What would the country and the world have been like had President Kennedy lived past November 22nd, 1963?

Obviously we’ll never know, but seeing is how beloved a figure he was, it’s a sure bet he’d have survived a challenge to his Presidency by then Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

Much the same way his successor LBJ did, winning by a landslide in 1964.

And while his tenure was short, the thinking among much of the public is that he was among the greatest Presidents the country’s ever had.

Recent Gallup polls show that most Americans still rate Kennedy, along with Lincoln and the Roosevelts, as among our greatest presidents.

With the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination arriving on November 22, it’s amazing how powerful Kennedy’s legacy still is with Americans, even as it drops with historians. The Siena College Research Institute has asked 238 presidential scholars to rank presidents since 1982. It dropped JFK from the top ten in 2002 and hasn’t looked back.

Textbook writers have followed the historians’ lead. A 1968 school book described a leader who “revived the idea of America as a young, questing, progressive land, facing the future with confidence and hope.” By 1987, textbooks described the same man’s “rather meager legislative accomplishments.”

A textbook from 2009 dismisses Kennedy’s performance during the Cuban missile crisis: “While it seemed like a victory at the time, it left a Communist government intact just miles from the U.S. coastline. The humiliation of giving in also prompted the Soviets to begin the largest peacetime military buildup in history.”

But that overlooks the reality of Americans’ enduring love for him. “Kennedy’s greatest success was the very thing that critics often cast as a shortcoming: his charisma, his feel for the importance of inspirational leadership and his willingness to use it to great ends,” historian Robert Dallek writes. There is no sign he’ll lose credit for that success any time soon.

When you think of how the public rates Presidents, it’s a little troubling to think that “charisma” should be at the top of the list.

One might conclude that being “charismatic” hasn’t been a quality that’s gotten us very far in the past 5 years.

But were there to be an election tomorrow to place back into office a President from the past, who would you choose?

I’ve listed a few choices in the poll below, but should you not find your choice – please list it in the comments.

For my own, I’d reelect Harry Truman. The country hasn’t known a no-nonsense “buck stops here” mentality since he’s been in office – and if there’s one thing missing from subsequent administrations – is was that immutable quality.