Posts Tagged Abraham Lincoln
Former George W. Bush “brain” Karl Rove is totally delusional, as yesterday, he declared on Fox News Channel that George W. Bush belonged with the “greats” among the Presidency, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan!
This is the same man who failed to elect most of the Republicans that he supported through his campaign organization, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy patrons who believed he knew who to back and could win seats in Congress.
This is the same man who said on Election night that Mitt Romney was going to win, and denied the obvious Barack Obama victory when it was already happening!
Bush will make the list of Presidents as one of the FAILURES of the Presidency, in the company of James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Pierce.
Rove has conveniently forgotten Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, all of whom rank better than Ronald Reagan, who might be number 11, but not in the top ten of all Presidents!
And Bill Clinton may eventually rank above Reagan as well, and Barack Obama might also make the top ten to twelve list, when he has left the Presidency, and passions have cooled down!
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died yesterday at the age of 87, leaving behind her much discussion of her impact on her nation, on America, and on the world.
Without doubt, Thatcher was the most significant Prime Minister of Great Britain since Winston Churchill, and was the most significant woman leader of the 20th century anywhere in the world.
Without doubt, she transformed the world by her alliance with President Ronald Reagan, and convincing him that working with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, the Cold War could come to an end and lead to the downfall of the Soviet system in eastern Europe.
Without doubt, Thatcher had a dramatic effect on domestic politics in her country, with her strong anti labor, anti immigrant policies, gaining a reputation as the Iron Lady who never compromised on her beliefs and created great social and political turmoil that still reverberates in a nation in the midst today of a failing austerity program, that should demonstrate what America should not be doing with its own economy!
But instead of Republicans and conservatives idolizing her for her hard line economic and social policies, they should learn from her ascendancy what happened to the opposition Labour Party, which had gone too far to the left, and was brought by default to the middle of the political spectrum, ultimately leading to the triumph of Prime Minister Tony Blair and a moderated party.
And this is what the extremist right wing Republican Party of 2013 so far has failed to accept—that their party has gone off the deep end in the era of Barack Obama, the first African American President, and that they will NOT come back to power on the national level as long as they veer ever further to the far Right, allowing right wing Christianity, right wing talk show hosts, and extremists on social and economic issues to continue to wield power over their future in the form of the Tea Party Movement!
Just as Margaret Thatcher led to Tony Blair over time, Barack Obama will lead, it is hoped, to a Republican Party more in the mold of the GOP of the 1960s and 1970s—the party of moderate conservative leaders who could appeal to a wide swath of Americans, rather than a narrow ideological group which causes a bad name and reputation for the party of Lincoln, TR, Ike, and the Reagan who was much more moderate in many ways than conservatives paint him to have been!
In recent years, the idea has developed that anyone can be a politician, even if no experience in government.
Therefore, we have had a businessman, Herman Cain, who operated a pizza corporation, and ran as a candidate for President in 2012.
We have been told that government should be run as if is a corporation, but government is NOT the same as business.
Now we have a brilliant neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson, who is renowned for saving many children’s l lives, who is considering running for President in 2016, just as Herman Cain did in 2012.
Both, and others like them, are to be commended for their successes in their chosen fields, but neither, and often others, such as Donald Trump, who has flirted many times with running for President, are unwilling to work their way up through the state legislatures, state executive branch, the House of Represenatatives, or the US Senate, or working in a Presidential cabinet or major role in the military before running for President..
No matter how competent they are in their fields of business, medicine, or any other occupation, that does not mean that they should be seen as ready to jump into the fray, and believe, without ANY political and governmental experience, that they are qualified, or have any clue as to what runnning a government is all about.
It trivializes politics and government, as it would be if someone knowing nothing about history or math or science or whatever, goes in and teaches a class to college students, or someone who has never studied and practiced law or medicine or accounting or whatever, suddenly claims they are qualified to be engage in those professions!
This has nothing to do with whether it is Republicans or Democrats, or men or women, or people of different ethniciities or racial backgrounds!
The point is that many critics of Barack Obama claim he had too little experience in government, when he actually had TWELVE years in public office.
