Bill Clinton

Presidents And Intelligence

A YouGov Survey on the past eight elected Presidents, therefore not including Gerald Ford, ranks their “intelligence” with unusual results.

The word “intelligent” has different meanings to different people.

Is it based on grades while in school?

Is it based on ability to get things done effectively?

Is it based on oratorical skill and charm and charisma?

Is it based on accomplishments in office?

Is it based on personal popularity with the American people?

Is it based on reaction to crises that arise?

Does being “intelligent” matter as much as other characteristics, including: honesty, experience, ability to inspire, boldness, and having a sense of humor?

What it comes down to is that how people react to Presidents is very personal, and trying to rank them on the word “intelligence” is simply extremely political in nature!

According to the YouGov poll, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most “intelligent” of the eight recent Presidents, followed by Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Notice that the first two are also seen as most “successful”, while Obama, even under attack recently, looks better than the rest, and the senior Bush is remembered for the Persian Gulf War, which led him to an all time high public opinion poll rating of 91 percent.

The other four recent Presidents, generally seen as “failures”, or at least seen as negative, are in order: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Interestingly, George W, Bush and Barack Obama have the highest percentage, both 17 percent, thinking they are not intelligent at all! This is purely emotion based on opposition that each has had from his critics!

What it comes down to is that this poll is basically useless, as it fails to look at historical reality and the record of each President!

If that was done, one could argue that LBJ should rank the highest in pure accomplishment in domestic affairs, in a way that still affects us, while Richard Nixon would rank highest in pure accomplishment in foreign policy, despite his many other shortcomings, including Watergate.

In pure native intelligence, based on information we have on their backgrounds, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter would rank the highest.

Ronald Reagan has been over inflated in image, while George H. W. Bush has been underrated for his accomplishments.

Barack Obama cannot be adequately evaluated while in office, while George W. Bush, ranking last, seems likely to remain that way for the long run!

Left In Democratic Party Not Comfortable With Hillary Clinton, Looking Elsewhere For Primary Challenge!

Hillary Clinton may be the runaway favorite in most polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination for 2016, but we have never seen a non-incumbent to compete without an opponent in their party’s battle for the Presidential nomination.

So we are starting to feel, see, and sense that there will be challengers to Hillary, and the speculation has become wide and deep that any or some of the following will, indeed, challenge the former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady:

Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia
Governor Jerry Brown of California
Former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont
Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri (totally new to any speculation)
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado

There is discontent with Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street; her gaining as much as $275,000 a speech before wealthy donors and groups; and the image of her as a “hawk” in foreign policy. She is seen as part of the “Establishment”, and as not sufficiently understanding of the plight of the middle class and the poor. Her husband worked against the left, sticking to a centrist viewpoint in his years in the White House, and while there are salutes for him as a former President, the Left is looking for someone more in the line of doing more for the poor and middle class, and staying out of foreign wars, and regulating Wall Street.

So that is the appeal of Warren, Sanders and O’Malley in particular, but the idea of Brown coming back, mentioned in an earlier blog entry, is fascinating, and Dean trying again after 12 years is also intriguing! And imagine a “Nixon”, not related to the former President, running from the “heartland”, the state of Missouri, which was always on the winning side of every election from 1900 to the present, except 1956, 2008, and 2012, but close in the first two years!

And of course, Hillary could decide, ultimately, NOT to run, and then it is a true donnybrook in the making for the Democrats in 2016!

Could there be a surprise in the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes? After 2008, who can say?

Two Experienced National Presidential Campaigners Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton For Democratic Presidential Nomination: Al Gore And Jerry Brown!

The basic belief that goes around in political circles is that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic Presidential nomination for the asking, and has more experience and background than anyone who could possibly run against her in the primaries, with the major exception of Vice President Joe Biden!

But it is also noted that, actually, there are two very experienced Democrats who have run for President before, along with Hillary and Joe, and yet few are paying any attention to these two men!

I am talking about former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the Presidency in 2000 to George W. Bush, despite having won the national popular vote by about 540,000, but losing the contested election in Florida in the Supreme Court case of Bush V. Gore. Also, Gore sought the Presidency in 1988, before losing the nomination to Michael Dukakis.

I am also referring here to three time Democratic Presidential seeker, California Governor Jerry Brown, who sought the nomination in 1976 and again in 1980 against Jimmy Carter, and against Bill Clinton in 1992!

Both are tested, although both are from “long ago” in many people’s minds, since Gore has never tried for public office since 2000, and sixteen years is a very long time in politics. One could say that Hillary and Joe are also from “long ago”, but they have continued to hold public office consistently since the new century began, with Hillary only “retiring” in 2013 to write her memoir on her years as Secretary of State!

