Harry Truman

Presidents In Last Two Years In Office: Tradition Of Opposition Congress And Little Legislation Accomplished!

When one looks back at the past century of Presidential history, it is clear that it is common for the President to have to deal with an opposition Congress in the last two years of his tenure, and in two cases, a divided Congress in the last two years in the White House.

This, of course, means little can be accomplished, other than by judicial appointments, and by executive orders, as significant legislation is unlikely.

Look at the list of Presidents who dealt with opposition Congresses in their last two years:

Woodrow Wilson–1919-1920
Dwight D. Eisenhower–1959-1960
Richard Nixon–1973-1974
Gerald Ford–1975-1976
Ronald Reagan–1987-1988
George H. W. Bush–1991-1992
Bill Clinton 1999-2000
George W. Bush–2007-2008
Barack Obama–2015-2016

Add to this list two Presidents who had a divided Congress in their last two years:

William Howard Taft–1911-1912–Democratic House and Republican Senate
Herbert Hoover–1931-1932–Democratic House and Republican Senate

So if all the Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama are counted, it means ELEVEN Presidents faced a Congress unfriendly to them in the last two years of office, with only TR, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter having “friendly” Congresses in their last two years, with Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy in office too short a term to qualify, since they died in office, unlike Gerald Ford, who actually completed a short term.

So 11 of 17 Presidents, two thirds of the total, have had to deal with the reality of the decline of their ability to control events, other than judicial appointments and executive orders!

Combative President Obama, Ready To Make His Mark In His Last Years In The White House!

President Obama has accomplished so much, but yet it does not show in his public opinion ratings, in the low 40s.

But whoever said that public opinion is knowledgeable, with all of the propaganda that has been unleashed by the right wing, convincing ignorant people that Obama has been a disaster, when he has been anything but that!

Has Barack Obama made mistakes? Of course, he has, and every President does, and every human being who has ever lived does! It is just that if one of us makes a blunder, it does not become public knowledge (thank goodness), and is not beaten to death by critics, who are out to look for the negative, and ignore the positive!

Most of what is wished is that Obama had been more aggressive, more outspoken than he has been, that he unleash the full power of his personality and his goals for the nation, but he has been accused of being too cautious in his approach.

Well, that stage seems to have ended, as Barack Obama is becoming more assertive, demonstrating that he is not going to allow himself to be cowed by critics, that he is determined to promote an activist Presidency in his last two years, and leave a legacy of accomplishment on the level of our great and near great Presidents!

The more he is threatened with lawsuits, with impeachment, with petty threats that he should not be allowed to use Air Force One, or not be allowed to speak before a joint session of Congress, or other demeaning and disrespectful treatment, the more he will fight and challenge his critics, always staying within the Constitution, which he understands far better than his enemies.

In a way, the Republican victories in the Midterm Elections of 2014 have made clear to Obama that he must use the powers of his office, as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson did, to make life better for America, both in domestic and foreign policy areas! He has been liberated to move toward greatness in the annals of the history of the Presidency!

Are We Entering An Age Of Older Presidents?

In American history, we have had only five Presidents who were 64 or older in office when inaugurated—Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, James Buchanan, George H. W. Bush, and Zachary Taylor.

An additional five Presidents were ages 60-63 when inaugurated: Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, John Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, but Truman and Ford were not elected at that age, but instead succeeded to the Oval Office.

This means 33 of our 43 Presidents were younger than 60 when being inaugurated President, with 24 in their 50s, and 9 in their 40s, and with Grover Cleveland in his 40s for his first term, and 50s for his second nonconsecutive term. The nine Presidents in their forties were, at the time of inauguration: James K. Polk and James A. Garfield (49); Franklin Pierce (48); Grover Cleveland and Barack Obama (47); Ulysses S. Grant and Bill Clinton (46); John F. Kennedy (43); and Theodore Roosevelt (42).

But it is now likely that the next President will be in his or her 60s, or even 70s, at the time of taking the Presidential oath. There are a total of eight potential Republican nominees in their 60s–ranging from, at the time of inauguration as follows: Mitt Romney (69); Rick Perry (66); Dr. Benjamin Carson (65); John Kasich (64); Jeb Bush (63); Mike Huckabee, Rob Portman, and Lindsey Graham (61). Romney and Perry would reach the age of 70 during a first term, and Romney, Perry, Carson, Kasich and Bush would all be in their 70s in a second term.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have four potential Presidential nominees who will be in their seventies when they would take the oath of office—Jerry Brown (78); Bernie Sanders (75); Joe Biden (74); and Jim Webb (70). All four, plus Hillary Clinton (69) and Elizabeth Warren (67) would reach the 70s during a first term, and Mark Warner (62) would reach 70 as well in a second term.

