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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Wilson to Obama (Politically Incorrect Guides) Paperback – February 13, 2012


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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Wilson to Obama (Politically Incorrect Guides) + The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History + The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides)
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Product Details

  • Series: Politically Incorrect Guides
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (February 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596987766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596987760
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Steven Hayward, one of my favorite historians and writers, has some pretty whacky ideas. For example, he thinks presidents should be graded on their loyalty to their oath of office. Why, it’s just crazy enough to work! Read this book not only because it is entertaining, insightful, and informative but also because it’s the perfect antidote to presidential grade inflation.”
—Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online and author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

“One of the keys to restoring the government to its proper limits will be to have our presidents serve in their originally intended role as defenders of the Constitution, rather than undermining it through endless expansions of the administrative state. It is surprising how seldom we evaluate presidents according to whether they live up to their oath of office, and we have Steven Hayward to thank for reminding us of the presidents who understood this, and those who didn’t.”
—Edwin Meese III, Attorney General in the Ronald Reagan administration and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation

“Every president takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. But how well do they perform this basic duty? Modern historians have mostly ignored this question, but Steven Hayward tackles it head on, grading the presidents of the last hundred years. He’s a tough grader, and his conclusions will surprise—and delight—many readers.”
—Michael Barone, senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics

From the Back Cover

Grading the presidents—by the Constitution

For a century after the founding, presidents routinely vetoed bills they believed unconstitutional and regularly spoke to the American people on the subject of constitutional government. But beginning with Woodrow Wilson in the Progressive Era, some chief executives have actively sought to undermine the Constitution, and in recent years many presidents have been negligent or simply ignorant about their constitutional responsibilities.

In The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Presidents, presidential historian Steven Hayward revives the original standard for judging our presidents. You’ll not only discover which presidents get an F on their efforts to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, but also learn about some of the underappreciated constitutional heroes who have been elected to the White House.

Along the way, you’ll also learn:
How the much ridiculed Calvin Coolidge was actually one of our most intellectual presidents, reading classics in the original Greek and Latin for relaxation at night in the White House
How Herbert Hoover, a strong anti-Communist, may have assured the success of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia
Why Eisenhower deliberately stumbled his way through his rare press conferences
How Barack Obama wanted to include Hiroshima and Nagasaki on his world apology tour, but the Japanese government said no thanks

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Customer Reviews

The book was an easy and enjoyable read.
Mark Sutter
The Founders, in contrast to today's historians, expected great presidents to be champions of the limited government established by the Constitution.
David Kinchen
Goodbye 2 stars.....what is left is what you get.
heresyarch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Peter Schramm on February 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
The premise of this great read is that the Founders wouldn't recognize the modern presidency, indeed it has become exactly the opposite of what they intended. Hayward explains with perfect clarity why this is so, and what it has wrought. He also gives a "constitutional grade" to each president after Wilson (Wilson F, Coolidge A+, for example).
That Hayward is a fine writer is true enough, but in this book he shines. It is a fine read on a great subject; when you get through with it you will know much, and you will have been never mislead, and you will have been amused. You should consider this book for your children in high school and college: it will be better than any textbook they are likely to read in their mickey mouse history classes; also, it is likely to make their teachers mad! Hayward reminds us of not only the big things, but of the small things that have large meanings. For example, I love this quote from Lyndon Johnson: "It's not the job of a politician to go around saying principled things." Perfect.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By CAP on February 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Many historians and political scientists have attempted ranking or grading the the men who have held the nation's highest office. To do this, the reviewer must establish a standard against which to assess each presidency. It is difficult, however, to establish a reliable standard resulting in attempts which are fundamentally flawed. Frequently, the author's standard applies their personal view of presidential greatness as the measuring stick by which all presidents should be judged. This is a natural tendency, but fails as an objective measure.

Steve Hayward, in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents, selects perhaps the most reliable (and, sadly, too often forgotten) standard: the president's duty to, "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." In doing so, Hayward's work provides useful insight into each president's use -- or abuse -- of his powers as granted by the Constitution, while still accounting for the ways in which the domestic and foreign policy demands of the office have changed over the past century. Hayward's message is successfully communicated via prose which is informative without being lost in political science jargon.

A highly informative and entertaining (or, depending upon the reader, enraging) read. Recommended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Reader on February 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This interesting book provides an evaluation of U.S. Presidents from Wilson to Obama specifically regarding their fidelity to the U.S. Constitution. There is a separate chapter on each President, with discussion of major issues in which an aspect of the Constitution was involved in the President's approach and decisions, and then an evaluation of his appointments to the Supreme Court.

The author clearly is interested in the long-term impact of the Presidents, even for recent ones such as Clinton, Bush43 and Obama, for whom one cannot provide a regular grade or rank as yet since at least a couple of decades must pass before the ordinary impact of a President begins to be evident. The evaluation of fidelity to the Constitution however can be done quite soon, provided one has a set of criteria that are applied consistently to each President. The author does this very well.

The most interesting evaluation in the book for me was that of Warren Harding. The author makes a strong case that Harding was a better President than John F. Kennedy, both on Constitutional grounds and in an overall assessment of their Presidencies. Harding has notable domestic and foreign successes (including the first modern world-wide arms control treaty). He made a remarkable start to reversing the extreme racial bigotry of the previous administration with a noteworthy speech in Birmingham, Alabama in favor of civil rights for blacks and strong advocacy of anti-lynching legislation.

The book is well-written and will retain your interest throughout.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is organized very well with a chapter on each president from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. Each chapter starts with one or two quotes by or about that president, some little known facts, and the author's letter grade, ranging from A+ to F-, based on how well the president followed the Constitution.

The author then explains why that particular president earned that particular grade. Reasons are explained, are well thought out, and are, for the most part, excellent. Some important issues, like the Patriot Act, were missed. The president's Supreme Court appointments are discussed and make up a significant portion of the president's grade.

Grades given: 1 A+, 1 A-, 2 B+, 1 B, 4 C+, 2 C-, 5 F, and 1 F-

While not perfect, this is an excellent work and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in their liberty, in history, or just curious about how we got here from the constitutional republic we once were.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Richard Yale on February 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
As we have engaged in the craziness that the 2012 presidential election has become, Steven Hayward has written an insightful, witty, and fast-paced book that asks us to step back and inquire after the call and purpose of the American presidency. His approach is to grade each president in the last hundred years according to a strict criterion: whether or not they have been faithful in dispatching the primary constitutional responsibility of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States. Hayward begins with two important chapters that both set forth his plan and set forth the vision of the presidency the founders embedded in the constitution and how presidents from Washington to T.R. approached their constitutional obligations. Beginning with Wilson, then, he applies this perspective to each of the modern presidents.

For me, the book was an invitation to a long needed debate in this country about the meaning of the both the constitution itself and the office of the presidency. An idea such as "original intent" is bandied about too often as a slogan to disparage as hopelessly antiquarian, or even as an expression of the power of a patriarchal system, on the one hand. While on the other, for many the term is an ideological rallying cry cut from an active conversation of the founders' understanding of republican government and the requisite virtues needed to sustain it. I received this message of this book as asking all parties and people, myself first of all, to step back from sloganeering and engage in and defend our first principles, whether liberal or conservative. From that vantage point alone, apart from all the fascinating tidbits the book includes, validates Hayward's most recent offering to our national discourse.
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