Two hundred and twenty-eight years ago this April, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. Since then, 44 Americans have taken that solemn vow, most recently Donald Trump. History has yet to judge our most recent presidents. But as we look farther into the past, which presidents have stood the test of time and are revered today? And which ones are now viewed as less successful leaders, or even as failures?
We’re discussing presidential performance with Robert W. Merry. He is the author of Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and the Historians. It’s now out in paperback. Where They Stand takes an in-depth look at what Mr. Merry calls “America’s favorite game,” rating the presidents. In the book, Mr. Merry examines polls conducted over the years, as well as metrics developed to rank those who have led our nation. He also shares fascinating anecdotes and insights about our past presidents, including how and why perceptions about some of them have changed over the years.
Robert W. Merry is the editor of The National Interest and the author of four books, including A Country of Vast Designs, a biography of President James Polk. He covered the White House, Congress and national politics for The Wall Street Journal and spent 22 years as an executive at the Congressional Quarterly, including 12 years as CEO.