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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  March 27, 2016 11:00am-12:16pm EDT

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bring more people in unity than anywhere else in the world, civil war and civil rights is they both happened here. >> our cities tour staff recently traveled to montgomery alabama to learn about its rich history. more about montgomery and other .tops, at an on lectures and history, david o'connell examines presidential legacies and what factors contribute to making a term successful. he discusses several rankings and compares the criteria and results. his class is about and our and
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10 minutes. prof. o'connell: four score and several years ago, our forefathers brought a new continent and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. it is with those were sent abraham lincoln consecrated a battlefield not far from recent today. the brilliance of those words wasn't necessarily recognized at the time. lincoln was not the featured speaker. lincoln waited until the very end to give his poignant closing words. the gettysburg address is the greatest moment of a speech in history. the fact that people did not see the speech that way at the time, that lincoln was not the featured speaker at gettysburg, after the fact that he was not necessarily recognized in general. when he became president, he had
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served in public office in 10 years. address,ry style speaking mannerisms, some education, all that meant that lincoln was looked upon with condemnation. there is little dispute on lincoln's greatness. there are no laws, no findings, no discoveries, instead we have people making arguments that may earn may not be persuasive -- that may or may not be persuasive. we are going to look at five different ways of measuring presidential greatness. we are going to see these academic studies that involved hundreds of historians that there is a consensus, that lincoln was the greatest president. today, we may have some concern about some of the things he did.
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theook liberties with constitution. he forcibly closed some newspapers printing materials critical of the union effort. had.ent my that congress he raised the size of the military without the congress's approval. but he preserved the union and gave the civil war in more of the tests with the emancipation proclamation. he never lost sight of what the united states was fighting for. of pressure in 1964 -- 1864 to call off the election. what lincoln said, if the united states did not do so, the country would have lost its character as a free democratic
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people. the whole class has been leading up to this point. we have been studied presidential leadership, trying to understand how presidents are , or can overcome obstacles. the whole point is to achieve greatness. i want you to think about how we might conceptualize presidential greatness, and you are going to look at different scholars have tried to rank presidents from one to 44. we are one to talk about have greatness is more difficult to achieve. we may never see another person like abraham lincoln. the modern presidents, they have been weak, and not achieved the like lincolntness did.
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one thing we know, americans love to rank things. i estimate that may be 67% of the content on the internet is a list of things. here are some interesting rankings i came across in the hard work i have been doing this as a professor. the definitive list of stupid people on twitter version 4.0. version 4.0 is better than version 2.0. here is your password and what it says about you. 25 college football teams went by stupidity of fans. three 26 best draped b eams. selfies at take
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funerals. americans also leveraging their presidents. the most famous book ever written, the book that has been influential for scholars and residents alike. valley --f a mecca very first sentence of the book, in the united states, we like to rate a president. we measure him as weak or strong and call what we are measuring his leadership. we do not wait until a man is dead, the rate him from the moment he takes office. that is true. the rating starts immediately. there are all these benchmarks set in the presidency where we stop and consider their legacy. president's first 100 days compare?
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campaign, theion ultimate opportunity for voters to cast judgment on presidential performance. all along, you have pundits and ifumnists who are asking anything a president does affect their legacy? how it affects her place in history? ranking the president is really hard to do. reasons some systematic why it is difficult to try to rank presidents. is difficult to rate their performance. number one, we are not neutral observers. we all have our own opinions, biases and that will effect how we evaluate any president's performance. research has shown that ideology plays a role in assessments of presidential greatness. i am sure that does not come as a surprise. conservatives are likely to think ronald reagan is a great
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president. liberals are more let me to is a greatf. kennedy president. it will affect the criteria we need to determine presidential greatness. what are. research has shown liberals are much more likely than conservatives to think that something like idealism is a standard of presidential greatness. right? those are two ways that biases idea greatness. president take office at different times facing different challenges. that will have to be taken into account when we try to rate their performance. on the one hand, he may give presidents sympathy taking office in difficult circumstances. at the end of president barack obama's presidency, he took office when united states engaged in two wars.
