The following is a list of the Discovery Channel's "100 Greatest Americans In History":
The Top 100 Nominees Abraham Lincoln Albert Einstein Alexander Graham Bell Alexander Hamilton Amelia Earhart Andrew Carnegie Arnold Schwarzenegger Audie Murphy Babe Ruth Barack Obama Barbara Bush Benjamin Franklin Bill Clinton Bill Cosby (William Henry Cosby, Jr.) Bill Gates Billy Graham Bob Hope Brett Favre Carl Sagan Cesar Chavez Charles Lindbergh Christopher Reeve Chuck Yeager Clint Eastwood Colin Powell Condoleezza Rice Donald Trump Dwight D. Eisenhower Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt) Ellen DeGeneres Elvis Presley Frank Sinatra Franklin D. Roosevelt Frederick Douglass George H. W. Bush George W. Bush George Lucas George Patton George Washington George Washington Carver Harriet Ross Tubman Harry Truman Helen Keller Henry Ford Hillary Rodham Clinton Howard Hughes Hugh Hefner Jackie Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson) Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Jesse Owens Jimmy Carter Jimmy Stewart John Edwards John Glenn John F. Kennedy John Wayne Johnny Carson (John William Carson) Jonas Edward Salk Joseph Smith Jr. Katharine Hepburn Lance Armstrong Laura Bush Lucille Ball Lyndon B. Johnson Madonna (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone) Malcolm X (Malcolm Little) Marilyn Monroe Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) Martha Stewart Martin Luther King Jr. Maya Angelou Mel Gibson Michael Jackson Michael Jordan Michael Moore Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.) Neil Alden Armstrong Nikola Tesla Oprah Winfrey Pat Tillman Dr. Phil McGraw Ray Charles Richard Nixon Robert Kennedy Ronald Reagan Rosa Parks Rudolph W. Giuliani Rush Limbaugh Sam Walton Steve Jobs Steven Spielberg Susan B. Anthony Theodore Roosevelt Thomas Edison Thomas Jefferson Tiger Woods Tom Cruise Tom Hanks Walt Disney Wrights Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright)
I'm really nonplussed by some of the nominees. Barack Obama? I can see if he were the first black senator in American history, but he's not. He's the fifth; the first was Hiram Revels in 1870, from Mississippi. So how could a newly elected senator, who happens to be black, wind up on the list of "100 Greatest Americans"? I'm at a loss. And not to pick on Democrats too much, but why John Edwards? What has been his single, defining "Great American" moment? And Dr. Phil? Anyway, here's my list of those (in my opinion) who have zero reasons to be on the list of "100 Great Americans":
Barack Obama-Already discussed.
Barbara Bush-For what?
Brett Favre-Was he any better than Staubach or Bradshaw?
Madonna-For turning a whole generation on girls in the 80's into sluts? (Well, maybe she does deserve it then.)
Dr. Phil-I'm at a loss...
Laura Bush-Nice lady, but again...for what?
Tom Cruise-Movie star, yes. But no Oscars to speak of, so I'm still trying to figure out what makes him a "Great American". I think he's an underrated actor and he takes chances, but....that hardly makes him a "Great American".
John Edwards-Jeez, I might've even been able to let John Kerry pass through without questioning, but John Edwards? Other than having nice hair and a boyish face, I still can't figure out what makes him qualified. If being good looking and insipid were a criteria, I can think of many others that have had more impact....like, say, Fabio.
Consider, I didn't even zero in on that master of agit-prop, Michael Moore. He's far from a "Great American", as his every fiber is devoted to undermining the United States, but I have to give it to him in this regard: he's the most successful documentarian/propogandist in history. And though Bill Clinton showed himself to be more style than substance (and thus accomplished virtually nothing legislatively during his eight years in office), I'm willing to grant him "Great American" status, if only because he came from humble beginnings and was a tremendous over-achiever. I'm even willing to grant Hillary her due, as she was/is the first First Lady every to ascend to the Senate, and potentially (God help us) to the Presidency. I'm still on the fence as far as Nixon is concerned; was opening up China a good thing? His management of the economy was awful and was about as socialistic as one can get this side of FDR. But he was a president and, like Clinton, came from humble beginnings, so I'll let him pass.
Here are a few of my "Great Americans", more qualified than the names I culled from the list:
U.S. Grant-The only Union general that ever assumed command of the Army of the Potomac who was both aggressive and competent. Terrible president, but great general. His terms of surrender to Robert E. Lee at Appomatox Court House were so generous and fair that they averted what could've been a long, protracted guerrilla war that would've cost hundreds of thousands of more lives.
Harry Truman-Ended the war with Japan, the GI Bill, the GI Loan, the Fair Deal, the Truman Doctrine of containment, just for starters.
Paul Volcker/Alan Greenspan-Volcker shifted Federal Reserve policy in regards to inflation from control of money supply to use of interest rates, and subsequently choked off double digit inflation (11% at its peak). Inflation hasn't been a problem since (knock wood), and the republic, which was dangerously close to economic ruin, was saved. Greenspan employed interest rates as an inflation fighter as well, and managed the economy so well that the years from '94-'00 saw unprecedented economic growth. He also saved the markets both after the '87 crash and 9/11 with timely Fed actions.
Orson Welles-In one fell swoop, single-handedly re-invented American cinema with "Citizen Kane". From camera angles to plot-lines to methods of acting, Welles upped the ante. Filmmaking was never the same.
J.P. Morgan-Essentially WAS the Federal Reserve before there even was a Federal Reserve. Saved the American economic system in 1907 during the Knickerbocker Trust collapse. Rallied every financial titan in America to back the banks and the markets with their capital, and did what even the United States Treasury was unable to do: bail out the system. A giant of industry and finance. Without him, the US might not have made it.
Compare these figures with the ones I culled from the list, and you tell me who belongs and who doesn't.