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Thomas Fleming

May 2024
1min read

Novelist and historian; author, most recently, of The Officers’ Wives

Most overrated:

John F. Kennedy. I write this with a lump in my throat. But the record shows his public relations approach to the Presidency was an almost total disaster for the nation, from the Bay of Pigs to the Berlin Wall to the missile crisis to the halfhearted intervention in Vietnam. The revelations of his private life have added more tarnish to the once golden image.

Most underrated:

James K. Polk. Obscured by the curtain the Civil War has drawn across antebellum America, he deserves to be ranked with the great Presidents. He was hardworking and decisive, a leader who brought a program to the office and realized almost all of it. Arthur Tourtellot, in his book The Presidents on the Presidency , says of Polk: “His was probably the most dynamic concept of presidential leadership.” We could use a large dose of his example today.

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