What makes a president great?
Academics, journalists, and popular historians agree: our greatest presidents are the ones who confronted a national crisis and mobilized the entire nation to face it. That’s the conventional wisdom. The chief executives who are celebrated in textbooks and placed in the top echelon of presidents in surveys of experts are the bold leaders - the Woodrow Wilsons and Franklin Roosevelts - who reshaped the United States in line with their grand “vision” for America. Unfortunately, along the way, these “great” presidents inevitably expanded government - and shrank our liberties.
As the twentieth-century presidency has grown far beyond the bounds the Founders established for the office, the idea that our chief executive is obliged to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” has become a distant memory.
Historian and celebrated Reagan biographer Steven F. Hayward reminds us that the Founders had an entirely different idea of greatness in the presidential office. The personal ambitions, populist appeals, and bribes paid to the voters with their own money that most modern presidents engage in would strike them as instances of the demagoguery they most feared - one of the great dangers to the people’s liberty that they wrote the Constitution explicitly to guard against. The Founders, in contrast to today’s historians, expected great presidents to be champions of the limited government established by the Constitution.
Working from that almost forgotten standard of presidential greatness, Steven Hayward offers a fascinating off-the-beaten-track tour through the modern presidency, from the Progressive Era’s Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. Along the way he serves up fresh historical insights, recalls forgotten anecdotes, celebrates undervalued presidents who took important stands in defense of the Constitution, and points the way to a revival of truly constitutional government in America.
Interesting information from a well thought out perspective that you won't hear anywhere else. Well read.
I loved the 1st edition of the book much better. The historic analysis here was well done, but the critique and grading of each president was blatantly bias. George W. Bush does not deserve the praise and grading he got while he was and is equally abusive to the Constitution as Clinton or Obama have been. Therefore, although this is a great overview of history it is however terribly slanted to make all the conservatives into angels and liberals into demons. I am not saying this book is useless in any way, just that it is very bias laden in conservative white wash. In sum, it was a nice refresher in modern US History.
Where does The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Like every book in the P.I.G series, unless your mind is open, you're not going to receive the information. This is an excellent reference - no hold's barred and no party affiliation permitted - offering only facts about each President's actions and how each relates back to the oath to uphold the Constitution. All have failed pretty miserably. Some much worse than others. Unfortunately, this topic is yet another that divides this once great nation; is the Constitution a living, breathing, changing document, or did our Founding Fathers get it right at the beginning?
What does Johnny Heller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
I really enjoyed Mr. Heller's voice. The gravely quality may not be everyone's cup of tea but I found it especially fitting considering the subject matter.
Any additional comments?
I would love to have a companion version of the first Presidents and how they are graded by the oath to uphold the Constitution.