The Leaders We Deserved (And a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 6/9/2008
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group

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It's a perennial pastime to rate U.S. presidents on an all-time ranking: Certain presidents were "Great," others were "Near-Great," and so on down to "Failures" and "Unmitigated Disasters." (OK, we made that last category up.) But as Alvin Felzenberg points out, there are many flaws with these rating systems. Despite reams of new historical information, the rankings never seem to change very much. They all favor a certain kind of president-those who tended to increase executive power. That aside, the idea of rating presidential performance on a simple linear scale is absurd.The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't)breaks presidential performance into easily understandable categories-character, vision, competence, foreign policy, economic policy, human rights, and legacy-and assesses, for each category, the best and worst. The result is a surprisingly fresh look at how the various presidents stack up against each other, with some of the "greats" coming off far worse than their supposedly mediocre colleagues.

Author Biography

Alvin S. Felzenberg teaches at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Felzenberg was the principal spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, an advisor to the Department of Defense and the Voice of America, and served in several senior staff positions at the U.S. House of Representatives, and as New Jersey’s Assistant Secretary of State. His most recent book is Governor Tom Kean. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
The Rating Gamep. 1
Characterp. 11
Visionp. 79
Competencep. 109
Economic Policyp. 171
Preserving and Extending Libertyp. 255
Defense, National Security, and Foreign Policyp. 331
What Does It All Mean?p. 365
The Presidential Scorecardp. 378
Acknowledgmentsp. 379
Economic Data Sourcesp. 381
Notesp. 385
Indexp. 423
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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