First Ladies

Presidential Family Members And The American Presidency

The growing influence of Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, is a significant factor in Donald Trump’s approach to the Presidency.

His reliance on and loyalty to his daughter and son in law demonstrates the power of family.

Other Presidents have also utilized family members as follows:

John Adams relied on John Quincy Adams as Ambassador to Prussia.

Woodrow Wilson had his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, conduct cabinet meetings after he had a stroke in October 1919.

Franklin D. Roosevelt relied on his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, for advice on so many domestic and foreign policy issues, and in his last two years, his daughter, Anna, also was available to assist him.

Dwight D. Eisenhower used his son John Eisenhower as a staff aide in the White House.

John F. Kennedy had the most prominent relative in his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, serving as Attorney General of the United States for the entire time of the Kennedy Presidency.

Lyndon B. Johnson leaned on his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, for much advice.

Ronald Reagan followed the advice of his wife, Nancy Reagan, on a host of issues, including developing a relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Bill Clinton utilized his wife, Hillary Clinton, on a proposed national health care program, as well as a host of other issues.

Barack Obama capitalized on the advice of wife Michelle Obama, as they were a very close couple.

But notice how mostly it was First Ladies who were engaged in helping their husband, with only John Quincy Adams, Anna Roosevelt, John Eisenhower (children) and RFK (brother) as important aides to the President, and Ivanka and Jared are in many ways unique in their growing role, with only RFK being of an equal or greater significance.

The Incongruity: Second Most Prominent “First Lady” Challenged For Presidency Twice By “Unlikely” Rivals, And Could Lose Chance To Be First Woman President!

When history is written, the incongruity of what has been happening will make a great tale.

The second most prominent “First Lady” in American history is challenged for Presidency twice by “unlikely” rivals, and could lose her chance to be the first woman President.

The first time, a first term African American Senator from Illinois, with an African name and the middle name “Hussein” challenges this “First Lady”, and ends up as the 44th President of the United States, and employs the former “First Lady” as his Secretary of State.

The second time, after having served as Secretary of State. the former “First Lady” is challenged for the Presidency by an elderly Jewish Senator with strong democratic Socialist views, an independent from the small state of Vermont, and defeats her in New Hampshire, and could go on to be the 45h President of the United States!

Never before had we seen a woman seen as so serious a challenger for the Presidency!  Never had we seen an African American President!  Never had we seen a man over 70 by five years, and with clear but Socialist views, and of the Jewish faith, on the road to possible election as President of the United States!

American politics continues to be unpredictable!

The Era Of The Elderly Running For President: Possibility Of Three Candidates Past 70 Competing For White House In 2016!

We may be witnessing an event that has never happened in the history of Presidential elections–three candidates, or even if only two candidates, all over the age of 70!

The only two cases of a President serving in his 70s are Ronald Reagan, who came to office 17 days short of age 70 and left office nearly 78 years old; and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who left office at age 70, three months and six days of age.

We also have had Senator John McCain running at age 72 in 2008, and Senator Bob Dole running at age 73 in 1996.

Now we have the potential for Donald Trump, who would be 70 years seven months and six days old on Inauguration Day; Bernie Sanders, who would be 75 years four months and twelve days old on Inauguration Day; and Michael Bloomberg, who would be 74 years 11 months and six days old on Inauguration Day!

And even if Hillary Clinton were to replace Bernie Sanders, she would be 69 years, nine months and six days old on Inauguration Day, so would reach age 70 after less than three months in office!

With two former Presidents alive at age 91 (Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush); four consecutive Presidents having reached age 90 (Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, additionally); and four former First Ladies since 1963 having reached age 90 (Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush); and with the average American living much longer and in better health, it should not be surprising that we have Presidential candidates in good health, running at an older age than ever in American history.

But one requirement is that younger Vice Presidential nominees be available as backups in case fate occurs, and the older Presidential winner dies in office!

Since World War II, many of the Vice Presidents have been older than their President, as with Harry Truman and Alben Barkley; John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson; George W. Bush and Dick Cheney; and Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

So now the opposite may likely happen.

The “Power Couples”: Presidents And First Ladies

Only a few of our Presidents and First Ladies can be seen as “power couples” who had an impact on their times and after the Presidential years.

It was difficult for the public to relate to either Presidents or First Ladies before the age of modern communication, so therefore the true “Power Couples” can be seen as five in number:

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt 1933-1945

John and Jacqueline Kennedy 1961-1963

Ronald and Nancy Reagan 1981-1989

Bill and Hillary Clinton 1993-2001

Barack and Michelle Obama 2009-Present

Each of these Presidents had a great impact on their times, but also their wives played a major role in the success and accomplishments of their husbands.

If one were to rank these five “Power Couples”, the order that makes most sense are the Roosevelts first; the Clintons second; the Kennedys third: and then the debate of who is fourth and fifth can be argued between the Reagans and the Obamas!

40th Anniversary Of Gerald Ford Becoming President: A Blessing For The Nation!

It has been 40 years since Gerald Ford became President, upon the resignation of our most dangerous President, Richard Nixon, due to his impending impeachment and trial in Congress, based on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice in the Watergate Scandal.

