tv What Makes a Great President CSPAN April 15, 2017 9:10am-10:21am EDT
objects including 2 million books in 154 million other things. >> at 6:30 p.m. eastern, presidential historian edna green medford, douglas brinkley, and richard norton smith discuss president to leadership. thet is interesting that greatest american president, abraham lincoln, is bracketed by arguably the least successful american president. sa. >> this holiday weekend on c-span. next on american history tv, the university of virginia presidential scholar barbara perry discusses the trades that make a debt the traits that make a great president. uses george washington, abraham lincoln, and fdr as examples of how great presidents cultivated their leadership and one popular support. the mcconnell center the university of louisville and
kentucky hosted this one hour, 10 minute event. good evening, ladies and gentlemen thank you all for , coming out to be with us tonight. i would also like to thank those who are watching on c-span who are tuning in. my name is bridget kim and i am a mcconnell's goner -- scholar. it is an honor for me to serve as mc for this program tonight. tonight we not only have a chance to think seriously about the american presidency and its requirements for one of the truly great scholars but we also have the chance to pause and remember one of our own. this was a mcconnell scholar who graduated in 2001, after 9/11 he joined the u.s. army and had risen to the rank of captain while he was killed serving in africa. tonight, we remember dan as a model mcconnell scholar by asking dr. barbara perry to deliver the daniel j utley memorial collection.
dr. perry is a local girl, having graduated from the anniversary of louisville with a degree in political science. she went on to receive her and a at oxford university and her phd. she was able to return to one of her alma mater's to serve as as a professor of ethnic and institutions. at the university of virginia miller center. she is also the director of presidential studies and cochair of the presidential oral history program. she also served as the project director of the edward s kennedy oral history project. she also served as a nonresident fellow with our mcconnell center here at the present -- university of louisville. she is the author or editor including rose kennedy.
and the priestly tribe. the supreme court image in the american mind. she is a frequent guest on radio and television news programs. most importantly, she enjoys spending her free time watching her 11 cardinals. -- her beloved cardinals. ladies and gentlemen, please help us welcome dr. barbara perry. [applause] dr. perry: thank you so much for that generous introduction. it is wonderful, as always to be here and come back to louisville. no matter how long i am in virginia, this is always home. the university of louisville is a special home as my alma mater. i have worked with professor paul weber -- he was my mentor you. -- here. he founded the mcconnell center. it is best to be at the center and speaking with so many wonderful scholars here.
i just wanted to say a word to the senator. i think some may view them as strange bedfellows. a lifelong dyed in the wool democrat as paul was a scholar and academic and easily thought to be liberal and a conservative senator. they came together for the good of the commonwealth of kentucky, for the city of louisville and certainly for the university. i always want to thank them. i think paul is watching us and i always want to express my thanks to him. it is an honor to be the it is an honor to be the memorial election are here. -- lecturer this year. i have read about the amazing career and service to our country and the fact that he gave his life and service to our country, it makes him the ultimate mcconnell scholar. we are grateful for that.