Many other Presidents have had less experience than Obama, including Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. But all of them had some government experience. And Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ullyses S. Grant had years of military experience, which also qualifies as knowledge to operate a government. And even Mitt Romney ran the state government of Massachusetts before running for President!
A very important measurement of Presidential leadership is to evaluate their interest in the advancement of science, and their willingness to support scientific research as a major part of their administrative goals.
Sadly, many Presidents have shown a lack of interest in the advancement of science, and presently, we have a group of KNOW NOTHINGS in the Republican Party who would rather promote religion in government, and deny evolution and global warming, and are generally antagonistic to any suggestion of the advancement of science, such as Barack Obama newly suggesting an investment through the National Institutes of Health to fund $100 million to work on the mapping of the human brain, which could lead to research and advancement in the study of mental illness, and such other major problems as Alzheimers Disease and Parkinson Disease. But in the Sequester environment we are now in, and the push for austerity by the GOP, it will be difficult for the vision of the study of the brain to be understood as a worthwhile and significant investment!
In any case, the Presidents who can be seen as having advanced science include the following,
Thomas Jefferson–arguably the most science oriented of all Presidents, a true genius and intellectual, who sponsored the Lewis and Clark Expedition for its scientific value, as well as the exploration of a large part of the American continent.
John Quincy Adams—a promoter of federal support of the arts and sciences, and helped to promote astronomical studies, and helped to form the Smithsonian Institution, for which he laid the cornerstone in 1846, as well as the US Naval Observatory.
Abraham Lincoln—-promoted the scientific study of agriculture, and signed legislation establishing the National Academy of Sciences.
James A. Garfield—tragically killed early in his term, but a promoter of mathematical studies, devising a mathematical proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, and promoted funding for agricultural research. Garfield was a great intellectual, and in many ways, was a tragic loss of a President whose potential for greatness was lost so quickly!
Theodore Roosevelt—was a great promoter of nature and conservation of natural resources, quadrupling our national parks and national forest lands. He also set up the US Forestry Service, and went on a dangerous trip to map the Amazon River Basin and discover new species of animal and plant life.
Herbert Hoover—a brilliant mining engineer, and elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, and a great intellectual, who was sadly a disaster in the White House, despite his credentials.
Franklin D. Roosevelt—managed the challenge of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, in his promotion of forest conservation, watersheds, and agriculture, and also worked with Albert Einstein and others in development of the atomic bomb to help win World War II.
Harry Truman—signed legislation setting up the National Science Foundation, and saw the need for greater funding of scientific research.
Dwight D. Eisenhower—promoted the beginning of the space program and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in response to the Russian putting of Sputnik I in space in 1957.
John F. Kennedy—promoted the space program goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, and was a great promoter of science in other ways as well.
Lyndon B. Johnson—promoted the completion of the moon landing, and encouraged more students to go into science through federal fellowships and grants.
Jimmy Carter—received a Bachelor of Science degree with specialty in nuclear physics from the US Naval Academy, and promoted energy conservation research, with creation of the Energy Department in the cabinet, and signed legislation for the original funding of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Ronald Reagan—promoted the Space Shuttle and a space station, and although flawed, wanted to encourage a system to stop nuclear attack, known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Bill Clinton—promoted the Human Genome Project and the International Space Station as important for the advancement of science.
Barack Obama—is now promoting human brain research, and has called for action against global warming, and the importance of the study of evolution in science classes.
The month of April is a particularly historic month in America’s past in so many ways, with 20 significant events listed below.
April 2, 1917—President Woodrow Wilson asks the Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks.
April 4, 1968—The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
April 6, 1917—Congress votes for entrance into World War I against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks.
April 9, 1865—General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, marking the official end of the Civil War.
April 12, 1861—The Civil War begins, with the South Carolina attack on the federal military fort, Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
April 12, 1945—President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Harry Truman becomes President.
April 13, 1743—President Thomas Jefferson is born in Virginia.