So a total of eight Republicans and seven Democrats would be over 70, either at the time of the inauguration, or within the next four years after, or the next eight years after!

When one realizes that only Dwight D. Eisenhower (70) and Ronald Reagan (77) were actually in the Presidency past their 70th birthday, and Ike was only three months beyond 70, it is clear that we are likely to create new ground, since much of the talent pool is comparatively old, and from the “Baby Boomer” generation born from 1946 onward.

Of course, there are younger Presidential candidates or potential candidates–for the Republicans–Rick Santorum (58); Mike Pence (57); Rand Paul and Chris Christie (54); and in the 40s in 2016, the following: Scott Walker (49); Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan (46); Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal (45), a total of nine other potential Presidents.

The Democrats have fewer alternatives: in the 50s in 2016 are: Andrew Cuomo (59); Amy Klobuchar (56); Martin O’Malley (54); and Kirsten Gillibrand (50). No one in their forties is seen as a potential Democratic nominee.

So we might end up with the oldest combination of Presidential candidates in American history, with Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney being front runners for now, and both reaching 70 within months of taking the oath of office!

Barack Obama: Who Is Our 44th President?

The attacks on Barack Obama, our 44th President, have reached a point of being totally ridiculous and preposterous in so many ways!

Critics say Obama is a Muslim, even though he never attended services at a mosque, and has called himself a Christian. Meanwhile, he has had America war against terrorist Muslims, and has used drones and troops to kill more Muslims than George W. Bush, including Osama Bin Laden!

Critics say Obama is a weak President, who has been unwilling to confront Vladamir Putin and defend Ukraine, while George W. Bush did not confront Putin on military action in Georgia in 2008; Lyndon B. Johnson did not confront the old Soviet Union on military action in Czechoslovakia in 1968; and Dwight D. Eisenhower did not confront the old Soviet Union on military action in Hungary in 1956.

Critics say that Obama is an “Emperor” or “King” because of action on immigration reform, but this is the same President they have said is “weak”, and when Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and all of the other Republican and Democratic Presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower took action on immigration, none of them were called “Emperor” or “King”. So Obama is a “weak” President who is also an “Emperor” or “King”?

Critics say Obama is a Socialist, but Obama accepted the Newt Gingrich–Bob Dole–Heritage Foundation–Mitt Romney concept of health care, when he pushed for “ObamaCare”, which gives private insurance companies full control over health care when many Democrats and liberals and progressives really want “Medicare for all”.

Critics say Obama is anti capitalist, but Obama has tied himself to Wall Street much more than many Democrats and liberals and progressives wish he had, and the stock market is at an all time high, up about 250 percent from when he came in.

Critics say Obama is adding more to the national debt than anyone, forgetting he came in at the lowest point in 75 years, and that much of the new debt was an outgrowth of the disastrous George W. Bush economic policies that would have added the same to the national debt if John McCain and Mitt Romney had been elected President.

Critics say that Obama refused to work with the opposition party, but NO President EVER had such obstructionism as Barack Obama has had, and Republican Presidents, in particular, have found that opposition Democrats, while challenging them, NEVER promoted total lack of cooperation as the extremist right wing Republicans, led by the Tea Party Movement, have done over the past six years. Despite that, Obama has presided over a long list of accomplishments.

Critics blame Obama for the loss of seats in Congress in midterm elections, when ALL Presidents have faced that, except Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. Harry Truman in 1946, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, Bill Clinton in 1994, George W. Bush in 2006, and now, Barack Obama in 2014, have seen the opposition party gain control of both houses of Congress. Also, FDR in 1938, Truman in 1950, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, John F. Kennedy in 1962, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, Richard Nixon in 1970, Gerald Ford in 1974, Jimmy Carter in 1978, Ronald Reagan in 1982, George H. W. Bush in 1990, and Barack Obama in 2010 lost seats, and in the case of Obama, control of the House of Representatives.

These are just eight ways in which the critics of Obama are manipulating the truth and the facts, and despite all these attacks, Barack Obama stands tall and will look much better in history than his critics wish to concede!

Barack Obama In Line With Presidents Abraham Lincoln And Harry Truman! Profiles In Courage!

President Barack Obama is in line with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman in his courageous use of executive orders, which were highly unpopular, but the right thing to do!