i am grateful to be here and be speaking in his honor. i want to thank my dear friend gary greg -- the director of the mcconnell center along with felicity jones. grider jones and to all of those at the mcconnell center who helped put this evening on. first of all, let me say happy presidents' day. thank you for coming to celebrate with us. i always say it at the miller center. i am now at the university of virginia and we study the presidency every day. so every day is presidents' day. i particularly like to spend presidents' day talking about topics who are of interest of those of us who follow the presidency. you might think this will be a short lecture. does it matter who is president? yes. [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. [laughter] if you have any questions, i would happy to answer them. i looked back at this topic and i remember being assigned it in
2008. i wondered at the time, why did they assign me this topic? i decided that it might be because they had a sense not that it didn't matter who was president but perhaps that all politicians are alike. sometimes when people have that view they view them all as bad. , i thought maybe they want me to distinguish those presidents who are great. so i did, i started by saying that the president of matters -- the presidents who matter the most are the ones who are our greatest presidents. so we will spend some time this evening talking about at least two of them from mount rushmore and several others. i will hope that you will join in with me in thinking about what you think makes a good -- great president. examples may be in your lifetime or reading of history but also, how we might apply that going forward when we rate and rank our presidents. it will come as a shock to you
-- it won't come as a shock to you to know that the three top presidents that are considered the greatest, whenever they are right or rated, these three presidents come out at the top. in this order, abraham lincoln, george washington and franklin roosevelt. i like that. they come from three different centuries, they come from three different important. in the history of our country. there is one democrat, one republican and one who is neither. nonpartisan is how we view george washington. what makes a great president? how would we define that? i came across a definition that i particularly like. it helps to distinguish these top three from the next three or four. it might include teddy roosevelt or thomas jefferson or john kennedy. aaron david miller who is a diplomat and scholar of the presidency has written a book about why there aren't any great
president anymore. sort of an interesting and intriguing topic. his definition of what makes a great president would be that you have to have preserved the country during an existential challenge or crisis. if you think about it, of course, for george washington, saving the country as it was being pounded. -- founded. it wasn't certain that our country would carry on. it could have broken apart at any time in the founding. -- founding period. fdr weathers the great saves the country during the civil war and fdr weathers the great depression, a worldwide depression and also world war ii. great presidents are great leaders. that would come as no shock to anyone. i have come across this definition of leadership that i think could be used by anyone in any organization.
i think it could be used if you are the head of the pta -- the block watch in your neighborhood, the head of your corporation or a company. it comes from the u.s. army handbook. the leadership influences people by providing purpose, direction and motivation. i would point out that those then are purpose is clear, vision is clear, leadership is motivating people to operate and accomplish the mission and input of the organization. -- and improve the organization. in the case of the president, that organization is the country, the presidency itself and the executive branch of government. it obviously has a major impact on the government as a whole. let's start with washington. clear vision he had, to be sure. he knew he wanted to save the union, he knew he had to save the union. he could have let himself become
a cult of personality or even a king. remember, he stepped aside after two terms he went home to mount vernon. if you look at the rest of the categories, they come out of the boy scout handbook. not that i was ever a boy scout booklet -- but i was a brownie. honesty, ambition, courage, self-control and discipline, impeccable judgment, devotion to work, humility, all of those would go with what we teach our children when we teach them virtues and character in the classroom and he to them at home and when we teach them in our religious belief some backgrounds. the last one, not so much. i should give credit where credit is due to the late james rees. i know gary knew him. he was the wonderful director of mount vernon and passed away much too prematurely. he wrote a few bucks.
-- he wrote a beautiful little book on george washington and leadership. the last one is not something you would teach your child. i will tell you in part how that works for washington. you might recall the famous phrase, he was eulogized when he passed away in 1799. that is not even three years after he left the presidency. he was eulogized as first in war, first in peace and first in the heart of his countrymen. we go back to the revolutionary war where he is the commander in chief of the american forces, fighting off the british to become independent and not a colony. the very first thing he had to learn -- dr. greg has walked a -- written a lot about this. washington was not always a successful military man.
he was not successful in leaving troops in the french and indian war. he had to learn to distinguish the obvious from the not obvious. here is one, make sure you locate the latrines are a enough -- far enough away you are not expecting your troops -- in fact in your troops -- infecting your troops with diseases. the second was learn effective intelligence gathering. that was less obvious, he had to learn under the circumstances of the revolutionary war. it was not so easy. how to find most beneficial intelligence. establish clear rules, this is pretty clear, no drunkenness in the ranks, no cursing in the ranks. these were rules he put into place.
