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Top Five 20th Century Presidents

Old 02-26-08, 10:19 AM
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Top Five 20th Century Presidents

OK, this is a carryover discussion from this thread... thought it might find a home over here.

This is the original list that I put together, in chronological order:

Theodore Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Bill Clinton

I know what you're singing... "one of these things is not like the others". But I really do think that Teddy Roosevelt deserves to be included.

Seriously, for me it came down to a choice between Bill Clinton, JFK, LBJ and Ronald Reagan... and I think that Clinton's positives far outweigh his negatives. Plus I think a lot of the "accomplishments" of the other three are somewhat overblown. That's just my opinion -- you may certainly disagree with me.

classicman argued against Wilson... and considering that he actually voted Bull Moose in 1912, he may have a point. But I said:

Originally Posted by NCMojo
While Woodrow Wilson was certainly a racist, it was at least partly a byproduct of the times that he lived in. People of his generation believed in segregation and the inferiority of the black race, just as people of an earlier generation believed that blacks were not fully human, just as people of a later generation believed in the stipulation of "seperate but equal". (And just as people of an even later generation continue to believe that a black man can never be elected President. )

Still, Wilson has a pretty solid resume. Supporting women's suffrage, the founding of the Federal Reserve and the FTC, the Fourteen Points, the Clayton Antitrust Act... even if you want to argue against America's entry into WWI, you have to grant that it established America as a legitimate world power for the first time, and paved the way for our current elite status.
Anyway, post your list here, and give us some kind of explanation.
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Old 02-26-08, 10:26 AM
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JFK was in the running? At least Reagan survived being shot. That's Chuck Norris terriroty there, man.
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Old 02-26-08, 10:33 AM
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If I can exclude Watergate -
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Old 02-26-08, 10:39 AM
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One plus for Wilson - he chose William Jennings Bryan to be his Sec. of State. Unfortuantely, Wilson didn't listen to him.
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Old 02-26-08, 10:39 AM
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I find that many folks tend to throw a bone and include Teddy Roosevelt on such lists. How big of them.
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Old 02-26-08, 10:48 AM
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Teddy Roosevelt was one of the last great Presidents of the 19th century, IMO.
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Old 02-26-08, 10:56 AM
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1. FDR

2. HST

3. RMN

4. LBJ

5. DDE

Other than a cursory reading of history - no explanation is necessary.
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Old 02-26-08, 11:01 AM
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Old 02-26-08, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
1. FDR

2. HST

3. RMN

4. LBJ

5. DDE

Other than a cursory reading of history - no explanation is necessary.
It's like you're in my brain!
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Old 02-26-08, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
1. FDR

2. HST

3. RMN

4. LBJ

5. DDE

Other than a cursory reading of history - no explanation is necessary.
A cursory reading of history will reveal unequivocally who the five greatest presidents of the 20th Century are, so no list is necessary from me.
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Old 02-26-08, 11:41 AM
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My 5:

1. Ronald Reagan
2. Franklin Roosevelt
3. Harry Truman
4. John F. Kennedy
5. Richard Nixon
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Old 02-26-08, 11:56 AM
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Why all the love for Nixon? Leaving aside the fact that he was corrupt and venal, he bungled Southeast Asia just as much as LBJ did and completely screwed up the economy with his price caps.

I suck at making these kinds of lists -- I always want to include about eight people in my top five -- but if I have to pick five, it would probably be Roosevelt (F.), Truman, Roosevelt (T.), Reagan, and Johnson/Eisenhower (tie for fifth!).
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Old 02-26-08, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
A cursory reading of history will reveal unequivocally who the five greatest presidents of the 20th Century are, so no list is necessary from me.
I not reed so gud. Inlite'n me, pleeze.
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Old 02-26-08, 11:59 AM
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JasonF,

Do you have a reading problem?

I said 'If I can exclude Watergate.'

btw: I noticed you failed to mention the wage caps.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:04 PM
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Franklin Roosevelt
John F. Kennedy
Ronald Reagan
Bill Clinton
Harry S. Truman
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Old 02-26-08, 12:08 PM
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What were the great achievements of JFK?

To elevate Clinton above HST is a joke. The only two achievements of Clinton, IMO, are the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 and Welfare Reform.

Truman's Achievements:

1. Integrated the military.

2. The Marshall Plan

3. Recognized the State of Israel

4. Confronted Soviet expansionism

5. Gave the Repubs hell

There are many more.

