Ranking Presidents by Their Lifetime Contributions to the Country
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I think that when I am ranking mine, I am already taking that into consideration - in essence I am ranking them as men, presidents, statesmen, patriots, etc. not just as Presidents.
I wouldn't say that Washington was thegreatest president of the first 6 that I have read, but overall he was the greatest at this point in my reading. So, I guess I need to go back and indicate that my rankings are on such and such so that it is clearer.
>I'm not sure if it doesn't raise more questions than it answers
Absolutely. I was just wondering what you much-more-well-read folks thought. Carter, as you say, has made a good showing since leaving office (he's a saint, if you ask me), and while it doesn't change his Presidential record, it is only his position as ex-President which has made possible the success of his current activities. It does seem to be of one cloth, especially since he didn't have to do any of it and could have just slunk away after his defeat.
I'm unsatisfied with my knowledge of Washington's time in office, but the combination of his devotion to the military and independence for the 8 years of the Revolution, and his insistence on stepping down twice, as general and as president, leads me to view the total of his contributions as far greater than the sum of the parts.
They (and Lincoln) make quite a contrast to our recently-departed ex, who, at least from this vantage point in time, seems to have left us with nothing positive to balance the negatives: undistinguished going in, a disaster in office, and, so far, no indication that he has anything to offer out of office. He's got time, though, if he cares to make effort.
Now I'm reading about Adams, and while I saw the HBO (PBS?) series, I'm still shocked at what he and his family sacrificed (not just golf.)
Character certainly seems to have a lot to do with it.
I have to say I'm dreading getting into the biographies after, say, Carter.
I think the subject of post-presidential careers is a fascinating one and I certainly think it should count some towards the totality of a president's accomplishments. In many cases, he could not have done what he did afterwards otherwise.
Things like Clinton/Bush 1 and their charitable efforts after Katrina should count for something. For me, what they did as president should count for the greatest part though.
I started with George Washington and am now on LBJ and, yes, they are all fascinating in some way. In thinking about how I would rank them, I have concluded that I am going to work on the concept of "Who would I most like to invite to my home for dinner one night". I should probably read more than one bio on each to perhaps get a better balanced view of each before I send out the invitations because most biographers, whether they intend to or not, have given a bias to their treatments that is at least based on their own egos. I'm sure that I would do that. It would be hard not to.
Like most of the contributers above, I find myself looking to see what each man achieved before and after office. In that light, I find myself greatly admiring JQA and Herbert Hoover. They will get my first invitations to dinner (I haven't got to Jimmy Carter yet).
Wow, time-wise you're way ahead of most of us, I think.
Let us know what your final invitation list looks like.