As promised in Sunday’s (April 11) Book Salon, with Prof. Arnold M. Ludwig’s King of the Mountain—The Nature of Political Leadership, here is the ranking of U.S. presidents on Ludwig’s Political Greatness Scale (PGS). These measures characterize the lives of the immortal greats, like Caesar, Napoleon, Darius, Alexander the Great, Washington, Lincoln and others of their historic status. Do not confuse the term ‘great leader’ with a leader considered to be good for his country. Eleven scalable (usually 0 to 3) factors are included (pp. 276-77): Something from Nothing; More Than Before; Staying Power; Military Prowess; Social Engineering; Economics; Statesmanship; Ideology; Moral Exemplar; Political Legacy; Population of Country.
|1||Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945||30||top|
|2||Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921||24||top|
|3||Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909||23||top|
|4||Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953||23||top|
|5||Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989||22||top|
|6||William McKinley, 1897-1901||20||top|
|7||Dwight David Eisenhower 1953-1961||18||top|
|8||Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969||18||top|
|9||John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963||15||top|
|10||George Herbert Walker Bush, 1989-1993||15||top|
|11||William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001||15||top|
|12||Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929||14||top|
|13||James Earl Carter, Jr., 1977-1981||14||top|
|14||William Howard Taft, 1909-1913||12||middle|
|15||Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969-1974||11||middle|
|16||Gerald Rudolph Ford, 1974-1977||11||middle|
|17||Herbert Clark Hoover, 1929-1933||10||middle|
|18||Warren Gamaliel Harding, 1921-1923||9||bottom|
The column of numbers is the numeric PGS. By way of comparison, of all leaders of all countries in the 21st century, FDR is surpassed only by Atatürk, 31, and is tied for second with Mao, as shown in the original post. The third column is the place of the president in the top, middle, or bottom third of all leaders in the world, or at least that robust subset of 377 leaders for whom there were enough autobiographical data to be included in this ranking.
It is to U.S. credit that 13 of the 18 rank in the top third, I suppose. Living through half of them, it doesn’t seem that they are so respectable. But perhaps they look good in comparison to scores of incompetents and fools in other countries. YMMV.