Jerry Brown goes back much further having been Governor of California at age 35, serving from 1975 to 1983; then later being Oakland Mayor and California Attorney General; and then returning to the Governorship 28 years after leaving it, and becoming the oldest Governor in the history of the state in 2011, and now running for a second term at age 76.

There have been rumors that Brown would love to run again, and dog the Clintons, as he did Jimmy Carter. It would be ironic if he was to challenge Hillary as he did her husband in 1992!

Of course, Brown would be nearly 79 were he to become President in 2017, and Al Gore would be nearly 69, just five months younger than Hillary Clinton, while Joe Biden would be 74 at the time of the inauguration!

One might say that having all these “old folks” running or considering the Presidency is disturbing, and add to that mix, two liberals who are rumored to run, If Hillary chooses not to run, or possibly even if she does—Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who would be 67 on Inauguration Day, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (technically a Socialist), who would be 75.

While we are at it, why not add Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee, to the list, with him being 73 if elected to the Presidency in 2016!

These people, all seven of them, represent a lot of talent and experience and brilliance, but ranging from 67 to 79 is NOT a good trend, particularly with the strong likelihood that the Republican Party will nominate someone much younger, probably by a full generation, or close to it, in years!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

“Sixth Year” Syndrome Of The Presidency From Truman To Obama

Presidents who have won a second term in the White House typically have what could be called the “Sixth Year” Syndrome, meaning it is a downturn in their fortunes, just one year after winning reelection.

Such was Harry Truman, facing the Korean War and the rise of McCarthyism in his sixth year in office.

Such was the case with Dwight D. Eisenhower, who saw a recession undermine his popularity in 1958 in his sixth year.

Such was the case with Richard Nixon, who was facing impeachment in his sixth year in office, due to the Watergate scandal, and ended up resigning in his sixth year in office.

Such was the case with Ronald Reagan, who was facing the Iran Contra scandal revelations in his sixth year.

Such was the case with Bill Clinton, who had to deal with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the move toward impeachment in his sixth year in office.

Such was George W. Bush, facing two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were not going well in his sixth year, and coming off the disaster of Hurricane Katrina.

So the fact that Barack Obama is perceived as “in the doldrums” in his sixth year in the Presidency is not at all surprising, and in many ways, despite the hype of the news media, he is in better shape than his predecessors were, if one looks at the situation objectively!

Quinnipiac Poll On Worst President Since WW II Is Sign Of Total Ignorance And Stupidity!

A new Quinnipiac poll for July 4th rates Presidents since World War II, and comes to the asinine conclusion that Barack Obama, engaged in the typical “sixth year” doldrums, is the worst President since 1945!

Really? Give all of us a break! This demonstrates total ignorance and stupidity of American history, and how quickly people forget past Presidents and the records they have in office.

How could Barack Obama be the worst President since 1945, with:

The highest stock market in history, up 150 percent.
Gaining back of all the millions of jobs lost in the Great Recession, plus more jobs created despite GOP obstructionism.
The deficit falling faster than at any time since Eisenhower.
Hunting down and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The capture of the perpetrator of the Benghazi deaths in Libya.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act, giving more Americans health care coverage than at any time in American history.
The passage of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau despite opposition from Wall Street, corporations and Republicans.
The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
The advancement of environmental protection on the road to the level of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt.
The promotion of the interests of the middle class against the Republican aim to destroy the middle class by lack of action.

Of course, any person could make a list of programs and policies of Barack Obama which have not worked out to their or our satisfaction, including this author.

But come on, compare Obama to George W. Bush:

Two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both causing trillions of dollars in the national debt, and not accomplishing their goals, and the war in Iraq totally unnecessary, a war of choice.
The poor handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and Mississippi and Alabama.
The failed Social Security privatization plan, which would have destroyed the program in 2008.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009, worst since the Great Depression under Herbert Hoover.

And if we are to rate the worst Presidents, how about Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who both did so much harm in office, even while admitting certain positives for both?

And to rate Mitt Romney a better choice, 45 percent, to be President now, after the failed campaign of 2012–face the facts, the American people made the right choice in rejecting Romney, arguably the worst candidate of the Republican Party since Barry Goldwater in 1964. This was a man who lied, lied, lied, constantly, more than any Presidential nominee in American history!

The fact that the poll participants showed no real knowledge of American history is troubling, as to come to such a ridiculous conclusion demonstrates total lack of understanding of what has gone on in this nation in recent years! All they react to is charisma, so that Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton rank the highest, simply based on image!

What do these involved in the poll know about Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush, as well as the Presidents that are rated high, and those rated low in the poll? Clearly, NOTHING!

Greatest Domestic Accomplishments Of Presidents Since FDR

So much attention is usually paid to foreign policy during any President’s administration, but domestic accomplishments are something that needs much more attention.

