Sunday, May 15, 2005

America's Top 100? Not really

The Discovery Channel put together one of those risible lists of "top" Americans for a viewer/internet reader vote on the Greatest American. Blogger Stephen Bainbridge, a corporate law prof. at UCLA, put up the list with his input on who should not be on it, and who were the ridiculous omissions. Simply stated, the list is a crock that includes such worthless celebrities as Mel Gibson, Maya Angelou, Phil McGraw, and others. Here's the list, with the most ridiculous in strikethrough (and The Monk's comments on some of them) and some that didn't meet Bainbridge's cut (in brackets) but should be on the list:

Abraham Lincoln
Albert Einstein
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Hamilton
Amelia Earhart
Andrew Carnegie
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Audie Murphy
[Babe Ruth] -- there's no question he belongs: sports icon of the century and the man who almost singlehandedly created the American national sports consciousness; Bainbridge is flat-out wrong here.
Barack Obama -- get real, he hasn't done anything except be elected as a Senator
Barbara Bush
Benjamin Franklin
Bill Clinton -- just because he's a living ex-President?
[Bill Cosby (William Henry Cosby, Jr.)] -- Bainbridge is wrong here too: Cosby is to black comics what Poitier is to black actors.
Bill Gates
Billy Graham
Bob Hope
Brett Favre
-- he's not an iconic or transcendent athlete
Carl Sagan
Cesar Chavez -- a communist.
Charles Lindbergh
Christopher Reeve -- his class and integrity after becoming a quadriplegic does not transform him into one of the 100 greatest Americans ever
Chuck Yeager
Clint Eastwood
Colin Powell -- too high of an honor for the man who didn't want to go to Baghdad in 1991
Condoleezza Rice -- this changes if she becomes President
Donald Trump -- he is a businessman, period. Nothing special in that
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
Ellen DeGeneres -- get real -- a comedian whose lesbianism is not the sine qua non of who she is?
Elvis Presley
Frank Sinatra
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Frederick Douglass
George H. W. Bush -- again with the living ex-President standard
[George W. Bush] -- it may be early, but 15 years after his Presidency ends, he will be remembered as a transcendant political figure.
George Lucas -- Lucas has been living off the legend of Star Wars for 28 years. Empire was the better movie and it had the LEAST involvement by Lucas of any of the six Star Wars productions.
George Patton
George Washington -- My vote for #1
George Washington Carver
Harriet Ross Tubman
[Harry Truman] -- talk about dead-wrong: Truman is the best Democratic President of the 20th Century, the man who realized the necessity to fight the Cold War and the man who made the decision to drop the A-bomb.
Helen Keller
Henry Ford -- an unrepentant anti-Semitic bigot
Hillary Rodham Clinton -- what has she done besides her deep involvement in Clintonian corruption and hoodwinking idiots in NY to vote for her?
Howard Hughes
Hugh Hefner
[Jackie Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson)] -- again, Bainbridge is wrong: what Robinson did as the first black man in major American professional sports is impossible to understate
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis -- she's an icon but not a contributor to American greatness
Jesse Owens
Jimmy Carter -- he was a terrible President and a worse ex-President
Jimmy Stewart
John Edwards -- this inclusion is simply ludicrous
John Glenn
John F. Kennedy -- he never did enough as President to warrant inclusion on this list
John Wayne
[Johnny Carson (John William Carson)] -- He's not at the top of the list, but Carson is one of the great entertainers ever.
Jonas Edward Salk
Joseph Smith Jr.
Katharine Hepburn
Lance Armstrong
Laura Bush
Lucille Ball
Lyndon B. Johnson
-- another failed President
Madonna (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone)
[Malcolm X (Malcolm Little)] -- For his impact on civil rights philosophy and the movement itself, he deserves inclusion on this list
Marilyn Monroe
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Martha Stewart
Martin Luther King Jr.
Maya Angelou
Mel Gibson
Michael Jackson
Michael Jordan
Michael Moore
-- a dishonest polemicist has no place on any list that measures greatness
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)
Neil Alden Armstrong
Nikola Tesla
Oprah Winfrey
Pat Tillman
Dr. Phil McGraw

Ray Charles
Richard Nixon -- a terrible President, a good ex-President and no claim to a place on the top 100 list
Robert Kennedy -- did less than his brother
Ronald Reagan
Rosa Parks -- yes, she is an icon for her courage at one key point in time, but this list should demand more than that
Rudolph W. Giuliani
Rush Limbaugh
Sam Walton
Steve Jobs
Steven Spielberg
Susan B. Anthony
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Edison
Thomas Jefferson
Tiger Woods -- merely a great golfer right now. Where's Jack Nicklaus?
Tom Cruise
[Tom Hanks] -- the greatest American actor of this generation deserves a spot on the list
Walt Disney
Wrights Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright)

And Bainbridge is right to decry some of the great Americans not included: John Marshall (our greatest Chief Justice), Ulysses Grant (who won the Civil War), Thurgood Marshall (who as the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund did more to fight segregation than ANYONE else in the nation), Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Andrew Jackson, William Sherman (my inclusion, not Bainbridge's), Henry Kissinger (also mine), John Adams (one of our more underrated Presidents), James Madison (he's the primary author of the US CONSTITUTION for criminy's sake!), William Seward (my inclusion -- we bought Alaska at his insistence) and others. It's really pathetic when people with no sense of history make grand historical-in-scope lists geared towards the present day.

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