January 15th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

The top five second term presidents

By Jim Roope, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @JimRoopeCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – Depending on your political party preference, what one person may call a successful president, another may call a failure.

So how do you measure success beyond what a president does while in office? You look at what he leaves behind.

[:36] “Nothing succeeds like succession.”

Akhil Reed Amar is a professor of Constitutional Law at Yale University. He says it’s not what a president does, but rather the party legacy he leaves behind that marks his success.

[:54] “Success means basically handing off power to your team for a long time.”

Of the 43 Presidencies before Mr. Obama, 16 were re-elected.

From that field of contenders and with succession being the measure of success, Professor Amar lists the top five two-term presidents in US history starting with number five.

Who would be on your list? Let us know in the comment section.

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soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. frank

    garfield/athur was brought up. arthur was born in British quebec...thus foreign born...mabe he should be the best as he broke the constitution's stipulation: american born

    January 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveFL

      Arthur was born in Vermont.

      January 16, 2013 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Weavertn25

    Whats wonderful about this discussion is that if you are honest then you will see that political parties have nothing to do with a successful 2nd term. To find a president that had a truely successful 2nd term is nearly impossible to find. Just so it is said the following presidents should appear on no ones list: Grant(Drunk), Cleveland(Depression and Labor unrest), Wilson(Failed on the 14 points and finished out term without appearing to the public) ,Coolidge, Truman (Korean War), Johnson(Vietnam), Nixon(Watergate), Clinton(the most correct biograph is written by SNL), and GW Bush(Enough Said). Lets give Obama four years then place him.

    January 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Flav1

    From the cnn radio program, here are the top 5 prez. The moral of the story is: actually it's not what the president does, it's rather the legacy he leaves behind, meaning more members from his party take office afterwards to continue working in the same line of ideas of the winning party... Oh well...
    1. Washington
    2. Jefferson
    3. Lincoln
    4. FDR
    5. Reagan

    January 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JK

    What a sorry criterium: What a president does doesn't matter, just whether his successors are from his political party. Such a low standard puts way too much emphasis on the parties, those groups that are the basis for all the corruption of the US and that our very good President Washington warned us against. He foretold just exactly where they have led us and here we are, being led down the primrose path by them.

    January 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JK

      Oops! I left out the edits: What a sorry criterion: What a president does doesn't matter, just whether his successors are from his political party. Such a low standard puts way too much emphasis on the parties, those groups that are the basis for all the corruption of the US and that our very good President Washington warned us against. He foretold just exactly where they have led us and here we are, being led down the primrose path by them.

      January 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. IRA

    I disagree. Andrew Jackson broke the corrupt Bank of the United States and during his presidency for the first and only time we had absolutly NO national debt. He did what he thought what was right for the country and politcs be DAMMED.
    Teddy Roosevelt was another Jackson. He did what was right for the country, broke up the big trusts, initiated the pure food and drug act and had the US build the Panama Canal.
    Ronald Regan for bringing about the end to the cold war. Although not proven that he knew about the Iran- Contra deal, He made us proud to be Americans again.
    FDR for bringing us through the Great Depression and leading us to Victory in WWII, although he never lived to see it.

    January 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Txbiker

    This question requires thought and knowledge. Not any president have been elected to 2 terms. President Obama has not been sworn in to his second term so he is out of the equation. Bottom 5: Bush 43 (Invaded Iraq), Ronald Reagan,(senile, avoided AIDS) Grant (rampant corruption unchecked) Madison (Embargo of 1807, though he wrote the Constitution)
    TOP 5: #1 (Tie) Washington (He created the job. No one could have filled his shoes FDR He (inspired this nation and prepared it for WWII ) Monroe (Era of good feelings) Truman (He was elected VP and then won on his own but he fought the cold war and dealt with the problems of the ending of WWII.

    January 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Txbiker

      Sentence should read : Not many presidents have served 2 terms.

      January 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ajax

      Jefferson as president when the embargo of 1807 was enacted, not Monroe. I think you have it confused with the Monroe doctrine possibly.

      January 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Daniel A

    I just need to find a job I love. I am so bored here at my current job. I mean, jesus, is it 7pm yet?

    January 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rags

      I strongly doubt that anybody found employment by making their problems known on a CNN blog. Get out and look!!

      January 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • Daniel A

        I'm looking, Rags. I just had to vent for a moment. I also doubt somebody found a job on this CNN blog. However, my first dog was named rags. It brought a little smile to my face. Cheers!

        January 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steele

    Washington, Jefferson, FDR, Eisenhower, Reagan

    January 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cimarron_tx

    I can't put Reagan any higher than last.... He provided arm to be sold to Iran and sent the money to the contra rebels.... Both criminal acts... A democratic congress let him. Off the hook. But he should have gone to jail .... How can anyone list aman who divided the country the way he did... He ha no morals...

