George H W Bush

The Ultimate Legacy Of American Presidents

American Presidents deal with dozens, if not, hundreds of issues while in office, and they have ups and downs, highs and lows, unavoidably.

But, ultimately, they are remembered for one action in office that either puts them in the great, successful category, or in the disastrous, unsuccessful category, and they may be praised or bitterly criticized for others, but they will always be remembered for one specific policy or event, which has the greatest effect on their legacy.

So when we look at Presidents since FDR, what stands out as their primary legacy?

Franklin D. Roosevelt–his New Deal programs that saved millions of Americans, and gave them hope for the future.

Harry S Truman–his courage in his dealings with the Soviet Union through the Cold War policies.

Dwight D. Eisenhower–the steadfastness of his Civil Rights policies, enforcing court orders and promoting the end of racial segregation.

John F. Kennedy–his forthrightness in dealing with the greatest threat in world history, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Lyndon B. Johnson–his Great Society programs that advanced civil rights, education, health care, and a war on poverty.

Richard M. Nixon–his paranoia and illegal activities, leading to Watergate and his resignation.

Gerald R. Ford–his appointment of Justice John Paul Stevens, who became a giant on the Supreme Court for 35 years.

Jimmy Carter–his promotion of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, the Camp David Accords, which have brought peace for 35 years.

Ronald Reagan–his tripling of the national debt through excessive military spending and massive tax cuts to the wealthy.

George H. W. Bush–his exceptional conduct of the crisis of the Persian Gulf War.

Bill Clinton–his promotion of the Northern Ireland peace agreement, between Anglicans and Catholics, and with Great Britain.

George W. Bush–the prosecution of the Iraq War, a war that was based on falsehoods, undermining the Middle East and emboldening Iran.

Barack Obama–the promotion of the Affordable Care Act, giving millions of Americans their first time coverage for health care.

The Bushes Vs. The Tea Party Movement, Right Wing Evangelicals, And Many Congressional Republicans: The Battle For The Soul Of The GOP Is On!

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has declared war on the Tea Party Movement, the right wing evangelicals, and many members of the Republican Congressional majority in the House, and some in the US Senate, by his statements at the George H W Bush Presidential Library defending undocumented immigrants who risk their lives to make a better future for their families, by coming illegally to the United States!

Stating that what these immigrants are doing is “an act of love” and should not be seen as a felony, what Jeb Bush has done is to decide to confront the right wingers in his party, as he considers a run for President in 2016. He admits that he might be shot down, but is testing the waters to make the Republican Party a more open, embracing party, as he sees the only future for the party is to broaden its support, including the backing of immigration reform!

Whether one likes Jeb Bush or not, and is thrilled or not at the thought of a third Bush Presidency, any rational, reasonable person can applaud what he is saying. This author has been bitterly attacked in past years on this blog for supporting reasonable immigration reform, including the passage of the DREAM Act, giving the children of immigrants an opportunity to advance in their country of adoption, through college attendance and or military service, and staying out of trouble.

The reality is that there is no way to deport an estimated 12-13 million people; that these people do important jobs others will not take; and that they are not stealing jobs from Americans, or causing widespread crime.

Ironically, the Obama Administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than George W. Bush, and has taken people who have not committed serious crimes, and forced them out, leaving their children without their parents in this nation, in many cases. This is a violation of basic human rights, to break up families, and unless someone has committed serious crimes, there is a dire need to change this unjust, immoral policy pronto!

The Dangers Of The Supreme Court Run Amuck In Favor Of Wealthy And Corporations!

The Supreme Court is totally out of control, with its new decision on having no limits on campaign spending by wealthy donors, added on to the Citizens United Case of 2010, and the limitation of voting rights in a 2013 decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts has solidified a five member GOP majority to destroy all attempts to prevent corporate and wealthy people from controlling the political system, an effort pursued from the time of Theodore Roosevelt a century ago through Senator John McCain and Senator Russ Feingold in the 1990s and early 2000s.

That is all for naught now, and shows the dangers of a runaway, reckless, right wing radical Court!

This is what made Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Barack Obama criticize Court power, along with progressive reformers including Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, Senator George Norris of Nebraska, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont!

This is the result of 13 Supreme Court nominees since 1960 by Republican Presidents, to only 8 by Democrats, and with two of those Democratic appointments (Arthur Goldberg by John F. Kennedy and Abe Fortas by Lyndon B. Johnson), only lasting three and four years respectively.

