My Old Kentucky Homesite

The Presidents: A Not-so-scientific Ranking

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 07/04/2010

I’ve been indisposed for a while (see my next post). So I’m late acknowledging Independence Day, in celebration of which a very good friend of mine sent out this gallery of presidents, listed in order from best to worst. The scientifically derived rankings are explained in great journalistic detail by this article.

That list must be exactly right, because (1) the specific criteria are irrefutable; (2) of the 238 scholars mentioned, there’s not a single person whose name I could argue with; and (3) Siena College is well known as one of the world’s greatest institutions of learning. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t bump everyone down a place to make room for Jesus Christ at the top.

I decided it might be interesting if I did my own ranking, using my own set of scrupulously arrived at criteria. It wouldn’t be fair to my readers to ask them to wade through the entire set of names, but here are a few excerpts:

1. Lincoln (penny, 5-dollar bill)
2. Washington (quarter, 1-dollar bill)
3. Thomas Jefferson (nickel, 2-dollar bill)
4. Tie: The Roosevelts (Teddy, Franklin, Eleanor, Fala)
5. Jesus Christ (Note: in the purely secular, nation-building sense, only)
6. The Eastern Media Elite (aka The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism)
7. Jackie Kennedy
8. Josiah Bartlet
9: Three-way tie: Alexander Hamilton (10-dollar bill), Benjamin Franklin (100-dollar bill), Al Gore (Nobel Prize, Academy Award)
15. James (“John”) K. (“L.”) Polk
16. Game called on account of rain: Grover Cleveland (1st time), Grover Cleveland (2nd time), Grover Cleveland Alexander (P, PHI-NL/CHI-NL/STL-NL., Lifetime ERA. 2.56)
17. Edith Wilson
18. Garfield
19. Snoopy
20. Phineas T. Barnum
21. No award that year
22. Elvis
34. Coca-Cola
35. Lexington native George Clooney
36. Tippecanoe
37. Tyler, too
38. General Motors
39. “Silent Cal” Coolidge
40. “Chatty Matty” van Buren
41. Tie: Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson
52. Chester, Al, an’ Arthur
53. Millard Fillmore East
54. Warren G. Hardly
55. The Andrews: Jackson and Johnson
56. The Andrews Sisters: Patty, Maxene, LaVerne, and Julie (Hits: “The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Bugle Boy of Company B,” “Bei Mir Bist du Ein Spoonful von Sugar,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else but Do-Re-Mi”)
57. Ronald Reagan (post-Alzheimer’s)
58. Ronald Reagan (pre-Alzheimer’s)
68. Seventeen-way tie: All other presidents except for George W. Bush
69. Larry King
70. Dick Cheney, acting on behalf of Halliburton

Unlike Siena College, I haven’t included either Barack Obama (because he has served only about 18 months so far) and Sarah Palin (who hasn’t yet been elected).  I also didn’t rank Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, because I couldn’t decide which one should be 32nd and which 33rd.  Sorry.


14 Responses to “The Presidents: A Not-so-scientific Ranking”

  1. Scholars ranked the 43 presidents on attributes such as integrity, intelligence, leadership and communication, as well as their accomplishments.

    I think it’s nice that at least in some way, their accomplishments were taken into account by Siena College.

  2. Philly:
    I’m most impressed with the “integrity” scale, and I’m sure I’ll be even more bowled over when someone explains to me what it means.

  3. If they’re talking structural integrity, perhaps Taft tops the list. Lincoln and Kennedy would score poorly.

  4. Philly:
    Yes, Taft may win the Portly Prize. But Cleveland and McKinley were no slouches in that department either. John Adams was referred to by political foes as “His Rotundity.” So I’d have to examine the data before drawing a definitive conclusion.

  5. John Evo said

    Beats the list I provided you with. ;)

  6. John Evo said

    “Lincoln and Kennedy would score poorly.”

    I don’t know… Kennedy’s structural integrity was given a nice modern technological boost!

  7. Evo:
    Beats the list I provided you with.
    You mean you don’t agree that Barack Obama is precisely our 15th greatest president, right in front of LBJ (16th)? Or that George H.W. Bush was 22nd, sandwiched between McKinley (21st) and Van Buren (23rd)? Or that Richard Nixon, who (perhaps despite himself) was the most environmentally friendly president since Teddy Roosevelt, and who, in addition, reopened diplomatic relations with China, fell right below Calvin Coolidge (who, as a matter of policy, did absolutely nothing)?

    You must be one of those people who are anti-science.

  8. I think having holes seriously degrades your structural integrity

  9. Any list that doesn’t include 45 and 47th President Sarah Palin isn’t worth the intertoobs it’s written on.

  10. Des:
    Shall I assume that President #46 will be Barack Obama again? That’s what we need in this country, a return to the Victorian Parliamentary system.

    Great Britain, 1841 – 1902: Peel, *Russell, †Smith-Stanley, Hamilton-Gordon, ** Temple, †Smith-Stanley, **Temple, *Russell, †Smith-Stanley, ††Disraeli, ***Gladstone, ††Disraeli, ***Gladstone, †††Cecil, ***Gladstone, †††Cecil, ***Gladstone, Primrose, †††Cecil

    United States of America, 21st century: Bush, *Obama, †Palin, *Obama, †Palin, **Jenna Bush, Michelle Obama, **Jenna Bush, ††Malia Obama, ***Bristol Palin, ††Malia Obama, ****Ghost of Michael Jackson, ***Bristol Palin, †††Sasha Obama, ††††Trig Palin, ****Ghost of Michael Jackson, †††Sasha Obama, Al Gore, ††††Trig Palin, Jesus on a piece of toast, plain piece of toast

  11. John Evo said

    Mmmmm… I’m hungry. Jesus on a shingle sounds good to me.

  12. Evo:
    Is “Jesus on a Shingle” anything like “Fiddler on the Roof”?

  13. the chaplain said

    Having sung and played more than my fair share of Jesus Muzak, I assure you that Fiddler on the Roof has much better music than Jesus on a Shingle.

  14. Chappy:
    Yeah, but in both them, the star is a Jew.

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