he knew that he was not a great orator. he knew his own witnesses. presidentshree great he is the least skilled in , oratory of the three great presidents. he wrote quite beautifully for someone at the time only had a grade school education but he tended to be rather soft-spoken. he was not a great orator. he tended to get nervous in crowds. having said that, he presented a commanding figure. how did he do this? first of all, he was 6'2". he would not do so well on a basketball team in this day and age but in that era, when the average man was 5'7" would be like looking at someone who is 6'6" or 6'7". he stood out among his contemporaries. he knew he was rather narrow of shoulder. to be dramatic, he would order
his uniform specially made with large shoulders that would make him look wider. -- lard epaulets that would make him look wider. it was then said as you see from this painting he would be on a steed going into battle. he had such impeccable horsemanship. no one could sit a horse with commanding dramatic flair as washington. his troops used to be amazed that he could sit above that horse and that the horse would remain still as well because he had such complete command. finally, this is the last one. this is about choosing the best strategy from feasible options. this is something that he
carried into the presidency. what were the options that he had available to him? in the revolutionary war he could not match person for unit, army for army with the british. therefore he also could not match them in open field warfare that they were perfectly skilled at an experienced in. he had to figure out what his options were. his options were the element of surprise, particularly around the style warfare -- guerilla style warfare. when he could mount a more traditional battle as he did in the final battle of yorktown with the french now on our side and the british behind them, he knew he had them and forced them into surrender. when he goes into the presidency, you see some of these traits and lessons come to the floor. the sign of a good leader is one that is self-confident but not arrogant. so confident in his own leadership and in his intellect that he didn't worry about
having smart people around him. for example, hamilton, we know about him because of the hit broadway play. he chose hamilton a brilliant , economist as the first secretary of the treasury. he chose thomas jefferson. we bow and genuflect at the university of virginia. he was his secretary of state. henry knox was his secretary of war. madison was in the house of representatives from virginia. he was not in the cabinet. even though he had been the father of the constitution for the philadelphia convention, he didn't worry about separation of power. he would often advise washington and help him with speechwriting. he took a large role in the famous farewell address that washington gave. he also established executive privilege.
this is not anything that is in the constitution. washington thought he should have the right as the president to keep secrets and keep secret the conversation he had with his advisers. we know that this is a president that lasts up until the present time. it is modified by the supreme court in 1974 when richard nixon uses -- he says he doesn't have to turn over the watergate tapes. we say no, 8-0 the supreme court used that argument. desert viewed that argument and they said no, we do agree that this president was established -- this precedent was established by washington. it is meant to apply to know -- to military and diplomatic secrets but it does not apply in the case of watergate to evidence that was required and a criminal justice matter. this was a criminal trial in the
watergate scandal. he was forced to turn those over, that narrows the definition of executive privilege to his resignation of the presidency. another lesson learned on the job for washington was that he went to the senate and he thought i will listen to them as they talk about the treaty that i'm interested in. he decided that this is so depressing and so upsetting to listen to the senate discuss trade is that he said i am -- discuss treaties that he said i am leaving and not going back. i will forge my own treaty and through the constitution, i will send them up through the senate and have them approved or not but i will not listen to them -- to depressing, to upsetting. -- too depressing, too upsetting. this is part of the interesting dramatic to the right here. he banished the whiskey rebellion.
it sounds pretty familiar in this day and age that from riotists were not happy to have to pay a federal tax on whiskey. washington took control of the army to march up to pennsylvania and with other commanders to put down that rebellion. a very important president set -- precedent set them about the power of the national government over those who might have a different view in the state. now i will turn to -- doris kearns goodwin on this presidents' day, it's important to talk about a presidential scholar, a public intellectual. she was a phd in political science rather than history and she focuses on her graduate work. on the u.s. supreme court. she had a white house fellowship under lyndon johnson. she began writing on the presidency. you may have read her books on
johnson. certainly on lincoln and we will talk about that. she has a very important set of common presidential greatness elements. starting with courage and self-confidence. starting with courage and self-confidence. change, seeing something that goes wrong so change doesn't get stuck in a particular rot. having a intelligence strong moral compass. she learned it from lyndon johnson, the man did not know how to relax, i don't think he knew how to relax. presidents need to be able to find some way to relax. finally, to be both inspiring
and to be able to be inspired. how did lincoln carry out these elements of greatness? as she points out, he kept the faith, even on the darkest days of the civil war when it looks like the union could lose to the south and the confederacy. even at the beginning of the presidency when the country broke apart, as someone who was against slavery, they caused the first set mistake of the confederacy to lead the union. he kept the faith and he helped the people to keep the faith. he worked with opponents. if we needed a president to reach out to the other parties, we needed it now. rather than form a cabinet of all republicans, he reached out to the different factions of the parties.
