The Republicans — After Dunkirk

Cash Advance

By Patrick J. Buchanan

At the Potsdam conference with Harry Truman and Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill learned that the voters of the nation he had led for five years through World War II had just voted to throw him out of office.

“It may well be a blessing in disguise,” said his wife Clementine.

“At the moment, it seems quite effectively disguised,” replied Churchill.

Republicans must feel that way today. For they have survived their own Dunkirk. They may have left their helmets, canteens and rifles behind, but they did finally get off the beach.

That Republicans suffered a rout, as the British did with the fall of France and evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940, is undeniable.

The party that blocked tax increases since George H.W. Bush agreed to raise Ronald Reagan’s top rate of 28 percent to 35 percent, thus repudiating his “no-new-taxes” pledge, just signed on to one of the largest tax increases in history.

Payroll taxes on working Americans will rise by a third, from 4.2 percent of wages and salaries to 6.2 percent. For couples earning $450,000, the tax rate rises from 15 to 20 percent on dividends and capital gains, and from 35 to 39.6 percent on ordinary income. The death tax will rise from 35 to 40 percent on estates over $5 million.

Obamacare will push those rates up further. And now we learn the bill was stuffed with tax breaks for windmills, NASCAR owners and Hollywood.

Why did Republicans go along?

Had they not, taxes would have risen for everyone. And Obama would have postured as the tax-cutting savior of the middle class by proposing to restore the Bush tax cuts for every couple earning less than $250,000.

What does this bill do to spur growth and create jobs? Nothing.

Even Lord Keynes would have wondered what these Americans were doing raising taxes on a recovering economy.

The GOP defense: We took this rotten deal to prevent a worse one.

And what, if any, is the “blessing in disguise”?

Obama has no more leverage. The Bush tax cuts for the 98 percent are now permanent. To block further tax hikes, all the House need do, from now to 2017, is stand united and just say no.

Obama is thus almost certainly staring at four more trillion-dollar deficits to match the last four, and he has no leverage to force Republicans to provide him with new revenue.

The president threatens that before he signs on to new spending cuts, Republicans will have to “make the rich pay their fair share.”

The GOP response should be: We will work with you on spending cuts, but there will be no more tax increases. If higher taxes are a condition you impose for spending cuts, there will be no spending cuts.

But, Mr. President, you will be in the driver’s seat when we go over the cliff into bankruptcy. You will be your party’s Herbert Hoover.

John Boehner and the Republicans got their clocks cleaned in these negotiations because they believed the president was dealing in good faith.

But the ideology and the interests of the Democratic Party dictate not only preserving federal programs, but expanding the numbers of beneficiaries, already near 100 million.

For the larger the number of beneficiaries, the larger the bloc of voters for the party of government and the greater the opposition to any who would dare to cut government.

The question for Republicans is what they do now, besides say no to new taxes.

Most Democrats are not going to agree to freeze or cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, federal aid to education, Head Start, Pell Grants, housing subsidies, welfare, earned income tax credits or unemployment checks. These are the party’s pride and joy, the reason the Democratic Party exists.

As we have seen since 2009, Democrats will readily accept trillion-dollar deficits rather than do even minor surgery on their cherished programs.

As for the Republicans, is it wise to propose cuts in Social Security and Medicare, upon which Republican seniors depend, when they know for certain Democrats will reject those cuts and take credit for doing so?

Will Republicans recommend cuts in defense and foreign aid and a rollback of the U.S. military presence in Europe, the Far East and Persian Gulf? Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham already want to know why we are not intervening in Syria. Soon, some Republicans will be beating the drums for strikes on Iran.

Republicans Chris Christie and Peter King already want to know why Congress has not forked over $60 billion to repair the damage done to New Jersey and New York by Hurricane Sandy.

With the GOP splintering, with Democrats running the Senate and White House, conservatives must realize: They cannot make policy.

Let the Democrats take the lead, drive the car, propose the tax hikes, refuse to make the spending cuts and answer for where we are in 2016, because, right now, it looks as though we are headed for an even bigger cliff.