Of course, Republican appointments of 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, turned out to be major surprises in their rulings, but we also ended up with some of the most reactionary and right wing radical appointments in all of American history with the appointments of William Rehnquist by Richard Nixon and the elevation of Rehnquist to Chief Justice by Ronald Reagan; Lewis Powell by Richard Nixon; Antonin Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Clarence Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Samuel Alito by George W. Bush. The appointments of Chief Justice Warren Burger by Richard Nixon; Anthony Kennedy by Ronald Reagan; and Chief Justice John Roberts by George W. Bush, have been more of a mixed bag, sometimes good, and sometimes horrible in its effect on constitutional law!

Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy selected a mostly conservative Justice Byron White; Lyndon B Johnson selected Thurgood Marshall; Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama selected Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, but sadly, their influence in the last four of the five names listed, has been mostly in being the opposition, sometimes vehement in nature!

The effect on the future of American democracy is massive, with this right wing Court majority, and the only hope is the eventual retirement of Scalia and Kennedy, and hopefully, continuation of a Democratic Senate and President for the rest of the decade, so that the Court changes direction in the future!

Presidential Retirement Years And Constructive Post Presidencies

All of our Presidents, except for eight who died in office, have had periods of retirement after their years in the Presidency.

Some have had very short periods of retirement, periods of less than ten years, including George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K, Polk, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Alan Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

So fully half of our Presidents either died in office or had periods of retirement less than ten years.

On the other hand, the following Presidents had particularly long periods of retirement of fifteen or more years: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

The following Presidents had between ten and fifteen years of retirement: Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton has had 13 years out of office, and George W. Bush has had five years out of office at this time.

With the retirement periods of all of these Presidents listed above, the question that arises is which Presidents made major contributions in their post Presidency years.

That list is a short one:

John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Herbert Hoover
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton

Adams served nearly eighteen years in Congress.

Van Buren ran for President on the Free Soil Party line in 1848.

Roosevelt ran for President on the Progressive Party line in 1912, and went on an African safari, and explored the Amazon River basin in Brazil.

Taft served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for nine years.

Hoover wrote books and served as an adviser to President Truman on reorganization of the executive branch of government.

Nixon wrote about ten books and remained an adviser on diplomacy in his nearly twenty years in retirement.

Carter has written nearly twenty books, and engaged in diplomacy, promotion of democracy, fought diseases, and built housing through the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity.

Clinton has done similar good deeds through his Clinton Initiative, and also worked on relief for the Haitian earthquake and the Pacific Tsunami with George H. W. Bush.

The contributions of these former Presidents have had a major impact on America, and are worthy of remembrance!

Jeb Bush Suddenly Emerges As GOP Front Runner For 2016!

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has suddenly emerged as the theoretical front runner for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016, after a visit to Las Vegas and kissing the ring of billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Other present time Governors–Chris Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich—also saw Adelson, who is willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to back a Republican who will support his causes, including strong support of Israel, and working to overcome the Barack Obama Administration initiatives in many areas of domestic policy.

Jeb Bush has the advantage that he might draw support from a portion of the Hispanic-Latino community, as well as African Americans, and women. He is a favorite of the Establishment Republicans on Wall Street, who are terrified at the horrible Tea Party activists, such as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.

But the fact that his brother was unpopular, and in many ways, disastrous, works against Bush, and really, many might say, three Bushes is a bit much!

Once he would actually announce, his record as Florida Governor will be dissected, and while there are some good points one can make about Jeb, he was not universally popular when governor of the Sunshine State!

His own mother, Barbara Bush, has advised against running, and Bush has been out of office for ten years by 2016, making him longer out of office than any Presidential nominee who held an elective office, since Abraham Lincoln, who was out of office for twelve years, when he ran for President in 1860.

Much more could be said about the pluses and minuses of Jeb Bush as a Presidential candidate, and particularly against Hillary Clinton. There is time for that if Jeb actually announces. Could he, for instance, really win the caucuses and primaries in a party that is so right wing now? Does the nation really want a Bush and a Clinton in the same election, with Bushes going back to the 1980s, and Clintons to the 1990s, when now we are in the mid 2010′s?

That discussion can wait until he decides to run, and do not bet on that occurring!

The Vice Presidency: Not Fertile Ground For Election To The Presidency!

