- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Independent Institute (January 9, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1598130226
- ISBN-13: 978-1598130225
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty 0th Edition
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"While conventional accounts glorify the flagrant misdeeds of the ‘Imperial Presidency,’ this insightful and crucial book provides an inspiring vision for both conservatives and liberals on the crucial need to reign in White House power and restore peace, prosperity and liberty." —Ron Paul, U.S. Congressman
—Ronald Hamowy, professor emeritus of history, University of Alberta, Canada
"By focusing on peace, prosperity, and liberty, Recarving Rushmore moves us miles closer to a proper evaluation of America's presidents—especially those of the 20th century—than the hallowed (but misleading) Schlesinger poll of prominent historians. Eland makes an eloquent and persuasive case, for example, that Harding and Coolidge were better presidents than were FDR and LBJ." —Burton W. Folsom, Charles F. Kline Chair in History, Hillsdale College; author, New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America
"Well-written and fascinating, Recarving Rushmore provides a long-overdue reassessment of the actual record of all U.S. presidents. Thanks to Ivan Eland's efforts, the traditional classroom narrative of our 'great presidents' and their glorious deeds lies in well-deserved ruin." —Thomas E. Woods, Jr., senior fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute; author, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask
About the Author
Ivan Eland is a senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. A leading expert on defense issues, he is a frequent guest on ABC, NPR, CNN, Fox News and the BBC, and is the author of The Empire Has No Clothes. He lives in Washington, DC.
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He also considers the character of the man, was he honest, did he rule according to law. These are things most historians don't give enough weight to.
I think he is too harsh on FDR, Abe Lincoln, and Harry Truman…they weren't as great as often appraised, but they were ruling in extremely difficult times. Carter and Clinton were rated too highly, Clinton repealed Glass Stegal and other deregulations of the financial system whose results weren't seem until Bush's reign, also almost unbelievably mismanaged the whole Lewinsky and associated affairs which could have been avoid by a statement asked for by Paula Jones "she is a woman of good character to my knowledge"…Carter although good on many other issues was disastrous in the management of the whole Iran thing and ridiculous, almost comical rescue attempt (the author talks about this but doesn't take it sufficiently into account). He really nails the administrations of both Bush's as I have seen few do so well, describing GW as perhaps our worst president, maybe even worse than Buchanan.
The book should have included a rating of terrible for Presidents like, GW, Buchanan, Ford, Kennedy, and LBJ
Ivan Eland questions the criteria used in these conventional rankings. In his RECARVING RUSHMORE, his Introduction states that undesirable biases shape surveys conducted by such as the Siena Research Institute. There is the "effectiveness bias" which supposedly focuses on a president's ability to get his programs enacted while not weighing the value of the programs. In other words, action trumps judgment. Then Eland mentions biases for "charisma," "service during a crisis" (i.e., war or depression), and "activism."
Eland wants to evaluate presidents on other criteria, namely, how well they procured or perpetuated peace, prosperity, and liberty. His rankings "reflect the degree to which presidents upheld the founders' original vision of a limited federal government with an appropriately constrained executive" although Eland concedes that "each president has to be evaluated at his point in time" and "cannot be blamed for the size of government he inherited or the power he was expected to wield at the time he took office." Still, the idea is to assess the presidents on whether they avoided "wars of choice;" whether their economic policies contributed to prosperity; and whether they respected the constitution, checks and balances on their office, and individual freedoms.
The resulting Eland ranking is consequently radically different from the Siena (2002) or Wall Street Journal (2006) surveys reprinted in RECARVING RUSHMORE for comparison. Among the Eland "Excellent" presidents is Grover Cleveland (#2). He ranks at #12 in WSJ and at #20 in Siena. Bill Clinton comes in at #11 (Eland), but at #22 (WSJ) and at #18 (Siena). George W. Bush registers close to the bottom with Eland (#36) whereas he fared somewhat better with WSJ (#19) and Siena (#23).
The bulk of RECARVING RUSHMORE consists of chapters on each president examining his record on peace, prosperity, and liberty. Woodrow Wilson's chapter, for instance, naturally discusses his entry into World War I at length and is labeled the "Most Interventionist President in U.S. History." He also scores poorly for prosperity because he pursued "an activist domestic agenda contrary to the history of the Democratic Party, which has been a bastion of small government." Likewise, Wilson received low marks for liberty because his policies eroded civil liberties and because to him "some racial groups were more equal than others." These chapters are invaluable as a means of viewing the presidents from perspectives seldom published.
RECARVING RUSHMORE is a contrarian reevaluation of presidential contributions. And it is precisely for this reason that it ought to be widely read (or at the very least studiously browsed) and its conclusions debated. Eland has supported his rankings with solid arguments and a definite and distinctive philosophy about what Americans ought to look for and value in men and women they choose to hold the office of President of the United States. Recommended. 4.5 stars.
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