April 14, 1865—President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, dying the next morning at 722 AM
April 17, 1961—A failed attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro failed, coming to be known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and helped to lead to the later Cuban Missile Crisis, the greatest challenge faced by President John F. Kennedy.
April 18, 1775—The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, inspiring the first armed uprising against British oppression, occurred.
April 18, 1906—The highly destructive San Francisco Earthquake occurred, destroying much of the city, and killing 4,000 people.
April 19, 1775—The American Revolution began, with the Battle of Lexington and Concord outside Boston, Massachusetts.
April 19, 1993—The Waco, Texas tragedy of the death of 82 people in the Branch Davidian religious compound, consumed by fire, after an intervention by armored vehicles and federal agents occurred, inspiring conspiracy theories which led to the event below.
April 19, 1995—The worst domestic terrorist act in American history occurred, when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building, killing 168 people and wounding about a thousand others.
April 20, 1914—The Ludlow Massacre of miners by company hired National Guardsmen, killing 19 people, occurred in Colorado over a desire for recognition of the United Mine Workers for the coal miners.
April 20, 1999—The Columbine Massacre in Littleton, Colorado, led to the worst mass shooting of students and teachers in public schools until the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
April 21, 1836— The Battle of San Jacinto near Houston, Texas, led to the victory of Texans led by Sam Houston over the Mexican army of General Santa Anna, leading to Texas Independence.
April 22, 1994—President Richard Nixon dies at the age of 81.
April 24, 1800—The national library of America, the Library of Congress, is established in Washington, DC.
April 30, 1789—George Washington is inaugurated as the first American President at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan.
On this day 80 years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated President on the last March 4 Inauguration Day, taking the oath at the worst time since Abraham Lincoln took the oath on this day in 1861.
The economy was never worse, spurred on by Republican policies of the 1920s, primarily under Calvin Coolidge, but made worse by Herbert Hoover’s slow, inadequate response to the Great Crash on Wall Street in 1929.
FDR brought confidence, hope, and dignity to millions of Americans, and despite great opposition, brought about a series of programs that came to be known as the New Deal. FDR experimented, improvised, and admitted failures when necessary, but he was notable for never letting faults and shortcomings in programs to deter him from a great transformation of the role of the federal government.
FDR was a true savior, and became a model for future Democratic Presidents, and Barack Obama today faces much the same intense opposition, as he continues to deal with the worst economic situation since the Great Depression, making his time in office the third most challenging in American history, after Lincoln and FDR!
The Republican Party, which gave us Abraham Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, William Seward in the years of the 1850s and 1860s; which gave us Theodore Roosevelt, Robert La Follette, Sr, George Norris, William Borah, Hiram Johnson in the 1900s-1940s; which gave us Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr,, George Romney in the 1950s-1960s; and which gave us Mark Hatfield, Charles Mathias, Charles Percy, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford in the 1970s–1990s, reached its 159th birthday today.
The Republican Party began as an anti slavery expansion party, with elements of abolitionism also present when the party began on this day in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854.
It became the party of civil rights legislation, three civil rights constitutional amendments, progressive legislation, and supportive of much bipartisan legislation with Democrats in the New Deal and Great Society eras.
Of course, they had their evil elements, including McCarthyism, nativism, and tying themselves to organized religious influences that wished to take America backward, but until the past few years, they always had redeeming values in many ways, and would often denounce the extremists in their midst.
But now the Republican Party has become a party dominated by Tea Party radicals, who promote racism, misogyny, nativism, concern only to promote the welfare of the wealthy, and willingness to engage in foreign wars that have cost us dearly in treasure and loss of life and limb!
The Republican Party is no longer, in any way, reflective of its past, and in fact, insults its honorable, respectable history, sullying the names of its heroes and champions over a century and a half!
This is a tragedy of massive proportions, and the name “Republican” should be co-opted by the true moderates who are sitting by, watching the destruction going on, and holding their heads in their hands, ashamed that the name has been so damaged by reckless, anarchistic haters of the federal government! The party which fought the Civil War to uphold the Union is now more like the secessionist Democrats of that era!