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even if he did not achieve quite as much as other presidents have, he deserves to be rated a little higher because the context in which he served was more complicated. at the time of his reelection, and voters have considered obama and bush to be equally responsible of country's economic condition, obama would have been nine points less popular. people seem to give presidents leeway for things they don't have a lot to do with. difficulty is not necessarily a bad thing. it can give opportunities for greatness. it is not a coincidence that the two greatest presidents, or the top three are always the same. combination of lincoln and a combination of lincoln and roosevelt. to do them an opportunity
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things other presidents may not have had an opportunity to do. it was something they could potentially do that others cannot. this is something that clinton -- to ben was said to a great president, you had to have a signature moment of leadership. the third problem is set presidential greatness is not set in stone. , those rate presidents ratings will change over time as new information emerges and as our own values change. kennedyle would be john . when john kennedy died, he was a streaming popular. he died under tragic circumstances. and the first appraisals of his presidency that were written, were written by people like
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salinger. helton and extreme high regard and did not criticize anything he had done. over time, we learn new things about kennedy that infected our opinion of him. we learned about his chronic womanizing. it jeopardize his personal security. womanizing that jeopardized his independence. chicago's mobh boss wife. learned of his .esponsibility in vietnam we learned that a lot of the new frontier was more for show than anything else. that kennedy did not have much of an interest in domestic policy and all the talk his
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administration had about culture , those were things that were personally important to kennedy. he seems to be a president that needsmore profile when he to show more courage in his book title. ranking, in 2014, john kennedy was elected the most overrated president. two presidents who have gone in the other direction, where there reputations have improved work treatment and eisenhower. -- improved were truman and eisenhower. since then, we have come to see of policies had a lot political wisdom.
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, wean's demeanor, honesty gained greater appreciation when he was succeeded by lyndon johnson, who repeatedly lied. and richard nixon, who was not a crook when he actually was a crook. eisenhower, another president whose linking improved -- whose ranking improved. wasevidence has shown that workede that eisenhower extremely hard behind the scenes. he claimed to not engaging personalities, but manipulated people left and right. we gained an appreciation for
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his political skills. we also value some of the decisions eisenhower made as president that did not seem significant. 1954, the french fall and vietnam. for him toressure intervene. he said, no, a ground war cannot be won and should not be fought. we have a decade-long conflict that does not work in our national interest. that seems to be a really wide decision with a lot of foresight. in 1958, as people are arguing the government must boost defense spending, eisenhower warns against military-industrial complex. another warning. this is why i mentioned bush. not saying bush is going to go down as a lincoln. we don't know where bush is going to go down. when he left office, some people wrote columns and rated him as
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the worst president of all time. for me, that was preposterous because he just finished his presidency and so many of the things he did, we will not know the true impact of those decisions until decades from now. and afghanistan will change across the middle east, lead to a spread of freedom that does away with one of the key national security threats facing the united states -- terrorism, then bush will go down as the greatest president. we don't know. we have to wait to see. little too early to see where bush is going to fall in the pantheon of presidents. do you get points for trying? there are a lot of presidents that identify key issues before they became issues as national concern, they were on the right side of history and took important moral stances, but did not fix the problems. 1948, truman supports a strong
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civil rights plank. kennedy in 1963, kennedy comes supporting civil rights. the dark take action until the in 1963.came out until lyndon johnson becomes president that we see comprehensive rights. do they get credit for being on the right side of the issue? the issue of credit is a problem in general. a lot of times, accomplishments we are willing to attribute to a president are debatable accomplishments, whether they had something to do with those things are not, it is something that is open to discussion.