    January 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • lenny1115

      just wanted to chime in about what a dope Cimarron_tx is. Nothing but a jealous, partisan dope would write what he wrote. Sad that some folks won't allow anyone from the other side of the aisle into the limited sphere of their lives, and are forced to spout nothing but the same partisan cr*p already dividing this country

      January 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Reagon was senile in his 2nd term and people thought someone else was running the government.

      January 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eugene Goldberg

    Of the presidents reelected immediately after serving their first term and serving the full second term, I rate them the best as follows: FDR, Reagan, Jackson, and falling a great distance behind, Washington, and then Eisenhower. As to the worst to not as bad: Grant, Jefferson (the embargo colors his second term), Wilson (his stroke and the Treaty of Versailes ending World War I affect his place), Clinton (the failed impeachment affects him) and Madison (his ineffectual leadership in the War of 1812 affects him). The time is not ripe to judge the younger Bush. In the middle is Monroe. Nixon did not serve a full second term. McKinley and Lincoln died after being reelected. Obama has not served his full term and cannot be judged at this point.

    January 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Stewart Wolpin

    Actually, Lincoln was only 6 weeks into his second term; at that time, inauguration day was March 4 and he was assassinated on April 14/15. Therefore, the 13th amendment passed through Congress during his first term, adopted by the states months afterward.

    My own top 5 second term presidents (understanding all were not perfect), in chronological sequence:

    1. George Washington; kept country from splintering as Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians formed the first violently opposing political parties; set all precedents for the role of the President; truly, the Indispensable Man

    2. James Monroe; didn't personally like him, but reigned over the "Era of Good Feeling," possibly the most peaceful time – militarily and politically – in our history

    3. Teddy Roosevelt; feeling his power after his own election went after the trusts, culminating in the breakup of Standard Oil (after he left presidency, but his efforts initiated it), begins work on Panama Canal, first food and drug inspection acts

    4. FDR; fighting isolationism, he gets us as prepared as he could against intense political opposition to get us prepared for WWII by keeping England and Russia going with Lend Lease and other arms deals, without which Hitler might have taken both Russia and England before Pearl Harbor, leaving us alone against Germany and Japan. His increased arms manufacturing also begins, finally, to ease the Depression.

    5. Dwight Eisenhower; interstate highway system; Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 + Little Rock enforcement; stabilized U.S. role in Middle East; initiated NASA and manned space exploration that results in Neil Armstrong and man on the moon; warned of "military industrial complex."

    Honorable mention: Woodrow Wilson; hated the idea of WWI but got us in and out in around 14 months (people forget how little time we actually were involved); pushed League of Nations, which becomes forerunner of U.N.

    If I had to pick one, I'd pick FDR. Court-packing was silly, but his preparing us for WWII against all the isolationists might have saved the country.

    Lincoln, of course, served only 6 weeks of a second term.

    Reagan's best term was his first – by the second he was getting increasingly senile (remember Nancy whispering answers to him?) and embroiled in Iran-Contra.

    Jefferson got us involved in disastrous England shipping embargo and sowed the seeds for the War of 1812 – even he expressed disappointment about how he left the country after his second term, which is why he didn't even want his presidency mentioned on his tombstone.

    Clinton's 2d term was presiding over first tech boom and saving Kosovo, but ending Glass-Steigel in compromise with Congressional Republicans could be seen as cause of the economic collapse in 2008.

    January 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cimarron_tx

      Totally agree with all of it.... Except your theory on the cause of 2008 collapse.... Obvious that tax cuts with the wars and de regulations caused the collapse. Great picks and reasoning though.

      January 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Scott

        That's bull. Clinton and Frank's housing collapse caused the 2008 recession. The cost of the wars is insignificant compared to all government spending, and tax decreases prevented the economy from totally collapsing.

        January 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
        • Peter

          You are both correct. Add the mortgage collapse to tax cuts in the middle of an expensive war (a first, I believe!) and what did anyone expect to happen?

          January 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
        • ZenSoapbox

          Sorry. Can't let you get away with that one. The housing collapse may have been part of the cause, but a.) it was the selling and re-selling and repackaging of the mortgages by the financial industry that triggered the collapse, and b.) it happened 8 years after Clinton left office. That's 8 years that someone else could have done something to stop the collapse from happening. It happened on W's watch, so he owns it.

          January 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
        • Cindy

          Clinton and Franks housing collaspe? I think you need to read up on "Bush's Ownership Society."

          January 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. daddyofjas

    Top 5:
    FDR – Guided America through the Depression and WWII
    T. Roosevelt – I know, he was technically elected to only 1 term but what he accomplished was historic.
    Reagan – I didn't like his policies but just the fact that he beat Carter should be enough for him to make this list.
    Clinton – Can't say much for his marital morals but he knew how to run a country and manage a budget.
    Lincoln – Yes I know, he was assasinated bareley into his second term but he did more in his 1 term than most could do in a lifetime as President.

