Franklin D. Roosevelt

Myth Destroyed About Third Term Of Same Party In White House Being Historically Unlikely! How About 7 Times And 120 Years Of Our History?

This blogger keeps on hearing that it is highly unlikely for a political party to hold the White House for more than two terms. Most recently, Chris Matthews said this on MSNBC on HARDBALL!

This is totally untrue, as witness the facts, a total of 7 times:

1800-1824—Democratic Republicans Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe–Six terms, 24 years

1828-1840–Democrats Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren–Three terms, 12 years

1860-1884–Republicans Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur (Andrew Johnson elected with Lincoln on “Union” ticket in 1864 was a Southern Democrat, but was never elected)–Six terms, 24 years

1896-1912–Republicans William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft–Four terms, 16 years

1920-1932–Republicans Warren G. Harding. Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover–Three terms, 12 years

1932-1952–Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman–Five terms, 20 years

1980-1992–Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush–Three terms, 12 years

This adds up to 30 terms and 120 years from 1789-2008. So that means 30 terms out of 55 terms, more than half the time and 120 years out of 220 years, more than half the time!

And now in 2016, an 8th time, this time the Democrats with Barack Obama and, likely, Hillary Clinton, will add to the record, making it 33 terms out of 58, and 132 years out of 232 years!

Speakers Of The House Of Representatives Who Sought The Presidency, And Now Paul Ryan?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the third such law.

The first such law, from 1792-1886, put the Speaker third in line for the Presidency, with the Vice President and the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate ahead of him, later reversed in 1947.

The second law, from 1886-1947, did not include the Speaker in the line of succession, but rather the Cabinet officers after the Vice President.

In our history, only one Speaker of the House became President, James K. Polk of Tennessee, from 1845-1849, and he proved to be one of the more significant Presidents, adding more real estate to America than anyone other than Thomas Jefferson.  This was accomplished by treaty with Great Britain over the Pacific Northwest in 1846, and by war with Mexico from 1846-1848, which added the Southwestern United States to the Union.

But seven other Speakers sought the Presidency, including the following:

Henry Clay of Kentucky sought the Presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844, and is regarded as the greatest single legislator in the history of both houses of Congress.  In 1844, we had the only Presidential election where the two opponents had both been Speaker of the House, Clay and Polk!  Clay lost his three elections to John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Polk.

John Bell of Tennessee was the Constitutional Union Party nominee for President in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, and lost to Abraham Lincoln.

James G. Blaine of Maine was the Republican nominee for President in 1884 and lost the election to Grover Cleveland, and was also Secretary of State under three Presidents–James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and a full term under Benjamin Harrison.

Thomas Reed of Maine lost the nomination of the Republican Party in 1896 to future President William McKinley.

Champ Clark of Missouri lost the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1912 to future President Woodrow Wilson.

John Nance Garner of Texas, after being Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt for two terms from 1933-1941, lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to his boss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940

Newt Gingrich of Georgia lost the Republican nomination for President to eventual nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

So four Speakers were nominated for President, with only Polk winning; and four other Speakers lost the nomination when they sought the Presidency.

Now we may have a ninth such Speaker seeking the Presidency, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose name is being promoted, despite Ryan’s denial of any interest in running for President.

Sixth Anniversary Of ObamaCare, The Third Great Social And Economic Reform, Alongside Social Security And Medicare!

It was six years ago on March 23, 2010, that the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, was signed into law by President Obama, after a year long fight, with only three Republican Senators early on giving any support, and no House members.

The fact that ObamaCare was just like the Heritage Foundation–Newt Gingrich–Bob Dole program of 1993, designed as an alternative to HillaryCare, was ignored.

Also, the fact that Mitt Romney accomplished much the same thing in Massachusetts as RomneyCare was denied, even by Romney himself when he ran for President in 2012!

The hypocrisy and pure obstructionism of Republicans and conservatives was so obvious, and is obvious, to anyone who looks at the subject dispassionately!

Today, six years later, ObamaCare, while having its definite quirks and shortcomings, is a success, in the sense that it covers 20 million people who did not have health care before; has lowered the uninsured from 14 percent to 9 percent of the population; and has saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives of people who, without coverage, would have died in the past six years!

This is the ultimate Pro Life movement, the acceptance of the idea that ALL Americans should be entitled to health care as a basic human right, especially considering that every other modern industrial nation in Europe, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand have it, and all of them way ahead of us!

So this is a time to salute Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, for having accomplished one of the three greatest economic and social reforms of the past century, alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt and Social Security (now 81 years old), and Lyndon B. Johnson and Medicare (now 51 years old)!

Try to imagine America in 2016 without Social Security and Medicare, and yet, if left up to the right wing Republican Party, they would not only repeal ObamaCare without any replacement for the 20 million Americans who have gained health care coverage, but also would repeal both Social Security and Medicare, “privatizing” both of them, and giving useless “vouchers” to millions of elderly, poor, and disabled people!

