Ranking Presidents: the Northumbrian System

The Northumbrian Countdown

Last time we were here, I reviewed the history and philosophy of ranking presidents, making a case for the value of one person making a qualitative evaluation of the chief executives, with set criteria, but not a mathematic rubric.  Bill Simmons’ The Book of Basketball, where he ranks the 96 best NBA players of all time, and in doing so sheds much light on what makes the sport compelling, is very much my role-model for this project.

 

But how to evaluate the presidents in a sensible, clear, fair, and non-arbitrary way?  The answer came to me when I revisited my World Civilizations Part I lecture notes, and remembered the story where I end the class– Dante the pilgrim’s journey through the various levels of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in The Divine Comedy.  Each level is subdivided in such a way that various categories of sinners are grouped…

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