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a lot of times people say president is great because the economy was great when they were in office. roosevelt's great accomplishment that he ended the great depression. is that true? not really. things that roosevelt. help the united states set it supple -- set itself on a long path to recovery. his financial reform legislation .elped set the context unemployment is back up around 20%. can we say that roosevelt ended the depression? it is a debatable claim. said ragan winning the cold war is the greatest
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foreign policy, spent of any president in the postwar period. did he win the cold war? no, not really. other people had a role, too. you can argue that the soviet union had some internal vulnerabilities. send thegan he collapse, -- maybe reagan hast ened the collapse, but did not cause it. fair toproblem, is it
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compare pre--modern and of modern presidents? are going to put in the system barack obama and george washington. they had very different. the premodern presidents before franklin roosevelt were more clerks than meters. leaders. james garfield, 1881. there is no institutional support for president until 1857 that congress appropriates money for the president to hire a single click. staffersd up paying
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out of their own pocket. some president had to take loans , like andrew jefferson. it may be very unfair to compare premodern presidents to modern presidents because the challenges were different. forget about the leaders of the free world. teddy roosevelt that he president left the country. our morals have changed. to play a role as how we interpret how they did in congress -- in office. i call it the andrew jackson problem. but many standards, andrew jackson is going to be a great president. we define a whole age by jackson. , who byfrontiersman
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reaching the presidency, sends a powerful message about what is possible. ,is support for regular people that changes the tenor of our politics. he built the first mass political party, the democratic party forming out of his own personal following. he was a slave owner. associated closely removal ofg forcible native americans from their land. when the cherokee nation is forced out of their historical a fifth oforgia, them will die in the trail of tears. this leads to a lot of problems in terms of how we interpret this because owning slaves, not
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treating native americans with respect, that was not something that was controversial in the early 19th century. that is why you are seeing state democratic parties, the typical yearly fundraiser is the jackson dinner. they have moved to change the name. can we understand what it is like to be president? this is the monday morning quarterback problem. i watched the dolphins on sunday, as you all know. he threw an interception. i have never played quarterback in the nfl. i don't know why he threw that interception. maybe the defense disguise their coverage in a way that was not on the report. maybe the coaches need to be blamed. can we blame a president for any
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of their failures? we don't know the pressures they are under. we don't know what information they had at the time. it might be unfair of us to cast judgment on something we have no chance of understanding until we have walked in those shoes ourselves. likeis like when someone -- you don't believe no one is going on. i am not prepared to do this now. can'tat we of said, we rank presidents. we can't rate them. let's do it anyway. let's start by considering some theoretical ways of assessing greatness. the standards element of the problem. a great president must be a democrat and republican. what they mean by that is you have to involve people in the
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process and teach people civic virtue. that is the democratic party. but you have to govern within the constitutional system and abide by restrictions. does the republican park. the key mechanism -- that is the republican parts. - key mechanism great residential leadership was based on great bipartisan. you can see why andrew jackson is a great president. building modern democratic party out of his personal following. that included presidential character. maybe it does-
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not mean that he will be a great president. reaganjohnson and ronald -- johnson ultimately failed. reagan failed because he was not interested in helping the republican party. interested and protecting his public popularity. book "why moderates make the best president." he argues that the key to being a president as muscular moderation. that means not doing what is popular at the moment. he attacks clinton four. it is boldly governing from the center. charting a leadership path between extremes of politics. this leads them to reinterpret
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the politics of presidents like fdr. he is seen as one of the most liberal chief executive in the modern era. but according to gilroy, he was really a moderate. on the right, he is dealing with individuals who want to do nothing, want to maintain a wentez-faire of that that under coolidge and hoover. by charting a course between the two, he was quite moderate. people on the right don't like it because it may destroy individual responsibility. people on the left don't love it because it is financed in a pay-as-you-go manner. result, it's a moderate policy. his approach toward regulating banks, another moderate policy. it modernized.