    Bottom 5:
    Bush Jr. – No brainer on that 1.
    Nixon – If you screw up so badly that you have to resign then that should say it all.
    Wilson – He should have been a diplomat not a President.
    Eisenhower – Great general but not a great President.
    Jackson – Again, great general but a terrible President.

    January 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weavertn25

      I like your bottom 5. While I can guess the reason you put Jackson in the bottom 5, trail of tears, he was not that bad. During the Nullification Crisis his strong hand held America together. Grant and Johnson should be on your list.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • daddyofjas

        I was tempted to put Johnson on my list of bottom 5 but am still not sure if he was that bad or if historians have convinced the rest of us he was that bad. I left Grant off because from what I researched he spent most of his time drunk. Not sure if being a lush should put him on the bottom 5 list...lol.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herbiie Hoovers

      NIxon really would fit both top and bottom. On economics and foreign policy, he's probably a top 3 choice EVER. To juggle China, Russia and the middle east – come one! On the personal side, his personal demons got the best of him. Same for Clinton being top and bottom. His philandering distracted BIG TIME from being credible and running a government

      January 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erick

      I like most of your bottom 5 except Bush Jr. While I think history will judge him to be ineffective for the most part it is too early to add him to this list when the truth is there are many more presidents worse then he.

      January 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CelestialPainter

    Ironic how everyone wants to say that Obama was the worst second term president ever, and his second term has just only begun... Wow that isn't ridiculous now is it? Give the man a chance. I took 8 years for Bush to screw everything up, how do you suppose ANYONE can fix it in just 4. Clinton himself said it took over 5 years to fix the economic problems that Reagan and Bush Sr. caused.....

    January 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Obama famously said in 2009 he would be held accountable if he didn't fix the economy in his first term. "If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition," he said on the "Today" show just two weeks after being sworn into office.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • dulcimer172

        800,000 job losses ever month when he took office. The worse recession in living memory. Now we've had 39 straight months of job growth. That is some recovery !

        January 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
        • Erick

          Not entirely true. Look at the CBO's official website. The growth is on paper only. There is actually net loss in job growth and employment numbers. When someone falls off of the U/E Rolls they are no longer counted whether they have a job or not. The actual unemployment rate is the highest since Jimmy Carter and is not getting better.

          January 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • daddyofjas

        I don't think Obama or any of us for that matter anticipated the Tea Party aka the GOP or GOP aka the Tea Party running in and holding the economy hostage every time they didn't get their way. Personally I don't care for Obama but when was the last time a President had to step into office with 2 wars, a broken economy and then have a split Congress to deal with? I may not like his policies but I am not sure how many other Presidents would have done much better with the exception of maybe Clinton or Reagon.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
        • Cimarron_tx

          Reagan would have just divided the country even ore.... A teabaggers at heart.

          January 15, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • W Said It

        Facts: Obama has created more jobs in his first term than BUSH I, BUSH II or Reagan. More facts: Though W did get the unemployment rate down to 4.7% in 2005 or sometime around there, he also inherited a 5.4% unemployment rate from Clinton. More facts: adjusting for inflation, W had the lowest average family household incomes in American history. Sure, you can hire a lot of people at $10 an hr, but how's that helping anyone out? Obama has one of the highest median income in American history. Don't believe me, got to the CBOs website.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
        • Erick

          That is so completely untrue it is laughable. With the number of people falling off of unemployment, yet still looking for jobs, there is actually a net job loss. Obama has not created a single job during his presidency. Even his own aids and pundits agree that the true unemployment rate is over 17% because once a person falls off of the unemployment records they are no longer counted. I went to the CBO's website and you are miss handling the information given. Obama has the highest household income due to the tax cuts of Bush (which I am no fan of) However, starting Jan1 of this year that is no longer true he has the lowest now. As far as jobs created Reagan brought unemployment from mid double digits to low single digits and created 5 millions new jobs without a net job loss. Recheck your facts. I do this for a living and while I cannot stand Republicans I am also willing to put blame where it is due. None of the partisan crap.

          January 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
        • Vince

          Actual buddy he has created jobs. Get it? Created jobs. You can't blame anyone other than Republicans since W was in office. If you can't understand that, you shouldn't be going around saying you know something that isn't true. Continue in this denial I'm sure. When you actually soak in what any person affiliated with the Republican party is doing and saying right now, its amazing that you don't understand just how crazy and stupid that shit is. The reason there are so many out of work right now is because those who are looking for jobs are unwilling or unable to, take lower paying jobs, or jobs that they don't want to work. There are jobs out there, but most are closer to minimum wage. You can thank the great distribution of wealth by the top 1%, and greedy businesses unwilling to take cuts in order to pay workers more. It's been going on for the past 15 years or more. It's a chain reaction of bad Conservative values and policies bud. If you understood these things you wouldn't be making such laughable, uninformed, bullshit posts.

