Happy Birthday George!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader pronounces birthday “huzzahs!” for George Washington. He was truly first in war, first in peace, and should be first in the hearts of his grateful countrymen. But alas, George now gets rather short shrift in our schools. Your Maximum Leader believes that, as a precondition of graduating from high school, all Americans should read Richard Brookhiser’s Founding Father. While it is not a comprehensive biography of Washington, it is a great “character biography” which discusses why we should care (and love) our Founding Father.

Anyway… Happy 272nd Birthday General Washington. At least one of your grateful countrymen will raise a toast to you this day.

Moving on… Your Maximum Leader presented a challenge to his ministers and minions. Alas, the Poet Laureate is history-illiterate. So rather than attempting to educate himself, he wrote some funnies. And you know, deflecting tough questions with humour is a trait we like in our hominids. So, after your Maximum Leader erases from his imagination the image of Christina Aguilera masterbating in the Oval Office, he will chukle at the Big Hominid’s post.

The AirMarshal started with a good list. But really, Gover Cleveland? He did give us the Baby Ruth…

Still waiting to hear from the Foreign Minister and Minister of Agriculture…

Without further adieu, here is your Maximum Leader’s list, in full:

1) George Washington. The first president, and the overriding shaper of the office. He set down many of the precedents that still function today. He established the cabinet system, and gave shape to the executive branch. He set down the major goals of US foreign policy (shunning entangling alliances) which held until (arguably) the Second World War. He also flexed (for the first time) federal supremacy over the states by putting down rebellions in Pennsylvania.

2) Abraham Lincoln He saved the Union.

3) Franklin Roosevelt Created the modern presidency (characterized by a strong executive). He also created the modern federal government (characterized by not only supreme federal authority but by an all-intrusive federal government).

4) Jmes Knox Polk Your Maximum Leader throws you a fastball here. He has always believed in the greatness of James K. Polk. Polk promised four things would be accomplished during his presidency. 1 - the Indian question in the south would be resolved; 2 - Texas would enter the Union; 3 - California would become part of the US; 4- a northern border with Canada west of the great lakes would be fixed. Polk said if these four things were not done in his four years, he would not seek another term. During his term he: sent the army in to round up and move the Indians in the south, he faught a war with Mexico and acquired Texas, California, and other western lands. He was (thanks to British/Canadian intransigence) unable to negotiate a northern border with Canada. He refused to run for a second term, and retired. (Your Maximum Leader will also add that he died shortly after leaving office - which your Maximum Leader also thinks is a generally good thing for ex-presidents to do.)

5) Ronald Reagan He redefined the role of the modern federal government. (If you don’t think so, look at the administration of Bill Clinton and guess again.) And he won the Cold War.

6) Theodore Roosevelt He started moving the nation towards global superpower status. Started necessary progressive changes and sensible regulation of the American economy.

7) Andrew Jackson The first populist president. First to utilize the presidential veto and thereby create the modern system by which laws are made in the US.

8) Harry Truman Had a tough act to follow, but did very well at it. Used the Bomb to end the war. Nationalized the Coal industry to break an illegal strike. Suddenly woke up and smelled the coffee concerning Soviet aggression and started defending US interests against communists.

9) Thomas Jefferson Overall he doesn’t score lots of points with me for his presidency. But you have to give credit to him for the Louisiana Purchase.

10) Lyndon B. Johnson To those who know your Maximum Leader well, this may seem like a surprising choice. But, Johnson used the power of his office to push through Civil Rights legislation. His “Great Society” programs were the logical extension to the “New Deal.”

So there it is… In all honesty, the Top 4 on your Maximum Leader’s list haven’t changed in about 15 years or more. He is very committed to the order of those four. The 5-8 slots are tough. They always consist of the same men, but your Maximum Leader sometimes changes the order. He often switches Reagan and TR. Slots 9 & 10 are so hard. Because once you get down to that level, there are always signifcant reasons for not including a particular president on the list. Other than the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson’s Presidency was a complete failure. Johnson’s albatross is Vietnam. It is hard to pick the lower part of the order. Other Presidents that your Maximum Leader is fond of are: John Adams (oft overlooked - if it were not for the Alien and Sedition Acts he would be much better remembered as a president); Dwight Eisenhower (great Cold Warrior); and James Madison (master manipulator of Congress - a fact often overlooked). Some great men who happened to be president include: John Quincy Adams, Herbert Hoover, and Woodrow Wilson. But they were failures as president. And then there is the special case of Richard Nixon. So much potential for greatness. So much realized misery. Nixon really deserves a category all to himself.

Could your Maximum Leader reel off a short list of the worst presidents? Sure. They are (in no particular order): U.S. Grant, James Buchanan (Is your Maximum Leader the only one surprised that Pennsylvania has only produced one President of the US?), Millard Filmore, Warren G. Harding, and Andrew Johnson.

Well… That was a fun intellectual exercise…

Carry on.

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