Cover image for Greatness in the White House: Rating the Presidents, From Washington Through Carter By Robert Murray and Tim Blessing

Greatness in the White House

Rating the Presidents, From Washington Through Carter

Robert Murray, and Tim Blessing

BUY

180 pages
6" × 9"
1993
First Edition

Greatness in the White House

Rating the Presidents, From Washington Through Carter

Robert Murray, and Tim Blessing

A narrative account of the survey of almost 1,000 professional historians on what constitutes a successful performance in the presidency, this survey tells us almost as much about the thinking and biases of historians as it does about the nature of the American presidency.

 

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A narrative account of the survey of almost 1,000 professional historians on what constitutes a successful performance in the presidency, this survey tells us almost as much about the thinking and biases of historians as it does about the nature of the American presidency.

Besides comparing past presidential polls and constructing a ranking list of the nation’s chief executives, this study examines why historians rate presidents the way they do, and it analyzes those qualities and traits historians look for in a successful president. It also delimits what constitutes a failing performance in the White House and marks the major pitfalls that almost assuredly lead to an adverse historical verdict. In the process, the study demonstrates that there is not always a close correlation between what historians say a president should do and what historians obviously feel when actually ranking the performances of the presidents of the United States.

This study should prove enlightening not only to the historical profession but to the general public, political pundits, newscasters, public officials, and all presidential aspirants, and even to past and present occupants of the White House and their staffs.

Robert K. Murray is Professor Emeritus of History at The Pennsylvania State University.

Tim H. Blessing is Associate Professor of History at Alvernia College.

Contents

Acknowledgments and Foreword vii

Introduction 1

1. A Game for All Seasons: Past Presidential Polls 6

2. The Murray-Blessing Ratings 10

3. Do Appearance and Background Affect

Presidential Success? 25

4. Character and Personality as Rating Criteria 39

5. Presidential Relationships as a Factor in Success 46

6. Administrative Achievements and Presidential

Greatness 62

7. Reactions to Presidential Rankings and

Presidential Performances 77

Conclusions 86

Notes 96

Appendixes 113

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