Who is the greatest president in the history of the United States? If you’re asking a random sampling of Americans, as the Gallup polling firm recently did, it would be none other than Ronald Reagan.
A recent Gallup survey found that at 19 percent, Reagan topped the list for the third time in 12 years. President Abraham Lincoln came in second at 14 percent, followed by President Bill Clinton at 13 percent.
President John F. Kennedy rounded out fourth at 11 percent, and President Barack Obama came in seventh, at five percent.
Amazingly enough, President George W. Bush was chosen by just two percent, placing him in 10th: one spot ahead of President Thomas Jefferson, an influential member of the nation’s founders.
In eight surveys over the last 12 years, Americans have always chosen Reagan, Lincoln or Kennedy to top the list. Reagan was the first choice in 2001, 2005 and 2001. Lincoln topped the list in 1993, and twice in 2003. President John F. Kennedy won out in 2000.
On President’s Day Monday, Americans celebrated the birthday of President George W. Washington, but only 10 percent picked him as the greatest.
The poll, like many political questions, was seen through a partisan lens. At 38 percent, most Republicans were more likely to pick Reagan, while 22 percent of Democrats picked Clinton.
Reagan’s return to the top may have been helped by his image being used in recent advertising campaigns. In August, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) created an Internet advertisement called “Those Voices Don’t Speak for the Rest of Us,” juxtaposing video of a famous Reagan speech with context-free clips of Democrats such as Rep. Barney Frank, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.
Reagan has also been a media cause celebre in recent weeks, with his 100th birthday passing recently.
Reagan administration budget director David Stockman recently told Raw Story that military spending policies of Reagan era have all but doomed the US economy, even today.
“The Cold War is long over,” he explained. “The wars of occupation are almost over and were complete failures — Afghanistan and Iraq. The American empire is done. There are no real seriously armed enemies left in the world that can possibly justify an $800 billion national defense and security establishment, including Homeland Security.”
Americans also seem willing to ignore a recent book by the president’s son, Ron Reagan, that said the conservative icon may have been exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease while still in the White House.
His son, who’s identified himself as a liberal and an atheist, wrote that in 1984, as his father went on to become the oldest president ever reelected at age 74, the younger Reagan began to “experience the nausea of a bad dream coming true” with regards to his father’s mental condition.
He’d already suspected “something beyond mellowing” had begun to affect President Reagan and characterized his debate performance against Democratic nominee Walter Mondale as “fumbling,” “lost,” “tired and bewildered.”
In fact, CBS reporter Leslie Stahl had recalled in her 2000 book, “Reporting Live,” that Regan had acted like a “doddering space cadet,” in a 1986 meeting.
She even suggested that CBS News came extremely close to reporting that Reagan’s condition had deteriorated so far that he was no longer fit to be president..
The results of Gallup’s poll follow.
– With earlier reports
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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