Posts Tagged George H W Bush
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!
For those of us who are Presidential junkies, the only time we see a group of Presidents and First Ladies together in public is at openings of Presidential libraries, and at funerals of Presidents and First Ladies.
Since these do not happen very often in either regard, today’s gathering of five Presidents and five First Ladies at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, was an exciting moment, no matter how one feels about the Presidency of George W. Bush.
Seeing Jimmy Carter looking hale and hearty; George H. W. Bush in a wheelchair in obviously poor health although only being less than four months older than Carter; Bill Clinton his usual talkative, charismatic self; George W. Bush being very positive, despite the clear cut failures of his time in office; and Barack Obama, always good with saying the right things, was fascinating!
Seeing Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush looking good, considering their advanced age; Hillary Clinton looking ready to run for President any time now; Laura Bush being her usual sweet self; and Michelle Obama looking always as an elegant lady, was also very inspiring!
Of course, Nancy Reagan, while not mentioned, was absent, as she is in her early 90s and not in good health.
And we saw the two daughters of Lyndon Johnson and of Richard Nixon, along with the daughter of Gerald Ford, but no other Presidential children, other than the two daughters of George W. Bush, of course! But only Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman, was present, not the son and daughter of Nancy Reagan, Ron Jr. and Patti. And neither was Caroline Kennedy, or the other children of Gerald Ford, and none of the children of Jimmy Carter, or the Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea!
In any case, for those who are into photographs of a group of Presidents or First Ladies, today was a very good day!
Every American President has obvious attributes and shortcomings, and the job of historians is to assess both, and come up with a reasonable conclusion on the tenure of each occupant in the White House.
George W. Bush has now been out of office for four years and three months, and has stayed out of the public eye and controversy, unlike his controversial Vice President, Dick Cheney.
Bush’s purpose in life is to begin the rehabilitation of his shattered image, primarily based on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the economic collapse in his last months, known as the Great Recession.
This is a lot to overcome, and having allowed Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to have so much impact on policy making does not help Bush’s quest to be seen as a President who did his best in difficult times.
Tomorrow, at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, a few hundred miles from his father’s library in College Station on the campus of Texas A & M, all four former Presidents will be present, along with President Obama, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and many other dignitaries.
The new library will allow visitors to make judgments on whether they would have done any differently in the major crises of his eight years in office.
The library also avoids much attention paid to Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush’s political genius, Karl Rove, who, like them, remains highly controversial and divisive in the minds of many Americans.
It will be argued that Bush is trying to manipulate history, and of course he is, but every President in his library attempts that.
Will a reassessment of Bush change the view of C Span scholars who in 2009, rated him 36th of 42 men who have been President?
Likely, over time, and particularly after his future demise, whenever that is, the image of George W. Bush will rise somewhat from the depths, but it is hard to imagine him going higher than say number 30 out of 43, and certainly, there is NO chance that he will surpass his father, rated 18th out of 42 in the C Span poll in 2009.
Today is the 44th Earth Day, first promoted by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, and endorsed by President Richard Nixon.
The environmental movement has had its successes under Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
At the same time, the environmentalists have had major setbacks under Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, particularly under Reagan and the second Bush, the two worst environmental Presidents of the last century, while Carter and Nixon stand out as the best environmental Presidents after Theodore Roosevelt.
The corporate world has been responsible for much of the damage to our environment since the Industrial Age, with their mad dash for profits and lack of concern for the health and safety of the people in the areas they produced steel, mined coal, drilled oil, and the myriad of other industrial activities that produced a massive wealth ending up in the hands of a small oligarchy. They exploited their workers and took advantage of consumers, along with destruction of the environment, and without any apologies. And they still have massive influence with both parties, and any ability to deal with the issue of environmental damage is always counteracted by the financial resources of corporations out to prevent any major changes in policy and regulation.
So while progress has been made over these years since 1970, there is still a massive battle for the future of the nation’s environmental health over the long term. Environmentalists cannot let up their battles on Capitol Hill and in the courts!
45 years ago on this day, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, ending his brief but eventful life at the age of 39.
Since his death, the vicious attacks on his nonviolent disobedience tactic in the civil rights movement has been rejected, except by the extreme right wing, which still contends that King and his followers were “communists”, the automatic accusation used whenever anyone challenges the establishment in any form.
King is now memorialized by the national holiday, and the King Memorial in Washington DC makes him also a national figure of massive proportions, as he was in life.
One has to wonder what King would have been like, had he survived until today at the age of 84.
Would his contributions have been greater, and would civil rights have advanced further than it has since his death?
Would he have become a factor in future elections in a way that might have changed the course of history?
What would have been his effect on the prosecution of the Vietnam War under Richard Nixon?
How would he have reacted to Jimmy Carter as the first Southern President since Zachary Taylor in 1848?
How would the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II Presidencies have interacted with him, assuming everything politically would have been the same?
And finally, how would King have reacted to Barack Obama and his leadership in the Presidency?
Would American foreign policy and domestic policy have been influenced much by a live Martin Luther King, Jr?
All of this is speculative, but it is clear the nation lost a great deal with King’s untimely death in 1968!
In the past half century, four Democratic nominees for President, all considered “underdogs”, were elected President.
John F. Kennedy was an underdog in 1960, being a Roman Catholic nominee, thought unlikely to be nominated or elected, but defeating Vice President Richard Nixon, who was far better known.
Jimmy Carter was an underdog in 1976, the first Southern nominee for President since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and really considered the longest of long shots to be the Democratic nominee, and yet won the Presidency over President Gerald Ford.
