Jimmy Carter

The Top 30 Presidential Cabinet Officers In American History

Presidents do not accomplish their goals and policies on their own, but rather depend on the best advice and counsel of their cabinet members.

Since the Presidential Cabinet idea was formulated by George Washington and the first Congress under the Constitution, we have had the creation over time of 15 Cabinet agencies, and some of those who have held Cabinet posts under Presidents have had a dramatic impact on their times.

Below is a list of what the author believes are those 30 Cabinet officers who have had the greatest effect on American history, without ranking them in any order:

Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington

Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State under James Monroe

William Seward, Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State under Ulysses S. Grant

Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior under Rutherford B. Hayes

John Hay, Secretary of State under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt

James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture under William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior under Woodrow Wilson

Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman

Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Henry Morgenthau, Jr, Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt

George C. Marshall, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford

George Romney, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Richard Nixon

Cecil Andrus, Secretary of the Interior under Jimmy Carter

Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton

Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton

Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton

Richard Riley, Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and Barack Obama

Note that 25 Presidents and 12 of the 15 Cabinet Departments are included in this list. Nine Secretaries of State; three Secretaries of the Treasury; one Secretary of Defense; one Attorney General; six Secretaries of the Interior; two Secretaries of Agriculture; one Secretary of Commerce; three Secretaries of Labor; one Secretary of Health and Human Services; one Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; one Secretary of Transportation; and one Secretary of Education make up the list.

Also note that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had five cabinet members who made the list; Bill Clinton had four; and Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson had three each!

Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, And First Term Nominations: All But Monroe, FDR, George W. Bush!

This blogger heard the statement of Ralph Nader, a guest on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” HBO show recently, that if only the Democrats had won the 2004 Presidential Election, the Supreme Court would have been dramatically different than it is today!

Present Secretary of State John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, who became only the third President to have to wait until his second term of office to nominate and confirm a Supreme Court Justice! Bush proceeded to select Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who have together had a dramatic effect on Court decisions in a very right wing manner!

Only James Monroe and Franklin D. Roosevelt failed to have a Supreme Court nominee in their first term, and only William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Jimmy Carter were unable to make any appointments to the high Court, due to lack of vacancies. Even President James A. Garfield, shot after four months in office, had an appointee to the Supreme Court after two months in office! And FDR may not have had appointments in his first term, but he ended up having a total of nine appointments between 1937 and 1943 over six and a half years!

This is something to keep in mind, the power of the President to affect the Supreme Court’s future, and with the certainty that there will be vacancies on the high Court in the next Presidential term, making the election of a Democrat to the White House, and a Democratic Senate after 2016, ever more urgent!

40th Anniversary Of Gerald Ford Becoming President: A Blessing For The Nation!

It has been 40 years since Gerald Ford became President, upon the resignation of our most dangerous President, Richard Nixon, due to his impending impeachment and trial in Congress, based on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice in the Watergate Scandal.

The 25th Amendment, only ratified and added to the Constitution in 1967, allowed Ford, who had replaced the corrupt Vice President Spiro Agnew, to become our 38th President.

Ford helped to end the great national nightmare of a corrupt President and a corrupt Vice President. He was the right man for the time, well liked and well respected, and not ambitious to be President. All Ford had wanted to do in his 25 year career in the House of Representatives was to become Speaker of the House.

Suddenly thrust into the responsibilities of the Presidency, Ford showed courage and guts in his selection of Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President; the pardoning of Richard Nixon, which probably helped to defeat him in a close race for the Presidency in 1976 with Jimmy Carter; his handling of the Mayaguez Affair with Cambodia, which save captured hostages; and his brilliant appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

Ford knew how to cross the aisle, and make friends of rivals, including President Carter, with the two men becoming fast friends once Carter left office, and with Carter giving the eulogy at Ford’s funeral in 2006.

Ford also gave us one of the greatest First Ladies in American history in Betty Ford, and his moderate conservatism is what one would wish for now from the much further right wing Republican Party of 2014.

It is well worth a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the Ford Presidential Museum, as this author and blogger did a year ago, which caused him to gain growing respect for the 38th President of the United States, who showed up at the precisely proper time when the Presidency itself was under attack!

Presidents And Intelligence

A YouGov Survey on the past eight elected Presidents, therefore not including Gerald Ford, ranks their “intelligence” with unusual results.

The word “intelligent” has different meanings to different people.

Is it based on grades while in school?

Is it based on ability to get things done effectively?

Is it based on oratorical skill and charm and charisma?

Is it based on accomplishments in office?

Is it based on personal popularity with the American people?

Is it based on reaction to crises that arise?

Does being “intelligent” matter as much as other characteristics, including: honesty, experience, ability to inspire, boldness, and having a sense of humor?

