Adlai Stevenson II

The Midwest Battleground Will Determine The Political Future, And The Prospects For Democrats Look Good

The Midwest battleground—Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan—is where the modern political system began, and has been a crucial factor in elections ever since the Republican Party was first created in Michigan and Wisconsin in the summer of 1854.

The Midwest is the heartland of the nation, often ridiculed by those who are from the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, but the states of this area have a “wallop”, the potential to decide the national political trend.

Nine Republican Presidents came from the Midwest—Abraham Lincoln from Illinois; Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding from Ohio; Benjamin Harrison from Indiana; and Herbert Hoover from Iowa; along with Gerald Ford from Michigan inheriting the Presidency via the 25th Amendment.

Also, other Republican nominees (Alf Landon, Bob Dole) and Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower were from “next door” Kansas in the Great Plains.

At the same time, Midwestern Democrats who ran for President include James Cox of Ohio, Adlai Stevenson II of Illinois, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale from Minnesota, and George McGovern of “next door” South Dakota in the Great Plains, along with Harry Truman of Missouri and Barack Obama of Illinois.

So the Midwest and its nearby neighbors have had an amazing impact, and now the polls indicate the Midwest Governorships that are up for election trend toward Democrats in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, with Ohio also in play.

If the Midwest or most of it is won by Democrats, then the effect on reapportionment of seats in the House of Representatives after the 2020 Census figures are in, will greatly change the political equation for the next decade, so these gubernatorial elections are crucial turning points.

And it may help any Midwestern Democrat who plans to run for President, with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar having a great opportunity, in the tradition of Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, plus the image of Eugene McCarthy and Paul Wellstone also helping to give her candidacy a boost.

If the Democratic Presidential nominee is from the Midwest, it gives a boost that a candidate from the Atlantic Coast or Pacific Coast cannot give it, as the “Fly Over” States really will, again, as in the past, determine Presidential elections as well as control of Congress.

Centennial Of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Birth: Most Prominent American Historian In Second Half Of Twentieth Century

Today, October 15, marks the centennial of the birth of renowned American historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, considered by many scholars to be the most prominent American historian in the second half of the 20th Century.

I was fortunate to have been a graduate student under Schlesinger at the City University of New York Graduate School from 1966 to 1975, and I was one of eleven graduate students to have had the opportunity to produce a Ph. D. Dissertation under his support and tutelage. That dissertation, later revised, was published by The Johns Hopkins University Press under the title: TWILIGHT OF PROGRESSIVISM: THE WESTERN REPUBLICAN SENATORS AND THE NEW DEAL in 1981.

Schlesinger was a very cordial and supportive sponsor of my dissertation, and we kept in touch occasionally over the next three decades, and I was saddened by his death in February 2007 at the age 89.

Schlesinger helped for me to confirm my liberal and progressive convictions, and my blog that you are now reading was partly inspired by his influence, and has now been operated for more than nine years.

While I do not claim any of the greatness that Schlesinger represented, I am proud of my association with him.

Schlesinger was a public intellectual and social critic, and although he never went beyond an earned Bachelors degree from Harvard University, he was a leading historian, although he had many critics.

He was a Cold War Liberal, strongly anti Communist, and a founder of the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Reinhold Niebuhr in 1947, and was its national chairman in 1953-1954.

A professor at Harvard University from 1947-1960, he was the son of the renowned historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr, and related also to 19th century historian George Bancroft through his mother.

He was a speechwriter to Democratic Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956; speechwriter and Latin American policy adviser to President John F. Kennedy; speechwriter and adviser to Senator Robert F. Kennedy during his Presidential campaign in 1968; speechwriter and adviser to 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee George McGovern; and also speechwriter and adviser to Senator Edward M. Kennedy in his 1980 Presidential primary campaign against President Jimmy Carter. That year, Schlesinger broke with his Democratic Party roots and voted for Independent Presidential nominee, Republican Congressman John Anderson, as did former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, both only revealed in their votes in the past few years.

Schlesinger was the author of more than 30 books and hundreds of articles, and was most famous for his two Pulitzer Prizes for his books: THE AGE OF JACKSON (1946) and A THOUSAND DAYS: JOHN F. KENNEDY IN THE WHITE HOUSE (1966). He also wrote three seminal volumes on Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, only getting as far as 1936, and telling me of his goal to finish in a few more volumes, but that never happened.

But he also wrote an important book on the threat of Richard Nixon–THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY (1973)—and also the standard study of his friend, Robert F. Kennedy–ROBERT KENNEDY AND HIS TIMES (1978).

Schlesinger was the recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities Chair at the City University of New Graduate School from 1966 to 1974, and that is how I became one of his graduate students.

His impact on the historical profession and American politics continues a decade after his death.

How Death “Might” Have Affected American History! Eleven Potential “Turning Points”!