he was not opposed to rethinking his strategy. he saw that it was not working. he would rethink the military strategy. he would rejigger the strategy with his commanders. if he didn't like the commanders, -- he ran to a lot of them before he got to as grant, he would get rid of those commanders. he accepted blame when things went wrong. this is something that we can apply. we have a whole another list to come to. he would get mad, he would have a temper. rather than write a letter in anger, he would write it and then put it in a drawer. he wouldn't send it, then his anger was upside. we can all learn that lesson on
email and tweets and perhaps facebook posts. in addition to those categories, they also point out that lincoln had a real understanding of public sentiment. he was able to gauge where the public was. he didn't go to quickly on emancipation. he held back. he stuck to his principles which were to eventually come to the notion that slavery should be abolished. ultimately, as he got 1863, it began to be a first printable to abolish it. he knew when and what time he should use it on public sentiment. he didn't do it after a loss for fear that it would look like he is becoming rather hysterical. he waited until some union victories had mounted and then let it out.
i also love this one, presidents need to know how to laugh. they need to know how to take a joke, tell a joke and they also need to know how to laugh at themselves. they knew to be -- needs to be self-deprecating. it makes them approachable by the people. my famous story of stephen douglas -- lincoln said that if i had two bases, would i be using this one? he knew how homely he looked. he was 6'4" in the 1850's and 60's, he stood out. i love this picture from the national archives because people had to sit for so long to have the picture actually take.
they tended not to smile. there is a little bit of upturn in his. he is with his son, his favorite son. i like to think that the two of them had been exchanging a funny joke. lincoln had the gift of oratory. despite being self-taught, he was able to weed history and drama and poetry into his speeches. who can forget the gettysburg address? he was the number one presidential, inaugurated address. what about more modern presidents? the technology changed. i turned to another scholar who taught political science at princeton. they are still considered a dean of presidential studies. there are six categories that are pretty self explanatory.
they must be able to communicate in public and we know now that means using technology and using media -- particularly electronic media. they must be well organized. they should have political skill to get elected. as we discussed at the mcconnell center, they must also be able to go from politicking in the campaign to politicking in government. perhaps even making a little less of the politicking and more government in governing. they need to have a clear policy. maybe even more important than lincoln. public policy is so important. cognitive style, that may be less self-evident. the millis center did the official oral history of every president since jimmy carter. we interviewed the presidents, we interviewed their top 50-100
senior advisers. we are coming to the and of the bush 43 project. we are hoping that the obama budget will be required. we always ask how did your president learned? how did your president take in information? some of it is obvious, is your president a reader? does your president for a script or a thick briefing book? was he someone who preferred to listen rather than to read or be briefed? how did he take that information and apply it? we get very interesting answers to that. finally, emotional intelligence. i would say that would be balance -- to be mature, to be someone who does not fly off the handle. someone who doesn't have a red
hot temper were sure to view -- short view. we come to the first modern president, fdr. how did greenstiein apply this to fdr? soaring rhetoric, competence, 25% of the people were out of work. >> my own family lived in dayton ohio at the time. my grandfather lost his job after the stock market crash. he didn't work steadily for six years. they lost their home, they had to live with family members, go on relief.
my aunt will tell you stories of listening to fdr's fireside chat. she would sit on the front porch and listen to her parents talk about how roosevelt was saving them. my mother would tell me stories about how much confidence she had in the president during world war ii. especially when my father was overseas. those fireside chats to us through so many hard times. they were intimate, conversational, people can relate to them. fdr had a very competitive model. it's how he learned. that how he organized. they put themselves in the middle. then there are spokes going out. spoke syndicate the information coming into them. these kinds of personalities who are very competitive like to have their advisors competing with them. that is how they get there -- their information. that is not the most organized way. that is a pyramid model. the president sits at the top and information gets built it up
to him. eisenhower uses that. that organizational capacity, according to greenstein, he thought worked well at times but could be chaotic. president roosevelt -- setting up the modern presidency -- political skill, it would be hard to find anybody who had more political skill than fdr. his first hundred days alone passed piece after piece of legislation. they were struck down by the supreme court. he also had great skill in working with the western countries in the alliance.