What it comes down to is that how people react to Presidents is very personal, and trying to rank them on the word “intelligence” is simply extremely political in nature!

According to the YouGov poll, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most “intelligent” of the eight recent Presidents, followed by Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Notice that the first two are also seen as most “successful”, while Obama, even under attack recently, looks better than the rest, and the senior Bush is remembered for the Persian Gulf War, which led him to an all time high public opinion poll rating of 91 percent.

The other four recent Presidents, generally seen as “failures”, or at least seen as negative, are in order: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Interestingly, George W, Bush and Barack Obama have the highest percentage, both 17 percent, thinking they are not intelligent at all! This is purely emotion based on opposition that each has had from his critics!

What it comes down to is that this poll is basically useless, as it fails to look at historical reality and the record of each President!

If that was done, one could argue that LBJ should rank the highest in pure accomplishment in domestic affairs, in a way that still affects us, while Richard Nixon would rank highest in pure accomplishment in foreign policy, despite his many other shortcomings, including Watergate.

In pure native intelligence, based on information we have on their backgrounds, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter would rank the highest.

Ronald Reagan has been over inflated in image, while George H. W. Bush has been underrated for his accomplishments.

Barack Obama cannot be adequately evaluated while in office, while George W. Bush, ranking last, seems likely to remain that way for the long run!

Eight Presidents Who Had A Major Role In The Military

Many of our Presidents, about two thirds, have served in the armed forces of the United States, but eight were involved in particularly notable roles in the military that stand the test of time.

These are:

George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Ulysses S. Grant during the Indian Wars, Mexican War, and Civil War.

Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish American War.

Harry Truman during World War I.

Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.

John F. Kennedy during World War II.

Jimmy Carter in the early Cold War years.

George H. W. Bush during World War II.

Other Presidents served of course, and Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor were generals; Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley served in the Civil War; and Hayes and Franklin Pierce (in the Mexican War) and Kennedy were wounded. But these eight listed above particularly stand out in their military service of all of the Presidents who served!

Two Experienced National Presidential Campaigners Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton For Democratic Presidential Nomination: Al Gore And Jerry Brown!

The basic belief that goes around in political circles is that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic Presidential nomination for the asking, and has more experience and background than anyone who could possibly run against her in the primaries, with the major exception of Vice President Joe Biden!

But it is also noted that, actually, there are two very experienced Democrats who have run for President before, along with Hillary and Joe, and yet few are paying any attention to these two men!

I am talking about former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the Presidency in 2000 to George W. Bush, despite having won the national popular vote by about 540,000, but losing the contested election in Florida in the Supreme Court case of Bush V. Gore. Also, Gore sought the Presidency in 1988, before losing the nomination to Michael Dukakis.

I am also referring here to three time Democratic Presidential seeker, California Governor Jerry Brown, who sought the nomination in 1976 and again in 1980 against Jimmy Carter, and against Bill Clinton in 1992!

Both are tested, although both are from “long ago” in many people’s minds, since Gore has never tried for public office since 2000, and sixteen years is a very long time in politics. One could say that Hillary and Joe are also from “long ago”, but they have continued to hold public office consistently since the new century began, with Hillary only “retiring” in 2013 to write her memoir on her years as Secretary of State!

Jerry Brown goes back much further having been Governor of California at age 35, serving from 1975 to 1983; then later being Oakland Mayor and California Attorney General; and then returning to the Governorship 28 years after leaving it, and becoming the oldest Governor in the history of the state in 2011, and now running for a second term at age 76.

There have been rumors that Brown would love to run again, and dog the Clintons, as he did Jimmy Carter. It would be ironic if he was to challenge Hillary as he did her husband in 1992!

Of course, Brown would be nearly 79 were he to become President in 2017, and Al Gore would be nearly 69, just five months younger than Hillary Clinton, while Joe Biden would be 74 at the time of the inauguration!

One might say that having all these “old folks” running or considering the Presidency is disturbing, and add to that mix, two liberals who are rumored to run, If Hillary chooses not to run, or possibly even if she does—Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who would be 67 on Inauguration Day, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (technically a Socialist), who would be 75.

While we are at it, why not add Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee, to the list, with him being 73 if elected to the Presidency in 2016!

These people, all seven of them, represent a lot of talent and experience and brilliance, but ranging from 67 to 79 is NOT a good trend, particularly with the strong likelihood that the Republican Party will nominate someone much younger, probably by a full generation, or close to it, in years!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice 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.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

Quinnipiac Poll On Worst President Since WW II Is Sign Of Total Ignorance And Stupidity!

A new Quinnipiac poll for July 4th rates Presidents since World War II, and comes to the asinine conclusion that Barack Obama, engaged in the typical “sixth year” doldrums, is the worst President since 1945!