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yet modern presidents like nixon and carter who failed for reasons specific to themselves, but it offers the best the -- the best path to presidential greatness. these are diametrically opposed standards. one set of scholars is saying to be a great president, you have to be fully partisan. if we tried to rank presidents from one to 44. we have five important historical -- looking at each of them is useful. 1988, sent questionnaires to 2000 phd holding professors of
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history. these questionnaires were intense. questions, did more than an hour to complete. they are not just asking people to assign a level of greatness, but asking specific questions about events and policies. was hoover right to value balancing the budget and controlling the federal investment? why was kennedy successful? what skills were important? by asking those questions, they want to determine why a president is great. not only if they are great. not necessarily looking at that part of the argument, we are to focus instead on the evaluations of whether scholars assigned to breaking up great, but average, below average, or failure. be aware that this is not a representative sample. only 59 women participated in
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the survey. goes ibrahim linking is one. breath in roosevelt's two. george washington is three. thomas jefferson is four. those are the four president that had a never score of being a great president. the near greats were theodore roosevelt, andrew jackson, and harry truman. the bottom two were john adams and lyndon johnson. we are not going to series presidents on other rankings. that is partly because in this study, scholars tended to more favorably great a resident that served in the era in which they did their research. if you did research on colonial america and the early american republic, you would be more likely to think john adams is a great president. theriticize him harshly for alien act.
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lyndon johnson, another president that is a controversial one. they found a lot to desire in the vietnam war were he conceal the truth of the united states's involvement. 1997, they take a poll of 719 people. other people would be public officials and attorneys. a are asking their sample to rate presidents on five different standards. leadership qualities.
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accomplishments and crisis management. lyrical skill. appointments. if you think leadership qualities, etc. --ording to this system lincoln's number one. franklin roosevelt is number two. george washington, number three. thomas jefferson, number four. andrew jackson, number eight. eisenhower number nine. medicine number 10. might have prevailed over lincoln if it weren't for concerns about his character. all right? he was rated the 15th best
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president in terms of character. were he is one or two in the other dimensions. andrew jackson would rate higher if it wasn't for those concerns of character and appointments. this leads to a lot of corruption in the long run. eisenhower, you can see this is published in 1997. as we are learning more about eisenhower, you can see his rating improved. -- his rating improve. he has taken a poll of 32 experts. they are prestigious historians. mario cuomo was included.
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participants are allowed to develop their own criteria for greatness. in the article, he uses justices definition of's greatness. all people have to do is rate president as great, you're great, average, below average, or failure. they will be assigned the appropriate numerical score. the center's father did an early study in 1948 that was published in life magazine. according to this study, lincoln is number one. washington is number two. franklin roosevelt is number three. all achieved great averages. individuals gave lincoln a score of four. then it is jefferson, jackson, wilson, truman, polk, and
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eisenhower. c-span did a presidential leadership survey in 2009 serving 55 presidential historians. we read and talked about the scholars ourselves in this class for the semester. the stories are asked to rate presidents on 10 different. it's. economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with congress, vision, spitting agenda, whether they pursued equal justice for all. you may be saying that is a lot. 10 different attributes of leadership. .hat is a lot for any scholar it tests the limits of the knowledge of even an expert. do people know enough about franklin pierce to assign him a
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score on all 10 dimensions? people wind up making a global judgment of greatness and that will effect their score on every individual standard. if you think that make them a great president overall, you will give him a great score on all 10 categories. articipants are assigned present score of one. what will happen is that an average will be provided, so if ofnton was given an average 8.2 for economic management, that would be multiplied by 10 and he would get 82 points. that major total possible greatness score is 1000. 100 points for each category. according to this system, abraham lincoln is number one with a score of 902. george washington, number two. -roosevelt, number three.
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truman five, kennedy six. jefferson, seven. wilson, nine. and reagan, 10. finally, a survey was conducted in 2014 up 162 members. it includes me. i participated in the survey. i can't tell you that much about it because it has not been published. they had newspaper stories in the washington post about the research. they e-mails all of the participants in the study. rankings, but i don't remember what it was like. i remember it took me a long time, like an our. being surprised on how the decisions i made. i was more positive toward
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barack obama when i was challenged to think about him on individual dimensions instead of an overall performance. some of the attributes that were measured would be integrity, military skill, legislature. -- legislative skill. president then receives a possible score out of 100 and the results -- lincoln is number one. almost a perfect score, 95.27. washington number two. frank and roosevelt number three. theodore roosevelt, number four. jefferson, five. kerry truman, six. down here, the score is much, much lower even though they are not operated that far in the rankings.