The office of the Vice Presidency has NOT, historically, been a place that promotes elevation to the Presidency by election.

We have had 14 Vice Presidents become President, but only five by election–John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon (eight years later), and George H. W. Bush.

Until the last half century, the thought of a Vice President being the nominee for President in the next or future terms was unthinkable, and only five Vice Presidents have actually been the nominee of a party for President, other than the five mentioned above who won the Presidency, and two of them actually ran on a third party platform.

The five Vice Presidents who ran for President and lost are:

John C. Breckinridge (Southern Democrats 1860)
Henry A. Wallace (Progressive Party 1948)
Hubert Humphrey (Democrats 1968)
Walter Mondale (Democrats 1984)
Al Gore (Democrats 2000)

So these bad odds make it even tougher for Vice President Joe Biden, as he plans a campaign to run for President, with Hillary Clinton standing in his way!

Conservative Republicans Want To Repeal Constitutional Amendments And 20th Century Reforms That Make America A Better Nation!

The Republican Party of the second decade of the 21st century, along with the conservative movement, in all of its ramifications, is out to repeal constitutional amendments and numerous 20th century reforms that make America a better, more modern nation, all in their quest to make the corporations ever more dominant and enrich the top one percent more than already is reality!

When one follows, reads, and watches right wing spokesmen, in and out of the party, they have called for the following repeals:

The 16th Amendment–Federal Income Tax
The 17th Amendment–Direct Popular Election Of US Senators
19th Amendment–Woman Suffrage
Antiquities Act–National Parks, Forests, and Monuments Protection
Food And Drug Administration
Clayton Anti Trust Act
Federal Trade Commission
Federal Reserve Act
Social Security Act
Fair Labor Standards Act
Medicare
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Department Of Education
Department Of Health And Human Services
Department Of Housing And Urban Development
Department Of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Occupational Safety And Health Administration
US Post Office
Affirmative Action
Abortion Rights
Gay Rights and Gay Marriage
National Public Radio
PBS
Americans With Disabilities Act
Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
ObamaCare–Affordable Care Act

These and other laws and amendments not mentioned here became law under Presidents of both parties, including

Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama

Basically, these right wing groups and the dominant element in the Republican Party in Congress want to repeal everything that is good about America, and bring us back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

New Reality: Foreign Policy Will Matter More Than ObamaCare In 2016 Presidential Election!

It is becoming clear, as a result of recent events involving Russia and Ukraine, that the foreign policy issue will matter more in the Presidential Election of 2016 than domestic policy, including ObamaCare.

This is NOT what many progressives and liberals would prefer, as there are many domestic problems that need attention on the agenda, and President Barack Obama has been trying to deal with many of these issues, despite obstructionism and stalemate caused by the Republican control of the House of Representatives.

But national security and defense, and the possibility of armed conflict in Europe, related to NATO and the European Union, may force the hand of President Obama and his successor to focus more on foreign policy in the next Presidential term of office.

In a way, it reminds us of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, able to run for a third term, and seen as the only legitimate person to be our President in the midst of an international crisis, the victory of the Axis Powers in Europe and Asia, at that time. Alternative possible candidates, such as Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, Vice President John Nance Garner of Texas, and Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana, were all isolationists, the wrong viewpoint at the time. When Wendell Willkie came along as a surprise opponent of FDR, it was clear that on foreign policy, they had an agreement, which was good for the nation as it faced the likelihood of engagement in World War II.

Now, of course, an experienced and wise President in foreign policy, not rushing into conflict, and using his diplomatic skills, is ineligible to be President for another term, so it becomes extremely important that the proper person be elected to succeed Barack Obama.

When one looks at the cast of characters on the Republican side, and the alternatives on the Democratic side, it is clear that ONLY three potential future Presidents meet the need for appropriate foreign policy experience in a delicate and dangerous time, as we may now be entering. Not only is there the threat of war in Europe over Ukraine or other Russian attempt at advancement west, but also the looming threat of Iran and North Korea, as well as the Syrian Civil War and its effect on the entire Middle East, and the growing influence of China.

So reality tells us ONLY Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Jon Huntsman fit the bill to be our Commander in Chief, based on their experiences, expertise, and skills!

There are other Democrats who have positive aspects, but do NOT have the diplomatic experience of Clinton, Biden and Huntsman.

