After just a year and a half in office, presidential scholars rate Barack Obama as the 15th best president in US history, according to a new Siena poll.
George W. Bush was no FDR, but Barack Obama could be.
That's the verdict of 238 of the nation's leading presidential scholars, who - for a fifth time - rated Franklin Delano Roosevelt the best president ever in the latest Siena College Research Institute poll.
In office for barely two years, Obama entered the survey in the 15th position - two spots behind Bill Clinton and three spots ahead of Ronald Reagan.
Obama got high marks for intelligence, ability to communicate and imagination, but his score was dragged down by his relative lack of experience and family background.
"Most of the presidents came from elite backgrounds, and he certainly did not," said professor Douglas Lonnstrom, who crunched the numbers. "He grew up without a father."
By contrast, Bush's dad was our 41st president, George H.W. Bush, who came in 22nd in the poll.
And yet, the scholars rated Dubya a dud as a president, ranking him in the bottom five at 39th place.
That's a steep drop from 23rd place, which is where Bush ranked when he entered the survey after his first year in office.
Bush got docked for saddling Obama with two bloody wars and a recession, and he got low marks for "ability to compromise, foreign policy
accomplishments and intelligence," according to the survey.
Only Warren G. Harding, who was 41st on the list, scored lower in the intelligence category.
FDR has topped each of the five presidential scholar surveys conducted by the Albany-area college since 1982.
His distant cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, came in second in the survey, followed by Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Lincoln's sorry successor, Andrew Johnson, was rated the worst president.
The scholars ranked the presidents on personal attributes such as integrity, intelligence, leadership and willingness to take risks as well as things they have little control over, like luck.
Washington was rated our luckiest president, followed by Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan.
Watergate-scarred Richard Nixon was ranked 30th overall, but finished dead last for integrity. Lincoln topped that category, followed by Washington and his successor, John Adams.
Jimmy Carter also ranked high for integrity, coming in seventh in that category. But overall, the scholars ranked two spots behind Nixon.
Jefferson, who was No. 5 on the list, was deemed our smartest president ever.
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