The 25th Amendment, only ratified and added to the Constitution in 1967, allowed Ford, who had replaced the corrupt Vice President Spiro Agnew, to become our 38th President.

Ford helped to end the great national nightmare of a corrupt President and a corrupt Vice President. He was the right man for the time, well liked and well respected, and not ambitious to be President. All Ford had wanted to do in his 25 year career in the House of Representatives was to become Speaker of the House.

Suddenly thrust into the responsibilities of the Presidency, Ford showed courage and guts in his selection of Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President; the pardoning of Richard Nixon, which probably helped to defeat him in a close race for the Presidency in 1976 with Jimmy Carter; his handling of the Mayaguez Affair with Cambodia, which save captured hostages; and his brilliant appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

Ford knew how to cross the aisle, and make friends of rivals, including President Carter, with the two men becoming fast friends once Carter left office, and with Carter giving the eulogy at Ford’s funeral in 2006.

Ford also gave us one of the greatest First Ladies in American history in Betty Ford, and his moderate conservatism is what one would wish for now from the much further right wing Republican Party of 2014.

It is well worth a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the Ford Presidential Museum, as this author and blogger did a year ago, which caused him to gain growing respect for the 38th President of the United States, who showed up at the precisely proper time when the Presidency itself was under attack!

John F. Kennedy And Barack Obama Comparisons

The more one studies John F. Kennedy and witnesses the Presidency of Barack Obama, the more one can see comparisons.

Both John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama represented new directions in the office of the Presidency. The following comparisons can be made between the 35th President and the 44th President.

Both of these Presidents represented a revolutionary change, with Kennedy being the first Catholic President and Obama being the first African American President.

Both of these Presidents faced the vehement opposition of the Southern states, although both won key states in the South and had most of their opposition from the “deep” South.

Both of these Presidents were charismatic and great orators of their visions.

Both of these Presidents had young children in the White House years.

Both of these Presidents had very attractive First Ladies, who added a lot to their Presidencies.

Both of these Presidents dealt with the issue of civil rights, with Kennedy focused on race and Obama on sexual orientation controversies.

Both of these Presidents engendered great hatred and were considered dangerous to the nation by critics, and the number of assassination threats grew dramatically.

Both of these Presidents had a Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson and Joe Biden, with a reputation of being exceptional legislators who knew how to get things done in Congress.

Both of these Presidents were young, and offered new hope for a new generation.

Both of these Presidents faced major challenges, Kennedy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Obama with finding Osama Bin Laden.

Both of these Presidents faced tough times dealing with the Soviet Union under Kennedy, and the Russian Federation under Obama.

Both of these Presidents emphasized the need for health care as an important federal goal, with Kennedy unable to accomplish Medicare, but Obama able to accomplish ObamaCare, with conservatives being the crucial opposition in both situations.

Both of these Presidents promoted the concept of peace as a goal, rather than war, with Kennedy attempting moves toward ending the Cold War, and Obama attempting moves to end the war on Terrorism.

Both of these Presidents appealed to our better natures, rather than the lowest common denominator.

Both of these Presidents attempted to fight poverty and promote the middle class as the way to progress for society.

Both of these Presidents became models for young people, and gave them hope in a better America and a better world, as they were seen in an idealistic manner as overcoming cynicism common in both eras.

With Obama having about three years to go, and with constant, persistent death threats, it is hoped and prayed for that he will finish his term unharmed, and avoid the tragedy of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Let all of us wish him the best!

First Lady Poll On Presidents Day

A Siena College poll has ranked First Ladies and their historic role as we celebrate Presidents Day.

The highest ranking in order are:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Abigail Adams
Jacqueline Kennedy
Dolley Madison
Michelle Obama
Hillary Clinton
Lady Bird Johnson
Betty Ford
Martha Washington
Rosalynn Carter

Laura Bush, Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, and Bess Truman were all judged to have played an inadequate role as First Lady, although many First Ladies stayed in the background, and only since the 1960s has the role expanded, with the earlier major exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, who stands way above the rest of the list.

Surprisingly, Mary Todd Lincoln, Lucy Hayes, Frances Cleveland, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Grace Coolidge, and Barbara Bush were not listed as among the most influential, while one could argue that at least Edith Bolling Galt WIlson and Barbara Bush belonged in the top ten, more so than Martha Washington and Dolley Madison.

Most Influential First Ladies In American History

The role of First Lady, the wife of the President, has evolved over time, and in recent decades, it has been extremely difficult for a First Lady to conduct herself as Jane Pierce or Bess Truman did, which was, basically, to avoid the public spotlight and any major duties.

First Ladies have had their own causes in recent decades, and a few earlier First Ladies had a major impact on their times and their husbands.