Following is what this author regards as the greatest domestic accomplishment of each President since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—Social Security Act of 1935

Harry Truman–Integration of the military and Washington DC in 1948

Dwight D. Eisenhower–Appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1953 and Associate Justice William Brennan in 1956

John F. Kennedy—Integration of University of Mississippi by James Meredith, with federal enforcement in 1962

Lyndon B. Johnson—Civil Rights Act of 1964

Richard Nixon–Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970

Gerald Ford—Appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975

Jimmy Carter—Environmental Reform and Expansion of Public Lands 1977-1981

Ronald Reagan—Social Security Reform in tandem with Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill in 1983

George H. W. Bush—Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990

Bill Clinton—Appointment of Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994

George W. Bush—Medicare Part D Prescription Law of 2003

Barack Obama—Affordable Care Act of 2010

Discussion and commentary on this list is welcome!

Democratic Presidents Come Out Fighting Against Republican Obstructionism!

The history of American politics is one of Republican obstructionism to Democratic Presidents, and five Democrats in the White House coming out swinging against their opponents, going to the people to gain their backing.

Such was the case with Franklin D. Roosevelt in the midterm Congressional elections of 1934 and the Presidential Election of 1936!

Such was the case with Harry Truman in the Presidential Election of 1948, where he gained the name “Give Them Hell Harry.”

Such was the case with Lyndon B. Johnson in the Presidential Election of 1964 against Senator Barry Goldwater!

Such was the case with Bill Clinton in the Presidential Election of 1996, despite the GOP Congress of 1995-1996.

Such was the case with Barack Obama in the Presidential Election of 2012, and now Obama has come out fighting again, making clear that he will not allow Republican obstructionism to prevent his use of executive orders to accomplish as many of his goals as possible, without legislative action!

This is all to the good, and hopefully, he can rally independents and Democrats to come out and vote, to keep the Republicans from gaining control of the US Senate, and maybe narrow the Democratic deficit, or win control of the House of Representatives!

Hostile Relationship Of Former Presidents With Incumbent Presidents

The question of the relationship of former Presidents with incumbent Presidents is an interesting one, with usually the former Presidents avoiding open criticism of their successors, even if they are of a different political persuasions, and did not support the nomination or election of their successors.

There are only a few cases of open criticism and attack, including:

John Quincy Adams highly critical of Andrew Jackson, and returning to Washington, DC as a Congressman to “keep watch” over his policies and actions. Adams was also a sharp critic of the slavery and expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk.

Martin Van Buren being a major critic of the expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk in the 1840s, and of the slavery policies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan in the 1850s.

John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan all critical of the policies of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Grover Cleveland being a sharp critic of Benjamin Harrison, who he had lost to, and then ran against again and defeated in 1892, and then opposed William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt on the issue of imperialism and expansion.

Theodore Roosevelt very critical of his successor William Howard Taft, who he ran against on the Progressive Party line in 1912, and then against Woodrow Wilson’s policies toward World War I, after losing to him in 1912. Also, TR was resentful that Wilson “stole” some of his progressive ideas, and enacted them as President in his first term.

Herbert Hoover harshly critical of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies during the Great Depression and World War II.

Harry Truman very critical of Richard Nixon for years before he became President, and never really making peace even when Nixon gave the Truman library the piano in the White House that Truman had played. Also, Truman was critical of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the two men only resolved their differences at the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Jimmy Carter very critical of the policies of his successor, Ronald Reagan, and at times, of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Otherwise, the tendency has been to sit on the sidelines and avoid open criticism of one’s successors to the Oval Office!

Joe Biden, The True “Common Man” Of The Present Age!

It has been well known for a long time that Vice President Joe Biden was the “poorest” US Senator for many years, and that he lived on his salary as a Senator, plus the teaching salary of his wife, and that they only had one home in Delaware, and that he rode to work regularly on Amtrak. His assets were only his house, and their salaries, and that they did not have any real wealth! It was clear that he was worth far less than a million dollars in total assets, an amazing statement when more than half of the Congress is shown to be millionaires and more.

Biden has just pointed out that he has no savings account, and no stocks and bonds, but admits he has a good pension awaiting him, and is not complaining about his salary as a US Senator in the past, and as Vice President now.

He is doing this, quite frankly, to contrast himself with Hillary Clinton, who complained that she and her husband were “broke” when they left the White House, and that they are not privileged like some wealthy people, but yet with more than $100 million earned in speeches and books by both the Clintons, it seems strange to talk about their finances as if they are one of us, although they have committed their careers to doing good deeds for others!

The point is that if the American people want a person close to themselves in financial status, although still better than most average Americans, then they will want Joe Biden as their next President!