          January 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • daddyofjas

      Americans don't have much in the way of patience.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • Michael

        When your out of work trying to feed a family would you?

        January 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      In 2009 also Obama made the statement, that if you made under 250K you would not see your taxes increased by dime.....not your income taxes, your payroll taxes, capital gains taxes.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • daddyofjas

        Payroll taxes didn't increase. He advocated a temporary reduction in payroll taxes that as of Jan 1st went back to where they were in 2010.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herbiie Hoovers

      I agree. Obama was merely one of the worst first termers! Probably ties with Bush II and Carter and Hoover! Four worst choices by America! These guys cost us the middle class and our foreign reputation.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • James T

      Reagan was an idiot, just like Bush. Both terms.

      January 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Daistaar

    Hold on CNN. I like what you're saying and I'm'a let you finish, but Clinton was one of the best 2-term presidents of all-time; AL-TIME!!!

    January 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herbiie Hoovers

      As long as you ignore lack of ethics, morals, dignity and fairness! He made JFK look like a boy scout!

      January 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    What does TOP DEMOCRAT mean? Talk about ego. 100 senators, each vote count as one. They ALL need constant reminder that they work for US. They need to represent their people. Their opinion and those of the interest groups do NOT matter.
    We have a house that won't pass laws, a senate that won't vote on bills, a judiciary that won't interpret laws as they are written, and we have an administration that wants to by pass everyone else and run everything his way.... We have a full system failure. Until we are ready to fire them for not doing their jobs, they will not be serious and start doing their jobs.

    We don't want pork to feed special interest groups. We need you do to your job and represent WE THE PEOPLE and preserve America for generations to come. Both GOP and DEM suck regardless how they pat themselves on the back for any horrible deals.... they suck.

    January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Skeptic13



    January 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • robert lozano

      WOW Biased much Skeptic?

      January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Dude, you are not being fair to Obama.....
      His work should have earned him all 5 of the worst spots.

      January 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • ddimon

        His second term hasn't even started. So there are literally no facts to back up that statement.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraig

      Best could easily include Obama, just based upon what he has already accomplished in spite of a ultra-obstructionist, radical House. The younger Bush is easily the worst president since U.S. Grant, even if you ignore the unnecessary, monstrously expensive Iraq war.

      January 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
      • Brian

        wow, 7 trillions more to debt and trillions more to the backs of our kids. Obama has no chance in hell of being even the top 50%. He is easily the worst president by FAR.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
        • VEW2012

          Actually G. W. Bush is in the bottom 5 at 39th place along with....Andrew Johnson: Warren G. Harding:James Buchanan, and Franklin Pierce. President Obama is ranked at number 15 in the Sienna College Presidential Rankings Poll. .

          January 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
        • Kraig

          If you had even a clue about the meaning of debt at the level of federal government, you owuld make such an uninformed, biased comment. Go take a nap, fella.

          January 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • midwest1234

        How can Obama be considered as a top (or even bottom) 5 seceond term presidents when his second term does not start for several days? I have my own personal thoughts as to where he might shake out, but it is a tad bit too early to place on either historical list. It is sort of like the Nobel Peace Prize being award based on what someone MIGHT do.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
        • Yroc

          Oh wait... THAT'S already happened...

          January 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • dave

        Are you crazy? Obama and Bush are without a doubt the two worst Presidents you diehard democrat. OMG!!!

        January 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
        • terry

          I agree Bush and Obama are the worst, and I voted for Bush but not Obama. Obama will double our debt again before its all over with just for starters. Reagan was the best on my watch.

          January 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • VEW2012

      Best 5 Roosevelt, Clinton, Obama, Johnson, Truman,

      January 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • Weavertn25

        Your list is sad. I am a republican but I would never put Bush or Reagan on this list. Johnson, Clinton, and Truman???? Johnson is the definition of why Presidents need stop while they are ahead. His second term is easily one of the more tragic terms served by a president. Clinton's second term was fun for all of America but he does not belong on this list.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • donkey

      Reagan was a fool. Nancy was running the country.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • daddyofjas

      Hey are you a republican by chance?

      January 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daistaar

      Amazed you have Bush as one of the best:

      Bush Sr: Started Operation Desert Storm, (war-mongerer for Texaco)
      Bush Jr.: War in Afghanistan, War in Iraq (would have interjected in Israel Palestine if the UN had allowed it)...

      January 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Rico

        Obama: Killing countless civilians as acceptable collateral damage with hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

        why didn't you mention that as well?

        January 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
        • Yroc

          People most often omit that which they choose to disbelieve...

