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Jun 11

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

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

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 our various Presidents stack up against each other, with some of the "greats" coming off far worse than their supposedly mediocre colleagues.

Alvin S. Felzenberg teaches at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.  He 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 as well as New Jersey's Assistant Secretary of State.

More About the Speakers

Alvin S. Felzenberg

Hosted By

John Edward Hilboldt John Edward Hilboldt

Director, Lectures & Seminars Read More