Betsy Newmark has touched on one of my favorite topics, ranking the U.S. Presidents. Like me, she laughs at the arrogance of elitist partisans judging George W. Bush as one of the worst Presidents, on what amounts to no more than purely subjective criteria. Unlike me, she thinks we must wait 20-25 years before we can properly assess a President’s work. Not that I am opposed to noting that time changes perspective on a President, but certain things should be obvious about a President, sometimes even while he is still in office. And, since any ranking is unofficial in terms of its validity, I see no reason why a list should not be put together whenever the compiler chooses. With, of course, the caveat that any list may be criticized, and in some cases heckled, if that list should lack effective support for its contentions.
The question that keeps coming back is simple, but difficult: What objective standard can be used to define an effective or ineffective President? Some Presidents are almost universally respected and some almost universally derided, yet we cannot always find a clear objective explanation for their success or failure. As always, I have my own ideas but want to hear from you.
By the way, it’s fiction time again on my personal site. If you like that sort of thing, have a look and let me know your thoughts there, as well.