Benjamin Harrison

Is George H. W. Bush The “Best” One Term President In American History, Surpassing James K. Polk, And What About Jimmy Carter?

Now that George H. W. Bush is part of American history, the question arises whether he should be judged the “best” one term President in American history.

We have had the following 12 one term elected Presidents who finished their term, but were not given a second term:

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
James K. Polk
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Rutherford B. Hayes
Benjamin Harrison
William Howard Taft
Herbert Hoover
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush

Eight of them, all but Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, and Hayes were defeated for reelection, with those four choosing not to run, and all of these four, except Polk, very unpopular and aware that they were not wanted to be nominated for another term.

The usual viewpoint has been that James K. Polk, with the acquisition of the American Southwest by war with Mexico, and acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by the Oregon treaty with Great Britain, was the most successful one term President. Labeled an expansionist and an imperialist by many, the fact that he presided over the greatest expansion of US territory since Thomas Jefferson, has helped him to be regarded by scholars as a “successful” President, rated 12 to 14 in scholarly polls.

Now, some are saying that George H. W. Bush may be greater than Polk, due to his foreign policy accomplishments in particular, including the end of the Cold War, the unification of Germany, and the Persian Gulf War, along with his domestic policies of “A Thousand Points Of Light”, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Some on this list, including Van Buren, Pierce, Buchanan, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, Taft, and Hoover are seen in a poor light, while J. Q. Adams is seen as not having succeeded in his one term, although a great man, and his father, John Adams, criticized for the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, curbing civil liberties during his term.

The only other one term President who could be seen as competing would be Jimmy Carter, with his Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, the Panama Canal Treaty, his Human Rights advocacy, his creation of new cabinet agencies (Departments of Education, Health And Human Services, Energy), and his exceptional record on the environment, but his negatives, including high inflation, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Cuban Mariel Boat Lift all help to undermine his case.

So, one could argue that Polk and Bush may be competitive as the “best” one term elected President, without a clear cut answer to the question of who was the better President.

It might be best to say that Polk was the best 19th century one term elected President, while Bush was the best 20th century one term elected President, with Jimmy Carter as the runner up in that regard.

One Term Presidents Who Lose Reelection Reassessed

The historical image of One Term Presidents is that it is the worst thing imaginable to lose reelection, and that their historical image is damaged.

Actually, though, it could be argued that a one term Presidency often is a blessing in disguise in the long run.

Let’s examine what happened to the lives of Presidents defeated for a second term.

John Adams lost reelection to Thomas Jefferson in 1800, but went on to live another 25 years, see his son John Quincy Adams be elected and inaugurated President, and die at the age of 90 years and seven months, the all time record until the 21st century, when four other Presidents surpassed him in age.

John Quincy Adams lost reelection to Andrew Jackson in 1828, but went on to live another 19 years, and be elected to nine terms as a Congressman from Massachusetts, engaged in the fight against slavery as the only President elected by popular vote to an elected office after being President.

Martin Van Buren lost reelection to William Henry Harrison in 1840, but went on to live another 21 years, and be the Presidential nominee of the Free Soil Party in 1848, winning about 10 percent of the national popular vote, the first such third party to have an impact on a national election.

Grover Cleveland lost reelection to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but came back to the White House by election in 1892, and later served on the Princeton University Board of Trustees after his retirement.

William Howard Taft lost reelection to Woodrow Wilson in 1912, but went on to become the only President also to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921-1930.

Herbert Hoover lost reelection to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, but went on to the longest retirement of more than 31 years, only surpassed by Jimmy Carter in 2012, and Hoover having growing respect for his post Presidential activities, and dying at the age of 90 in 1964, only five months less lifespan than John Adams, and the second President to reach that age.

Gerald Ford lost election to Jimmy Carter in 1976, after succeeding Richard Nixon under the 25th Amendment, but went on to growing recognition and respect in his nearly 30 years after his Presidency, setting the record for longevity until 2018, dying at the age of 93 and five months.

Jimmy Carter lost reelection to Ronald Reagan in 1980, but went on to become the most outstanding former President in his activities and commitments to public service, and has had the longest retirement of any President, nearly 38 years, and has just reached the age of 94, being 111 days younger than George H. W. Bush.

George H. W. Bush lost reelection to Bill Clinton in 1992, but went on to see his son, George W. Bush be inaugurated and serve two terms in the Presidency, and growing respect as he set the all time record of age 94 in June 2018.

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.

Supreme Court Membership Could Be Increased In Future By Democratic Party Senate Majority, Perfectly Legal

Progressives have developed the idea that in the future, when Democrats gain the majority of the US Senate, they may move toward increasing the membership of the Supreme Court, playing hardball as much as the Republicans have under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell refused to allow hearings for Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee to replace the dead Antonin Scalia, saying it was an election year, and improper to allow an outgoing President to make an appointment.

