New York Times op-ed writers interested in exactly the opposite of what I’m interested in

I recently stumbled across an Op-Ed written by two YLS professors that appeared in the New York Times nearly a month ago. The piece was titled, “Obama, the Least Lame President?“, a headline that immediately made me wonder: who was our most lame President?

One obvious contender, recently put forward by Parks & Recreation, is number nine, William Henry Harrison:

Harrison 1 Harrison 2 Harrison 3

But”so lame” isn’t the same as “most lame”, and so I still found myself examining the op-ed for more clues. The problem was that its authors don’t appear to have wondered the same thing. Instead, they started out something exactly like so:

NEW HAVEN — HISTORIANS rate presidents by every conceivable quality. One survey of presidential scholars rates presidents along no fewer than 20 dimensions, from best luck (Washington) and best imagination (Theodore Roosevelt) to best intelligence (Jefferson) and best handling of Congress (Lyndon B. Johnson). And of course, there’s the ultimate prize: Best president, a distinction Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt have traded back and forth since at least the first modern survey, in 1948.

But though it was certainly not their intent to do so, those authors somehow managed to give me the answers I was looking for anyway. For even when FDR cedes the title of “best president” to Honest Abe, he is and will long remain America’s “Most Lame President”.


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