The Biggest Loss Of A President Ever, Never Had Chance To Show His Brilliance—Our 20th President, James A. Garfield (1881)
America has suffered the loss of eight Presidents who died in office, four by natural causes, and four by assassination.
Each one was a loss, but the greatest loss is clearly James A. Garfield, our 20th President, who served four months before being wounded by an assassin, Charles Guiteau, and proceeded being the victim of medical malpractice and ignorance, and died after 80 days, much of it in a coma.
Sure, the death of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy were horrible losses, but all three had already made major contributions.
Sure, the death of William Henry Harrison after a month, and Zachary Taylor after 16 months, was a loss, but both, who had served as military heroes in wartime, did not have the same potential to have a dramatic impact upon history.
Sure, the death of William McKinley by assassination was a tragedy, but it caused America to have Theodore Roosevelt as President.
The death of Warren G. Harding led to Calvin Coolidge, who was certainly an improvement.
But the death of Garfield in 1881 was a case of a man who did not have a chance to show his brilliance, as pointed out yesterday in the Washington Post.
Garfield was born into poverty, but became a professor, Civil War general, businessman, and member of the House of Representatives, elected to the Senate at the same time he became President by a narrow margin, and the only President, therefore, to go directly from the House of Representatives to the White House.
A “dark horse” nominee who really did not want the Presidency, he gave a powerful Inaugural Address on March 4, 1881, speaking up for African Americans and civil rights, and also in his brief term, pushing hard for civil service reform.
Garfield appointed famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass and three other African Americans to posts in his administration, and he was said to have the ability to write in Greek and Latin with both hands, an amazing feat!
Garfield was a man of principle and conviction, and there are various memorials in Washington, DC and elsewhere in honor of a man who only served briefly in the Presidency, and a visit to his home in Mentor, Ohio, as this author has been fortunate to visit, is indeed a memorable event!
So as much as the loss of other Presidents is hard to deal with, the Garfield story is, in many ways, the most tragic!
When one looks at the relationships between Presidents and Vice Presidents historically, it is clear that most Presidents look at their Vice Presidents and see their own mortality; often see the Vice President as a rival; often have disdain for the Vice President; and often do not support the Vice President in his Presidential ambitions to follow the President in office.
Examples of the above abound:
George Washington ignored John Adams, and Adams lamented that he was in an office that had no influence or respect.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were at constant odds, being of different political parties, and elected together by the early quirks of the Electoral College, later resolved by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution in 1804.
Thomas Jefferson literally refused to recognize Aaron Burr, after Burr tried to steal the Presidency from him in 1800, with Burr’s contention that he and Jefferson had ended up in a “tie” vote in the Electoral College, forcing Alexander Hamilton, a rival of both Jefferson and Burr to intervene and call for support of Jefferson, which led to the gun duel between Hamilton and Burr in 1804, and Hamilton’s tragic death.
John Quincy Adams discovered that John C. Calhoun was undermining him, and Calhoun switched sides and ran with Andrew Jackson in 1828.
However, Jackson and Calhoun became bitter rivals, and the Nullification Crisis over the protective tariff, with Calhoun enunciating the doctrine of states rights, nullification, interposition, and secession almost led to civil war, prevented by the intervention of Henry Clay, but only after Jackson threatened to hang Calhoun, a threat that could not be ignored, since Jackson had killed several opponents in gun duels.
Abraham Lincoln hardly dealt with his first term Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, and then “dumped” him, for Andrew Johnson, someone he hardly knew.
When Theodore Roosevelt decided not to run for another term in 1908, he ignored his own Vice President, Charles Fairbanks, and backed his Secretary of War, William Howard Taft.
Woodrow Wilson gave little concern to the role of his Vice President, Thomas Marshall, and when Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, he did not intervene to prevent his wife from preventing Marshall from visiting him, and ascertaining the state of his health, or allow him to take over Presidential authority.
Franklin D. Roosevelt ignored his three Vice Presidents—John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, and Harry Truman. This led Garner to say the Vice Presidency was not worth a pitcher of “warm spit”. Wallace was allowed to “hang in the wind” over his public statements on civil rights, and be “dumped” on the demand of Southern Democrats in 1944. Harry Truman was not informed of anything, including the atomic bomb project, in his brief Vice Presidency.