Really? Give all of us a break! This demonstrates total ignorance and stupidity of American history, and how quickly people forget past Presidents and the records they have in office.

How could Barack Obama be the worst President since 1945, with:

The highest stock market in history, up 150 percent.
Gaining back of all the millions of jobs lost in the Great Recession, plus more jobs created despite GOP obstructionism.
The deficit falling faster than at any time since Eisenhower.
Hunting down and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The capture of the perpetrator of the Benghazi deaths in Libya.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act, giving more Americans health care coverage than at any time in American history.
The passage of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau despite opposition from Wall Street, corporations and Republicans.
The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
The advancement of environmental protection on the road to the level of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt.
The promotion of the interests of the middle class against the Republican aim to destroy the middle class by lack of action.

Of course, any person could make a list of programs and policies of Barack Obama which have not worked out to their or our satisfaction, including this author.

But come on, compare Obama to George W. Bush:

Two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both causing trillions of dollars in the national debt, and not accomplishing their goals, and the war in Iraq totally unnecessary, a war of choice.
The poor handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and Mississippi and Alabama.
The failed Social Security privatization plan, which would have destroyed the program in 2008.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009, worst since the Great Depression under Herbert Hoover.

And if we are to rate the worst Presidents, how about Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who both did so much harm in office, even while admitting certain positives for both?

And to rate Mitt Romney a better choice, 45 percent, to be President now, after the failed campaign of 2012–face the facts, the American people made the right choice in rejecting Romney, arguably the worst candidate of the Republican Party since Barry Goldwater in 1964. This was a man who lied, lied, lied, constantly, more than any Presidential nominee in American history!

The fact that the poll participants showed no real knowledge of American history is troubling, as to come to such a ridiculous conclusion demonstrates total lack of understanding of what has gone on in this nation in recent years! All they react to is charisma, so that Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton rank the highest, simply based on image!

What do these involved in the poll know about Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush, as well as the Presidents that are rated high, and those rated low in the poll? Clearly, NOTHING!

Greatest Domestic Accomplishments Of Presidents Since FDR

So much attention is usually paid to foreign policy during any President’s administration, but domestic accomplishments are something that needs much more attention.

Following is what this author regards as the greatest domestic accomplishment of each President since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—Social Security Act of 1935

Harry Truman–Integration of the military and Washington DC in 1948

Dwight D. Eisenhower–Appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1953 and Associate Justice William Brennan in 1956

John F. Kennedy—Integration of University of Mississippi by James Meredith, with federal enforcement in 1962

Lyndon B. Johnson—Civil Rights Act of 1964

Richard Nixon–Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970

Gerald Ford—Appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975

Jimmy Carter—Environmental Reform and Expansion of Public Lands 1977-1981

Ronald Reagan—Social Security Reform in tandem with Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill in 1983

George H. W. Bush—Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990

Bill Clinton—Appointment of Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994

George W. Bush—Medicare Part D Prescription Law of 2003

Barack Obama—Affordable Care Act of 2010

Discussion and commentary on this list is welcome!

Hostile Relationship Of Former Presidents With Incumbent Presidents

The question of the relationship of former Presidents with incumbent Presidents is an interesting one, with usually the former Presidents avoiding open criticism of their successors, even if they are of a different political persuasions, and did not support the nomination or election of their successors.

There are only a few cases of open criticism and attack, including:

John Quincy Adams highly critical of Andrew Jackson, and returning to Washington, DC as a Congressman to “keep watch” over his policies and actions. Adams was also a sharp critic of the slavery and expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk.

Martin Van Buren being a major critic of the expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk in the 1840s, and of the slavery policies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan in the 1850s.

John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan all critical of the policies of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Grover Cleveland being a sharp critic of Benjamin Harrison, who he had lost to, and then ran against again and defeated in 1892, and then opposed William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt on the issue of imperialism and expansion.

Theodore Roosevelt very critical of his successor William Howard Taft, who he ran against on the Progressive Party line in 1912, and then against Woodrow Wilson’s policies toward World War I, after losing to him in 1912. Also, TR was resentful that Wilson “stole” some of his progressive ideas, and enacted them as President in his first term.

Herbert Hoover harshly critical of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies during the Great Depression and World War II.

Harry Truman very critical of Richard Nixon for years before he became President, and never really making peace even when Nixon gave the Truman library the piano in the White House that Truman had played. Also, Truman was critical of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the two men only resolved their differences at the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Jimmy Carter very critical of the policies of his successor, Ronald Reagan, and at times, of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Otherwise, the tendency has been to sit on the sidelines and avoid open criticism of one’s successors to the Oval Office!