Is there bias in the academy toward Democrats and liberals?
Does Charlie Daniels play a real fast fiddle?
George W. Bush was no FDR, but Barack Obama could be.
That's the verdict of 238 of the nation's leading presidential scholars, who - for a fifth time - rated Franklin Delano Roosevelt the best president ever in the latest Siena College Research Institute poll.
In office for barely two years, Obama entered the survey in the 15th position - two spots behind Bill Clinton and three spots ahead of Ronald Reagan.
Obama got high marks for intelligence, ability to communicate and imagination, but his score was dragged down by his relative lack of experience and family background.
"Most of the presidents came from elite backgrounds, and he certainly did not," said professor Douglas Lonnstrom, who crunched the numbers. "He grew up without a father."
I find this kind of thing fascinating. Not because they rank conservatives and Republicans lower, or that they made FDR #1 (that's the narrative and they're sticking to it). It's that the nation's public intellectuals operate so much in a cocoon that they don't realize people are laughing at them when they make Barack Obama the 15th best president of all time, while giving him "high marks for intelligence, ability to communicate and imagination." The evidence for any of that is so lacking that it obviously exists only in the minds of the respondents.
BTW - they rank Jimmy Carter 7 places higher (#32) than George Bush (#39).