Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Wisdom Of Crowds.

Iain Dale recently had a reader survey where he asked his readers to rate the US Presidents from Roosevelt onwards. For a blog primarily read by self described Conservatives the results are bizarre:
Franklin D Roosevelt +67
Dwight Eisenhower +59
Harry Truman +53
Ronald Reagan +50
John F Kennedy +40
Bill Clinton + 20
George Bush Snr -4
Lyndon Johnson -19
Gerald Ford -20
Jimmy Carter -40
Richard Nixon -42
George W Bush -48
The adulation of Roosevelt by Conservatives is one of the strangest things there is. I suppose a lot of people think of him as a great war leader, but given the USA's strength it is hard to imagine that any plausible alternative president would have lost the war. The only question was how long it would take and it would probably have been quicker if the USA had had a leader who had taken the precaution of building up American military strength prior to the outbreak of the conflict. Roosevelt was first elected to end the great depression yet through his serial bungling he managed to prolong it for almost a decade. He did this whilst engaging in some truly appalling demagoguery and assaults on freedom.

The same people who declare that fascism is dawning in Bush's America when terrorist suspects have their phones tapped are happy to idolise a president whose administration jailed someone (Jacob Maged) for charging 5 cents less to do some dry cleaning than the New Dealers thought was appropriate. The admiration for FDR is reminiscent of the admiration with which many African countries view Big Man leaders today, it doesn't matter how bad they are at the job as long as they stand up to imaginary enemies.

The rest of the list is less noteworthy some of the decisions are still distinctly odd, I mean how does George W Bush rank below Lyndon Johnson, presumably Bush is unpopular principally for Iraq, yet by any reasonable judgment Johnson's handling of Vietnam was an order of magnitude worse than Bush even on the harshest possible judgment of Bush.

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