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, despite his entire cabinet suggesting that he not do so, as it would cause great controversy. But Lincoln knew it was the right thing to do morally and ethically, and that politically, it would help to prevent Great Britain and France from recognizing the Confederate States of America, which would have caused war between the US and the two major European powers.

Truman knew that his executive order ending segregation in the armed forces and in Washington DC would rile up the Southern states, and cause his election campaign a lot of damage in the Old South, but he went ahead anyway, because it was the right thing to do, and politically, it made him a profile in courage. Despite losing four Southern states to the States Rights Presidential candidate, Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Truman still staged an upset victory over Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey. His actions against segregation cemented an African American alliance long term with the Democratic Party, and spurred the growth of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Now, Barack Obama taking action on immigration reform, is taking a courageous action, vehemently opposed by Republicans and conservatives, but the right thing to do morally and ethically. The long term effect will be to cement the Hispanic-Latino-Asian alliance with the Democratic Party, and will insure that the Republicans will be marginalized, as the white population dwindles over time, and the elderly right wing majority will disappear over time.

Let us salute our President, as history judges Lincoln and Truman, for having done the right thing in the midst of massive assault and threats of retribution. This is what the Presidency is all about–principle, conviction, and courage!

Midterm Elections, Second Term, A Political Disaster From Woodrow Wilson To Barack Obama!

The issue of midterm elections, second term of a President, has become one of great interest, as invariably, it weakens the President in his last two years, and inevitably, puts the opposition party in power.

This happened with Ronald Reagan in 1986, George W. Bush in 2006, and now, Barack Obama in 2014.

The second term midterm election also led to stronger opposition support in the time of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, although the Democrats already had control of both houses, gained in the first term midterm elections of 1954.

In the time of Harry Truman, while his Democratic Party kept control in the second term midterm elections of 1950, his party lost 28 seats in the House and 5 in the US Senate, after having lost the first term midterm election and control of both houses to the Republicans in 1946.

In the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt, while his party continued to control both houses of Congress, the second term midterm election in 1938 saw weaker Democratic support than his first six years, with FDR actually gaining seats in the first term midterm election of 1934, the only time until 1998 under Bill Clinton.

In the time of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party lost control of both houses in the second term midterm elections of 1918, just as Wilson was about to go to Versailles to negotiate the end of the First World War, and this insured that the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations would be rejected by a Republican controlled Senate. Wilson had already suffered heavy losses in the first term midterm elections of 1914 in the House of Representatives, although not in the Senate.

The only modern President to avoid second term midterm doldrums was Bill Clinton, who still saw the opposition Republicans in control in 1998, but with the same balance in the Senate and a five seat gain by Clinton’s Democratic Party. However, Clinton and his party had suffered massive losses and control of both houses of Congress in his first term in 1994.

Opposition Congresses Vs Split Congresses: Which Performs Better?

America is about enter a new period of an opposition Congress in both houses, something that been quite common in the past 70 years since World War II.

Harry Truman had an opposition Congress in 1947-48, and despite his “do nothing Congress’ attack on them in 1948, they actually accomplished a lot, just not all that Truman preferred, an example being the anti labor Taft Hartley Act.

Dwight D. Eisenhower had an opposition Congress in 1955-1961, but a lot was accomplished, including two Civil Rights laws in 1957 and 1960, and the National Defense Education Act in 1958.

Richard Nixon had an opposition Congress in his time in office from 1969-1974, but despite conflict and Watergate, actually accomplished a lot in domestic affairs by cooperation, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Gerald Ford had an opposition Congress in his time in office from 1974-1977, and although no major legislation was passed, got along quite well with the opposition party.

Ronald Reagan had an opposition Congress in 1987-1989, and while his last two years were declining years of performance amidst the Iran Contra Scandal, he still got along quite well with the opposition party, including when the House of Representatives remained Democratic during his first six years, and Social Security was reformed by bipartisan agreement.

George H. W. Bush had an opposition Congress in his time in office from 1989-1993, but was able to move ahead on the Americans With Disabilities Act, and made a deal on a tax increase with the opposition party.

Bill Clinton had an opposition Congress in his time in office from 1995-2001, after the first two years having his party in control, and while there was plenty of turmoil and drama, they actually came to agreement on balancing the budget in his last years, and working together on welfare reform.

George W. Bush had an opposition Congress in his last two years in office from 2007-2009, and despite a lot of conflict, gained support on a bailout of banks and other financial institutions during the Great Recession.