On the GOP side, it is literally horrifying to imagine a Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, or anyone else as Commander in Chief, with many of them purely ignorant, or bullyish, or extreme in their rhetoric, or in the case of Rand Paul, a flaming isolationist! Only Jeb Bush, conceivably, due to his intelligence and connection to his dad, but not his brother, MIGHT be otherwise acceptable, but not with the same sense of confidence in Clinton, Biden and Huntsman!

So the best we can hope for is a Clinton-Huntsman or Biden-Huntsman race for the security and safety of our nation, because we would know that any one of them could perform well as our 45th President, and do the best we can hope for in the area of foreign policy!

50 Years Of Republican Vice Presidential Nominees Tells Us A Lot About The GOP!

When one looks back at the history of Republican Vice Presidential nominees in the past 50 years, one realizes a lot about the attitude of the Republican Party toward that office, just a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

The Republican Party has chosen true disasters for an office that has seen two people in that office go on to become President, and three others run for and lose the Presidency in the past fifty years.

Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush are the two Vice Presidents who went on to become President, while Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Gore were defeated for the Presidency.

But look at the Vice Presidential nominees chosen by the GOP since 1964:

William E. Miller Congressman (NY) 1964
Spiro Agnew, Governor (Maryland) 1968, 1972
Bob Dole, Senator (Kansas) 1976
George H. W. Bush, former Congressman (Texas) 1980, 1984
Dan Quayle, Senator (Indiana) 1988, 1992
Jack Kemp, Congressman (NY) 1996
Dick Cheney, Congressman (Wyoming) 2000, 2004
Sarah Palin, Governor (Alaska) 2008
Paul Ryan, Congressman (Wisconsin) 2012

Out of this group of nine Vice Presidential nominees, the ONLY ones that could be considered truly competent and qualified to be President would be Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush, Jack Kemp, and Dick Cheney. And many might consider Kemp more glorified since his death than in life, and Cheney as a corrupt, arrogant, dangerous man in office, the true motivator of the Iraq War. Also many might consider Paul Ryan competent, but when one examines his hypocrisy and lack of compassion for those less fortunate on a broad scale over his years in Congress, one has to wonder.

The others are true disasters, with Miller considered mediocre at best; Sarah Palin purely stupid and ignorant; Dan Quayle an embarrassment to the office of Vice President, making many shudder when President Bush had health issues in office; and Spiro Agnew a crook, as well as being totally terrifying in his nearly five years as Vice President, until his criminal activity was known and he was forced to resign. Imagine having to pray for Richard Nixon’s health during Agnew’s Vice Presidency, and being relieved by Gerald Ford becoming the successor to Nixon, instead of Agnew!

Also notice that five of the above nine, along with Gerald Ford, came from the House of Representatives, when usually no one would consider the lower chamber a place for future Presidential leadership! By comparison, the Democrats have never nominated a House member for Vice President since the disaster of John Nance Garner, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two terms Vice President from 1933 to 1941, with the one exception, also a disaster, of Geraldine Ferraro being the VP nominee for Walter Mondale in 1984.

So when one compares the Democratic nominees for Vice President, we see true competence and a sense of their understanding of the importance of that office:

Hubert Humphrey 1964
Edmund Muskie 1968
Sargent Shriver 1972 (after Thomas Eagleton withdrew)
Walter Mondale 1976, 1980
Geraldine Ferraro 1984
Lloyd Bentsen 1988
Al Gore 1992, 1996
Joseph Lieberman 2000
John Edwards 2004
Joe Biden 2008, 2012

All of the above, except the disastrous Ferraro, and Shriver were US Senators, and even if one does not agree with Edwards’ ethics and morals, it can be honestly said that all nine, including the withdrawn Eagleton, were totally competent and qualified to be President of the United States, if such responsibility had been thrust on them! No one would contest Shriver’s qualifications for the office either, as he stands out as the most prominent non elected office holder ever to be in public life since World War II!

So the lack of respect for the Vice Presidency of the Republican Party in the past 50 years reveals another problem for the party, the promotion of mediocrity by a party once proud of its leadership, and the likelihood of another GOP Vice Presidential nominee in 2016, who will make us roll our eyes and pray for the Presidential nominee’s good health, being highly likely!

Suddenly, Joe Biden Makes It A Race With Hillary Clinton For 2016!

Here many thought that the Democratic Presidential race for 2016 was over, and that Hillary Clinton would saunter to the nomination without opposition.