For the next two years, the best offense may be a good defense.

Romney for President

Mitt Romney

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”

So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”

That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.

No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”

Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.

No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.

As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.

Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?

Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.

Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.

Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?

Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.

Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.

Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.

Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?

Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.

What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.

For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.

His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.

President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.

The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.

In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”

If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.

Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.

Romney alone offers a possibility of hope and change.

Last Recourse of Failed Presidents

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Both the 20th and 21st centuries have seen failed presidencies.

William Howard Taft lost in 1912, though he might have retained office had not his old friend and former leader Theodore Roosevelt run as a third party Bull Moose candidate and won more votes than Taft.

Herbert Hoover failed through no fault of his own. The Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression were beyond his control, and every remedy he tried failed adequately to work.

Had the popular Cal Coolidge sought a second full term in 1928 instead of declaring, “I do not choose to run,” he would have been in the White House when the crash came and cast by history in the role assigned to Hoover.

But, as one wag said, Silent Cal‘s career seems to have been a product of repeated celestial interventions.

By 1952, Harry Truman was a failed president. His approval rating was below 25 percent. Chiang Kai-shek’s China had fallen to communism. Josef Stalin had stolen the secret of the atom bomb through espionage against the United States. Truman had fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur and was in the third year of a Korean War he could neither win nor end.

The administration had been exposed as shot through with corruption and treason in the persons of Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White and the Rosenberg atomic spy ring, among others.

Rejected in New Hampshire, Harry wisely chose to pack it in.

Lyndon Johnson, his 44-state landslide in 1964 and Great Society notwithstanding, was by 1968 a failed president being repudiated in the primaries of his own party.

Truman and Johnson quit rather than run again and risk defeat.

But Jimmy Carter, whose poll numbers fell as low as Truman’s and who was widely seen as a failed president, chose to fight Teddy Kennedy in the primaries and Ronald Reagan in the general election.

Carter had one signal achievement: the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

But by 1980, he was presiding over an economy with 21 percent interest rates, 13 percent inflation and zero growth. The Soviet Empire had annexed Afghanistan and was on the move in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. Iran had fallen to the mullahs. Fifty American embassy personnel were being held hostage in Tehran.

What makes that 1980 election relevant is that it was the last national election and the only postwar election where a Democratic president widely perceived to have failed chose to run for re-election.

And what strategy did the Carter campaign adopt?

They sought to demonize Reagan as a tool of the rich, a cold-hearted wretch who would savage the safety net, a crazed anti-communist Cold Warrior whom it would be dangerous to entrust with nuclear weapons. Ronald Reagan was Barry Goldwater redux.

Yet, looking back, what else could Carter do? Looking forward, what else can Barack Obama do?

By 1984, Reagan could credibly run for re-election on the slogan, “Stay the Course.” Let us continue on this path that is leading us to the sunny uplands of a new prosperity and a stronger, more respected America.

Carter could not do that in 1980. Hoover could not do that in 1932. And Obama cannot do that today.

With the nation believing Carter had failed by the fall of 1980, and prepared to remove and replace him, Carter had one lane left to victory. He and the liberal media had to define Reagan for the electorate as an uncaring extremist and dangerous man.

Lest we forget, this Carter strategy was working.

Not until the late debate with Carter did the electorate take a closer look at Reagan and decide that this genial, principled conservative was no threat, but an acceptable alternative and far preferable to four more years of Carter.

After that debate, the undecideds came down hard for Reagan, millions of Democrats switched to him, and he buried Carter.

Again, that election is relevant because it is the election most similar to this one. We have a Democratic president who has presided over a huge loss of jobs, four straight trillion-dollar deficits and 42 months of unemployment over 8 percent. With Obama’s approval in the 40s, it is clear that America is ready for a change.

One difference between 2012 and 1980? President Obama retains a reservoir of goodwill President Carter never acquired.

If this analysis is correct, the Democratic convention and the next nine weeks will witness one sustained slander of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as Ayn Randian agents of a plutocracy hell-bent on seeing its taxes reduced and the tax cuts paid for by eviscerating programs on which America’s poor and the working and middle class depend for survival.