One will notice most times that the Republicans were in the White House, and the Democrats were in control of Congress when we had opposition Congresses, and that they were a lot more cooperative in general. The point was that at least most things that had to be done, and some others as well, were accomplished!

The split Congress of 2011-2015 has seen just about total stalemate, gridlock, and failure to accomplish anything, with a GOP House and a Democratic Senate. The four other Congresses in this situation, had also much more difficulty to gain new legislation, but those five from 1911-1913 under William Howard Taft, 1931-1933 under Herbert Hoover, and 1981-1987 under Ronald Reagan still accomplished more, due to the fact that the House was Democratic, and the Senate was Republican, the opposite of the last four years.

So when we have a Democratic Congress, or a split Congress with a Democratic House, historically, things get done; while when we have a Republican Congress, or a split Congress with a Republican House, the ability to get things done is far worse!

So the prognosis for Democratic President Barack Obama and a Republican Congress, led by a party much further to the right than earlier Republicans, to accomplish much in 2015-2016, is gloomy

Media Distortion Of Presidential Approval Ratings Undermine Obama And Democrats In Midterm Elections!

The news media has done a terrible job in reporting and analyzing Presidential approval ratings of Barack Obama.

We constantly hear that Obama has very low approval ratings, when the present approval rating is 43 percent.

Of course, 53 percent say they disapprove of the President’s performance, which is not a good thing for the administration.

But what the media do not tell us is that even with his all time low rating a few months ago of 39 percent approval, the facts are that Barack Obama has the highest rating for lowest approval of any President since John F. Kennedy!

With all of the attacks on Obama that have come, incessantly, from conservatives and the Republican Party, Obama’s 39 percent low rating ever in office can be compared to the following lowest ratings of other Presidents:

George W. Bush 19
Harry Truman 22
Richard M. Nixon 23
Jimmy Carter 28
George H. W. Bush 29
Lyndon B. Johnson 35
Ronald Reagan 35
Bill Clinton 36
Gerald Ford 37

Only Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower had higher lowest approval ratings of 48 and John F. Kennedy had 56.

Additionally, Richard Nixon with 67, Ronald Reagan with 68, Bill Clinton with 73, Gerald Ford with 74, and Jimmy Carter with 75, all had lower highest approval ratings than Obama with 76. The other Presidents since FDR had higher highest approval ratings, with Dwight D. Eisenhower with 79, John F. Kennedy with 80, Lyndon B. Johnson also with 80, Franklin D. Roosevelt with 84, Harry Truman with 87, George H. W. Bush with 89, and George W. Bush with 92.

So the purposeful negative portrayal of Obama’s lowest approval rating has contributed to the negativism that the Democrats face, and may, very well, undermine the Democrats two days from now in the midterm elections.

Presidential Succession Law Of 1886-1947 Needs To Be Renewed!

In 1947, the Republican controlled 80th Congress, in a fit of partisanship and anti FDR sentiment, changed the Presidential Succession Law of 1886, enacted during the first term of President Grover Cleveland.

That law made the succession for the Presidency beyond the Vice President to be as follows: Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, Attorney General, and then other cabinet agencies, including Interior and Agriculture.

That law made sense, as it meant that in case of tragedy hitting the President and Vice President, that members of  that President’s cabinet, people loyal to him, knowledgeable in  foreign and defense policies, and domestic policies, would be next in  line, in case of an emergency.

But the Republicans after World War II were furious that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected four times, so not only added the 22nd Amendment, limiting any future President to two elected term, or a maximum of ten years if he succeeded during a term, but also decided to make the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate second and third in line behind the Vice President.  That, of course, meant, that if anything had happened to President Harry Truman, and with no Vice President for the remainder of that term of office, that Speaker Joseph Martin, a Republican, would have succeeded him.

The idea of having the opposition party gain the Presidency during a term due to a tragedy was not based on what was good for the nation, but pure partisanship by the GOP.

But now, the extremism in the GOP, including the Tea Party Movement right wing whackos, makes the idea of John Boehner, or some other Republican gaining power of the executive branch under a Democratic administration totally reprehensible, as that would mean a dramatic turn to the far Right, although the people voted in a Democratic administration.  Also, the President pro tempore of the Senate, a position which is honorary based on seniority in the majority party in the Senate, brings the danger, not only of partisanship, but also the reality of a very old Senator, unfit to serve, being third in line for the Presidency, and at the time of Truman, second in line to be President!