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the scores are quite lower. patterns that we may have noticed -- lincoln is nr one in all five rankings. consensus, lincoln is the greatest president. all five rankings, agreed that the top presidents are lincoln, washington, and fdr. fdr alternated between two and three. neither president are lower than a seven. we did not look at this, but there is much agreement on the worst presidents. the two worst presidents would be warren harding is been his time writing love letters to his mistress and the white house while his friends robbed the government blind. his most famous quotation, i am
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not fit for this office and i should have never been here. and a buchanan. .ongratulations america david gannon did nothing as the company went towards the civil war. of the other things we notice, we are not seeing many modern presidents post frank and roosevelt show up on these rankings. clinton shows up once eared credentials at once. truman, eisenhower here and there. but they are at the bottom. it is not consistent. i did the president since franklin roosevelt, all five ratings and average out their scores. there in mind that these are taken at different times. the total number of presidents that are going to be ranked is not constant throughout this because presidents, there are more presidents in 2014 than in 1988. that starts to average somewhat
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it great presidents came after that point. that does not turn up to be the case. but we can see is only two presidents have an average rating in the top 10. truman and eisenhower. both of them enjoyed a renaissance, will be -- the renaissance, and the rehabilitation after they left office. if you are the seventh greatest president of all time, then you are. in the top 20%, right? going down the list, we can see it gets pretty bad. nixon's average ranking is 22. reagan, 18. clinton, 17. bush, 36. we took the average ranking of 19 these presidents, it is cents roosevelt. is 19 since roosevelt.
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to some extent, over the course of the semester i have been critical of jimmy carter. not to any personal opposition but out of the criticism of his understanding of executive authority and his use of the powers of leadership. saw, notranking as we good. 25. 19. consistently mediocre. that carter fell short of greatness. only he can be blamed for. plus he undermine the prestige of the presidency. prestige is key at how the president is viewed by people outside, or rather, how the president is viewed by people in washington trying to determine how the public views him.
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carter did not seem to understand that. he did things i carrying his own luggage. ending the practice of hailing the chief. selling the presidential yacht. giving the national address and a cardigan sweater. he didn't understand that these things may can see more like a regular person instead of someone about the public. he made poor staffing choices. carter decides to bring the individual to work with him in georgia to washington. he did not fit in with their genes and shaggy haircuts. it h
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he appointed poorly organized people. making rude comments about the wife's of the egyptian ambassador. he appoints bert lance to run the office of budget. t lance is put in office of the budget when he is personally $2 million in debt. the third problem, carter that he could run the white house on his own. learning quickly you need a chief of staff, carter comes into office and acts as his own chief of staff having all his top aides report directly to him.
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and he tried to make every decision himself. that ended up bogging carter down in unnecessary details. carter would actually approve the plane schedule at the white house tennis court. why would a president bother himself with that kind of detail? had character flaws. he had some degree of arrogance. when people disagreed with him, he said, i would rather not talk to you. , buildingnsensus approach. he had somewhat of a mean streak where he said that if reagan is elected, you are going to see a return to segregation in the united states. .arter did not realize prioritiess give me
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and we will work on them. carter says, no. work for mei will in georgia. carter took away breakfast at their meetings. even nixon gave them breakfast. happening is carter gets fired by ted kennedy. that is a direct consequence of the way carter failed to nurture those relationships with democratic leaders in congress. his speakingted power. energy, carterof gives five national addresses, each one shows a smaller and smaller audience. arenow that speaking powers overestimated.