The one sure way Obama can win is to convince a nation ready for change — to fear, loathe and recoil from the proposed agents of change.

Obama aides and media auxiliary have already painted the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., as permeated with lies and dog whistles to racists.

Yet, one wonders: After such a campaign, how does Obama unite and lead the country should he win.

A Grand Old Party in Panic

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Whittaker Chambers said that “the great failing of American conservatives is they do not retrieve their wounded.”

He had it right, as Todd Akin can testify.

In an interview that aired last Sunday, Akin, the Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, was asked whether he opposed abortions for women who had been raped. Akin’s reply:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. … If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down … .

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

As no rape is “legitimate,” this was a colossal gaffe.

Yet anyone reading his statement knows what Akin meant. He was saying that in an actual rape — from what doctors have told him — the likelihood of pregnancy is rare. But if a pregnancy did occur, the punishment should be imposed on the rapist not the unborn child.

This was the moral position of those extremists John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. Of more interest, then, was the Republican reaction.

Howls for Akin to get out of the race came from pundits, talk show hosts, members of the Senate and the GOP‘s monied elite that is raising hundreds of millions in hope of a sweep of both houses of Congress and the White House in November. Akin is henceforth not to get a dime.

Even Paul Ryan, whose position on abortion appears identical to that of Akin, called and urged him to drop out.

Who came to Akin’s defense? The Family Research Council. As President Nixon once told me, “Count your friends when you’re down.”

What does this hysteria over one egregious gaffe reveal?

A deep-seated fear, a gnawing anxiety among Republicans that the positions they have held and hold on social and moral issues, and even on economics and foreign policy, no longer command the support of a majority of their countrymen.

Consider. While the three amigos — John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham — are all for intervention in Syria, the Republican Party has fallen largely silent.

Where are the Republican and neocon hawks of yesteryear now that Barack Obama is pulling out of Afghanistan, when the expected result of a U.S. withdrawal is a Taliban takeover and massacre of many of those Afghans foolish enough to have cast their lot with the Americans?

Any Republicans demanding we stay the course in Afghanistan?

Rather than hearing the old paeans to free trade we used to get from Bush I and II, Republicans now talk about getting tough with China and fighting the “unfair” trade practices of foreign regimes.

Milton Friedman, whose writings Republicans once read as gospel, said we should throw America’s markets open to the world, no matter the protectionist policies of others, because cheaper imports benefit all of America’s consumers.

No Republican talks like that anymore. Yet none seems to have a solution to these endless trade deficits debilitating our economy other than to ignore them or accuse the Chinese of “currency manipulation.”

With homosexual marriage gaining converts among the young, the party of the Moral Majority declines to stand with Chick-fil-A.

On right-to-life, see the Republicans flee from Todd Akin, who committed a gaffe while restating his support for what has been a plank of the Republican platform since 1980.

Bewailing deficits, Republicans demand a balanced budget. And the Ryan budget does that — in 28 years.

Why so long? Because real budget cuts entail real pain.

Where is Mitt Romney going to slash a budget that consumes a fourth of the U.S. economy?

Not defense. Mitt promises to increase that. He cannot cut interest on the debt, which must rise as interest rates climb from today’s near-zero levels. He says he will not cut Medicare.

Is he going to cut Social Security? How about taking an ax to Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, school lunches, Head Start, aid to education, Pell Grants, EPA, the FBI and the earned income tax credit?

What the reactions to Akin’s gaffe and the congressional skinny-dipper in the Sea of Galilee expose is a fear in the soul of the GOP that history is passing it by and the end may be near.

For decades, the GOP has been the party that cuts marginal tax rates, opposes abortion, defends traditional marriage, sends troops to fight for our values abroad and slashes government spending.

Today’s GOP establishment is queasy even talking about social issues and recognizes that the new America has had it with the Afghanistans and Iraqs, wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent and contains scores of millions who will punish any politician who threatens their benefits.