This is why the Republican Party, as it now is constituted, is doomed to be in the dustbin of history!

Joint Party Tickets A Good Idea? History Tells Us NO!

Recently, there has been some discussion of a “fusion” ticket as the way to stop Donald Trump.

One such scenario is to have Hillary Clinton run with John Kasich as her running mate.

That is totally preposterous, and history tells us that when the Vice President is of a different party than the President, it does not work out well.

The first contested Presidential election led to Thomas Jefferson as Vice President under his opponent, John Adams from 1797-1801, and that did not work out well, and in fact, helped to promote the 12th Amendment in 1804.

Then we had John C. Calhoun as Vice President under John Quincy Adams in the years 1825-1829, and that did not work out well.

William Henry Harrison was elected in 1840 with this Whig candidate having a Democrat, John Tyler, as his Vice President.  Within a month, Harrison was dead, and Tyler had constant battles with the Whig Congress, because he did not wish to follow Whig platform ideas.

Abraham Lincoln chose Andrew Johnson as his second term Vice President, despite the fact that Johnson was a Democrat in a Republican Presidency, and when Lincoln was assassinated six weeks later, we had one of the worst struggles in American history, as Johnson fought and resisted the Republican Party which had put him into the Vice Presidency, albeit briefly.

With these four examples, none of them working out well, we have never had such a situation arise again since, but we have had suggestions of doing what has never worked out well.

There were suggestions that Hubert Humphrey select Nelson Rockefeller in 1968, and that John McCain choose Joe Lieberman in 2008.

It simply will not work, and it undermines party loyalty and commitment to a President and his administration, if the next in line, in case of tragedy, transforms the power base in the Presidency.

As it is, we have had top cabinet members who are of the other party, particularly in the War Department as it was known before 1947, and the Defense Department, as it has been known since then., including:

Henry Stimson under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1940-1945

Robert McNamara under John F. Kennedy, beginning in 1961, and continuing under Lyndon B. Johnson until 1968.

William Cohen under Bill Clinton from 1997-2001

Robert Gates under Barack Obama from 2009-2011

But the Vice President needs to be “on the team”, not a rival of the President in office!

 

New CNN Presidential Election Series: “Race For The White House”

CNN has begun a new six part series called “Race For The White House”, which will cover six Presidential elections over the next six weeks, each episode an hour in length, and narrated by actor Kevin Spacey.

On Sunday, the 1960 battle for the White House between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was covered.

Future episodes in some order not known yet include chronologically:

1828–Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams

1860–Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

1948–Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey

1988–George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis

1992–Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush

It is not clear why these particular elections were chosen, as there are many others, many more interesting and significant, that were not selected, including:

1896–William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan

1912—Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft

1928–Herbert Hoover and Alfred E. Smith

1932–Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover

1940–Franklin D. Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie

1968–Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, George C. Wallace

1980–Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John Anderson

2000–George W. Bush and Al Gore

2008–Barack Obama and John McCain

This series is well worth watching, after having seen the first episode last night!

 

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!

 

Gregarious And “Loner” Presidents Since 1900; And Remaining Presidential Candidates’ Personalities Assessed!

Presidents have different personalities, with some being very gregarious and outgoing, clearly extroverts: and others being more described as “loners”, who could be cordial in public, but did not like being around government leaders very much, and are clearly introverts.

In the first category, we would include

Theodore Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry Truman

John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

Bill Clinton

George W. Bush

In the second category, we would include

William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Richard Nixon

Jimmy Carter

George H. W. Bush

Barack Obama is a unique case, not really fitting into either category clearly, as he can tend to be very gregarious, but also has difficulty dealing with Congress, with one speculating that he has been scarred by the total obstructionism of the opposition.  He tends to avoid “schmoozing”, although the feeling is that he is basically quite gregarious.

So putting Obama in a separate category, notice that 9 Presidents (5 Democrats, 4 Republicans) are considered gregarious, while 9 Presidents (7 Republicans,  2 Democrats) are considered more “loners”.

63 years we have had gregarious Presidents; 45 years we have had “loner” Presidents, and then we have the 8 years of Obama.

Notice that the gregarious Presidents have, as a group, a more positive image in history, than the “loner” Presidents, and they have more often been reelected!

Among remaining Presidential Candidates as of this date, the “gregarious” candidates would include Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, while the more “loner” types would be Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Benjamin Carson.

Many Presidents Have Made Court Appointments In Last Year Of Term Or Presidency

The Republican Party is making the preposterous argument that a President, in his last year in office, should not be able to make an appointment to the Supreme Court, when history tells us otherwise.

Just because a President is finishing his time in office does not mean that he has no authority to do his job, which includes appointing judges and Justices!