          January 15, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carbonrules

      Agree 100%. We have a crummy President.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • KH fair

      This type of view is what it is damaging America as Colin Powell said " there are some folks that has shifted some much to the right that has lost their identity". They will never recognized an historical accomplishment. We had the first President from the diversity that truly represent America and for them is someone who never will received credits because of his diverse background. There are so much accomplished so far,simply it should be included in the first 5. By the way the debt is inherited by the mess left by last President Bush which is should the worst ever.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pedro Lopez

      Reagan? Really? The guy who racked up huge deficits and raised taxes? Who was well on his way to senility by his second term....

      January 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • You kidding me

      Bush? Really. Neither of the Bush presidents should get a mention. Especially the second one.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • eacomm

      Did someone say Bush? Damn!

      January 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen in VA

      Dude, aren't you gonna at least wait till he begins his second term before you nominate him as the worst 2nd term President? Or do facts really completely not matter to you?

      January 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Anyone that says Obama is an idiot being that he is still in his first term.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  17. texhimself

    Worst second termers: Bush 43, Nixon, Bush 43, Reagan and Bush 43.

    January 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fezz

      Not going to argue 1, 2, 3, or 5, but Reagan's one true legacy was make us feel good about being Americans. No President since can claim that (not knocking Bush the Elder – he was a one-termer, and his term was more or less a continuation of the Reagan era).

      January 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • VEW2012

        Funny he didn't make me feel good....and it took the country 20 years to recoup from the damage he did.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  18. eskimole

    I see a lot of posters say clinton. well he was one of 2 presidents impeached. He was impeached for lying to congress. Lost his license to practice law in Arkansas, fine $800,00.00 plus. Cannot practice law in front of the supreme court. I put him at the bottom of the list. Truman was prolly the best 2nd termer of all.

    January 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • edc3

      Clinton was impeached by a completely partisan group of people determined to bring him down. After 8 years of investigations into a failed Arkansas land deal in 1979 they finally got him on lying to a partisan hack special prosecutor about having a semi-affair with an intern. Conservatives have placed the bar so low for impeachment due to what they consider "high crimes and misdemeanors" that frankly I believe we Americans should be able to go back and impeach Reagan for Iran-Contra (TRUE high crimes and misdemeanors) as well as impeach George W. Bush for torture and lying to Congress and the American public and the world about the 'intelligence' reports on WMDs in Iraq. We should also be able to go back and undo the very questionable impeachment in the House of President Clinton. His 'crime" does not meet the threshold established by our Constitution of high crimes and misdemeanors. It does however meet the very low intelligence of the far right wing nutcases.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • VEW2012

      Half the GOP Senate should have been indicted on the same charge.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • EMcK

      The impeachment of Clinton failed and he was cleared of all charges after being railroaded by overzealous Republicans who were attempting to distract from their own failures.

      He voluntarily surrendered his law license, it was not taken from him.

      You really should know what actually happened before you comment on it.

      Reagan, on the other hand. tripled the national debt, ran away from Beirut after the Marine barracks were bombed, oversaw Iran-Contra, and empowered Saddam Hussein through his envoy Donald Rumsfeld. He did all this while destroying the status of America as the largest creditor nation in the world and largest exporter of finished goods. He also instituted the largest tax increase in US history.

      More tax increases occurred under Bush the senior after he promised "no new taxes". Then after he sent April Glaspie to tell Saddam Hussein "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America," reversed that position and used the invasion of Kuwait as a pretext to invade Iraq (and put US military bases in Saudi Arabia which was a primary catalyst for the radicalization of Bin Laden and the formation of Al Qeda).

      Truth is an interesting thing.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • daddyofjas

      What? A President that lies? No way. Good grief if Congress is going to impeach a President every time they lie to Congress then every President we have ever had with the exception of Carter should be impeached. The fact that Carter never lied (or at least I would find it hard to believe he would, he was the biggest goody 2 shoes ever in the White House) is probably why he got thrown out the way he did.

      January 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  19. volsocal

    My favorite President was James K. Polk. Not only did he nearly double the size of our country, he ran as a one term President and he kept his promise.

    January 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Flgeeman


    January 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • dcj3831

      REALLY? Obama made your list? Of the Presidents who had the best 2nd term? OBAMA?.....You do know that his 2nd Term has not started yet don't you?

      January 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Maybe he's basing his decision on how well Obama has done on his first term.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • VEW2012

        Considering what President Obama has done in the first term, and with the Affordable Health Care Act not being fully implemented until two years into his second term 2014.....and the state of health in this country.. which is behind every industrial country on the planet. I would see this president being in the top five at every future date. Especially since even Theodore Roosevelt wanted to pass health care legislation as early as 1905 (over a hundred years ago). Or the fact that John Adams actually signed a mandated Health Care law into law, July 16, 1798. That is a legacy in and of itself. And to think Teddy Roosevelt's face is on Rushmore.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • ciking724

      Close, but I think


      January 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Canada Dry

    Jim Buchanan
    Jim Garfield
    Jim Polk
    Jim Madison
    Jim Monroe

    January 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Mauro

      fdr , truman.eisenhower,clinton and regan

      January 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • VEW2012

      I assume your name is Jim?

