At yesterday’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked the president’s spokesman Jay Carney about Barack Obama’s claim that he could be considered the fourth best president in U.S. history, behind only Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ.
Carney basically said, yes he is:
Sure, I mean, this has obviously been of great interest in the conservative blogosphere, but the fact of the matter is, he has — he was making a point about the volume and substance of the legislative accomplishments, and the foreign policy accomplishments, in his nearly three years in power. He was not making an assertion of — that only historians will make about the success or — this was not a comparison of success to other presidencies except in the significance and substance and size of the legislative accomplishments, whether it’s health care reform, which was an effort that took 100 years to accomplish; or the Recovery Act, which was an enormous response to an historic economic crisis; the bailout of the automobile industry, the saving of the American automobile industry against great political opposition; and on the foreign policy front, continuing to take the fight successfully to al-Qaeda, embodied most notably in the successful mission to remove Osama bin Laden from the battlefield; the successful efforts that we led to bring the international community behind the effort of the Libyan opposition to remove Moammar Qaddafi from power.
I could go on, and believe me, I will, as time permits. But it was within the context of the substance and volume of what has happened in the face of enormous challenges in these past nearly three years.
Ah, see? Obama was not saying he was greater than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Ronald Reagan — except in “the significance and substance and size of the legislative accomplishments.” And in some ways, he truly has exceeded all his predecessors, placing him in a category all his own.
The exchange begins at approximately 22:29.