it ultimately defeated taylor and the japanese. what about vision cognitive style? according to greenstein, he thought that fdr had a better vision in foreign affairs than domestic. i might take some issue with that. his domestic policies were buried powerful -- very powerful. he had a great memory. he had -- he was a great synthesizer. that was his cognitive style. he was less analytic. in terms of his emotional intelligence, according to love -- wendell holmes, he had a great temperament. everybody had a second rate internet -- intellect compared to him.
he could be manipulative and deceptive. he tried to pack the supreme court so that it made it look like he was a dictator. that did not work. one less thing to share with you today. this is the current dean of the does presidential studies at yell. we always laugh at it because his book was very dense and it is hard to get through because it is rather dense. i will say that i love this part of the series. he stepped back from what skills the president had and what this president's character was. instead, he looks at the context in which the president served instead of skill. he was not necessarily the greatest president but it was the reconstructive president. a lot of them are great but they
are the ones who change our regime in some major, lasting way. when i talk about president who matter, doesn't it matter who is president? think about these people listed here. they utterly change the kind of regime that we had. jefferson is a states rights person. he is certainly different from the federalists. they are more in favor of the federal power. they are the hamiltons of the world. where jefferson loved sitting on his plantation in virginia outside of charlottesville. he believes that it is the farmer that makes the difference. the states matter, the government closest to the
people, that matters. he founded the modern day democratic party. he changes the regime away from the federalist concept. andrew jackson builds on that in the late 1820's and 1830's. he was a frontiersman, very much a man of the people who expands the electorate. much more in favor of state power than national power. lincoln, we know why he changed and why he transformed and reconstructed the government going from a pre-civil war. to consolidating the union and consolidating the power of the presidency. fdr creates the new deal coalition, not just the new deal at the coalition of motors -- voters that vote for a new deal. women, blacks, southerners, jewish, laborers. that is the election in which richard nixon chips away at the coalition.
a person that we will talk about is ronald reagan. for those of you that lived through that. ronald reagan said government was of the solution to the problem, government is the problem. that was his view. government was causing many of the problems that we had. we should have smaller government, we should have lower taxes and we certainly should beat the russians that -- and and the cold war. think of it in these terms. i love these what-ifs. they used to do this as a skip. what if eleanor roosevelt could fly? they had a picture of eleanor roosevelt with wings.
what if adams had defeated jefferson and you didn't have the regime change? what if john quincy adams was reelected in 1828? what if he defeats andrew jackson? jacksonian democracy does not develop. what if he had been defeated in 1860? that could have been better, maybe the south would not have broken away. maybe the north would have broken away over slavery. i don't know the answer to this question. but it matters.
hoover defeats fdr. he is not moving us in the right direction as far as the great depression is concerned. here is one, carter is reelected in 1980, rather than reagan, what does that mean for our country? what does that mean for the economy at the time? what does that mean for the place in the world? what would that mean for the iranian hostages? reagan was transformative. that is why it matters, when you go through each one of those elections, you can see that it makes a difference between war and peace, union of the country or confederacy, prosperity or depression, slavery or freedom, individual rights versus government power, liberal justices, we haven't talked much about that. some of these, we know what is
best. we all want peace. i say i am going to vote for the president who will give us peace, i want that. some of this is a matter of our own products -- politics. you might say no, i think that is bad for our country. i they we should have free markets. those, we can have conversations about. as we come to the end of the speaking portion before i turn things over for q&a, i wanted to share some of these very rich resources that we had. they talk about a few other presidents. with the research that we have, we have the oral histories as well as -- we also have the secret white house recordings starting to be made with fdr as soon as their where tape-recorded.