And what about Presidents running for reelection, with the possibility that he might not be reelected?  Does that mean every President in the last year of any Presidential term should lose his powers to make appointments to the federal judiciary?

History tells us otherwise as witness the following:

George Washington 1796 –two appointments

Thomas Jefferson 1804–one appointment

Andrew Jackson 1836–two appointments, including Chief Justice Roger Taney, who remained on the Court for 28 years

Grover Cleveland 1888–two appointments, including Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who remained on the Court for 22 years

Benjamin Harrison 1892–one appointment

William Howard Taft 1912–one appointment

Woodrow Wilson 1916—two appointments, including the controversial, longest battle, to put Louis Brandeis on the Supreme Court

Herbert Hoover 1932–one appointment (Benjamin Cardozo)

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1940–one appointment  (Frank Murphy)

Ronald Reagan 1988–one appointment (Anthony Kennedy)

Additionally, Presidents have made appointments to the federal district and circuit courts when in the last year in office (Reagan 26 and 7; Clinton 37 and 9; Bush II 26 and 6; Obama 4 and 4).

And from 1947 to 2014, 416 District Court and 79 Circuit Court appointments have been made in Presidential election years.

So the Republican Party has no case for why Barack Obama should not be able to make an appointment, other than that they do not want a liberal replacing a conservative, and bringing the end of the 44 year conservative and Republican dominance on the Court.

But the answer to that is to stop being a crybaby and accept that your reign of dominance is coming to an end, and not too soon.

It is time to move into the 21st century of constitutional law, rather than dwell in the 19th century Gilded Age mentality of the conservatives on the Supreme Court!

 

 

Hillary Clinton Campaigning As A “Progressive”, Against Husband Bill Clinton’s “Moderate” Presidency!

Hillary Clinton is campaigning as a “progressive”, but her husband, while in office as the 42nd President, was far from progressive!

Many would say that Bill Clinton (1993-2001) was a “raging moderate” in so many ways.

Despite being attacked by Republicans incessantly, and being impeached by them as well, Bill Clinton actually cooperated with them on many issues, and was also often quite critical of liberals in his own party.

Witness:

He signed into law the end of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1995.

He signed into law the end of the federal guarantee of welfare in 1996, leaving it to the states to decide levels of support of single mothers and children, and the elderly and disabled.

He signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which was a big step back from the idea of gay equality.  Earlier in 1994, he had promoted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, backing away from equality for gays.

He signed the Omnibus Crime legislation in 1994, which was a major crackdown on crime, and that allowed the arrest and incarceration of many young people, many of them African American and Latino, on minor drug charges, filling up America’s prisons.

He signed NAFTA into law in 1993, which undermined labor, and caused an influx of foreign goods, due to the low tariffs, now opposed by his wife.

He signed into law a repeal of much of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1998,  which led to bank expansion of loans and mortgages, and much larger banks that helped to lead to the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

He called himself a “New Democrat” in 1992, criticized liberalism often, and was involved in the centrist Democratic Leadership Council group.

This does not mean that Bill Clinton did not have some really positive aspects domestically to his Presidency, but he was certainly considered by many to be a “Republicrat”, rather than a Democrat.

He, along with Jimmy Carter, were the least progressive Democratic Presidents, when compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and also Barack Obama, after Carter and Clinton.

This might be because Carter and Clinton were Southern Democrats, but the point is that Bill Clinton, while good on some issues, was not a progressive, as his wife now is campaigning on against Bernie Sanders!

Does it mean that Hillary Clinton cannot have “learned” from the mistakes  of the 1990s, honestly?  NO, but the point is she is very different as a campaigner than her husband was!

Of course, when one thinks about it, Hillary is running for the Presidency a full generation after her husband won his second and last term, the last time he was facing the voters!

 

48 Hours That Transformed History—January 22-23, 1973!

Forty three years ago today and tomorrow marks one of the most significant 48 hour periods in American history!

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson passed away at age 64 and the Supreme Court declared the right of women to have abortions in Roe V. Wade on January 22, 1973.

The next day, January 23, 1973, the announcement of an agreement to end the Vietnam War was made.

So we lost our most creative, reform oriented President since Franklin D. Roosevelt; and women gained the right to control their own reproductive lives,;and the war that divided the nation like no other since the Civil War finally was ending.

Today, 43 years later, we have seen attempts to cut back on the Great Society accomplishments by Republicans in Congress, only stopped by the veto of Barack Obama!

We have seen constant attempts to ban abortion, and restrictions put on women’s reproductive rights, a major social issue that will not go away!

And the effects of the Vietnam War still reverberate today, and more recent wars in Iraq and ongoing in Afghanistan continue to cause emotional political debate about commitment of American troops to fight overseas, including against ISIL (ISIS) in the Middle East!

A book about those two days is appropriate by some scholar who can remind us of the tremendous significance that 48 hours of events can have on American history!