viewable, that is, they are on television. Lincoln gets major points for leading the country through a great crisis. I’m sure that that is why W. Bush is on the list.


Sorry, but as someone who was born long after he died, I just, well, don’t care much. He was an iffy president at best, and barely redeemed himself in the Cuban Missile Crisis. And that was about the sole bright spot in my perspective.

I don’t know why you would assume this list means people have a lack of history. After careful study, I have come to the conclusion that James K. Polk is the nation’s greatest President. Who else managed to invent both a dance and the location of pigs all while in office?

I think part of the problem might be that “Washington The General” overshadows “Washington The President” in most people’s minds. So person-on-street would remember him for the Revolutionary War rather than his presidency. Which sucks, but hey, what can you do - the guy had wooden teeth!

Because he’s history’s greatest monster, duh!

Didn’t Kennedy bag her, too?