Rating the Presidents on C-SPAN
On Saturday afternoon, April 27, I joined ace historian Ken Ackerman at the Newseum in Washington, DC, for a favorite indoor sport: rating our presidents. Actually, our mission was to rate the ratings produced by a recent C-SPAN survey of 100 historians (not moi). The top three are easy (Lincoln, Washington, FDR, in any order you like), as are the bottom two (Andrew Johnson & James Buchanan). In between is where the disagreements come! The conversation included C-SPAN founder and modern marvel Brian Lamb, plus his successor, Susan Swain. (Ken’s on the left above, Brian on the right, and, well, you can pick out Susan).
We explored the bottom of the rankings, which was unavoidable since I wrote a book about Andrew Johnson’s impeachment and Ken did one on James Garfield. Johnson, after all, ranks next-to-last on every recent survey (thank heavens for Buchanan!). When asked how we thought our current president might fare in future rankings, I suggested that Johnson might jump up a little in the next round. . . .
You can watch the show at the C-SPAN website or buy the C-SPAN book on ranking the presidents, which has the punchy title, The Presidents.