fdr put them in the white house. they are very primitive. the ones you can hear best are john kennedy. he started recording secretly during the cuban missile crisis. you can actually hear kennedy talking to his aid and his cabinet members during the cuban missile crisis. one of the teachers came over to charlottesville and we had a teacher institute on president kennedy. she got to listen to more of those. we hope that you use some of them in your class. let's listen to this one. this is kennedy putting in a call to former president like eisenhower in the midst of the cuban missile crisis, not knowing how it will and. he is thinking we are on the verge of a nuclear holocaust.
he is going to ask ike what he should do. >> we may get into the invasion business before the days are out. >> you made up your mind, you have to do this. >> and berlin. that is what i'm going to try to trade off. >> the soviets will do whatever they want. >> if they go into berlin -- >> right, right.
>> you don't think they will? you would take that risk? >> we are going to be uneasy. dr. perry: isn't that amazing? here you have kennedy. the youngest president of his day. he was 43. then you had the oldest president who had ever served. he was a five-star general and kennedy was a lieutenant junior grade in the south pacific. he is begging, help me general. he doesn't say mr. president. i am sure mr. president was
stuck in the throat of ike. he said help me here. i'm getting impression -- pressure from my own military to invade cuba. if you go online and look at a map of the united states, you can see exactly where they were aimed and where they would go off. i grew up in houston the window. my dad wanted to build a bomb -- i grew up in eastern louisville. my dad wanted to build a bomb shelter. these were such tough times. you hear kennedy asking for this help. that makes me feel better, i hope presidents go back and ask for their assistance.
this would be an example of a president who matters but in a bad way. as his administration came to its crushing and scandalous and -- end. he calls william rehnquist, who had just been confirmed at this point to be an associate justice of the supreme court. there was quite a bit of adversarial process is going back and forth. quite a bit of controversy. they can reaches out to him. i want to to listen carefully to nixon and see what you hear about his personality? [indiscernible]
dr. perry: that is classic makes -- nixon. what do you hear? the paranoia about washington. that was the georgetown set. they hated the elite. don't let them change you. to his credit, he said i will not -- give you one last bit of advice. the judiciary is independent from the president. even the extent, at the time of watergate, he indicated that he might not follow the court. he had served in the nextixon's justice department. it was an 8-0 decision against
nixon. three had been appointed by nixon himself. it actually gives me faith and hope that next an -- nixon still viewed the judiciary as independent. he had to follow the supreme court's ruling. we know that a contingent of republican leaders said to him that there is no more support for you. if you stay, you will not only have been impeached but you will be convicted and removed from office. the director of communications for jimmy carter if you are of a , certain age, you will remember the energy crisis of the lastte 70's. i was living with my parents and my dad would take gas up the car , we are running out of gas.
i would go pay my $.30 per gallon. carter would go on television and say we are in a difficult time, we must be careful, turn down your thermostats. i am wearing a cardigan here in the white house. karcher -- carter would sit in front of a fireplace to try to read create the -- re-create the fireside chats. this did not work for carter. very conversely, we know that reagan, he was the master of the media and was the great communicator.
my favorite story is michael beaver. he said that he would like a picture with the president. he said i need to know what the photo is like. what is the photo going to be, what is the headline and what is the first paragraph of the story? to carry this on was something very practical, this was inherited from the carter years. he said ok, let's have the press secretary announced this, it is good news. beaver said "not sof fast." he said bring me back five cities where the housing stocks are up. we will take the president to one of them.
they want to fort worth, texas. here is reagan and his beautiful presidential cavalcade. here is a man with great foresight growing at beard. -- that beard. he decided this would look perfect to have reagan in that mix. bush 41 we haven't talked about. he had the best resume. he only served one term. he had been in the house of representatives, he had been the head of the cia. he had been our ambassador to the u.n.. he was the head of the republican national committee. he knew the politics we were in during the watergate. he was a genuine war hero from world war ii.