Dwight D. Eisenhower had a strong dislike for his Vice President, Richard Nixon, as shown by his original plan to “dump” Nixon in 1956; his lukewarm support of Nixon in 1960; and his having problems remembering Nixon as a potential future nominee in 1964. At the end, however, Ike witnessed his grandson, David, marry Nixon’s younger daughter, Julie, and was supportive of Nixon in his last year of life, the first year of the Nixon Presidency.
John F. Kennedy failed to use the talents of Lyndon B. Johnson, his Vice President, to a great extent due to the hatred of his brother, Robert Kennedy, for LBJ. Robert Kennedy went out of his way to embarrass and humiliate Johnson in every way possible.
Johnson abused his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, once he realized that Humphrey was critical of his Vietnam War policies. He threatened to leave Humphrey out of his cabinet meetings, and forced him to speak up for the war, which undermined Humphrey’s own Presidential campaign in 1968. And secretly, because Humphrey started to veer from support of the administration policies late in the campaign, Johnson hoped for a victory of Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon utilized his Vice President, Spiro Agnew for political gain, but showed little respect for him, and let him “hang in the wind” when Agnew was forced out of the Vice Presidency in 1973. And Nixon picked Gerald Ford as his successor Vice President under the 25th Amendment, thinking that this insured that Nixon would not be impeached and be removed from office.
Gerald Ford had a strong respect for Nelson Rockefeller, who he selected as his Vice President, but yet “dumped” him for Bob Dole in the 1976 Presidential race.
Ronald Reagan was never close to George H. W. Bush, who had been his chief rival for the 1980 Presidential nomination, and never invited the Bushes to a private dinner at the White House, although he utilized Bush’s expertise in foreign policy and intelligence, as Bush had been head of the CIA.
Bush did not care for Dan Quayle very much, and considered “dumping” him in 1992 over Quayle’s embarrassing flubs. Quayle was given less involvement in the administration than his recent predecessors, and when he tried for the Presidential nomination in 1996, Bush did not back him in any way.
Bill Clinton was closer to Al Gore, but their friendship and collaboration suffered greatly during the scandal over Monica Lewinsky, and the pursuant impeachment trial. Gore decided not to ask Clinton, who remained popular, to work for him in the last days of the 2000 Presidential campaign. After his defeat, there were recriminations between Gore and Clinton over who had been responsible for Gore’s defeat.
George W. Bush relied on his Vice President, Dick Cheney, a lot in the first term, but became estranged from Cheney in the second term over the Scooter Libby scandal and in other ways, as Bush asserted himself much more, making clear he did not need Cheney as much as in the first term.
With all of the above examples of estrangement, or lack of closeness of Presidents with their Vice Presidents, there are two shining examples of very close, warm relationships between two Presidents and their Vice Presidents.
These would be Jimmy Carter with Walter Mondale, and Barack Obama with Joe Biden.
Carter and Mondale were the closest team in American history, with Carter allowing Mondale to share just about every decision in a way no Vice President, before or since, was able to do, and they remained close personal friends, for what is now the all time record of 32 PLUS years out of the Presidency, the longest lasting team in American history, with Carter now 88 plus and Mondale just passing 85, and both still in good health. No sense of any rift has ever existed between the two men, and their relationship was the smoothest ever, a lot of it due to Carter’s lack of insecurity about his Vice President, a testimonial to the former President!
Also, every indication is that Obama and Biden have as close a relationship, but with Biden nearly a generation older, while Carter and Mondale are less than four years apart in age. It seems as if there might be some issues between Obama and Biden, but that will have to be left to the future to find out. Also, a question arises as to how Obama will handle a possible competition for the next Presidential nomination between Biden and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have been crucial to his Presidency’s success so far.
So the Presidential-Vice Presidential relationships have been almost always far from warm and close, with only the two exceptions mentioned above.
This would be an excellent topic for a future scholarly study!