      January 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Greg

    I'll go with Obama as number 1, considering he receives credit while accomplishing nothing. Can you say, nobel peace prize?

    January 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • dsangiovanni

      Can you imagine a better president ? One that can put up with all the crap that people like you evacuate.

      January 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Greg

        Actually, I can "imagine" about 43 better presidents 🙂

        January 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
        • Howard

          I'm trying to imagine "Greg" without a racist bone in his body ... but I just can't make it happen.

          January 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • AustinRoth

        Please – list Obama's accomplishments for peace prior to his Nobel Prize that justified it. Even harder, list what accomplishments for peace he has had since he received it.

        Unless you want to count continuing and expanding the rendition program; signing laws and executive orders that allow for indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens without charges or trial; continuing operations at Guantanamo Bay: secret kill lists for drone strikes that include American citizens with no legal oversight; expansion of domestic and international spying on U.S. citizens without warrants; committing US forces without Congressional approval; and so many more.

        By those standards, W should have 2 Nobel Peace Prizes!

        January 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Alan B

    Harry Truman served almost 2 full terms and history now considered him one the best Presidents that has ever served our country.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Damon

      If it weren't from Truman, millions of American's lives would have been lost and we would be ruled by the Japs.

      January 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Historical Accuracy Monitor


        You are an ignorant little turd. The Japanese would not have ruled anyone had they won the Pacific War; the Russians would however have ruled everyone.


        January 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  24. John King

    #1 of all time: Prince Almore Snackington

    January 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Roy

    Seems like as we went along in these posts, a lot of people colored outside the lines. So I will.
    Most of the Presidents of old also played by different rules and would be unable to be effective in modern times.
    Because of that, I nominate two very effective Prez's: Reagan and Clinton, who were pragmatists. I also nominate a fella who didn't get a 2nd term but would be awesome today: Kennedy.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  26. robert lozano

    Hmmmm...I will not put them in order but here is who I think are the top five of Presidential 2+ term presidents
    I didn't put in Lincoln because he only served months of his second term ( I know that is unfair but we're assessing then on the premise of two terms).

    January 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Roath


      January 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Greg

        Clinton? Only if you're grading based on 'best reality show'...

        January 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • humtake

        OK, going by Democrat logic that is entirely acceptable by that party and is argued daily, including Clinton in this list is an offense to the nation. Obama gets up in front of the country all the time and blames most of the problems he faces on Bush. And the Dems defend him without question. And I'm not saying this is wrong.

        But, without being a hypocrite, we have to apply this logic to ALL predecessors. And in September of 2011, our country was attacked by terrorists that received their training and planned all communications during a time when Clinton gutted our military to a skeleton crew. He called back many of our external resources and ensured the branches could not be expanded upon without months and months of deliberation and legislation (by paying one form of debt off with another so it could not be reallocated somewhere else; this leads into the common misconception that he got rid of our debt which he didn't do and is very easily researched on Google and the Treasury website), which meant his successor...Bush...could not get the military effective again until about a year and a half later. During that transition, 9/11 occurred.

        So, I'm not trying to bash either side, but I am not a hypocrite and Dems should really learn the definition of that word. If Obama can rightly blame some of the major problems on his predecessor, then logic dictates that Bush could do the same thing. And his predecessor not only put in legislation that allowed 9/11 to happen, but he and the Dem party also voted down Bush and the Reps when they tried to fight back against bank deregulation (also easily researchable) which would have allowed us to avoid the housing bubble collapse.

        This is why Clinton could NEVER be considered in the top 5. I like him and I'd much rather have him still instead of Bush or Obama. But there are some things he got wrong and Bush had to pay for them. This is not debatable...unless, of course, you are a person who just agrees on every issue depending on what your party believes...then you should just do this country a favor and jump off a very high cliff.

        January 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
        • EMcK

          So, using your criteria, the '93 WTC bombing is the fault of Bush, Sr. right?

          January 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosaadriana

      I would replace Reagan with Clinton.

      January 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Flgeeman

        I would exclude Regan he was a taxahiolic. A great actor who fooled everyone. (little know fact)

        January 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
        • Frank

          Nixon was one of the biggest crooks ever. He could not even get elected Gov. in his home state...how did he ever get elected President???

          January 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Jyothi,St.Louis, MO

    Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton

    January 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      How can you include Lincoln in that list? He was assassinated only weeks into his 2nd term, which might've been merciful because it's unlikely he would've had any more luck with that Congress than Andrew Johnson did.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • MC

        Uh yeah, dimwit, you posted that before, like 15 times.

