C-SPAN's list of presidents is getting attention, foolishly, because Obama ranked 12th in the list. The problem is, this list says much more about the historians themselves and C-SPAN than it does about the 43 people it is intended to rank.
Look at the list, and then look at the categories. The categories are pathetic, and are designed to skew and bias the already left-wing historians to push it leftward even more.
"Economic Management"? Are you friggin kidding me? We didn't have central planners until the 20th century starting with Theodore Roosevelt and the rest of the progressives. There was no economic management. This question category is wholly rooted in big government progressivism, as well as rewarding it.
"Vision / Setting an Agenda"? This one is highly deceptive, until you see the results. Is there any wonder why two of the biggest government presidents America ever had, Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, rank at 3rd and 4th respectively? If course they had a vision. Of a paper shredder!!! This idea of "vision" is in general a wholly progressive construct. "I'm going to do this to interfere in your life" "I'm going to do that to interfere in your life" "I'm going to do this other thing to interfere in your life". This question is designed to tamp most of the earlier presidents who let people live their own lives as they saw fit.
Look at the list. FDR at 3rd, big government. TR at 4th, big government. Eisenhower at 5th, big government. Truman at 6th, big government. Kennedy at 8th, big government. Perhaps smaller than the rest, but still big government. LBJ at 10th, big government. Woodrow Wilson, at 11th. Another big government guy. Obama at 12th. Big government. Bill Clinton, yet more big government, comes in at 15th.
15th! The man was impeached, and somehow he comes in more than ten places higher than Calvin Coolidge.(Coolidge is at #27)
Let's take another look at the categories.
"Public Persuasion"? The role of the presidency is not to be a propagandist. But why would any historians know that? And since TR reformed the presidency into its modern "be as big as you can" archetype, not one historian ever wonders or worries about the negative effect this has on the Liberty of the citizens. Go ahead, find me one historian who talks about the cult of personality that TR built around himself.
"Administrative Skills"? This might as well be the "big government" category, in which guys like Reagan, Coolidge, and any other limited government president is nuked by the historians. And sure enough, look at Reagan's score: 47.
"Crisis Management"? Let's be real here. This category is designed to give historians cover to jack up the scores of FDR, TR, and other big government presidents.
"Pursued Equal Justice For All"? This one is also offensive. The progressive presidents, all of them, do not believe in equal justice and are disdainful of it. They believe in social justice.
Moreover, this question in relation to "equal justice for all" is nothing more than creeping cultural marxism. Look at the scores for Woodrow Wilson. The only real reason Wilson is being dinged by historians is because of his racial beliefs. It isn't because of the administrative state! The administrative state is what Wilson was the most wrong on! Without the administrative state of Wilson and the radicalism of Theodore Roosevelt as President in Chief, you do not have the New Deal. Doesn't happen.
"Performance Within Context of Times"? “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” - George Orwell
This entire list is an exercise in historical malpractice, the fact that Obama ranked at #12 is the least of its worries.