George Washington is NOT Overrated!
Gary L. Gregg II
Today is George Washington's birthday and imagine my surprise and sadness when I found a post in my in box this morning from the Washington Post saying that George Washington was the top most OVERRATED president in American history!
The story comes from Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post political columnist who asked readers to rank overrated and underrated presidents earlier this week. He then released the results sometime yesterday (but to my box this morning). The poll seems to be nothing more than reader reactions but still it is very troubling that Washington would be considered overrated. The fact is, if anything he has become underrated in American history and the state of our current politics might well be connected to it.
Let's get this straight and simple. There would be no country if it wasn't for the man called "The Father of his Country!" He virtually created it on the battlefields of the Revolution and in his teachings and presence afterward. There would be no Constitution providing our fundamental law if he would not have lent his reputation and his leadership to the Constitutional Convention and the ratifying debates. The presidency itself would not have existed if he had not demonstrated that he could be trusted with power and could unite the nation.
And then as President? Well, he created the office almost out of whole cloth for the very first time. Take a look at Article II of the Constitution sometime and tell me how you would have enacted the office with no precedence to follow and no real model to guide you. He did everything for the very first time and created the office itself with his decisions and his actions.
He created the cabinet structure. He established the first government. He decided how presidents would interact with constituents and representatives of the world. He determined how presidents would interact with Congress. He created the practice of executive privilege. He determined that the title of Commander-in-Chief did not include actually leading the troops in battle. He kept the nation united when numerous forces wanted to pull us apart. He kept us out of a disastrous war when we could least have afforded it. Rather than benefiting from holding the office (which almost all other presidents have done), he loaned his world-wide reputation to create the office for others to inherit. And then he retired to Mount Vernon after two terms.
In many polls Lincoln and FDR now trump Washington in our rankings, which is a terrible insult to the man who built it all. Lincoln did nothing more than save what Washington created and FDR did even less.
It would be nearly impossible to overestimate the man his contemporaries rightly referred to as "His Excellency!" Happy birthday to the greatest president and one of the greatest statesmen the world has ever known.