        January 15, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
        • Howard

          15 times? You obviously didn't learn to count, did you?

          January 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Mauro


      January 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Weavertn25

    I love these post. Nobody reads/understands the question ask. FDR would be on a list of top 5 Presidents of all time. With this said, he does not belong on this list because his second term was weak: court packing, purging the Democratic party, etc. I saw that Johnson's and Grant's names were discussed. Due to this I have come to the opinion that public education really is broken.

    1. TR
    2. Jefferson
    3. Jackson
    4. Lincoln
    I would like to include a fifth but 2nd terms are always worst than the first. Have fun President Obama.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      How can you include Lincoln in that list? He was assassinated only weeks into his 2nd term, which might've been merciful because it's unlikely he would've had any more luck with that Congress than Andrew Johnson did.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ken in MD

        Actually it was 3 months into his 2nd term, and he passed the 13th Amendment and ended the Civil War during that 2nd term.

        January 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
        • Txbiker

          No Ken, he was inaugurated March 4, 185 and assassinated 6 weeks later, not 3 months

          January 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      How can you include Lincoln in that list? He was assassinated only weeks into his 2nd term, which might've been merciful because it's unlikely he would've had any more luck with that Congress than Andrew Johnson did.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Otis

    James Monroe: Era of Good Feeling and the Monroe Doctrine. Nuff said.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  30. empresstrudy

    Obama is already LincolnWashingtonChristGandhi. I don't see anywhere to go from there except Lord and Master of the Universe. But I'm not sure what civil service grade that is.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pbert


      January 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • mulehead


      January 15, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Ya probably don't know because they didn't teach that below the 3rd grade education you achieved...

      January 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  31. batjones

    Actually James Madison was the greatest President. He is the only President to name his predecessor and successor. All three: Jefferson, Madison and Monroe served two terms. There is no disputing that the greatest American politician is James Madison.

    Greatness does not always translate into goodness. It is a modern day blot on Madison's legacy, as both the Secretary of State and subsequently as President, that he allowed the provisions under Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution to lapse, with no further sustaining legislation. The provisions of the section drafted in 1789 put a freeze on collecting taxes on the import of slaves until 1808. However, by the time 1808 arrives some twenty years later, the United States has cultivated a domestic slave population, which would not be taxed under Section 9. The import of slaves would be abolished through the force of taxation, but domestic slavery would thrive for another fifty years, until the Civil War. Perhaps this was the first loophole of tax avoidance in the United States.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve BC

      Dear Batjones: How you can call Madison the greatest President and ignore Washington and Lincoln is beyond not only me but 99% of the rest of us. The reason you give is no reason at all. He had nothing to do with Jefferson becoming President and only weakly supported Monroe. But even if that were true.. how does picking Presdents compare to saving the counrty?

      January 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Howard

        The question deals with the 2nd term. How can you include Lincoln in that list? He was assassinated only weeks into his 2nd term, which might've been merciful because it's unlikely he would've had any more luck with that Congress than Andrew Johnson did.

        January 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • rtk25301

      Interesting point.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • batjones

      It was my understanding that the basis of the report was not about saving the country. It was about success as President. "So how do you measure success beyond what a president does while in office? You look at what he leaves behind." You cannot dispute that President Madison was the greatest success as a President in what he left behind: The Era of Good Feelings started in 1815 in the mood of victory that swept the nation at the end of the War of 1812. I have more appreciation for leaders thatknow how to end a war instead of start a war. The Era of Good Feelings would last through the Monroe Administration until the sectional leaders John Q Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and John Calhoun could not humble themselves enough to find a Virginian to continue the Old Dominion dynasty. Predictably all mayhem would ensue – Panic of 1837, Panic of 1857, Civil War, etc. – lol.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • KK

      James Madison was President during the War of 1812 in which the capital was invaded and the white house burned to the ground. You are right that is a Great President.

      January 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • batjones

        KK – You make a good point, but the reconstruction of the White House began almost immediately, under that same President Madison, so that his successor could inhabit it. He did not let it get rundown like Roosevelt, so that Truman would be force to abandon the residence.

        As President, Madison was the Commander in-Chief, leading the resistance against the vicious invasion of those British lobster-backs, and triumphantly brought the nation to a new and united Era of Good Feelings, that could only be explained as a Manifest Destiny, if not the start of American Exceptionalism. It is undisputed that President Madison was the greatest President of the United States. I have not been persuaded otherwise.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  32. rtk25301

    Based on the criteria presented (not my preference):

    Reagan only got one term for his party after his second term (professor forgot Clinton). As did Washington.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  33. frank thomas

    1.The very best was FDR second third and fourth terms,He changed America forever
    2. Truman elected the 2nd time after taking over for Roosevelt
    3. Clinton A very successful 2nd term , and in 2016, Hillary will give Bill a third and fourth terms

    January 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • NAM VET

      ARE GONE. .