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when a president goes public, they cannot move opinion on their approval ratings. personalot move opinions either. who are some of the great quarterbacks? i imagine you are going to say liken-type order backs peyton manning, tom brady. marino would have been the greatest president for his quick demeanor on the field. [laughter] that is a reasonable thing when you look at statistics. these are the top 10 quarterbacks in terms of yards in a season. what we see here is all the
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signs of demo reel's historical season in 1984, besides had one since 2008. these great seasons in terms of the yardage. you see a quarterback that simply are not going to go down as great quarterbacks, like matthew stafford, been rockist rothlisberger. the game is changed to help quarterbacks. you see an emphasis on officiating that makes it easier to throw the ball. officials are concerned with concussions, so they are going to police contact over the middle of the field. brian dawkins, all-pro when he retired, says that is one of the reasons why. they felt that he could not just for the position because he had to be worried about hitting a penalty. you can't touch the quarterback.
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you can't hit him up high. thecan't make contact with helmet. can't hit him at the knees. that makes quarterbacks more comfortable in the pocket. makes it easier for quarterbacks to rack up yards. you are seeing quarter backs get into the nfl with more preparation. quarterbacks are better prepared to read defenses. you see a change in the personnel that teams have .ppeare all this has made it easier for quarterbacks to achieve greatness. 28 men have a lower quarterback -- r changesok at systematic when it comes to the presidency, things have changed to make things more difficult for president to achieve greatness.
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congress has polarized. you can really date it back to the 1960's. it fully embraces civil rights. you see immigration of those southern democrats to the republican party. ultimately, that is going to be the democratic party that is just left with liberals. and a much more conservative republican party. you have these safe districts for mean a very radical just may win a seat. it means it is more difficult for president to get what they want out of congress. that polarization may speed up action. it slows it down in the sand.
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we have seen a steady increase in the amount of filibusters. there is no possibility of compromise. you want to be a moderate, who are you going to negotiate with? passesordable care act with zero republican votes in the house. zero republican votes in the senate. how is obama going to get legislation through congress now that he does not have those huge democratic majorities that he had when he took office in 2009? divided government -- when you of one partyent and the congress of another. for most of history, that was not the case. there is a debate in political science about what this means. some argue that dividing government does not have an effect on significant legislature.
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looking at whether they were judge significantly at the time they were passed. when you come up with that data sets, 12 significant laws will every two years of unified government. there is strong research that shows that legislation is more likely -- an additional 6.7 significant laws fail in every period divided government. it increases the odds of significant legislature feeling by 45%. president, like obama, having to deal with a divided government and polarized by the opposite party, can make it difficult to get your agenda through congress.
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president also has the worst relationship with the media. think of all the things the media covered up for john kennedy. the covered up his affair. the covered up his health problems. they covered up the fact that he did not write his book. that his book was only a bestseller because his dad bought thousands of copies, which he stored in an attic. it is a good idea. that changes that you have things like the pentagon papers, secret government studies, about the u.s.' involvement in vietnam. you have the aftermath of watergate and nixon's repeated lies about his involvement in a cover-up, so much so that his press secretary is going to have to later say that all previous
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statements were inoperative. because of the impact of exposing watergate, reporters all want to be bob woodward. they want to break the next scandal. the media has been -- has become much more hostile for the president. we see the amount of negative news that the president has to face has gone up. that is related to the fourth problem, people are paying less attention to presidential addresses. we may think that now you can watch a presidential speech on so many different platforms, broadcast, cable, on your phone, on your tablet, on your computer, that you are going to see higher ratings for presidential speeches. that is not happening. residents used to benefit by having a captive -- presidents
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used to benefit by having a captive audience. becauseust watched, what else were they going to do? families?their you change the channel. netflix -- you cue up netflix. only 31 million people decided to tune in. in 2000, bill clinton giving a national address right after "who was to be a millionaire. " immediatelys on and , 10 million people change the channel. the permanent campaign is a permanent distraction. running for office today,
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running for reelection, it's expensive. it costs money. these are billion-dollar campaigns. that means a president has to constantly raise money. barack obama attended a fundraiser every 7.5 days. though clinton attended his first fundraiser as president 12 days into his administration. how a president -- how is a president supposed to govern when they are so busy engaging in political activities? they are so busy trying to keep their jobs than doing their job. there are powerful fiscal pressures. about 70% of the budget today goes to four things -- medicare, medicaid, social security, and payments on the national debt. throw in defense spending, which is something that can't be much,ed all that especially in light of recent
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events, that leaves very little money for the president to find new domestic policy initiatives. wear, if we're lucky, are running at a $400 billion deficit. the problems are only going to get worse. presidents also struggle to fill their administrations. they can't get their appointments confirmed. the rate of confirmation of these appointments has gone down over time where a president like eisenhower would get every appointment through the federal court system confirmed. now you would be lucky to get 50%, 60% confirmed. the time it takes to confirm a justice has gone up considerably. an article criticized republicans of not acting
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quickly since some of these seats are judicial emergencies. branch, they have forest presidents to use debatable techniques to get people into office. things like recess appointments and so forth. puffing about their staff, can't get them to stick around. talking about their staff, can get them to stick around. are not in their office long enough to learn what areecessary to do well, nor they in office long enough to learn who they need to work with to get things done. you can't be an effective team when they served for such a short curable of time. finally, people say the way to achieve greatness is just to act on your own. a unilateral presidential power.
