What Are The Main Criteria For Rating

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What Are The Main Criteria For Rating Presidents? Essay, Research Paper More than any other political figure, the President of the United States of America attracts the scrutiny and passion of the American people. As their elected Head of State, he represents the presence of the masses, and is seen as the figurehead of the nation in times of national crisis and grief. The last few decades have seen a public disillusionment with the democratic process in American politics, and, as a consequence, the electorate look to a strong president to support their interests against those in power whom they do not trust. During his term in office, the president is continuously examined within the minds of the masses, most acutely through the various limbs of the media. All presidents

begin their terms, having just been voted in by the majority of the populace, with broad public support. Evidence shows however that this support, or `popularity rating’ wanes over time, peaking only after military or other dramatic action. Political scientists have long considered this aspect of the presidency a valid one for further study, and have designed several mechanisms for the classification of presidents. These theories help to explain exactly what makes a president `good’ or `bad’, and it is these that I will try to define and explore in order to answer the question given. Perhaps the greatest contributor to presidential studies, at least on the specifics of success analysis, James Barber, puts forward a binary matrix involving two baselines. The first,

activity-passivity, places the presidents according to the amount of energy invested in day-to-day activities. For example the notoriously hard-working Lyndon Johnson, who slept as little as possible in order to have more time to work, features far higher on this scale than the lethargic Calvin Coolidge, who often needed an afternoon nap despite an eleven hour nightly sleep. The second baseline is positive-negative effect. This defines the actual attitudes of the men towards their office, whether they actively enjoyed their political life, and whether they believed their position was a privileged one, not a grim yet essential task. These two characteristics are an attempt to commodify a president’s success, or lack of, and hence understand their subsequent `rating’ among both

the public and political scientists. Barber describes the four extremes of this model as follows: Active-positive: There is a congruence, a consistency, between much activity and the enjoyment of it, indicating relatively high self-esteem and relative success in relating to the environment. Active-negative: The contradiction here is between relatively intense effort and relatively low emotional reward for that effort. He seems ambitious, striving upward… [yet] his stance toward the environment is aggressive and he has a persistent problem in managing his aggressive feelings. Passive-positive: The contradiction is between low self-esteem and a superficial optimism. A hopeful attitude helps dispel doubt and elicits encouragement from others. Passive negative: [These] …types are

in politics because they think they ought to be. They may be well adapted to certain non-political roles, but they lack the experience and flexibility to perform as political leaders. This framework has its obvious limitations; all forty-four presidents cannot feasibly be pigeonholed into just four categories. Barber’s system does not categorise presidents into successes and failures, but merely alludes to this through the analysis of presidential style and technique. From this simplification of achievement we can go on to dissect their terms in office even more. Lyndon Johnson is a prime example of Barber’s active-negative category. He was so dedicated to his position that he developed a system of making two days out of every one, the first beginning with a bedroom