The GOP‘s insoluble problem is that the multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country they created with their open borders appears not to like the brand of dog food the party sells.

Beating up on Todd Akin is not going to change that.

Mitt’s ‘Damn-the-Torpedoes!’ Decision

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Mitt Romney‘s decision to select Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate speaks well of the man who made it. Indeed, it seemed less like the moderate man we have come to know than Adm. David Farragut in Mobile Bay:

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

Facing sinking polls, endless attack ads on his tax returns and Bain Capital record, and venomous lies that he was culpable in the cancer death of the wife of a steelworker seven years after he left Bain, Romney decided to convert this dismal campaign into a stark choice of philosophies and policies. Picking Ryan, Mitt shoved his whole stack of chips into the middle of the table and sent this message to the American people:

“Friends, our country is in trouble. If we do not lift the burden of taxation, regulation and spending that has produced $5 trillion in new debt in four years, we are going the way of Spain and Greece.

“I have chosen this young leader Paul Ryan to be my partner because he has thought more deeply and read more closely into the causes and consequences of our fiscal crisis than any other man in Washington.

“Now President Obama says his approach to solving America’s fiscal crisis has ‘worked.’ If you believe that, go ahead and vote for him.

“But Paul Ryan and I believe that 42 straight months of 8 percent unemployment, $5 trillion in new debt and trillion-dollar deficits staring at us all the way to the horizon is a course to fiscal and financial ruin. He and I do not believe America can survive many more years of what Barack Obama has produced and promises to produce.

“We are offering America a different direction from the radical-liberal path of Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, where the federal government consumes a fourth of the entire economy. We are offering a Romney-Reagan-Ryan conservative road to prosperity.

“I am not going to tell you this will not involve sacrifice. But if you believe this country needs a course correction, then we are asking you to take a chance with change to restore an America where our children can anticipate the better future we all could when we were growing up.

“You know and I know there is something fundamentally wrong with the direction in which we are headed. And the proof lies in the grim statistics that keep coming in month after month after month.”

Romney’s choice of Ryan makes the election of 2012 not only a report card and referendum on Obama, but a clear choice between philosophies.

Obama believes government is the engine of prosperity. Romney and Ryan believe people, private institutions, entrepreneurs and businesses are the creative and energizing forces in society.

And what a difference four years have made in this president.

In 2008, Obama was the candidate of “hope and change.” In 2012, Obama is the candidate of inflexibility and fear.

Look at him, his surrogates and his ads.

Do they not all say to the American people: Be afraid, be terrified of what Romney and that dangerous Ryan would do. Be fearful, for Romney and Ryan will take from you what you have, while we will make sure you keep what you have, and we promise you more.

With the selection of Ryan, Mitt Romney has made this election a test of the people themselves. Two-thirds of all Americans, according to polls, believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Will they vote for Romney-Ryan to change course, or for Obama to continue on that course because they fear the unknown to the known?

The predictable Democratic response to Ryan’s candidacy has begun. They are rummaging through his budget to find proposed cuts and crafting ads to frighten portions of the population about what those terrible cuts might mean to them.

Will it work?

Well, this will be a test of the communications skills of the Romney-Ryan campaign. Can they persuade the people to boot the Obamaites out of the wheelhouse and entrust them with the leadership of the nation?

Second, it will be a test of the people. Can they, will they reject the frightening picture that will be painted of Romney and Ryan’s America?

America has faced course corrections before, with 1932 and 1980 coming to mind. In both those elections, the failed leadership was broomed out in a landslide.

Is there any doubt that this administration, too, has fallen short of what it promised? Is there any doubt that it, too, has failed?

But are we the same people those generations were? Or have we become the fearful and risk-averse electorate the consultants and the ad-makers think we are?

We shall see.

Nevertheless, Romney is owed a debt for choosing a man of principles and conservative philosophy as a running mate, thereby giving this country a clear choice as to the future it wants to live in.

However it comes out, this decision was a gutsy call.

Why This Obsession With Iran?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Iran is not seeking to have the atomic bomb, possession of which is pointless, dangerous and is a great sin from an intellectual and a religious point of view.”