that particular administration said that bush was the perfect person to bring together the leaders of the western world has sometimes the old eastern bloc. he also said to put that work together. they wanted to out saddam hussein from kuwait. i left a little bit and this was self-deprecating. he served for eight years under reagan. he would be the person sent to the state funeral. very self-deprecating, he would say you die, i fly. he was going to be there no matter what. with this point today, in 2016, it mattered. not only did they have a campaigner, they said that i am not a politician.
i will be successful at leading to the point where i will make america great again. by making that barricades that he was an outsider, jimmy carter had been -- they had some political experience and some governmental experience. the argument that trump made, i come full circle now, i think some people doesn't think it matters who is president because all politicians are alike. you tend to think that they are all bad. that was used by donald trump to make the case that he wasn't a politician. he didn't have political experience and he would shake washington. we know it the consequential differences are based on the two campaigns of donald trump and hillary clinton and what we know
so far. obviously, the repeal of the aca is still possible. i think hillary would have kept it. judge gorsuch as the nominee, a conservative first somebody who would be viewed as a moderate. anti-free trade versus pro-free trade and the very fact that we have a one-party government because we have members of congress -- if that had been hillary in the white house, she had split party government. i didn't even include immigration. they had two very different views. i like to think that she would have been a cardinals fan. thank you so much for your attention today.
i look forward to your question. [applause] >> dr. perry will answer a few questions. we have this one microphone. they will bring a microphone to you. please be sure to phrase your question as a question and not a small speech. >> speaking of the kennedys, my colleagues and i are teaching a course in boston from may 21 two the 23rd. everybody is invited to participate. it is not just for virginia, alumni and students, we will spend time at the edward kennedy institute. it is the centennial of
president kennedy's birth. i have some documents here if you are interested or if you type in jfk. it will take you right to the website. with that, i will call on suzy. >> the c-span rankings, where the any surprises out there for you? >> this is the third poll of academics they had taken. not surprisingly, those three
came up as we thought they would with lincoln at the top, washington second and fdr third. interesting to me was the fact that george bush is beginning to climb in the ratings and approval polls. this summer, he went from the 30's from when he was in office and is starting to climb. eisenhower is now up to number five. he is climbing into the top 10 and climbing into the top five. why do we think that is? certainly in the realm of moral and cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, somebody who had the allied forces in world war ii was certainly mature, dallas in his -- balanced in his demeanor. he scores very high on that in the realm of foreign affairs.
finally, in the economy. particularly, our infrastructure. we know the interstate highway for example. keep your eye on this. will we are calling this the ike spike. i think that there are handicapped when scholars asked the ratings of presidents. he was viewed as somebody who didn't have communication skills of an fdr or a john f. kennedy. i think he had a depressed rating that was rather unfair. thank you so much. >> i was wondering how you would
account when looking at those logistics. for people who look back on the past few decades and say i like this president. dr. perry: this is about an afterglow of a presidency. i think that's what keeps getting john kennedy into the top tier. he tends to fall in the top 10 among academics. there is a rosy glow about that administration. more to the point, sadly, because of the way it ended. if anybody has seen the movie jackie, that tells you the story of how mrs.
kennedy created the camelot mythology, the goals around him. she took camelot and updated it and created another golden era around the kennedy administration. i think you are absolutely right. to be honest, one of my colleagues at the center -- he was asked to participate in that rating and he said i don't know enough about the president of old. i didn't live during their time. that is not my area of scholarship. i would just feel a little uncomfortable trying to read president on these 10 categories. i think you have to take the ratings with a grain of salt. in 2010, gallup poll did a poll of the american people. they said of the last nine presidents, rate them in terms
of your approval of them. who came up at the top? john f. kennedy. followed by ronald reagan at 75%, followed by bill clinton. it does show you that some of the bias of the american people in terms of how they look back at president's day remember or people they are told about by him their grandparents or parents, i think that's seeping into the scholarly polls as well. >> let's go to the side. >> thank you for your talk. you mentioned that there was an organizational structure. there was a bicycle wheel and spoke, is there any other modern modern day organizational structure used and what is it? what presidents have used it?
