On Presidents’ Day: Lincoln is King

February 21st, 2011 at 12:28 am | 13 Comments |

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On Presidents’ Day, Americans take a day to recognize the office of the presidency – and to reflect upon the country’s best.

FrumForum asked freshman Republican members which president they admired the most, but excluded President Reagan from contention to give the other presidents a fair chance. The fourteen Republican members who responded gave a range of answers, but President Abraham Lincoln came out on top.

Interestingly, these freshman congressmen have something in common with President Obama, who has identified Lincoln as his favorite president. Independent voters also agreed – a new Gallup poll shows that Lincoln was their favorite president.

“President Lincoln’s ability to guide our country through our most difficult period in history stands as a testament to both his leadership, character and patriotism,” Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) told FrumForum.

“[H]e served as president during one of the most dangerous and trying times our nation has ever faced and he was able to keep our country from falling apart. Lincoln saved our democracy and is the reason our nation is still thriving today,” concurred Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-1).

That same Gallup poll predictably showed Reagan with a 24 point lead over the second place finisher, George Washington.

The congressmen who favored Theodore Roosevelt, the president who finished second in the FrumForum polling, cited his love for the environment and his respect for states’ rights. “Teddy Roosevelt is one of my favorites because of his can-do spirit, his respect for states’ rights, and his exemplary foresight to ensure that the beauty of our nation was left for future generations,” said Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-01).

“Teddy Roosevelt… believed in and promoted American exceptionalism. In addition, he was instrumental in introducing the U.S. as a world power,” agreed Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17).

Thomas Jefferson was the non-Reagan favorite of Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-1): “Thomas Jefferson was a Renaissance Man. Not only did he write the Declaration of Independence, but he was an author, inventor, farmer, diplomat, and public servant, only to name a few. A true ‘man of the people.’”

Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-13) told FrumForum that he had served under George H.W. Bush – and that he was his choice for favorite non-Reagan president. “President George H. W. Bush was my Commander in Chief when I served as a Marine during Operation Desert Storm. He has the best experience any president can have from his service in the military, to his leadership as an ambassador, his time as a U.S. congressman, his role as the Director of the CIA, and his two terms as Vice President. President George H. W. Bush is the greatest and most dignified American I have ever had the privilege and honor to meet,” he said.

Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN-8) pointed to the economic accomplishments of the Coolidge administration to explain his choice: “During the Coolidge administration the federal budget shrank, the national debt was cut in half, unemployment stood at 3.6%, consumer prices rose just 0.4% and Americans personal wealth increased 17.5%,” he said.

Congressman Kevin Yoder (KA-3), on the other hand, proudly noted that President Eisenhower was from his home state. “He is a proud son of Kansas and a true American hero. Eisenhower worked his way to the highest level of service in the military and public office yet maintained his strong Kansas principles of humility and hard work… When he left office, he left our country with greater prosperity and through his service he made a lasting impression for future generations,” he said.

According to Gallup, 19% of all Americans view Reagan as the nation’s best president, with Lincoln, Clinton, Kennedy and George Washington trailing behind.

With files from Nicole Glass and Shawn Summers.

Recent Posts by Tim Mak

13 Comments so far ↓

  • politicalfan

    Is this crowd over 60 that voted? Ronald Reagan?

    I wonder what would happen if the President granted amnesty today? Watching videos, he was well-spoken.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Very strange to me that most of them said Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

    What do Republicans today think that Lincoln had in common with the modern-day Republican Party? Lincoln was a trial lawyer. Lincoln didn’t hunt out of his concern for animals and belonged to no church. Lincoln supported labor over banking interests. Lincoln supported tariffs that benefited northern manufacturers over the interests of bankers and Southern farmers. Lincoln supported investments in education and transportation infrastructure over lower taxes. Lincoln supported levying an income tax to pay for the war he was waging. Lincoln didn’t believe in nullification or support state’s rights (obviously)! What is left here? The suspension of habeus corpus?

