Michael Patrick Cullinane (Roehampton), Iwan Morgan (UCL), Simon Rofe (SOAS) - This event unveils the results of a poll of 71 UK scholars specializing in American history and US politics. The survey rated the performance of American presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama in five categories: vision/agenda setting; domestic leadership; foreign policy leadership; moral authority; and the positive historical significance of their legacy.
Presidential surveys are controversial. They inherently involve unscientific evaluations that often reflect political bias. It is also difficult to choose the right standards of measurement and allocate credit or blame to a president operating in a separated system of government. And, yet, presidential surveys tend to produce similar results. There is near unanimity about the best presidents and the worst, which might suggest we share a common assessment of quality leadership and presidential greatness.
This event brings together the three speakers who were responsible for conducting the survey, and each will explain an aspect of the survey, including an overview of the survey itself, who rated best and worst, how to analyze the results, and an assessment of how Donald Trump is shaping up to compare with his predecessors. They will also discuss the methodology of the survey, whether there is a distinctively British perspective on presidential performance in contrast to an American one, and why presidential rating is such a fascinating exercise.
Anyone with an interest in the USA and its presidents is welcome to attend and can give their own opinions on best/worst/average presidents in the question-and-answer session after the presentations. This is bound to be a lively subject so be sure to register for the event.
Michael Patrick Cullinane is Reader in Modern US History at Roehampton University, London. He is the author of a number of articles and books on the American presidency and presidential legacies including Perspectives in Presidential Leadership: An International View of the White House (ed.), and Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost. Dr. Cullinane co-founded the Presidential History Network with Prof. Iwan Morgan in 2012, and is currently producing an AHRC-funded documentary about presidential memorials in Washington, D.C.
Iwan Morgan is Professor of US Studies and Commonwealth Fund Professor of American History, University College London. He has written extensively on the US Presidency, including: Nixon; The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush; and the recently published Reagan American Icon.
Simon Rofe is Senior Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Studies in the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London. His research interests focus on US foreign relations in the twentieth century. He has authored numerous studies, including Franklin Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy and the Welles Mission and (with Alison Holmes) The Embassy in Grosvenor Square: American Ambassadors to the United Kingdom 1938–2008. Simon is also co-series editor of Key Studies in Diplomacy and serves on the editorial board of Diplomatic History.