The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Monday, June 27, 2005

Reagan named Greatest American

Last night, the Discovery Channel revealed the results of their effort to determine America's most influential historical figure. More than three million votes were cast online and through a toll-free number.

While it is neat that America chose the Great Communicator, the result pehaps speaks more to the short memories of Americans than anything else. While Reagan is certainly a great American, the greatest of the 20th century I believe, I dare say that Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln had a greater influence on the development of the United States. Makes me worry about Americans' knowledge of their own nation's history.


Anonymous Eng said...

Sometimes when I see things like this (where viewers vote on who they want to see), I wonder if the ugly face of political correctness and "diversity" ever plays a factor.

For example, in the "Greatest American" show, Martin Luther King made it to the Top 5. I wonder if he made it because he really did receive the sufficient amount of votes or if the producers threw him in there just to have a little bit of color (pun intended) going into the last episode.

8:50 AM

Blogger Jason Bradfield said...

The results are indicative of a new PC that has arisen - this time on the Right. Now every contest is seen as a competiton between the reds and the blues to see who can support their favorite heroes. This is in opposition to a genuine consideration of American history which would have led to one of the choices old zach mentioned above.

12:00 PM

Blogger Salt Lick said...

Washington. Washington. Washington. The truly Indispensable Man, just as Flexner wrote. First in war, first in peace, and now lost from the hearts of his countrymen.

12:29 PM

Anonymous Rural Not Stupid said...

With all due respect for Washington, Lincoln gets my vote. Lord knows where this country would be without him.

5:12 PM

Anonymous nasuna said...

With all due respect to the Gipper, this list was fatally flawed long before the voting started. Let's assume that Reagan is greater than Washington. Fine. Let's agree that both were great men and it is therefore hard to choose.

But someone needs to explain to me how Oprah Winfrey is a greater American than Neil Armstrong or John Glenn, and Tom Cruise ends up on a list that excludes Alan Shepherd altogether. How did Barak Obama make the list over George Patacki, Bill Frist and Harold Ford (or even Tip O'Neill, Patrick Leahey and Doug Wilder)?

I can't see how Brett Favre, Hugh Hefner, Madonna, Ellen Degeneres and Dr. Phil beat out Washington Irving, Calvin Coolidge, Douglas MacArthur, Woodrow Wilson and William Faulkner. And the list INCLUDES Martha Stewart and Micheal Jackson! Why not O.J. Simpson and John Bobbitt? Heck, I would take the lady at Wawa who is careful to put just a little bit of mustard on my sandwiches as a greater American than Micheal Moore!

The list should be called "The 100 American who we though would sell the most thirty second ad spots."

5:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These kinds of pop polls are always biased toward the most recent events. Nasuna illustrates how bizrre this is. In any event Reagan (whom I respect and had the privilege to work for) is a RINO by current Virginia political standards.

Salt Lick and RNS keep these things in perspective. Reagan rose to the occasion of his times, but it's pretty hard to understate the vast importance of Washington and Lincoln (another RINO, no doubt).

10:17 PM

Blogger James Young said...

I think a case can be made for Reagan. Among Presidents, I'd probably put him in the top four (with Washington, Lincoln, and FDR), as he (like the other three) successfully dealt with the defining challenge to the American Republic of his time -- Soviet expansionism, perhaps the most serious threat ever to the American regime. Indeed, by that standard, even FDR doesn't qualify until 1941, and even then, he couldn't lead America to do so; it took an attack on our own soil to get us in the war. But I also agree that this kind of poll is biased to the recent.

At the same time, better candidates for "greatest American" would probably be Franklin (the "first American," according to some of his time), or Jefferson and Madison (not as Presidents), who did more to create the American public as Founder and Framer, respectively, than perhaps anyone else. Perhaps even John Adams (again, not as President).

As for nasuna's request for explanations, don't bother to ask. There is no explanation for those kind of popularity determination. Which is what they all were.

And as for anon 10:17's comment, please don't confuse your caricature of "current Virginia political standards" with any reasonable conception of reality.

10:19 AM


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