Assassinations and assassination attempts, and threats, have affected American History, as is covered in my book, “Assassinations, Threats, And The American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson To Barack Obama”, Rowman Littlefield, August 2015.

But then there are cases, not covered  in my book, of situations that could have occurred and affected American history, that have nothing to do with assassinations.

Witness the following:

In 1857, newly inaugurated President James Buchanan was extremely ill at the time of the inauguration, and almost failed to deliver his Inaugural Address, and was in bed for a few weeks after the inauguration, until he recovered.  It was believed he might have been poisoned by an unsafe water supply at the hotel he stayed at before his inauguration.  Had he died in office, Vice President John C. Breckinridge would have been President, and would have been only 36 years old, the youngest President in American history, and actually elected in November 1856, when he was still 35!

Stephen Douglas, Senator from Illinois, was the Democratic nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1860, a four way race won by Abraham Lincoln, but had Douglas won, he would have died in office three months later, two months after the Civil War had begun, transforming the whole era if that had occurred!

In 1872, Democratic and Liberal Republican Presidential nominee Horace Greeley, who lost the Presidential Election of 1872 to President Ulysses S. Grant, died three weeks after the election, and before the Electoral College met.  What if he had won the election?  It would have meant that Vice Presidential nominee, B. Gratz Brown, Governor of Missouri and, earlier, Senator from Missouri, would have been President!

President Chester Alan Arthur  (1881-1885) succeeded President James A. Garfield after his assassination in September 1881, and finished out the term, but was denied nomination for a full term in 1884, which turned out to be fortunate as Arthur died in 1886, and therefore, would have died in office!

President Grover Cleveland, in his second nonconsecutive term in the White House from 1893-1897, had serious surgery for cancer of the jaw in 1894, done in secret on a boat on the Hudson River, and kept secret until after his death in 1908.  Had he died of cancer, Vice President Adlai Stevenson, the grandfather of Democratic Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956, would have been President!

President William Howard Taft (1909-1913)  saw his Vice President, James Sherman, die in office in October 1912, shortly before the Presidential Election of 1912, which Taft lost, in the worst reelection defeat of any President in American history, winning only two states.  But when the Electoral College met, the name of Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler was substituted to count the electoral votes.  However, there was no provision for a replacement Vice President, so had Taft won, he would have had no Vice President for the entire term of 1913-1917!

President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had a severe stroke in September 1919, and never fully recovered in his last year and a half in the White House, and his wife ran cabinet meetings in his absence, but had Wilson resigned or died, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have become President!

Franklin D. Roosevelt had Henry A. Wallace, his Secretary of Agriculture, as his third term Vice President from 1941-1945, and had he not been lobbied to replace the unpopular Wallace with Harry Truman for his fourth term run for the Presidency, it would have been Wallace who would have succeeded FDR in the Presidency after 82 days of the fourth term in 1945!

FDR’s Republican opponents in the Presidential Election of 1940 were businessman Wendell Willkie for President, and Oregon Senator Charles McNary for Vice President.  Had they won the White House, the nation would have faced losing both of them in the last year of the term–McNary dying in February 1944, and Willkie in October 1944, an unprecedented situation to have had both the President and Vice President in the same term die in office!  And this would have occurred during the height of the battle to win World War II, a very dangerous time for such an occurrence!

Harry Truman’s Vice President in his full term from 1949-1953 was Alben Barkley, who wished to run for President in 1952, but was pushed aside since he was already in his 70s, and it was felt it was not a good idea to have a President of that age come to office.  It was fortunate that this happened, since Barkley died in April 1956, so would have died in office!

President Gerald Ford replaced Vice President Nelson Rockefeller as his running mate in the 1976 election for Senator Bob Dole, under pressure from conservative Republicans led by Ronald Reagan, and lost the Presidential Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter.  Had Ford kept Rockefeller on the ticket, some think he would have defeated Carter, and if that was so, then Ford would have lost his Vice President in office, as Rockefeller died in January 1979!

 

Back To The Future: Mitt Romney In 2016?

The Republican Party is so torn apart that now there are rumors and hints that 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, is reconsidering his decision not to run again, due to the collapse of the so called “Establishment” Republicans, led by former Governor Jeb Bush.

Bush has run a poor campaign, despite all of the money he has gathered, and there are indications that he is starting to be abandoned, as Donald Trump continues to take up all of the oxygen in the Republican race.

While Ohio Governor John Kaisch has made some progress in his campaign, he is far from being seen as anywhere near becoming a leader in the competition for the Presidency, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio has not impressed many in his quest for the nomination.

So Romney may decide to enter the race, but still with the same shortcomings and faults that caused his defeat by President Barack Obama in 2012.

To believe that Romney could, somehow, win the Presidency in 2016 is mostly hype and delusion.

The question arises:  How many times has a defeated Presidential candidate come back to win the Presidency?  Here are the facts, a total of 5 times:

Thomas Jefferson lost the Presidency in 1796 and won in 1800.

Andrew Jackson lost the Presidency in 1824 and won in 1828.