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this is a fallacy, too. these are consistently overrated. studies have shown only 15% of executive orders are significant. there are exceptions. truman desegregating the military. two men setting up the epa -- truman setting up the epa. new president can come in and change these things, sometimes they are durable, like clinton changing standards in drinking water. it makes him look like he wants more arsenic in drinking water. 15% -- presidents are more likely to be covered by executive order.
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experience obama's that he doesn't turn to executive orders on immigration and climate change until he failed attempt to get congress to do something. what is happening? his administration's hands are tied up. unilateral power like presidential proclamation, according to studies, 80% are symbolic. 12% are significant. we are talking about things like executive agreements. these are much less useful to a president and treaties, which are much more binding and bind the president's successor as well. it is a debatable strategy. , first, if weu take a step back, what are your standards of presidential greatness? we have seen how scholars have defined it.
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about moderation. different systems that we review include things like political skill, character, legislative skill, and so forth. that would be the first question, how would you define presidential greatness. yes. >> >> the way i define presidential greatness is if the president is able to set and pass legislation quickly, and whether they are able to mitigate out of that nationally or internationally. i think for, at least me, one of the issues with the argument, and a lot of the ways we look at the president is overtime, their ability to do things decreases. in the last two years of his
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presidency, he was unable to pass any of his legislation. rapid action.r is issueyou think it is an that the presence ability to get things through congress will be out of their control given the numbers they have in congress? a democratic majority of the other presidents have not had. is ithink the thing doesn't really matter if they majority.stantial i don't to get really matters the actual numbers of people in
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your party. workingso had factors .o his advantage , and the likable way that he handled that too. other standards of greatness? , i believe great presidents come down to great timing. we may think about when president reagan came into office. he had an economy that was .hinking
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i think as much comes down to timing and circumstances as the actual president. >> you agree with clinton that you near crisis to be a great president? >> i do agree you need something to prove yourself. you may have the potential, but if you don't have to circumstance, there is no way to prove you are a great president. >> other standards of greatness? i think it depends more on how you handle yourself as a a person.
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to be able to manage that with other political advisers in the private scene, and the public, it isrtray character -- all going smoothly, but to have them in private because of legislation in congress. >> that is important. you have public and private forms of leadership. you probably can't be successful unless you successfully navigate each part. what do you think? is greatness possible anymore? this average ranking just the result of individual failures, people like carter not living up? >> i think with the standards that you put out, i think a lot you can overcome. the powerful disco pressures, if you have a great president, he can overcome the pressures.
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i think some of the other problems like divided government and polarization, i'm optimistic about them, by don't think they are permanent conditions. even if they are, you see presidents like obama and bush being able to get an incredible amount done in their first year. .hat is an advantage a great president can use that same kind of momentum, and overcome some of the challenges. >> that is a really good point. you talk about polarization slowing down government. president obama, he had a very productive first year. usually productive. there is an argument to make the system work. it becomes much more difficult later on. yet? >> the president nowadays can be great in certain areas, by don't think they can be great overall.
