[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/13/art.obama.hcreform.jpg]Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of John P. Avlon.
John. P. Avlon
Special to CNN
Newt Gingrich called President Obama "the most radical president in American history" at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference last week.
The leader of the 1994 Republican Revolution is a smart man and a historian, so he must know better. But he's also exploring a run for president, an action that frequently suspends good judgment in pursuit of sound bites. Perspective is the first thing abandoned in hyper-partisan attacks.
So here is a look at five presidents who, it could be argued, exceed Obama in the "radical" sweepstakes.
1. Franklin D. Roosevelt: How about this for radical: a president who overturned the two-term precedent set by George Washington and ultimately won four terms in an era when dictators were in vogue worldwide. He also proposed expanding the Supreme Court to pack it with his own appointees, attempting to fundamentally alter the separation of powers. And his New Deal created the basis for the modern welfare state in the U.S., whose apex under self-styled inheritor Lyndon Johnson provoked a backlash that ushered in a generation of conservative resurgence.
2. John Adams: The nation's second president has been getting a well-deserved reappraisal, thanks to David McCullough's magisterial biography. But Adams' signing of the Alien and Sedition acts during the threat of war - effectively outlawing anti-government dissent and curtailing freedom of speech and freedom of the press - was a radically anti-democratic action and a black mark on this Founding Father's otherwise honorable service to our nation.
3. Andrew Jackson: The man on the $20 bill was the original populist president, a general who fought Washington elites, British soldiers and native American tribes alike. Old Hickory's wars with the Second National Bank, Congress and the Supreme Court were legendary. His native American removal policies rescinded previously agreed-upon treaties and brought about the infamous "Trail of Tears" that led to the deaths of thousands.
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