Thus did supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declare in February that Iran’s possession of atomic weapons would be a mortal sin against Allah.

It is also the unanimous judgment of the U.S. intelligence community, declared in 2007 and affirmed in 2011, that Iran has abandoned any program to build nuclear weapons.

Is the Ayatollah lying? Is the entire U.S. intel community wrong?

Iran’s plants, at Natanz, where uranium is enriched to 5 percent, and at Fordow, where it is enriched to 20 percent — both below weapons grade — are under constant U.N. monitoring. Iran has offered to surrender its 20 percent uranium and cease enriching to that level, if the West will provide isotopes for its nuclear medicine and lift some of the more onerous sanctions.

No deal, says the United States. Iran must give up enrichment entirely and indefinitely.

This is the sticking point in the negotiations. Iran contends that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, she has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. On this, the Iranian people stand behind their government.

Should this deadlock be a cause for war?

Assume Iran did divert low-grade nuclear fuel to some secret plant to enrich it to weapons grade. The process would take months, if not years. Iran would then have to build and test an explosive device that the world would know about in hours. Iran would then have to weaponize the device.

The whole process would take longer than a year, perhaps several. We would learn about it and have time to exercise a military option long before it came to pass.

The Israelis, with hundreds of nuclear weapons, would probably have learned about it before us. And, fearing Iran more, they would not hesitate to use what they have to prevent an atom bomb in Tehran.

Comes the retort: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a certifiable fanatic who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. He cannot be allowed to get anywhere near a nuclear weapon.

Yet whatever Ahmadinejad said years ago, and that remains in dispute, he does not control the military, he does not decide on war, and he leaves the presidency next July and heads back to academia.

Is America afraid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Where, then, is the mortal threat to justify the U.S. preparations for war with Iran described in the national press this week?

The Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman argues that our obsession with Iran is obscuring a far greater potential threat.

Pakistan possesses perhaps 100 nuclear bombs and is building more, and anti-Americanism there is far more rampant than in Iran. He writes:

“Pakistan provided nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran itself. It came dangerously close to nuclear conflict with India in 1999. As for terrorism, Osama bin Laden was actually living on Pakistani soil for many years, and the tribal areas in Pakistan are still al-Qaida’s most important base.

“Pakistan was also the launch pad for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, in which 164 people were killed. Although Pakistan’s government condemned the attacks, there is strong evidence that the terrorists had links to Pakistan’s intelligence. If the Mumbai attacks had been launched from Iran, the West would be shouting about ‘state-sponsored terrorism.'”

Seven in 10 Pakistanis regard America as an enemy. And the drone strikes ramped up by President Obama, which have taken the lives of many innocent Pakistanis, have increased the animosity.

Yet, U.S. planes and warships are heading into the Persian Gulf, as 44 U.S. senators have urged the president to break off talks with Tehran, toughen the sanctions even further and prepare for war.

Meanwhile, Iran is testing missiles that can hit Israel and U.S. bases, and its large fleet of missile boats is exercising in the Gulf.

Otto von Bismarck said that preventive war was like committing suicide out of fear of death. Are we Americans headed for yet another unnecessary war?

In 1959, President Eisenhower invited Nikita Khrushchev, the Butcher of Budapest, to the United States for 10 days of touring and talks. In 1972, Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing to toast and talk with Chairman Mao, who was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese and tens of thousands of Americans in Korea. Ronald Reagan sought constantly for an opportunity to sit down across from the rulers of the “evil empire.”

Iran is not remotely in that league, either in crimes attributed to the regime or any actual or potential threat to the United States.

Have we no statesmen who can sit down, like Reagan at Reykjavik, and negotiate with Iran’s leaders for verifiable guarantees that she is not moving to nuclear weapons in return for something approaching normal relations?

If we could sit down with Stalin and Mao, why are the Ayatollah or Ahmadinejad so far beyond the pale? Can we just not handle that?

