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There has been a whirlwind of contemporary international and domestic events of late and it’s time to recognize the role leadership plays in same.
Recognition of, in some cases, flawed greatness, but greatness nonetheless.
There is no question that FDR was a great president.
He’s ranked as #3 (and sometimes #1), on all of the historians/political scientists presidential greatness surveys. FDR is right behind George Washington
(usually), who’s #2, and Abraham Lincoln who’s the perennial #1.
Then there’s Lyndon Baines Johnson, LBJ, who comes in as #10 or #11 as he’s jockeying for position with Barack Obama.
The balance of the top 10 presidents on the list are made up of other commonly accepted "great" names:
Reagan #9 (although in my mind Reagan is debatable),
.... with Obama/LBJ
... completing the list at #’s 10/11.
Multiple lists have been compared and they all include the same names in the same, or close, positions.
... uniformly turns up near the bottom of the list at #42, #43, or 44th out of 45. Only Andrew Johnson,
#1 Lincoln’s vice president, comes in lower, consistently, at #45. Both Andrew Johnson #45, and Donald Trump #44, were impeached. The balance of the bottom five are
... and Millard Fillmore...
... household names all.
It is interesting to note that two of the bottom five low end presidents, Pierce and Buchanan were the direct predecessors to the universally accepted #1 great President, Lincoln. It’s just as interesting to note that Andrew Johnson, #45, was directly preceded by Lincoln, the #1 presidential great.
Racial hatred, and gross societal malaise, preceded #1 Lincoln into office, and racial hatred and gross societal malaise followed Lincoln out. Racial discord, indeed a minority group member, an African American, Barack Obama (#10/11 on the great presidents list), and intense societal malaise/discord, preceded Trump #44 into office.
And racial discord, and great societal malaise, followed Trump out.
Ya think racial animus was an issue there?
Verily I say…
But back to the present and where the current resident of the Oval Office, Joe Biden, #46, rates in this lexicon of presidential greatness.
The preamble to each/all of the many presidential ranking surveys indicate that it is next to impossible to rank a sitting president, “historically”, as everything is too new in their presidency, and thus in flux. So the presidential surveys of 2021 and 2022, just had an asterisk where the ranking number for Biden would normally appear. However, the Siena College Research Institute/CBS survey for 2023 ranks Joe Biden as #19 after a measly two years in office.
That’s in the upper middle of all the presidential rankings and 25 positions up from full 4 year term serving Donald Trump #44. And that Biden #19 ranking is before any of Biden’s legislative achievements have had any effect as all of Biden’s legislative accomplishments:
Are in flux and…
So a presidential greatness rating of #19 so early on in this presidency is impressive.
And there’s more as Biden is intent on restoring America’s global standing, maintaining its military reach, and enhancing democracy worldwide. Biden wants to do all of that internationally while his administration is attempting to move domestic issues of racial equality, health care, environmental activism, gun violence, and immigration reform forward, while restoring traditional American political consensus, bipartisanship, and institutional norms to the fore.
These were things simply not addressed, or explicitly attacked, and wounded (if not almost destroyed), by number 45, Trump, his immediate predecessor.
So, right now, today, after only two years in office, Biden is currently ranked #19 out of 46 on a historical scale of presidential greatness that he has yet begun to climb.
… a Democrat actually making America “great” again.
Biden could be at the advent of presidential greatness on a monumental scale, certainly up there with the flawed greatness of LBJ (whose domestic achievements were sullied by his commitment to the Vietnam War).
Or perhaps Biden will amount to the historically unfettered greatness positions of an Eisenhower, T. Roosevelt, or Truman.
It’s much too soon to say.
Greatness is definitely a possibility for Biden.