That is why there is a need to repeal the 1947 law and return to the 1886 law, which makes the most sense, as the Speaker of the House, while elected, is only chosen by one Congressional district out of 435, and is therefore NOT representative of the nation, as much as a cabinet member, selected by the President but subject to Senate confirmation, is representative of the policies and ideals of the elected President!

The likelihood of this happening short term is near zero, but it is worthy of consideration for the near future!

Right Wing Propaganda About Barack Obama Refuted By Facts!

Barack Obama has been the most vilified President since Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

There will be those who say that Richard Nixon was more attacked, and that George W. Bush was “victim” of constant criticism.

Yes, they were, as was Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter, but NONE of these Presidents came under such a barrage of total lies and mistruths on such a constant basis.

Barack Obama has been attacked on where he was born (Kenya? Indonesia? anyone?), on his being a Marxist or Communist or Socialist; of being anti white (by critics who are clearly scared of having a black President); of being anti Christian (by right wing Christians who regularly lie and deceive and distort, claiming to be following the teachings of Jesus, which they most certainly are not doing); and of being a Muslim, out to spread the Islamic faith and support terrorism!  He is also accused of being anti Semitic, and anti Israel.

Meanwhile, radical and terrorist Muslims constantly are critical of Barack Obama and have called on their supporters to find a way to kill him, and Obama has brought about more deaths of Muslim terrorists than George W. Bush or anyone else; has mounted missions to attempt to save Americans captured by the terrorists; was courageous enough to arrange the death of Osama Bin Laden, when others around him had strong doubts on the mission’s success; and now has declared war on ISIL (ISIS) and mounted a bombing campaign in both Iraq and now Syria, even though the right wing says he is afraid to go to war, and is too timid in foreign policy, all of it lies and deceit spread to ignorant people who think Obama is equivalent of a “Manchurian candidate” in the Presidency.

The charge that he is anti Semitic and anti Israel is belied by the fact of the Iron Dome system given to Israel by the United States, and the fact that ISIL (ISIS) calls Obama a President “owned by the Jews”.  Right wing Jews love to spread lies and distortion about Obama, but actually such people have complained about every American President, if they do not bow to every wish or demand of the Israeli government, while we give that nation more foreign aid than any other in the world.  So these charges are totally uncalled for, and reflect badly on those right wing Jews who spread that propaganda!

Many right wingers want to deny that Obama was ever President, and that his time in office should be not recognized as legal, as they claim his election was “stolen”, when George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but won in the Supreme Court, unprecedented, but based on a declared 537 vote popular margin in Florida, his brother’s home state;  and only won in 2004, because of another disputed vote count in Ohio against John Kerry.

This author and blogger has witnessed so called “friends” who spew forth right wing and racist propaganda, shocking him at the level of hatred toward our 44th President.  One so called “friend” said, when he found out I am publishing a book on Presidential Assassinations and Attempts by next May or June, that he hoped I would have to write another chapter (meaning about the assassination of Obama), which totally infuriated me, and I am not one to get angry very easily.

Another time, visiting the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, with my younger son, three women of about age 70, 40, and 20 were waiting with us to see a Truman documentary, and it came up in conversation that the 20 year old was visiting her relatives in Missouri, but was from Hawaii.

When I said, “so you are from Hawaii, which will have a Presidential museum in the future”, the three women in unison said “EWWWWW” to my shock, and we turned away in shock and anger, since I did not want to be rude to them, but I could not believe such sentiments, as no one ever said that about Richard Nixon or George W. Bush or anyone else!

And when the White House experienced an ‘invasion” at the North Portico last Friday, only ONE Republican openly spoke out about it, and demanded an explanation as to how the Secret Service “screwed up”, and that was New York Congressman Peter King of Long Island, New York, who is far less conservative than the leadership and masses of members of Congress from his party.  Not a peep from John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the myriad of other Republicans, including any of the likely competitors for the Presidency in 2016.  It is almost as if, secretly, they hoped for Obama’s demise, absolutely disgraceful, and reprehensible!

The right wing would suffer mightily if anything untoward happened to Obama, and if Joe Biden suddenly succeeded to the Presidency by tragedy, it would, effectively, end the Presidential Election of 2016, with Joe Biden being the equivalent of Lyndon B. Johnson after he succeeded John F. Kennedy, meaning there would be no way for any Republican to defeat a President Biden in those circumstances. Also, it would end the campaign of Hillary Clinton under those circumstances!

It is time for the right wing, on talk radio and Fox News Channel, and the think tanks that spew forth poison, to stop their attacks and show respect for our President!