Prior Experience and Presidential Greatness

by John Sides on November 1, 2011 · 1 comment

in Presidency

My new post at 538 discusses a forthcoming paper by political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Arthur Simon.  They argue that certain kinds of previous experience, including military service and tenure as the governor of a large state, are associated with “presidential greatness,” as gauged by surveys of historians.  “Washington outsiders,” by contrast, fare poorly.

The post is here.

{ 1 comment }

Scott Monje November 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

Shouldn’t the nature of military service make a difference? For instance, Eisenhower and Kennedy both served in World War II, but other things being equal, I would have to assume that Eisenhower’s experience was more appropriate to the presidency than Kennedy’s.

Also, as you note, many people seem to believe that business experience is appropriate, even though the structure of government is very different from that of a corporation. How many presidents, successful or unsuccessful, have actually had a primarily business background? Herbert Hoover (apart from seven years as Secretary of Commerce) is the only one that comes to my mind, and I doubt he ranks very high on scales of greatness.

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