This was preposterous, as John Adams named John Marshall Chief Justice in 1801, after losing reelection to Thomas Jefferson; Andrew Jackson chose Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney in 1836, his last year in office; and Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and William Howard Taft chose Justices in their last year in office; and Herbert Hoover chose Benjamin Cardozo in 1932, his last year in office; and Dwight D. Eisenhower chose William Brennan in the year of his reelection campaign; and Ronald Reagan chose Anthony Kennedy in his last year in office in 1988.

We have had differing numbers of justices. up to ten, and there is no constitutional barring of adding more Justices, as Franklin D. Roosevelt wished to do in 1937.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander, as the saying goes, and this might be a way to wield power on the part of the Democrats to create a balanced Court, as otherwise, we will have the most extremist Court since the 1920s!

State Elections Lost By Presidents

Today, we will examine elections at the state and Congressional level lost by future Presidents, indicating that about a third of our Presidents lost election on the way to the White House.

William Henry Harrison lost election as Governor of Ohio in 1820, and as a Congressman in 1822.

John Quincy Adams lost election as Governor of Massachusetts in 1833.

James K. Polk lost election as Governor of Tennessee in 1841 and again in 1843.

Abraham Lincoln lost election as Senator of Illinois in 1854 and again in 1858.

Andrew Johnson lost election as Senator of Tennessee in 1869 and again in 1872.

Rutherford B. Hayes lost election as Congressman of Ohio in 1872.

Benjamin Harrison lost election as Governor of Indiana in 1876 and as Senator in 1887.

William McKinley lost election as Congressman of Ohio in 1890.

Warren G. Harding lost election as Governor of Ohio in 1910.

Lyndon B. Johnson lost election as Senator of Texas in 1941.

Richard Nixon lost election as Governor of California in 1962.

George H. W. Bush lost election as Senator of Texas in 1964, and again in 1970.

Jimmy Carter lost election as Governor of Georgia in 1966.

Bill Clinton lost election as Congressman of Arkansas in 1974 and as Governor in 1980.

George W. Bush lost election as Congressman of Texas in 1978.

Barack Obama lost election as Congressman from Illinois in 2000.

What this all demonstrates is that just because someone running for office is defeated does not mean to give up the idea of running again, as clearly, the proof is that 16 future Presidents did not give up the idea of running for public office again.

It also shows that 9 states defeated future Presidents running for public office, with 4 future Presidents in Ohio, 3 in Texas, two in Tennessee and Illinois. and one each in Massachusetts, Indiana, California, Georgia, and Arkansas.

Cabinet Officers And The Presidency

Continuing our examination of the background of America’s Presidents, we will now look at the Presidency in relation to those who have held Cabinet positions under other Presidents.

So far, we have seen that there were 19 Presidents who served in the House of Representatives, 17 who served as Governors of their states, and 16 who served in the US Senate.

In regards to Cabinet officers a total of 8 Presidents served in a total of three different Cabinet positions.

Six of the 8 served as Secretary of State, including:

Thomas Jefferson under George Washington
James Madison under Thomas Jefferson
James Monroe under James Madison twice with a break of about a year when he served also as Secretary of War during the War of 1812, but then returned to the State Department.
John Quincy Adams under James Monroe
Martin Van Buren under Andrew Jackson
James Buchanan under James K. Polk

James Monroe served for about a year as Secretary of War under James Madison, as stated above, and William Howard Taft served in that position under Theodore Roosevelt..

Finally, Herbert Hoover served as Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge before running for President in 1928. Arguably, Hoover proved to be one of the best Cabinet officers in all of American history, and added great distinction to a Cabinet agency not much thought of as a major position otherwise.

Additionally, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt served as sub cabinet members under William McKinley and Woodrow Wilson respectively, both as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Also, William Howard Taft served as Solicitor General of the United States, the government’s lawyer before the Supreme Court, under President Benjamin Harrison.

US Senators And The Presidency

In recent days, we have looked at the record of Presidents who had been members of the House of Representatives and those who had been state Governors.

Now, we will examine those Presidents who served in the US Senate.

The record shows 16 US Senators who went on to become President, as compared to 19 who served in the House of Representatives and 17 who served as Governors of their states.

The majority of these 16 Senators served before the 20th century, and only three, all since 1900, were directly elected to the Presidency.

The list is as follows:

James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Andrew Johnson
Benjamin Harrison
Warren G. Harding
Harry Truman
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Barack Obama.

Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama were the three Senators elected directly to the Presidency, and only three others—Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon were elected by the people under the 17th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1913.

John Tyler and Andrew Johnson succeeded to the Presidency upon the deaths of William Henry Harrison and Abraham Lincoln, and were not elected President, while Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, and then were elected to a full term of their own.