So if we were to list 15 First Ladies who had a major role in American history, we would list the following in a chronological list:

Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams
Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison
Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham :Lincoln
Lucy Webb Hayes, wife of Rutherford B. Hayes
Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Grover Cleveland
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of John F. Kennedy
Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Lyndon B. Johnson
Betty Ford, wife of Gerald Ford
Rosalynn Carter, wife of Jimmy Carter
Nancy Reagan, wife of Ronald Reagan
Barbara Bush, wife of George H. W. Bush
Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton
Michelle Obama, wife of Barack Obama

If one was asked to list the five most powerful and significant First Ladies in ranked order, a good list would be as follows:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Hillary Clinton
Betty Ford
Lady Bird Johnson
Michelle Obama

This author welcomes discussion of the lists mentioned above!

Centennial Of Gerald Ford’s Birth: A Time To Honor Our 38th President!

Today is the centennial of President Gerald Ford’s birth, and a moment to celebrate and honor our 38th President.

Gerald Ford will never go down as a great, near great, or above average President, being ranked right in the middle of our 43 Presidents, but he made a vast difference to our nation.

Gerald Ford demonstrated decency, humanity, courage, conviction, and decisiveness when such attributes were needed.

Gerald Ford became President by accident, having had no desire or ambition to be President, but steadying the ship of state after the Watergate Scandal led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Thank goodness the nation had found out about the corruption and venality of Vice President Spiro Agnew, forcing his resignation, and the implementation of the 25th Amendment, just passed and ratified six years earlier.

Nixon picked Ford as Agnew’s successor due to his popularity with both his Republican colleagues and the respect and high regard that he was held in by the opposition Democrats, who controlled both houses of Congress.

Ford had served 25 years in the House of Representatives from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and had been the Republican leader in the House for nearly nine years, when he was tapped for the Vice Presidency.

Ford had always had the ambition to become Speaker of the House one day, if only the Republicans were to gain control of the House, which they did not do for 40 years from 1955-1995.

Ford had to “walk on eggs” for the eight months of his Vice Presidency, being there to help Nixon but not be too closely associated with him, and he acted totally in an appropriate manner.

Gerald Ford was a likeable “regular guy”, and graced us with his First Lady, Betty Ford, a truly elegant woman who dignified and added to the role of First Ladies during her two years and five months as a woman of principle, courage, and openness not typical of most earlier First Ladies.

Gerald Ford served only two years, five months and eleven days, a total of 895 days in the Oval Office, the fifth shortest duration of any occupant in the Presidency, with shorter terms of Warren G. Harding, Zachary Taylor, James Garfield, and William Henry Harrison.

Ford faced tough challenges with the decision to pardon Richard Nixon; The Mayaguez Affair with Cambodia; the difficult Recession of 1974-1975, the worst since the Great Depression; the challenge for the 1976 Republican Presidential nomination by former Governor Ronald Reagan; and the difficult election campaign against former Governor Jimmy Carter.

Ford also faced the unbelievable threat of two assassination attempts within seventeen days in September 1975, fortunately ducking bullets twice in an heroic manner.

Ford stood out as a moderate conservative who always could work across the aisle with his rivals, the Democrats, something that would not be admired today by the Tea Party Movement element which has damaged the heritage, tradition and future of the Republican Party.

If Gerald Ford were here today, he would be shocked at the social conservatism of the religious Right and the venal attacks on Barack Obama by conservative ideologues, and would probably not be accepted in the GOP of 2013 as legitimate!

Gerald Ford outlived Ronald Reagan by six weeks, and remains, as of now, our longest lived President, and it is appropriate to wish him a happy 100th birthday!

And I am thrilled to announce that later this week, I will be visiting the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my younger son, and am thrilled that the timing is such as to coincide with the Centennial of Gerald Ford’s birth! I am looking forward to learning more about the historical contributions of our 38th President, who deserves our respect and thanks!

The 2016 Presidential Campaign Has Begun: The Massive Assault On Hillary Clinton

For anyone who wonders when the Presidential Election campaign of 2016 will begin, it is now clear that it has begun this month, May 2013, with the Republican Party unwilling to change its image, policies or beliefs, and setting out to destroy the candidate who is favored by 65 percent of the American people, former First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton!

Hillary Clinton is accustomed to massive assaults on her character, her ethics, her public record, as she became the most attacked First Lady in American History, with possibly the exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who like Hillary Clinton, represented a fundamental set of principles and values that terrified conservatives and Republicans in the 1930s, and again in the 1990s.

So Hillary Clinton, a very tough lady, must decide if she is willing to take the heat, venom, poison, and utter contempt that she will have visited on her over the next three and a half years. Her husband was vilified from DAY ONE, and yet managed to produce a record far superior to earlier or later Bush Presidencies.

Hillary Clinton, if she decides ultimately to run for the White House, will have to deal, also, with the reality that when and if she becomes President, she will not have a restful day, but that is par for the course, as it was for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama.

But as long as the American people continue to see her as the first woman President, who see her as a visionary who will fight the good fight against the Right Wing hate machine on Capitol Hill, on Talk Radio, and on Fox News Channel, as well as powerful pressure groups that work against the interests of the masses of the American people, she will triumph and make the Republicans like it, and if they do not, she will have the personality to condemn them openly, and not be as “nice” as Obama has been, to his own detriment!