    And Teddy Roosevelt? The Progressive trust-buster who passed food safety laws and established our national parks? Huh?

    • Nebraska Admiral

      Why do you find it “very strange” that your fellow Americans admire Lincoln? Lincoln:

      A. Saved the country, and

      B. Ended slavery.

      Do you demonize your political foes to the point that you think they must oppose these things?

      • hisgirlfriday


        I don’t mean to demonize you or any other fellow Americans that post here. I also don’t find it strange that any fellow American would admire Lincoln.

        What I find strange is for Republican congressmen to say they admire Lincoln and claim Lincoln’s mantle for themselves but govern in diametric opposition to Lincoln’s values.

        You can’t be “the party of Lincoln” AND “the party of state’s rights.”

  • Houndentenor

    I don’t think anyone of any political persuasion can take this list seriously. W slightly ahead of Jefferson? This is absurd.

  • JeninCT

    galfriday, Lincoln was a Republican and a great president and TR is a legendary figure, historically, and both were well loved. I think you’re splitting hairs.

  • ottovbvs

    For “greatest” it’s a toss up between Lincoln, Washington and FDR. The simplest solution is to make them equal first. The hour brought forth the man in each case. The sheer ludicrousness of these popular polls is well illustrated by the fact that of the top four contenders three were distinctly average.

  • chicago_guy

    The fact that Lincoln isn’t a unanimous choice proves that being ignorant of history is no barricade to being elected to Congress, particularly if you represent the party of “real America.”

  • The Merchant of Venice Beach

    The Republicans (and who else would it be?) who say Reagan was the greatest President are simply nuts. It has almost become a reflex, in the future when people sneeze they would have us respond: “Reagan Bless You”
    I am not busting on Reagan, unlike Otto I think he was a pretty good one, he got the big issue right in dealing with Gorbachev and that counts for a lot, but compared to Lincoln, FDR, and Washington he pales in his influence. If Reagan had never been born I think it highly likely that whoever was President would have done about the same with Gorbachev and our own lives would be pretty much as it is now, but the great ones were pivotal.
    Thank God my young children have no idea who Reagan is. Last year my then 5 year old Kindergartener thought Washington was President so at least the school is doing something right.

  • bluestatepastor

    All of the presidents who received at least 5% of the vote in that Gallup poll were either (a) president within living memory of at least some Americans, or (b) one of the two best-known presidents of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I suspect that this says more about our educational system, and many Americans’ relative ignorance of their own history , than it says about the respondents’ political leanings nor anything else.

  • cdorsen

    The fact that 5% said Barak Obama is the greatest president in history is telling. He is in only beginning his third year of his first term, so at the very least, lets wait and see. But, even before the conclusion of his first term, unemployment has sustained at depression levels, his key achievement is passing a health care bill that is largely unpopular and does not even accomplish his stated goals, there has been no leadership on foreign policy, domestically we are headed for a fiscal crisis, and he punted on his own appointed debt commission’s recommendations. History may one day smile upon Barak Obama, only time will tell, but anyone calling him the greatest president of all time, at this point in his administration, is either naive or delusional. Which sort of makes sense when you look at our Congress.

  • The Merchant of Venice Beach

    cdorsen: um…did it ever occur to you the 5% are most likely mostly blacks just expressing pride in our first black President? His getting elected alone makes him exceptional, so there is that as well.

  • ktward

    I saw that gallup poll earlier on another blog.

    I’m not surprised that Tim felt it necessary to exempt Reagan as a response to his own poll. Seriously- could you find a more constrained polling group than the current crop of freshman GOP congress critters? (My eyes are rolling out of my head.)

    Interesting backstory within the gallup poll:

    The results of a Gallup poll conducted some 55 years ago show how these rankings can change over time. In 1956, Gallup asked Americans to name the top three greatest presidents. The top vote getter at that time was Franklin Roosevelt, who had died only 11 years previously. Roosevelt was followed by Lincoln, Washington, and Dwight Eisenhower, the incumbent president at the time of that poll.