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i think a president can be good in the public sector or private sector, good at using unilateral powers negotiate with congress, something like that, but they cannot do it all. there is some a roles of the presidency nowadays that i don't think one president can manage all of it. >> we know the expectations of these roles often conflict. popular,to be broadly but if you're going to be chief executive, you have to take top positions that affect people. ultimately, that could undermine your ability to be chief of state. all the roles, they are different -- difficult to play, and they often conflict.
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>> if they were under the same scrutiny, perhaps a view of them would be completely different. if we knew all of their faults and idiosyncrasies, maybe we would think, they are not all that great. now, we have constant coverage. >> potentially, the next president we have could be great, in the sense that we are fighting terrorism pretty that ify, and the idea a republican is elected, they will try to do something with the budget. those are two serious things right when they step in. at the same time, there are things like abortion and the gay marriage aspect that are so different from what people, if you don't tackle that issue versus tackling this issue, maybe i would think they are great president, but overall,
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someone wouldn't. compromisel issues much more difficult. >> also, value shift over time so maybe our opinion would shift over the future. afghanistan, it all worked out. maybe we would the rock on obama, and his approval rating will go up because we have a president that is worth than he was. is aes anybody think there president in the post result group who will have a reputation like eisenhower? as time goes on, someone we will look more favorably on. >> i think lyndon johnson is undergoing the shift and his reputation, and i think that will continue. especially given that congress
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is so polarized and so dysfunctional, i think people think he was able to get a lot done. so far as the government continues to be all right, i think the reputation will improve. present obama, obviously his presidency is still going on, done in hisl he has first year, or whatever else he has done socially, i think he has accomplished a lot. i think he is maybe one that we will look back and be a little less critical of. future alllly in the the presidents recently will undergo this in some
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circumstances, considering, we have now what has happened in merely after. you may see that the issues are not as drastic as they once were. for instance, with bush going into iraq, and all those things, no president has had to deal with those types of terror attacks. helpe of the things that is the post-presidency. every president has a long amount of time when they can take on new challenges the officer rehabilitate the reputation. difference important in that with modern presidents, people know about more about doing now.ce are we know more what they are thinking.
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or, if we don't know in the moment, we can look back and know a lot more about the bushes the maybe they would have with older presence -- presidents. much't feel there is as information to come out, not as many scandals. that is not going to exist. too. works the other way we will not have these revelations. we already know all the stuff. all on thursday. >> you are watching american. 48 hours of programming on american history every week and c-span 3. follow us on twitter for information on a schedule.
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keep up with the latest history news. >> this weekend, authors discuss their books on the chicano movement and the history of mexican american civil rights from the 1930's to the 1970's. here is a preview. on august 20 8, 1963, while march onhed the washington, thousands joined in the neighborhood of east austin capital. veteran activists of all colors , andall over the state other activists joined the procession. cheered to and movement leaders as they gave speeches. moscow for the passage of the civil rights
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acts. >> i could talk more about him whenever you like. union activist from said tony is said -- he gives a speech on behalf of the political association of paso,h organizations, or the most militant organization in the states. this march was just the tip of a very large iceberg.
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in the 1930's, african-american, mexican american, and whites came together for a broad struggle in texas. several organizing efforts gradually gave way to local experience in multiracial collaborations. the divers0's, created an alliance. they call their partnership simply the democratic coalition. the history of the chicano movement. you can watch the entire conference on sunday at one half eastern here on american history tv on c-span 3. year's student cam contest, students discuss the issues they wanted presidential candidates to discuss.
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they told us the economy, education, and immigration were all top issues. thank you to all the students and teachers who competed this year. every day in april, starting on the first, one of the top entries will air on c-span. all of the films are available online. howard month, the university founders library was declared a national treasure. up next, from inside founders library, the announcement by the national trust president, stephanie meeks, followed by a discussion on the library. this is 40 minutes. [applause] >> good day.


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