      January 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • mm

        youre an idiot

        January 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • robert lozano

        Wow really?!!! I would ask if history finds him to be right what will you say then Nam Vet? and why all the Capital Letters? not needed to get your point across no matter how ignorant it sounds. We get it, now get over yourself.

        January 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • UncleBenny


        January 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANGELA

      You got that right!!!!

      January 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • UncleBenny

      Truman wasn't elected a second time.

      January 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Rob

        Uh, yeah he was. 1949-1953...

        January 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ken in MD

        He was only elected once, but it was to his 2nd term, after succeeding FDR.

        January 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  34. ben

    how is lincoln on the list? his second term was like 25 days?

    January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Lincoln is on the list because it's politically correct to include him. The whole thing is bogus.

      January 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • rtk25301

      See criteria: Ignoring hiccup with A. Johnson finishing his term, he was followed by 2 terms of Republican Grant, one each of Hayes and Garfield/Arthur.

      January 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken in MD

      Actually it was 3 months into his 2nd term, and he passed the 13th Amendment and ended the Civil War during that 2nd term.

      January 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • ajksocal

        No Ken, you're wrong, multiple times since you keep repeating yourself. Lincoln was only one month into his second term since Presidents back then were inaugurated in March of the year following the November election and not January like they are now.

        January 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Jerry


    January 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smith111

      That's funny!

      January 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  36. nothanksimdriving123

    Judging presidents by whether they were good for their party as opposed to what they accomplished for the US and the world is one of the goofier concepts I've heard lately. This goofy concept has the goofy result of placing Lincoln's 2nd term ahead of FDR's, even though Abe's 2nd term lasted a matter of weeks. Dumb.

    January 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Boo

    You're out of your mind....

    January 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • NAM VET


      January 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Petercha

    Best 2nd term pres: Bush Jr.
    Next best 2nd term pres: Reagan.

    January 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      Don't fool yourself – it was that devil Chaney who ran both presidencies. But then again, you are a sheep.

      January 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      Bush's 2nd term ended in a massive recession. Reagan's included Iran Contra and basically him going senile. How are these possibly good things?

      January 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • NIgel

      Yes, the Iran-Contra Affair and a huge recession were both very successful. Yikes!

      January 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Lol, Reagan was doddering fool in the last half of his 2nd term.... and not well liked and coul've been impeached...

      January 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Bush's second term? How many jobs were we bleeding per month when Obama took over?

      You are delusional.

      January 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  39. bdgfn

    Johnson? We've had two presidents named Johnson. Neither was elected to a second term. Both succeeded assassinated presidents. LBJ finished JFK's term then won a term of his own as president, however that was considered his first term since he served less than half of JFK's term.

    January 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  40. whoizzzit

    I'll play your silly game. Who is it?

    January 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  41. d

    According to them:

    1 – Washington
    2 – Jefferson
    3 – Lincoln
    4 – FDR
    5 – Reagan

    January 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimW Statesville, NC

      Reagan was great during his first term but I'm sorry to say rather a dud in his second. I liked Reagan even though he was not my party I voted for him both times. RMN and GWB were both god awful and good riddance to them. FDR was the best from day 1 to his death in his fourth term. Ike was probably a good administrator but not much of a president but then he didn't have to be during his era. Jefferson was probably good but was equally hated by everyone by the time of his second presidency according to the historians. The others were all just there for four years or they did nothng for the common cause in their second terms.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Chazz

    jesus christ had a decent second term as well

    January 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • God of all GODS - Goddarnit

      I didn't know Jesus had a first term

      January 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Really? Have to wedge that into EVERY conversation no matter how unrelated it is?

      January 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • T-truth

      The politicians in his third term did him in. His coming term will rock the world though.

      January 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Chazz

    best 2nd term president: Hugo Chavez
    best 3rd term president: Hugo Chavez
    best president ever: Hugo mother loving Chavez

    January 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • robert lozano

      LOL Chazz please keep the list to Presidents of this country. 🙂 but I love your enthusiasm. 🙂

      January 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  44. kevin0793

    Lincoln, F.D Roosevelt, Reagan, Johnson, and finally, Monroe

    January 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Hard to give Lincoln a thumbs up on his second term. he was shot about a week into it...

      January 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ken in MD

        Actually it was 3 months into his 2nd term, and he passed the 13th Amendment and ended the Civil War during that 2nd term.

        January 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
        • Kb

          Abraham Lincoln's second term began March 4, 1865. He was killed a little more than a month later. Nest to speculate that he would have done a better job than Johnson but pure speculation.
          The 13th amendment passed congress on January 31 1865, during Lincoln's first term.

          January 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Snoffit

    So who are they? Some of us can't listen at work!

    January 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • do do

      don't expect any CNN correspondent to "write" anything – they just want you to listen

      January 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |