Saturday’s Show will consider matters somewhat related to the current round of primaries.
Whom would you rank as the best president of all time? Whom would you say was the worst? Whom would you say was (here comes a phrase that is perhaps an oxymoron) the most mediocre president? I refer here to POTUS. The President of the United States. For sake of clarity, we would not count those individuals who served as president under the Articles of Confederation, as the nature of the job was quite different than it became under Article II of the United States Constitution. (And also because, without reference to historical tracts, most of us we do not know the names of those gentlemen.) Also not to be counted is Jefferson Davis. He was chief executive of another country, after all.
If one ranks Grover Cleveland, does that mean Cleveland counts twice, since he was the only president to serve two terms non-consecutively? For our purposes—no.
Rankings are prevalent in American society. Many crowds chant "We’re Number One!" I have not heard of any who shout "We’re a Number Two!" At one point during my senior year of high school our debate team was ranked ninth in the State of Indiana. My Freshman year at DePauw we were ranked ninth in the country. Of course, I listened to the Beatles’ White album (yes, I know that was not its title; but most people know as "The White Album" the two-album work issued under the simple title "The Beatles"), and so "Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine" might have had an effect.
We shall discuss the qualities that make a president great, the temporal contexts in which greatness or non-greatness may be fostered, and, finally, what the picks are of our panel and how we rank the occupants of the Oval Office.
Civil Discourse Now takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Big Hat Books. We go on-line later in the day.