Steve Neal replies: In evaluating presidential performance, it’s often a matter of perspective. Harry Truman, for example, might have had more trouble getting a favorable rating from a panel of scholars that included some of the speech writers of his 1948 political opponents, Thomas Dewey and Henry Wallace. My premise that the 1962 Schlesinger poll was somewhat distorted because of the participation of Stevenson’s political associates has been reinforced by subsequent polls of historians and political scholars that have rated Elsenhower much differently.
As for the Tribune survey, Mr. Roberts is mistaken in suggesting that the newspaper’s editorial policy affected the outcome. I conducted the poll but didn’t have a vote, nor did anyone else on the Tribune staff. Of the ninety scholars invited to participate, forty-nine responded, including David Donald Dumas Malone, John Garraty, Garr Wills, Marcus Cunliffe, Margaret Coil Elwell, Carl Degler, David McCullough Edmund Morris, and Robert Ferrell. In short, a difficult group to categorize. Sh of the ten Presidents selected were Democrats and only three, including Ike, were Republicans.
I didn’t cite Professor Barber’s boot because it is “monumental” only in it pomposity. Barber’s track record in pre dieting presidential performance speak: for itself.