Andrew Johnson served in the Senate from Tennessee from 1857-1862, became President from 1865-1869, and then was elected again in 1875, serving a few months before his death, and is the only person who served in the Senate after being President.

Andrew Jackson served two separate times in the Senate, the second period ending in 1825, after he had won the popular vote, but would lose the Presidency in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams, part of the tumultuous Presidential Election of 1824.

Benjamin Harrison is the only other President before the 20th century to be a Senator close to the time when he became President, serving from 1881-1887, and being elected President in 1888, and serving from 1889-1893.

Only a few of these Presidents served for a long time in the Senate–Lyndon B. Johnson for 12 years; James Buchanan for 11 years; Harry Truman for 10 years; and John Tyler for 9 years.

Presidents Who Were Widowed

On the day of the funeral of Barbara Bush, here is a list of all Presidents who were widowed, a total of 11 of 44 Presidents, 3 in office, and 8 out of office, and 4 remarrying, and 2 (Tyler and Wilson) while in office.

John Adams out of office in 1818

James Monroe out of office in 1830

John Tyler in office 1842, remarried in 1844 in office

Millard Fillmore out of office 1853, remarried

Franklin Pierce out of office 1863

Rutherford B. Hayes out of office 1889

Benjamin Harrison in office 1892, remarried

Woodrow Wilson in office 1914, remarried in 1915 in office

Herbert Hoover out of office 1944

Richard Nixon out of office 1993

George H. W. Bush out of office 2018

Tariffs And Republican Depressions: Benjamin Harrison, Herbert Hoover, Now Donald Trump?

Protective tariffs made sense in the time of Alexander Hamilton and the time of Henry Clay.

But in the late 19th century, big business corporations were able to create higher tariffs that were detrimental to the American worker, consumer, and economy, with the assistance of the corrupt Republican Party of the period.

In 1890, under Republican President Benjamin Harrison, we saw the passage of the McKinley Tariff, named after the future President, and it undermined the economy and contributed to the disastrous Panic of 1893, which affected the nation until 1898.

In 1930, months after the Stock Market Crash, Republican President Herbert Hoover, ignoring the pleas of hundreds of economists, signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which caused a great worsening of the developing Great Depression.

As the decades went by, most Republicans and intelligent Democrats realized that high tariffs were not good, and free trade agreements developed in the 1990s.

Some far left liberals and some far right conservatives joined forces to fight this, and now Donald Trump has declared the inception of “Tariff Wars”, which will bring down the American economy, harm consumers and farmers, and cause unemployment to rise.

Trump is alienating the whole world–including China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union, and more–and instead will destroy the economic lives of millions of his own supporters, if he is not stopped from his crazy, lunatic actions!

Assuming we cannot stop what he is doing, the Republicans will suffer a blood bath, that will put the Republican Party in the dustbin of history.

It is time for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in Congress to show some “cajones”, and turn against Trump before he totally destroys the nation economically, and takes unto World War III against North Korea, who would be helped by China, and Iran, who would be helped by Russia.

The War Cabinet Emerges: Larry Kudlow, Mike Pompeo, And John Bolton: Great Depression And Aggressive War Against North Korea And Iran On The Horizon!

Donald Trump has now forced out Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, and H. R. Mc Master, and replaced them with Larry Kudlow, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton, and this turnover after only 14 months in the White House is a danger sign of trouble ahead.

Trump’s “Tariff Wars”, discouraged by Cohn, now will move forward, and Tillerson and Mc Master, both strong in their criticism of Trump oriented foreign policy of “America First”, upending traditional foreign policy for 70 years, now will move into a phase of aggressiveness in foreign policy that is likely to lead to warfare.

One can now expect that we might end up in a Great Depression, or at least a Great Recession, as we are going down the road of protectionism, which was pursued by Benjamin Harrison in 1890 with the McKinley Tariff, which led to the Panic of 1893; and also pursued by Herbert Hoover in 1930 with the Smoot Hawley Tariff, which made the already begun Great Depression much more deeper.

And we can expect that with Mike Pompeo and particularly, John Bolton, two hawks in foreign policy, the first being a Tea Party activist elected to the House of Representatives, and the second, unable to be confirmed by a Republican Senate to be United Nations Ambassador, and only there for less than a year as a recess appointment under George W. Bush, and very much advocating “regime change” regarding North Korea and Iran, we can expect two wars before the year 2018 is over.

Trump may be thinking that getting engaged in two wars will cause “patriots” to rally around the flag, and help the Republicans to retain their control of both houses of Congress, and one must recall that in Presidential years, anytime there there has been a war, the President running for reelection has always won.

So Trump might be planning to use war as a way to a second term in office, which history must make every sane person be alarmed over such prospect!