Bill Clinton was an underdog in 1992, considered part of the “second tier” of possible Democratic nominees for President, and thought to be “dead in the water”, due to the Gennifer Flowers sex scandal, but managing to be the “Comeback Kid”, and win the nomination and the election against President George H. W. Bush.
And Barack Obama was certainly considered an underdog to Hillary Clinton in 2008, and being African American, seemed a particularly “long shot” to go all the way to the Presidency, defeating Senator John McCain of Arizona.
All four Democratic winners all had youth–Kennedy at 43, Carter at 52, Clinton at 46, and Obama at 47 years of age. And get this–these four men were elected exactly SIXTEEN years apart–1960, 1976, 1992, and 2008!
Could this happen again?
Hillary Clinton is seen as the clear front runner, and Joe Biden is the second established “veteran” in the potential race for President in 2016.
But could it be that Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, or Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, or Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, or Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, or Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, or a future Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, or Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts would end up as a sudden surprise during the primaries and caucuses in 2016, and emerge the nominee and the winner of the Presidency?
Who can say, but the past COULD be an indicator of the future!
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and whether Irish or not, the nation tends to celebrate it, almost as if it is a national holiday.
It turns out that fully half of our 43 Presidents–a total of 22– have Irish roots, including:
James K. Polk
Ulysses S. Grant
Chester Alan Arthur
John F. Kennedy
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
It is interesting how exactly half (11) were in the Presidency before 1900, and the same number (11) since 1900, with nine of the modern eleven Irish Presidents with Irish roots since 1961!
An interesting phenomenon is the history of post Presidential friendships of former competitors for the Presidency.
Most of the time when candidates, whether in the Presidency or working toward it, compete against each other, there is such “bad blood” that it never dissipates after both of them have left the Presidency.
Examples of “bad blood” remaining are John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson; William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt; Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
The only exceptions to this reality had been John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, with both relationships being well known friendships AFTER the White House years.
But now we can add the developing, strong friendship of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, which was further revealed recently with the publication of letters the elder Bush wrote in praise of Clinton, with the two men becoming very close in their work after the Asian tsunami in 2004. Clinton is clearly seen by Bush as like another son, a part of the Bush family, and the two men have developed a powerful friendship that now can be added to the other two examples of a post Presidential friendship of former competitors.
So the score is now 4-3, still a case of rivalry and distaste by four sets of former Presidential competitors, but now demonstrating three examples of warm relationships when the heat and fire of a campaign wears down, and leads over time to a sense of shared experiences that bring two Presidents close together!
On March 7, 1965, a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, for voting rights for African Americans, was the location of brutal police action at the Edmund Pettus Bridge against the peaceful civil rights demonstrators.
John Lewis, now a long term Congressman from Georgia, incurred a cracked skull that day, and today, he and Al Sharpton and many other people of all races converged on the site to commemorate the horrible events of that day 48 years ago, which had the effect of galvanizing action by Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson within four months, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Joining them today was Vice President Joe Biden, giving his usual inspiring speech, and making clear that the Voting Rights Act is now, now under potential threat of having the crucial Section 5 declared unconstitutional by a conservative Republican majority chosen by Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. The Court may be ready to show they have either forgotten history, or choose to ignore the history of that day, and trust that the Southern states, which have worked to make voting more difficult in 2012 and earlier, can be trusted to avoid undermining the basic right to vote for all citizens, which is supposedly guaranteed by the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments,
This is a day to recall and to commit to prayer and statesmanship, hoping that the Supreme Court will do the right thing, and retain Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, since Congress has constantly renewed it, and ignore the call of states rights, which has been constantly tied to bigotry and discrimination!
As Rosa Parks Statue Is Unveiled In The US Capitol, Voting Rights Act Comes Under Review By Supreme Court!
This morning, a 9 foot statue of Rosa Parks, the “Mother” of the Civil Rights Movement, for her heroism in allowing herself to become the center of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956, was unveiled in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol Building.
This is a wonderful event to commemorate the greatest human rights movement in American history, and the excitement over how far we have come, with President Barack Obama leading in commemorating the event, and the feeling of satisfaction that we have gone far enough in the half century since 1955, that we have an African American President in his second term in office!
But at the same time, ironically, a challenge by the state of Alabama, which arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to change her seat on a bus in Montgomery, is arguing a case before the Supreme Court today, which if successful, will negate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires nine Southern states and portions of seven other states, which have been shown to be discriminatory in voting regulations in their past, to have to submit any voting law changes to the Justice Department before they can be put into effect.
The argument is that the law is outmoded and no longer necessary, but that is not the case, as last year, there were attempts in many states to make it more difficult for African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, young people, the elderly, and the poor to be able to register and or vote, plus restrictive days and hours of voting, designed to help Republicans and Mitt Romney gain an unfair advantage in the elections.
Just because Alabama claims the law is no longer needed is belied by history and recent events, and the Congress has renewed the Voting Rights Act multiple times, and it should not be the right of the Supreme Court to repeal a law in effect for nearly a half century!
But this conservative Court just might do that, which would be a miscarriage of justice, and another example of how the Court has started to get out of control of promotion of true justice! Their decision on this case, along with the move to make Citizens United just the beginning of special interest investments to fix elections, and the gay marriage case, will make the Court’s decisions in the next few months extremely significant, and worrisome for those who believe the John Roberts Court is reckless and dangerous, with its conservative majority put on it by Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush!