James Madison

Presidential Retirements

Of our 44 Presidents of the United States, 16 of them have had retirements lasting 15 years or more.

This statistic comes to mind as we celebrate the 93rd Birthday of Jimmy Carter, and root for him and George H. W. Bush to beat the record of longevity of Gerald Ford (93 years, 165 days) and Ronald Reagan (93 years 120 days), which Bush will surpass on October 11 and November 25, and Carter will surpass on January 30, 2018 and March 16, 2018.

The President with the most retirement years is Carter, who will reach 37 years out of office on January 20, 2018.

Herbert Hoover had 31 and a half years in retirement, followed by Gerald Ford with just a month short of 30 years.

John Adams had four months more than 25 years, and will be passed by George H. W. Bush in May 2018.

Martin Van Buren had about the same retirement time as Adams with 25 plus years, and Bush will soon pass him as well on the list.

Millard Fillmore, Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon each had close to 20 years in retirement.

James Madison and John Quincy Adams each had about 19 years in retirement

Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft, and John Tyler each had about 17 years in retirement.

Bill Clinton will soon finish 17 years in retirement, and will, therefore, pass Jefferson, Taft, and Tyler in 2018.

And Ronald Reagan had a few months more than 15 years in retirement, although much of his retirement was spent in a state of dementia and Alzheimers Disease.

Donald Trump Competes With Warren G. Harding And George W. Bush As Least Intelligent President Of The United States!

The more one observes President Donald Trump, the more one realizes that he is one of the most ignorant, ill informed, and least intelligent Presidents of the United States.

Many of our Presidents have been intellectual heavyweights (16), including:

John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
John Quincy Adams
Abraham Lincoln
James A. Garfield
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
John F. Kennedy
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton
Barack Obama

Others, while not intellectually outstanding, were capable of good leadership (13) including:

George Washington
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
James K. Polk
Ulysses S. Grant
Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lyndon B. Johnson
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush

Then, there are others who are mediocre by comparison, but had at least some redeeming qualities (12), including:

Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Andrew Johnson
Rutherford B. Hayes
Chester Alan Arthur
Benjamin Harrison
Calvin Coolidge

And then there are the three Presidents at the absolute bottom intellectually, and all three disasters in office, including

Warren G. Harding
George W. Bush
Donald Trump

At least Harding and Bush were decent human beings, who bumbled their way through the Presidency, but Donald Trump is, in many ways, more ignorant and dense than either Harding or the second Bush.

Harding was a lightweight intellectually, but at least he published a newspaper in Marion, Ohio, before his political career, and he had some outstanding cabinet officers including Charles Evans Hughes and Herbert Hoover.

George W. Bush, we know, read a great deal in the White House, while Trump is not a reader, and hardly gets past a page or two, even of important documents, as we learn that he counts on his top staff people to keep him up to date, and prefers Twitter and watching cable news as his main sources of information. His lack of intellectual curiosity, and willingness to believe conspiracy theories as fact is extremely alarming.

Trump has shown total ignorance of history and science, and is proving to be a true total disaster after only a little more than 100 days in office. He is much more destructive of the image of the Presidency than Harding or Bush could ever be!

C Span 2017 Presidential Survey: Presidents Who Dropped In Stature Include Five Democrats, One Republican, One Democrat Who Became A Whig

The CSpan 2017 Presidential Survey saw several Presidents who dropped dramatically in stature and reputation over the history of the three polls in 2000, 2009, and 2017. This is defined as four or more slots in decline.

Woodrow Wilson (D) dropped from 6 to 9 to 11.

Andrew Jackson (D) dropped from 13 in 2000 and 2009 to 18 in 2017.

Grover Cleveland (D) dropped from 17 to 21 to 23.

Jimmy Carter (D) dropped from 22 to 25 to 26.

Rutherford B. Hayes (R) dropped from 26 to 33 and then up slightly to 32.

Martin Van Buren (D) dropped from 30 to 31 to 34.

John Tyler (D to W) was 36, went up to 35 and then dropped to 39.

At the same time that five Democrats dropped in the polls, 8 of the top 15 in the poll were Democrats (FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Wilson, Obama, Polk, Clinton), to 4 Republicans (Lincoln, TR, Ike, Reagan), 2 Democratic Republicans (Jefferson, Monroe), and 1 Federalist (Washington).

With only four Republicans in the top 15 (all in the top 10), the only other Republicans in the top 20 are McKinley (16) and Bush Senior (20), with the other three in the top 20 being Democratic Republican Madison (17), Democrat Andrew Jackson (18), and Federalist John Adams (19).

The 2017 C Span Presidential Survey First Impressions: What It Tells Us

The new 2017 C Span Presidential survey, the third in a series with earlier surveys in 2000 and 2009, reveals a lot about how scholars evaluate Presidents and their performances in office.

The survey is based on 91 Presidential historians judging our Presidents on ten categories, and adding up points to rank the Chief Executives.

What stands out as glaring is that two Presidents with earlier higher ratings have dropped dramatically, as a result of recent research.

Woodrow Wilson’s racism and civil liberties abuses in office have dropped him from 6 to 9 to 11, but with his overall performance still seen as significant enough to be in the top quarter of our 44 Presidents.

Andrew Jackson has dropped from 13 and 13 to 18, and is now behind other 19th century Presidents, including James Monroe, James K. Polk, and James Madison, who he used to be above, and that is clearly due to his anti abolitionist viewpoint and defense of slavery; his native American policy (Trail of Tears); and his destruction of the Second National Bank (causing the Panic of 1837).

One might argue that we should not judge Presidents by our own time and changing views, but it is clear historians do precisely that.

48 Vice Presidents, 45 (44) Presidents?

With the inauguration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we now have our 45th (really 44th) President, and our 48th Vice President!

Some reading this are saying: “Huh?”

So let’s explain the difference in numbers.

Donald Trump is the 44th person to become President, but Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, although he also won the popular vote in 1888, but Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College, the third time out of five (with 2000 and 2016 the 4th and 5th cases) where the popular vote loser won the Presidency.

Now, as to the Vice Presidency:

Several Presidents had two Vice Presidents, and one had three Vice Presidents, therefore making for four additional Vice Presidents more than Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson had Aaron Burr in his first term in the Presidency (1801-1805), and George Clinton in his second term (1805-1809).

James Madison had Clinton stay on as Vice President in his first term, but he died in office in 1812, so only served from 1809-1812, instead of to 1813. In his second term, Madison had Elbridge Gerry as his Vice President, but he served less than two years and died in 1814, so only serving 1813-1814.

Andrew Jackson had John C. Calhoun as Vice President in his first term, but he resigned with three months to go in the term, after being dumped from the ticket for the 1832 election, so served from 1829-1832. Martin Van Buren served in the Jackson second term (1833-1837), and became the last Vice President to succeed directly to the Presidency by election for 152 years, when George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in the 1988 Presidential election.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents–Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865) who he decided to replace for his second election, and Andrew Johnson for six weeks in 1865 until Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents–Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873) who came under investigation for corruption and did not run for reelection; and Henry Wilson (1873-1875) who died in office.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents–Garret Hobart (1897-1899), who died in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, for six and a half months in 1901, until McKinley was assassinated, and TR succeeded him to the Presidency, and then won a four year term of his own in 1904.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, being elected four times to the Presidency, and prevented from occurring again by the passage and adoption of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, had John Nance Garner (1933-1941) in his first two terms; Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) in his third term; and Harry Truman for 82 days of his 4th term in 1945, before FDR died, and Truman succeeded him, and then won a full term in 1948.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents–Spiro Agnew (1969-1973), his first full term and nine months of his shortened second term, until Agnew was forced to resign due to corruption charges, and being replaced two months later by Gerald Ford (1973-1974) under the 25th Amendment, allowing for an appointed Vice President subject to majority approval by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, with Ford serving nine months before he succeeded to the Presidency upon the resignation of Nixon, due to the Watergate scandal.

Realize that George Clinton served under two Presidents (Jefferson and Madison), and the same for Calhoun, who had served as Vice President to John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), before serving as Vice President under Jackson for all but three months of that term. So as a result, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson only had one DIFFERENT Vice President to add to the total number!

Also, realize that Grover Cleveland, in his separate terms, had two different Vice Presidents, Thomas Hendricks for 8 months in 1885, and Adlai Stevenson I (1893-1897).

Also realize that John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), and Chester Alan Arthur (1881), all succeeded to the Presidency because of the deaths of William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield, and never had a Vice President, since there was no 25th Amendment until passage in 1967, allowing Gerald Ford to pick Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President in 1974. And the other four Presidents who had been Vice President, and succeeded due to the deaths of the Presidents in office (Theodore Roosevelt after William McKinley; Calvin Coolidge after Warren G. Harding; Harry Truman after Franklin D. Roosevelt; Lyndon B. Johnson after John F. Kennedy) all were elected in the next term and had a Vice President.

So only 40 men (plus Cleveland in two terms, so called the 22nd and 24th President) in the Presidency chose a Vice President, and only Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, McKinley and Nixon had two Vice Presidents who were unique (not shared with another President), and FDR had three Vice Presidents with his four terms in office. So if you count 41 due to Cleveland’s unique situation, and add seven extra Vice Presidents, you get a total of 48 men who have served as Vice President of the United States!

Three Straight 8 Year Presidencies: Are We Likely To Have A Fourth?

As Barack Obama ends his 8 year Presidency, the third in a row, matching Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe (1801-1825), the question naturally arises: What are the chances of Donald Trump managing to be President for 8 years from 2017-2025?

It seems highly unlikely that Trump will stay in office for eight long years, but if he did, he would leave office at age 78 and seven months, about eight months older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office in January 1989.

Trump is already judged mentally unhinged by many, and his habit of sleeping very little and tweeting in the middle of the night, works against his mental and physical health for eight years.

Trump is likely to be controversial from Day One, and to believe that he will not alienate millions of Americans, beyond the majority who voted against him in 2016, is to be delusional.

The odds are good that he will face resistance from elements of the Republican Party, as well as the opposition Democratic Party over the next four years, and it is possible that a move will be made under the 25th Amendment to judge him not fit to serve, at least temporarily, leading to a long term “Acting President” Mike Pence, if Trump cannot be convinced to resign.

Mike Pence would be a dream for the right wing of the party, but likely would cause such a reaction, due to his religious extremism on women’s issues and gays and lesbians, so most likely would be a Pence Presidency ended by defeat in 2020.

In other words, this term could be like the second Nixon-Gerald Ford term, with Ford finishing the term but losing the election in 1976. But this statement is made, not to besmirch Gerald Ford, who would be far preferable to Mike Pence in every fashion, but simply the sense that this is the future, with a Democratic President in 2020, although right now, no real leader of such a transformation can yet be figured out.

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!

Political Correctness Gone Mad: The Attack On Historical Figures’ Monuments And Statues Because Of Their Racism And Bigotry!

Face the facts, racism and bigotry is part of human history, whether we like it or not!

Many great leaders in government were racists, bigots, and should be denounced for that part of their historical record!

But to say that Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and innumerable others who have been important figures in American history should, therefore, be wiped out of history–have all statues removed, all monuments destroyed, all buildings renamed, all streets and schools no longer reflect their historical significance, much of it good,— is CRAZY and distorting history!

We can condemn the fact that many Presidents were slave owners; that Lincoln had a mixed record on racial matters; that Confederate leaders were out to defend slavery; that many 20th century Presidents had a prejudice toward various religious, racial and ethnic groups in American society; and recognize there is much to do to overcome racism and bigotry.

But all of the people mentioned are an important part of history in ways and on issues other than negative ones!  They had positive contributions that affected the long run of history!

So should the effect of Woodrow Wilson on Princeton University be wiped out; and should the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials and Washington Monument; and should Stone Mountain in Georgia and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; and endless other monuments and sites named after imperfect people— be destroyed because some people are affronted about our past?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT, and instead use the truth of the past as a teaching moment, and strive to make America a better place now and in the future!

In Crisis Moments, Should An American President Resign, As Reckless Republicans Are Suggesting? Of Course Not!

Think of how many times a crisis has arisen in American history during an administration of innumerable Presidents!

Should James Madison have resigned as he fled the capital as the British invaded Washington, DC  in August 1814 during the War of 1812?

Should Abraham Lincoln have resigned when various times in the Civil War the Confederacy won major military battles from 1861-1863?

Should Franklin D. Roosevelt have resigned when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941?

Should John F. Kennedy have resigned when Russian missiles were discovered in Cuba in 1962?

Should Ronald Reagan have resigned after the loss of 252 Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, due to Islamic terrorism?

Should George W. Bush have resigned after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by Al Qaeda?

In these and innumerable other situations, of course the answer is NO!

But now, suddenly, reckless Republicans want Barack Obama to resign due to the Paris terror attacks, which they blame Obama for, even though ISIL (ISIS) is the outgrowth of the disastrous and unnecessary Iraq War waged by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

This demand for resignation occurred after “Jihadi John”, who slaughtered foreign hostages by knife, including Americans; and a leading figure in ISIL (ISIS) in Libya, were killed by American air strikes, but before the tragic Paris terror attacks, as if the Republicans have s simple answer to the threat of Islamic terrorism!

So in a crisis moment, the nation should rally around the President, as is typical in most cases historically.  But even when not unifying around the President, no leader should bow to political attacks, and instead go to work and face the crises that arise, as so many Presidents have done throughout American history!

Constitution Day Reminds Us Of When We Had Statesmen!

Today is Constitution Day, the celebration of the signing of the US Constitution on September 17, 1787, after four long, arduous months of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

It also reminds us of the great statesmen we had two centuries ago, who overcame disputes and conflicts to do what needed to be done for the nation and its future.

When one looks at the sad reality of two Republican Presidential debates so far, and the lack of statesmanship demonstrated, it is very depressing, as we do not have any sign that the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower is capable of dealing with the domestic and foreign policy issues facing the nation in 2015.

Sure, some of the contenders in the CNN and the earlier Fox News debate come across as “better” than the others, but except for John Kasich, and possibly Jeb Bush, none of them possess real Presidential credibility, while at the least, Hillary Clinton and, if he runs, Joe Biden,  on the Democratic side, display such credibility.

We have a long way to go in the 2016 Presidential campaign, but we are not likely to find another James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman or William Paterson arising to give us hope that statesmanship is widely available!