The New Deal still enchants. It even outdoes Mount Rushmore.
For the fifth time in five surveys, Franklin D. Roosevelt tops a Siena College survey of the best U.S. presidents, the school said Thursday.
Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson — the four faces of Mount Rushmore — are all runner-ups, according to 238 historians, presidential scholars and political scientists who participated in the Siena College Research Institute Survey of U.S. Presidents.
Since 1982, the Loudonville, N.Y., college has periodically asked scholars to rank American presidents on 20 categories, including imagination, foreign policy accomplishments, and ability to avoid crucial mistakes.
The 2010 survey included President Obama. He was ranked highly on imagination (sixth place), communication ability (seventh place) and intelligence (eighth place), and ended up over all as the 15th best president.
George W. Bush, who ranked 23rd in the 2002 survey, plummeted into the bottom five (39th place) in the 2010 survey. Mr. Bush was ranked especially poorly in categories of handling the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and personal intelligence.
Of the other recent presidents, Bill Clinton ranked 13th, Ronald Reagan ranked 18th, George H.W. Bush ranked 22nd, and Jimmy Carter ranked 32nd.