True, that former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley were hinting that they might challenge Hillary, but the thought was it could just be an attempt to gain some publicity, and hope that Hillary would not run, giving them the edge simply on intention to run.

Well, forget about that, as Vice President Joe Biden has made it clear that he does not wish to be ignored or overlooked, and that IF he decides to run, it will not be affected by what Hillary does. After all, even good friends compete in life, right? Biden does not want to be seen, certainly at this point, as a “lame duck”, still wanting to be seen as significant and in the game for the next three years as Vice President and beyond.

When one thinks about it, since Richard Nixon, it has been assumed, and often the fact, that a sitting Vice President was seen as a likely successor to the President he served, at least for the nomination. Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Gerald Ford, Walter Mondale, George H. W. Bush, and Al Gore all became Presidential nominees after serving under Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. Nixon and Bush became President, while Humphrey, Ford, Mondale and Gore failed to win the Presidential elections after they were nominated by their party. Only Dick Cheney never considered running for the Presidency, after being Vice President under George W. Bush. Even Spiro Agnew, before he was forced to resign due to scandal, was perceived as the likely successor nominee to Richard Nixon, and the same for Dan Quayle under George H. W. Bush, who tried and failed to win the Presidential nomination in 1996.

So the idea of Biden wanting to run is not at all out of the norm, and when one looks seriously at Joe Biden’s record in public life, all one say is WOW!

The reality is that NO Vice President has EVER had the wealth of experience in public office of Joe Biden!

BIden served 36 years in the Senate, and will have had 8 years in the Vice Presidency, for a total of 44 years in public service by 2016.

Biden is a well liked, admired, gregarious, public figure, even if one does not agree with his viewpoints and record.

It is well known that Biden can build bridges with the Republican opposition, and that Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell like him, work well with him, and that Joe Biden has helped to resolve differences on many issues for the Obama Administration. Biden has been a major player and influence over policy and strategy for President Obama, and has been a loyal soldier when his viewpoints have lost out in the cabinet and national security meetings.

Joe Biden has chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his expertise in foreign policy, and his knowledge of, and relationships with foreign leaders make him invaluable in dealing with national security and defense issues. He was often thought of as a possible Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense in the past, due to his brilliance in these areas of such great importance to America’s future.

Joe Biden has also chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his knowledge and understanding of constitutional matters and the Supreme Court, make him invaluable on legal controversies, including his advocacy of gay rights and gay marriage ahead of most politicians who have served in Congress or the executive branch.

Joe Biden is a leader, who if he were President, would be able to get things done much more easily, and is a “wheeler dealer” in the mode of Lyndon B. Johnson, but with a more kind and caring edge than the former President, who could be quite brusque and crude at times.

Hillary Clinton has great background and experience, but on pure years and accomplishments, she cannot match Joe Biden, and in fact, NO ONE in public life can do so!

The major shortcomings of Joe Biden are:

His age, which will be 74 and two months if he took the oath of office in 2017, making him the oldest first term President, and in theory, the oldest President altogether, if he had two terms, and left office at age 82 and two months.

His health, the question whether it would hold up, as he had serious health issues in 1987, due to an aneurysm, which required brain surgery, and his son, Beau Biden, the Delaware Attorney General, suffered a similar health crisis a few years ago, also recovering, but making it seem to be a genetic problem, which could arise, although health issues could also arise for Hillary Clinton, and really, for any Presidential candidate or winner of either party at any age!

His tendency to say embarrassing, or sometimes, purely stupid comments, although one could argue all of us do that, but when in high office. it can have reverberations, and there are critics who keep lists of “Bidenisms”, but they do NOT match the moronic nature of comments made by Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann or Louie Gohmert in the present, or Dan Quayle in the past!

One thing is certain: If Joe Biden were to become President, we would have one of the most lively, colorful, dynamic Presidencies, with Biden being very warm, genuine, sincere, caring, and yet hard nosed enough to get things done and read the “riot act” on his own party members to get things done!

It would be nice to see such a Presidency, which would be inspiring in so many ways.

Having said all of the above, it is clear that if Hillary Clinton runs, she is likely to be the Democratic nominee.

If she chooses not to run, then Joe Biden is the odds on favorite for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

However, if Hillary does not run, or even if she does, it is likely that a “younger generation”, an idea advocated by this blogger in entries before now, are likely to enter the race and make it interesting, including the already named Schweitzer and O’Malley, and if Hillary bows out of the race, possibly Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.