Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Most Overrated American (Part Two)

General George Armstrong Custer, one of the few people who are most famous for a defeat

Here is the second part of my post, "The Most Overrated American," which comes from a pamphlet I found in some things that belonged to my mother.  The pamphlet lists seven Americans that a panel of historians, journalists, and politicians nominated as the most overrated American.  Note that this list is not necessarily my own opinion.

1.  General George Armstrong Custer.  A flamboyant, exhibitionistic, loose cannon poseur, who enjoyed few successes and many failures, including a great disaster in which his loyal troops paid the supreme penalty for his braggadocio.  It is amazing that he should have been able to get away with what he did.  The one-track diligence of his widow converted him into a national hero of the most dubious credentials.  (James Michener)

2.  Woodrow Wilson.  Never has the peril of having a truly good man in the White House been more clearly demonstrated.  His dictation of peace terms at Versailles was one of the seminal blunders of this century and his overweening vanity sabotaged the League of Nations (Peter Andrews)

3. John F. Kennedy.  In his shocking death he became a legend, a myth of enduring youth, and inextinguishable flame.  Yet what did he really accomplish?  His legacy includes the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and the War in Vietnam.  (Francis Russell)

And here's the real shocker....

4.  Benjamin Franklin.  He overrated himself, to begin with, and historians ever since have believed him.  Without a printing press and a larcenous view of other people's ideas, he would have ended up as a second-rate shopkeeper and a third-rate politician.  (G. B. Warden)



Clint said...

I don't find this list nearly as shocking as the first one you posted. I would agree with the first three. Not so sure about Franklin, though.

JD said...

Yes, I agree with Clint. After all, Franklin did master kite flying.

John said...

I am in total agreement on all 7. Wonder what a list of the most underrated would reveal?