Last edited by classicman2; 02-26-08 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Why all the love for Nixon? Leaving aside the fact that he was corrupt and venal, he bungled Southeast Asia just as much as LBJ did and completely screwed up the economy with his price caps.
"Only Nixon could go to China..."

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Old 02-26-08, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
JasonF,

Do you have a reading problem?

I said 'If I can exclude Watergate.'

btw: I noticed you failed to mention the wage caps.
If I can exclude the Nixon pardon, the impotence of the "Whip Inflation Now" campaign, and the utter ineffectualness of his presidency, Gerald Ford was a great president. But I can't exclude those things so he wasn't.

And even leaving aside Watergate, Nixon was a petty, corrupt man.

My reference to "price caps" should have been a reference to "price and wage caps." Thank you for that correction.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
What were the great achievements of JFK?
Starting the Peace Core
Reduced Tarriffs
Progress in Civil Rights arena
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
West Berlin Speech
Handling of Cuban Missile Crisis
Space Program

Plus other things like an immigration bill, the 1964 civil rights bill and tax reform bills that were not passed until after his death, but which he proposed.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2

Truman's Achievements:

3. Recognized the State of Israel
Hasn't this led to turmoil in the region ever since?
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Old 02-26-08, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Why all the love for Nixon? Leaving aside the fact that he was corrupt and venal, he bungled Southeast Asia just as much as LBJ did and completely screwed up the economy with his price caps.

I suck at making these kinds of lists -- I always want to include about eight people in my top five -- but if I have to pick five, it would probably be Roosevelt (F.), Truman, Roosevelt (T.), Reagan, and Johnson/Eisenhower (tie for fifth!).
No argument from your top three -- which, surprise, are the same as mine -- but I am fairly astonished that you would pick Reagan along with Johnson/Eisenhower. What would you rate as their greatest accomplishments? I assume you're going to give credit to Johnson for the Civil Rights Act (which Shannon Nutt properly pointed out was really JFK's contribution), and Eisenhower for integration and the interstate highway program... but what was Reagan's great accomplishment? I hope you're not going to join our right-wing friends in proposing that he was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
JasonF,

Do you have a reading problem?

I said 'If I can exclude Watergate.'

btw: I noticed you failed to mention the wage caps.
As JasonF pointed out... you can't exclude anything from the record books. You can rationalize it, or minimize its significance... but you can't just wish it away. Hell, Herbert Hoover was a great President, except for that whole "doing things" element.

If you think that enough of Nixon's positives outweigh his negatives... leave him on your list. Otherwise, you should take him out.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
No argument from your top three -- which, surprise, are the same as mine -- but I am fairly astonished that you would pick Reagan along with Johnson/Eisenhower. What would you rate as their greatest accomplishments? I assume you're going to give credit to Johnson for the Civil Rights Act (which Shannon Nutt properly pointed out was really JFK's contribution), and Eisenhower for integration and the interstate highway program... but what was Reagan's great accomplishment? I hope you're not going to join our right-wing friends in proposing that he was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union.
I think Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all contributed to the battle for civil rights in this country (as did Dr. King, Senator Clinton!). Eisenhower also brought a resolution to the conflict in Korea, built the highways, ensured the long-term continuation of the social safety net (he was the first Republican to serve after the New Deal and he could have tried to kill it, but instead he embraced it), stabilized (to the extent possible) the Middle East, established NASA and generally presided over a period of stability and growth.

I probably have been listening to classicman on JFK too much and ought to have given him more credit.

Conservatives, I think, oversell President Reagan's role in ending Soviet communism, but liberals tend to undersell it. Reagan struck exactly the right balance of reaching out to the Soviets with one hand while taking a hard line with the other, and while I think the Soviet Union was crumbling from within for years prior to Reagan, I think he hastened it along more than any president probably since Truman.

Also, the economy is another area where conservatives give Reagan too much credit, but liberals give him too little.

Plus, he finally got ketchup the long-overdue recognition it deserves as a member of the vegetable food group.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:59 PM
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I remember my thread on the most overrated Presidents. I see a lot of familiar names so far. Well, not Nixon so much.
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Old 02-26-08, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Plus, he finally got ketchup the long-overdue recognition it deserves as a member of the vegetable food group.
You had to go there didn't ya...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketchup_as_a_vegetable
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