Underrated/Overrated U.S. Presidents

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#1 Edited by drekula2 (1880 posts) -

I kindly ask we keep George W. Bush and Barack Obama out of this discussion to give it more of a historical context, but you are free to discuss things as you please.

Overrated

Thomas Jefferson - great philosopher ; mediocre president. embargo policies caused a depression, naval budget cuts left US unprepared for War of 1812, practically took credit for his predecessor's work, and doesn't have a good record on racial equality to say the least.

James Madison - Disagreed with his decision to enter the War of 1812. Nearly had the US completely destroyed had it not been for the luck of Britain having other problems in Europe.

Woodrow Wilson - Yes, he was present during an important time in history, but he totally waffled when it came to his policy to enter WWI. And his refusal to compromise made his League of Nations an embarrassing failure.

Andrew Jackson - Yes, he was a strong leader, but his policies were truly awful. Vetoing the national bank did contribute to a depression. Then, there's the whole indian removal thing and political patronage thing he supported.

Franklin Roosevelt - I'm not saying he isn't a great president or that his administration has no merit, but Japanese Internment was a horrendous policy and we should certainly dock some points off his legacy for that.

Ronald Reagan (by conservatives) - He was much smarter than liberals gave him credit for but not quite deserving of the deification conservatives gave him. No doubt he was an overall strong military strategist and succeeded in Cold War policy. But then there's also Beirut, Iran-Contra, and the cocaine epidemic that he turned a blind eye to.

Underrated

John Adams - The Alien and Sedition Acts are more of a talking point. He rarely (like almost never) actually enforced it. With a strong defense policy as well as diplomacy, he proved to be a great but much underappreciated leader

John Quincy Adams - The premise behind his presidency being bad (in the 1800's) was that the government didn't need to be building libraries and infrastructure. Clearly, history proved his opponent's wrong and Quincy Adams was quite farsighted.

George H.W. Bush - He was above partisanship and supported compromise. He added a tone of sobriety after the grandiose drunken stupor of the Reagan years. Most of all, he was level-headed, mature and practical about things. Very rare for a president.

(In all three cases, they were overshadowed by a more charismatic president)

#2 Edited by roulettethedog (10931 posts) -

J.F.K. is over rated. Just a pretty boy who lucked out because Russia didn't want to start W.W. 3.

#3 Edited by sonicare (53441 posts) -

I think we are starting to find out that Obama was massively overrated. So many people wanted him to be this great president, but I think he's just not that good at executing.

#4 Posted by sonicare (53441 posts) -

@roulettethedog: He gets all this credit for not letting the Cuban missle crisis turn into WW3, but he was responsible for the crisis taking place in the first part.

#5 Edited by s_h_a_d_o (1266 posts) -

@sonicare said:

I think we are starting to find out that Obama was massively overrated. So many people wanted him to be this great president, but I think he's just not that good at executing.

One must remember that presidents/prime-ministers/heads-of-state are mostly just figureheads, especially under democratic(ish) systems.

On the subject of under-rated presidents...

#6 Posted by drekula2 (1880 posts) -

I thought JFK was a relatively great president, mainly because most of the other presidents varied from "okay" to "bad". He spotted a flaw in Eisenhower's foreign policy of massive retalliation and implemented a better Flexible Response policy instead.

#7 Posted by DaBrainz (7607 posts) -

Abe Lincoln is overrated because people often use him as a safe answer to the favorite president question. However he is responsible for the death of over 600,000 Americans.

#8 Edited by AFBrat77 (24001 posts) -

@DaBrainz said:

Abe Lincoln is overrated because people often use him as a safe answer to the favorite president question. However he is responsible for the death of over 600,000 Americans.

Abe Lincoln did a hell of a lot for the country outside of what happened with the Civil War. He was justified in being called a great president, despite doing some things that some could say were outside the law.

He's ranked as one of the top 3 presidents by historians, usually at 1

#9 Edited by deeliman (2257 posts) -

George Washington is definitely overrated. Not so much as a statesman, but as a general.