| Corner Articles Authors ... |
May 8, 2003, 8:45 a.m.
George W. in the Flight Suit
Continuing a Precedent of the first George W. By Gleaves Whitney Abraham Lincoln Historically, Americans tend to elect presidents with military experience, the more heroic the better. Consider: Of the 42 men who have been president, 27 served in the armed forces (64 percent).
Of the 27 presidents who were in the armed forces, at least 12 served with distinction (Washington, Monroe, Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Taylor, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and George H. W. Bush).
Of the 12 who served with distinction, at least 8 became heroes in their day. (Most lists would include Washington, Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Taylor, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy.)
The officer corps of the Union Army proved to be a veritable farm club for presidents: five generals (Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison) and one major (McKinley) ascended to the White House.
This trend of Americans electing commanders-in-chief who have been veterans has strengthened over time. Since World War II, there have been 11 presidents. Ten of them are veterans. The exception: William Jefferson Clinton.