Rating and Ranking Our Presidents

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In 1948, Arthur Schlesinger Sr. wrote for Life magazine a controversial article on a subject that has been the cause of spirited and acrimonious debate ever since. He listed the consensus of our academic elite as to which American presidents had been Great, Near Great, Average, Below Average and Failures.

Leading the list were Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and FDR. Below, but also among the Greats, were Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. The Near Greats were Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, John Adams and James K. Polk.

In 1962, Schlesinger followed with a New York Times piece, also based on the responses of historians, political scientists and journalists. This list had the same top seven. But Jackson had fallen to Near Great and Polk, who took the Southwest and California away from Mexico, had risen from 10th to eighth.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and others have since produced their own rankings. The latest in the field is Robert Merry, a lifelong journalist and now editor at The National Interest. In “Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians,” Merry adds a new criterion. Did this president win a second term, and was he succeeded by a man of his own party?

For this would mean his contemporaries, the American people of that era, had judged him to be a good, successful or even great president.

In the 20th century, McKinley, twice elected, but assassinated in 1901, left his office to Theodore Roosevelt, who won in his own right in 1904 and was succeeded by his friend and ally William Howard Taft.

FDR won four terms, and on his death in 1945 was succeeded by Vice President Harry Truman, who won in his own right in 1948.

Ronald Reagan won two landslides, pulled us out of the economic malaise of the Jimmy Carter presidency, won the Cold War and was succeeded by his vice president, George H.W. Bush, who swept 40 states in 1988.

Yet some historians have rated Carter, repudiated after one term, higher than Reagan, which tells us more about who has been doing the ranking than it does about Ronald Reagan.

Consider Warren G. Harding. After his 1920 landslide, he died in office in 1923. His successor, Calvin Coolidge, was elected in a landslide in 1924, and in 1928 Herbert Hoover won another Republican landslide.

Yet historians rank Coolidge as mediocre and Harding among our worst presidents. Liberal ideology has never lacked for a warm dwelling place in the history departments of America’s universities.

Wilson’s second term was an historic failure. After winning in 1916 on the slogan, “He kept us out of war!” he plunged us into a European bloodbath that produced 116,000 U.S. dead and a Versailles treaty that rewarded our imperial allies with new African, Middle East and Asian colonies, giving the lie to Wilson’s promise that this was a war to “make the world safe for democracy.”

Wilson — not Harding, Coolidge or Hoover, all of whom tried to ease the vindictive terms imposed on a defeated but democratic Germany — set the table for Nazism. Adolf Hitler was born at Versailles.

In 1918, Wilson lost both houses of Congress, and his party was crushed in 1920. Americans concluded that his second term had been a failure. Yet historians mark him as Great or Near Great.

Harding brought us out of the Wilson depression of 1919-1920 without any Obama-like intervention in the economy, cut the income tax rate by two-thirds, gave us the Washington Naval Agreement, the greatest arms reduction treaty in history, and worked to alleviate the most onerous aspects of the Versailles treaty that Wilson had imposed on Germany.

Harding and Coolidge gave America the greatest prosperity it had ever known, the Roaring Twenties, and the people rewarded them accordingly.

Yes, some of Harding’s cronies were crooks — but so, too, were some of Harry Truman‘s, whose second term was marked by scandal, political nastiness and a winless war, after which he was repudiated by a nation that gave Dwight Eisenhower a landslide.

“Communism, corruption and Korea” was the slogan attached to Truman’s legacy by the GOP in 1952. America agreed.

Eisenhower, who ended the Korean War in six months and presided over eight years of peace and prosperity, is now rising in the rankings of historians, some of whom now put him as high as 11th.

Though a plurality of Americans list John F. Kennedy in polls as the best president of their lifetime, fewer historians still share that view.

Other presidents are difficult to rank.

Richard Nixon’s second term resulted in his resignation.

Yet his first term — ending the Vietnam War and the draft, creating the Cancer Institute and Environmental Protection Agency, creating a new majority that gave the GOP five victories in six presidential elections — was judged by the American people such a smashing success they rewarded him with a 49-state landslide.