William Henry Harrison lost the Presidency in 1836 and won in 1840.

Grover Cleveland lost the Presidency in 1888 and won in 1892.

Richard Nixon lost the Presidency in 1960 and won in 1968.

That is it, five Presidents, but realize that Jackson and Cleveland actually won the popular vote in their losing races in 1824 and 1888, but lost the electoral vote, and Cleveland had been President, then lost, and then won.

Of course, there have been 4 times when a future President lost the nomination of his party, and then went on to win the Presidency later, including:

James Monroe lost the nomination in 1808 to James Madison, but then won the Presidency in 1816.

Lyndon B. Johnson lost the nomination in 1960 to John F. Kennedy, but then became President by succession in 1963.

Ronald Reagan lost the nomination in 1976 to Gerald Ford, but then won the Presidency in 1980.

George H. W. Bush lost the nomination in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, but then won the Presidency in 1988.

At the same time, there have been 5 candidates nominated multiple times and never winning the Presidency, as follows:

Charles C. Pinckney won the nomination in 1804 and 1808.

Henry Clay won the nomination in 1824, 1832, and 1844.

William Jennings Bryan won the nomination in 1896, 1900, and 1908.

Thomas E. Dewey won the nomination in 1944 and 1948.

Adlai E. Stevenson II won the nomination in 1952 and 1956.

Also being on the ballot for President multiple times were Socialist Party nominees Eugene V. Debs (1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1920) and Norman Thomas (1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948) and Ross Perot (Independent in 1992 and Reform Party in 1996).

In any case, the odds that Romney, if he ran for President, would become the Republican nominee and win the Presidency are very poor!

 

 

 

The “What Ifs” Of The Vice Presidency And Succession To The Presidency!

The “What If”s of history are a topic that continues to fascinate, such as Jeff Greenfield’s new book on a second term in the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, had he not been assassinated.

There are so many examples of situations where a Vice President could have become President, and the fortunes of history did not make that work out. And twice, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate could have become President, as next in line, and with no Vice President at the time of the situation!

A total of 15 circumstances could have occurred, as follows:

John Tyler came close to being killed on the USS Princeton on a Potomac River trip on February 28, 1844, when an explosion occurred, killing the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy, but Tyler was unhurt. Had he died, and with no Vice President, as Tyler had succeeded William Henry Harrison in 1841, the President of the United States Senate would have been President Pro Tempore Senator Willie P. Mangum of North Carolina, a Whig Party member..

James K. Polk had constant intestinal ailments during his one term in office from 1845-1849, and chose not to run again, and died 103 days after his Presidency. Had he died during the term, Vice President George M. Dallas would have been President.

If Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated in his first term, rather than his second, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin would have been President, and Andrew Johnson would not have been President.

If Andrew Johnson had been convicted on impeachment charges in 1868, President Pro Tempore Benjamin Wade, Senator from Ohio, would have been President.

If Grover Cleveland, who had surgery for jaw cancer in 1893, had died, Vice President Adlai Stevenson I, the grandfather of the two time Democratic nominee for President in 1952 and 1956, would have been President.

If William McKinley’s first term Vice President, Garret Hobart, had not died in 1899, he likely would have been Vice President in the second term, when McKinley was assassinated in 1901, and Hobart would have been President, and Theodore Roosevelt would not have been President.

If Woodrow Wilson, having suffered a paralytic stroke which limited his ability to do his job for the last 18 months of his Presidency, had either died or resigned, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have been President.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt had been killed in an assassination attempt 17 days before his Presidency began, John Nance Garner would have been President.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt had not “dumped” Vice President Henry A. Wallace for his fourth term, Wallace would have been President, and not Harry Truman.

If Harry Truman had been successfully assassinated in a 1950 attempt, Vice President Alben Barkley would have been President.

If Gerald Ford had been a victim in either assassination attempt against him in September 1975, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller would have been President.

If Jimmy Carter had been the victim of John Hinckley, who stalked him at a campaign event in October 1980, the same person who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan less than six months later, Vice President Walter Mondale would have been President.

If George H. W. Bush had died of an atrial fibrillation during his term, Vice President Dan Quayle would have been President.

If Bill Clinton had been removed on impeachment charges or resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Vice President Al Gore would have been President.

And if George W. Bush had been shot down by terrorists on September 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney would have been President

Try to imagine Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman NOT being Presidents!

And imagine Presidents Willie P. Mangum, George M. Dallas, Hannibal Hamlin, Benjamin Wade, Adlai Stevenson I, Garret Hobart, Thomas Marshall, John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Alben Barkley, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney as Presidents of the United States, which would have meant, instead of nine Vice Presidents succeeding to the Presidency during a term, it could have been 19 Vice Presidents out of 44, nearly half (leaving out Vice Presidents Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman from the list of 47 Vice Presidents)! Plus two Presidents Pro Tempore of the Senate would have been President!