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Old February 20th, 2014, 08:25 PM   #1
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2014 - Most overrated U.S. Presidents


(George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are excluded from this discussion because of the forum ban on discussing events after 1990.)


Note: Not bad. Just overrated. The presidents I list in the top 5, I would say are all some degree of good. Definitely decent, but not miles ahead of your average president.

HM: Dwight Eisenhower

To be perfectly honest, naming 10 presidents better than him would be a really hard task. But we also have to keep in mind that he was slow on civil rights, and basing a foreign policy on nuclear deterrence had it's flaws.

HM: John F. Kennedy

I do think he's one of the greatest presidents, largely because most presidents were mediocre. But people have a "Mary Sue" mentality of him. Even though his accomplishments were there, there was also the seedy side of his administration, including his deep-seated issues with women.

5. Ronald Reagan

Not an angel. Not a devil. Somewhere in between. There was good to be had in his administration but also some really horrible judgment calls. Please lets not make this entire thread about him.

4. Woodrow Wilson

He had the ideology right but just couldn't get it to work. Was he immensely influential? Yeah. Would he be forgettable had he not served during a war? ...I'd have to say yes to that too.

3. Andrew Jackson


Even non-historians are familiar with indian removal. But there's also that depression his poor economic policies caused. I know he was a strong leader that motivated lots of people, but in the end, if Martin VanBuren's reputation is ruined, his should be too.

2. James Madison

His reputation is an odd one. Most of us agree that the War of 1812 was fruitless and a horrible decision. Yet, we don't have the heart to deride Madison because he was an important figure and had political prowess.

1. Thomas Jefferson

Swiped the Louisiana Purchase from Adams hard work to normalize relations with France. Weakened the military right before a war. Not a good position for a fledgling nation. Never really overcame any challenges. Lastly, his embargo act caused a depression.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 08:34 PM   #2

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4. Woodrow Wilson

He had the ideology right but just couldn't get it to work. Was he immensely influential? Yeah. Would he be forgettable had he not served during a war? ...I'd have to say yes to that too.
Without the war we would still have Wilson's appalling record on civil rights. Wilson was one of the most racist men to become President.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 08:46 PM   #3

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John F. Kennedy.

His lasting popularity is due mostly to being young, charismatic, Irish Catholic, and assassinated.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 09:05 PM   #4
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Without the war we would still have Wilson's appalling record on civil rights. Wilson was one of the most racist men to become President.
And there's that feeling that lots of other people could've done what Wilson did in WW1 better.

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John F. Kennedy.

His lasting popularity is due mostly to being young, charismatic, Irish Catholic, and assassinated.
I hate this binary of "Kennedy is amazing and perfect" vs "Kennedy is all overrated and lacks meaningful accomplishment".

I think his presidency has lot of high-points as well as really low ones. Lots of loose ends that he wasn't able to tie, but also his influence on tangible things we know today was profound.

I agree as the baby boomers die out, we will have a more down to earth view of Kennedy, but there's still plenty to love about him.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 09:20 PM   #5

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I hate this binary of "Kennedy is amazing and perfect" vs "Kennedy is all overrated and lacks meaningful accomplishment".
Overrated doesn't necessarily mean that something is bad, just that it doesn't quite live up to the hype. I think all of the factors I listed in my previous post sort of inflate Kennedy's reputation beyond the reality. He never finished his first term as president, and he had some stumbles as well as successes in the two years and nine months that he served.

Given his mixed record and his very short time in office its hard to rate him (IMO) anywhere except somewhere in the middle of the pack. He certainly doesn't belong on the list of greatest presidents.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 10:09 PM   #6

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Ronald Reagan is by far the most overrated. Clinton is quite overrated too.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 10:58 PM   #7
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I'd add TR to a degree. But as pointed out above, overated doesn't mean bad. He gets some fine press and he deserves a fair share. But his negatives might include rampant nationalism and support of foreign expansion. But given the context of his time that also might not have been totaly bad either.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexpe...le/tr-foreign/

Last edited by Arlington; February 20th, 2014 at 11:01 PM.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 11:02 PM   #8

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John F. Kennedy.

His lasting popularity is due mostly to being young, charismatic, Irish Catholic, and assassinated.
Well said, and I agree perfectly with this.
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Old February 21st, 2014, 01:09 AM   #9

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John F. Kennedy.

His lasting popularity is due mostly to being young, charismatic, Irish Catholic, and assassinated.
Agreed.
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Old February 21st, 2014, 05:57 AM   #10
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3. Andrew Jackson


Even non-historians are familiar with indian removal. But there's also that depression his poor economic policies caused. I know he was a strong leader that motivated lots of people, but in the end, if Martin VanBuren's reputation is ruined, his should be too.
His railing against the "Corrupt Bargain" and thus attempts at delegitimizing John Quincy Adam's administration was mostly BS as well. It was perfectly fair for a candidate who had lost in the general election to back his party's second choice rather than Jackson.
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