>> those two still dominate. there are presidents who want to be in the weeds and in the thick of it, like fdr or jfk. there are more hierarchical arrangements with people have had military experience or, like ronald reagan, who had a hierarchical structure. he had agenda points that he made and we talked about them. he wanted to focus on those and did not want to be in the weeds. he had good people under him, people like james aker. he felt comfortable having that
information filtered up. there are some who feel more comfortable in the wheel and spokes system. his son would have preferred a hierarchical system. he did not have the experience and his dad had. bush had been the governor of texas, but had not had the federal governor experience -- federal government experience. some presidents have military background or less experience. this is why i like a combination of traits and looking at what traits make what kind of presidents and what presidents do those traits make. you could get modification, depending on the personality or the blending of the two models.
yes. right here. >> there has been a lot of discussion about the relationship of the president to the intelligence community, especially with regards to the president-- i feel that there is a notion that the president does not matter as much as because of this community operating outside of the president. >> i love this question and i have heard that expressed was dubbed there is a "black government" the you, that there is government so hidden that we cannot possibly know.
the president doesn't even know and it doesn't matter who the president is. the black government runs things no matter what. the reason i think it is interesting is that i heard a colleague who i admire who was the executive director of the 9/11 commission and he is a historian and a lawyer. i would say that it was february of 2016 and we asked him, since he was in that area -- i don't want to say he was in the black government, but he worked for condoleezza rice and worked for the state department and national security council.
i asked him about what he thought about trump being president and he said that he does not worry as much as some. he says that he knows a lot of colleagues have worried. he said that, in addition to the checks and balances in the system, thinking back to nexen, -- back to richard nixon, he was around when the intelligence committee was developed in the 1970's and he was using some of the intelligence community, the fbi, the cia, in some of his political shenanigans and it is a reason he got into trouble and why he was impeached in the house and would have been convicted in the senate. the checks and the balances of the system work and they began the investigations into watergate and it lead to
impeachment in the house and it probably would have led to conviction in the senate. the courts, by virtue of the criminal justice elements, they were also bringing to justice members of the nixon administration who had engaged in illegality in 1974. it was unanimous and three people in the eight were appointed by nixon, including the chief justice, who said that the president had gone beyond the precedent established by george washington. i hope those elements remain strong in our constitutional system with our separation of powers and our checks and balances. if you saw the book or movie,
all the presidents men, the independent media was able to make a case against nixon. i am not sure that could be the case now. i hope it will. the case about the black government, the colleague of mine says he does not know where it is and he thought it was a good thing. he says that he does not know where all the levers of power are. he seemed to take comfort in that. a president who is not skilled or who is like richard nixon and wants to use the black government, he could not even find all of the levers of power.
i realize that may not have been convincing, but it is something i try to keep in mind so that i can sleep at night. thank you again, thank you all for coming. [applause] announcer: this weekend, c-span's cities tour, along with the help of our cable partners will explore the literary scene of charlottesville virginia. visited the university of virginia to see their exhibit on william faulkner, nobel prize winner and uba's first writer in residence. >> many have come from uba sources. we have the typewriter he was by the university. as you look at the jacket, it is pretty torn up and ratty.
left his jacket hanging in his office when he went on his last trip to mississippi when he passed away. travel to monticello. >> if you visited monticello 20 years ago you would have just seen jefferson's neoclassical villa. we wanted to restore the landscape. thing you would have likely seen would be enslaved people. there would be no place that slavery was not visible. we want to make that known to visitors who come here today. >> explores challenge --
>> as lyndon johnson said when he became president, no matter how big you are a majority you get one year before the congress starts think -- stops thinking about you and starts thinking about themselves, their own reelection. in january of your second year, all members of congress are thinking about their midterm election. they are cautious about taking any risk. the city tour of charlottesville virginia. on book tv. and sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. on c-span3. cableg with our affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> american history tv, the cultural services division of the french embassy in new york city hosted a discussion about the 1986 nuclear weapons summit between