Presidential Bracketology: Hoover (9) v. Harrison (8)

December 7, 2013

Let’s return to our March Madness Presidential Pool. I’d begun to work on a series of blog posts for a presidential bracket. I think it is a fun way to look at some of the lesser known attributes of some of our Chief Executives, to think about what makes a good president, and to perhaps rethink some of our own prejudices and notions about America’s political history. 44 presidents (including two Grover Clevelands) rounded out the field (Zack Taylor, Barack Obama and William Harrison have already exited the tournament) and compete in four different regions for the title of best president of all time. The Rose Garden Region wrapped up the play-in games in my last post–today we will move on to the West Wing Region. Things to consider:

  • Problems that the president faced internationally or domestically and how he dealt with them.
  • Problems that he caused internationally or domestically and how he dealt with them.
  • How the president affected the prestige of the office or conducted himself.
  • Short term positive or negative effects of the presidency.
  • Long term positive or negative effects of the presidency.
  • How did the president upheld the oath of office?
  • How did he use presidential power?
  • How the president changed or shaped the presidency–was he shaped by events or did he control the narrative?

The West Wing Region:

Benjamin Harrison (8) v. Herbert Hoover (9)

imageThis matchup might seem a little lopsided since Herbert Hoover is widely recognized as the cause of the Great Depression, prohibition and polio too. It is unclear from his memoirs if true, but Hoover is also widely suspected of being a vampire. Prototypical Republican. The criticism and suspicion of poor Herbert Hoover knows no end. In addition to being the renowned developer of Hooverville mobile homes, for years (according to presidential historian Robert Ferrell) it was even widely (and erroneously) believed that Hoover had once tried to flee the country with a suitcase full of gold bullion stolen from Fort Knox! Read the rest of this entry »


Presidential Pool Bracketology: Obama v. Carter

March 12, 2013

Barack Obama (6) v. Jimmy Carter (11)

Another matchup of deeply flawed presidents presents itself here between two Democrats, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Carter is widely regarded as one of the very worst presidents of all time, but Barack Obama despite and perhaps because of the refraction caused by a lack of historical perspective, is regarded by at least 51% of the population as a pretty good president. The rest of America, not so much.


Carter tried a little too hard. James David Barber of Duke’s book “Presidential Character” analyzed the modern presidents based on their character traits. Carter reportedly invited Barber to the White House and spent the day carefully scripting his actions so as to produce what he deemed a positive analysis in the next edition of Barber’s book. He was not fooled.

Jimmy Carter, a lowly 11 seed in our tournament, is most known for writing thousands of useless cookbooks and self-help guides once he left office in shame after one term in 1981. During his presidency, he is most known for his platform for human rights. Largely, this was an accident of circumstance stemming from his campaign which polled well when he was seeking the Democratic nomination and needed to woo disparate parts of the Democratic Party to unify behind him. Read the rest of this entry »