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President Ike: The Legacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower – clip

William Hitchcock / University of Virginia

In 2017, the influential C-Span ranking of U.S. presidents carried some surprising news: in the opinion of the hundreds of historians that were polled, Dwight D. Eisenhower now ranked as our fifth best president, right next to Lincoln, Washington, Franklin, and Theodore Roosevelt. Ike? Fifth best? For decades, Eisenhower’s presidency had been underrated. Long considered a do-nothing, lazy president who played a lot of golf and presided over the boom years of the 1950s, scholars of the presidency had written off Eisenhower as a mediocrity. But something has happened to the 34th president’s reputation: when the 2021 C-Span ranking was published, Eisenhower remained in fifth place, among the very greatest chief executives.

William Hitchcock

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