Instead of judging presidents by policy results impacting the lives of all people, Schlesinger and all of those endeavoring to do same since the late 1940s listed such things as dealing with “turning points in history” – regardless of the result benefiting the majority of the population or resulting to its detriment. Although Schlesinger was molded by FDR’s New Deal when he was young, he came of age as a Truman Cold War Democrat who influenced the ideological orientation of American liberalism as expressed in the 1960s. Typical of an American scholar rating presidents on criteria of preserving and strengthening the system of government, Schlesinger simply assumed presidents ranking must be conducted from the perspective of the white male Anglo-Saxon elites.
a. Winning wars without considering the cost to society both short and long term;
b. Strengthening the economy and financial institutions geared to raise GDP but not necessarily closing the rich-poor economic gap;
c. Dealing with public corruption but not necessarily private sector corruption that went as unchecked or minimally regulated in the 19th as it is in the 21st century;
d. Unifying the party under strong consensus to mobilize popular support but not addressing the needs of the people who comprise the popular party base;
e. Imposing executive branch power over legislative and judicial to harmonize and rationalize capitalist interests, but not necessarily to provide a social safety net for the poor, women and minorities;
f. Confronting the political opposition to demonstrate Machiavellian leadership qualities for the sake of a “strong nation” but not for the improvement of citizens’ welfare.
In 2016 amid a climate of extreme right wing populist Republican presidential candidates trying to outdo one another on which one is more militarist and more in favor of strengthening corporate capital to the detriment of the majority, Schlesinger would be considered a left-wing liberal merely because he would be outspoken against the neo-Fascist orientation of the Republican Party as detrimental to forging a middle-of-the-road consensus. Nevertheless, Schlesinger remains the American bourgeois scholar icon who defined the criteria for rating presidents. Such criteria always takes into account preserving the political economic and social status quo, no matter how detrimental to the welfare of its citizens. After all, Schlesinger supported the Bay of Pigs operation and the Vietnam War that were disasters by any one’s estimation, including his own.
Scholars who follow the Schlesinger model have no problem ranking presidents today on:
1. How well did the president conduct policy to fight terrorism, rather than how we can mitigate or eliminate terrorism by addressing its root causes that range from the Palestinian Question to repeated interventions in the Middle East with intent to destabilize and divide for the same of securing spheres of influence;
2. How well did the president help economic recovery based solely on GDP, stock market performance, and “official employment” criteria, rather than living standards improvements, upward social mobility, and strengthening the middle class and workers as the popular base of a democracy. (Unofficial is twice as high and part time and seasonal account for distortions in official stats);
3. How strong US defense is for the purpose of benefiting the military-industrial complex as Eisenhower warned more than half century ago, instead of how US foreign policy benefits its citizens;
4. How can we strengthen corporate welfare that entails massive transfer of income through the fiscal system and in subsidies at the local, state and federal levels, no matter the consequences to the social safety net, the public debt, and viability of the capitalist system?
- 210,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting at the hands of all parties to the conflict
- 7.6 million — the number of war refugees and displaced persons
- The US federal price tag for the Iraq war is about 4.4 trillion dollars
- The wars have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad
- The wars did not result in inclusive, transparent, and democratic governments in Iraq or Afghanistan. (http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/)