John F. Kennedy

The “Power Couples”: Presidents And First Ladies

Only a few of our Presidents and First Ladies can be seen as “power couples” who had an impact on their times and after the Presidential years.

It was difficult for the public to relate to either Presidents or First Ladies before the age of modern communication, so therefore the true “Power Couples” can be seen as five in number:

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt 1933-1945

John and Jacqueline Kennedy 1961-1963

Ronald and Nancy Reagan 1981-1989

Bill and Hillary Clinton 1993-2001

Barack and Michelle Obama 2009-Present

Each of these Presidents had a great impact on their times, but also their wives played a major role in the success and accomplishments of their husbands.

If one were to rank these five “Power Couples”, the order that makes most sense are the Roosevelts first; the Clintons second; the Kennedys third: and then the debate of who is fourth and fifth can be argued between the Reagans and the Obamas!

Fifty Years Of Environmentalism—Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama— All To Be Applauded!

Today, April 22, is Earth Day, first declared by Richard Nixon and his Interior Secretary Walter Hickel in 1970, but the environmental movement was begun, actually, by Lyndon B. Johnson and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall in 1965 with the promotion of the first water and air pollution laws as part of the Great Society.

Jimmy Carter proceeded to promote the most advanced environmental record of any one term President, and with the great assistance of Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus.

Then, Bill Clinton, under the prodding of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Vice President Al Gore, contributed greatly to advancement of the environment.

And Barack Obama, under the support of Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell has also contributed greatly on the issue of the environment.

Additionally, Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, and John F. Kennedy, with Interior Secretary Udall (who served for eight years under both JFK and LBJ), also did a great deal on the environment.

Sadly, with Theodore Roosevelt being the true promoter of the environment in the early part of the 20th century, and assisted by Interior Secretary James R. Garfield and close TR friend Gifford Pinchot, one would have thought that the Republican Party would have continued to be the leader on the issue, but except for Richard Nixon, that has not been the case, and now Republicans are doing everything possible to help advance industry over the environment!

This includes attempting to prevent any future national parks; allowing industrial exploitation of the Grand Canyon and other parks for mining; and wishing to undermine or destroy the Environmental Protection Agency begun during the Nixon Presidency!

So the battle to promote conservation of natural resources and add to public lands is a never ending battle between the political parties, when it should be part of the national agenda that all political leaders believe in and advocate!

Martin O’Malley: A Potential JFK In The Making?

Former Maryland Governor and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley is gaining more attention, as he travels to the early primary and caucus states, and it seems more likely as we enter April, that soon he will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, despite the massive lead in the polls of former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton, and the runner up in the polls, Vice President Joe Biden.

O’Malley has the advantage of being a generation younger than either Clinton or Biden, and a “fresh face” with an outstanding record as an executive leader, something that few other potential Presidential candidates have, to the extent that O’Malley does, with 16 years in running a government, arranging budgets, and coming to grips with problems in urban areas and on the state government level, and improving the lives of his citizenry.

O’Malley is handsome, well spoken, impresses people with his rhetoric, and like John F. Kennedy, is also Irish Catholic. Many people forget that Kennedy was seen as an “underdog” 55 years ago when he first announced, and O’Malley is a similar “underdog” today.

Three out of four times in American history, the next President has been born at a later date than the President he is succeeding, and the only way for the Democrats to do that is if they choose Martin O’Malley, as otherwise, having a younger, later born President requires Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, or Chris Christie as the occupant of the White House, none of them palatable in the least!

The three governors on the above list of Republicans cannot match the sterling record of Maryland and Baltimore under Martin O’Malley. Maryland leads the nation in education accomplishments, and is one of the most tolerant states on gay rights and marriage due to O’Malley. It is a great state for senior citizens and for disabled people. O’Malley offers a progressive vision, compared to the mean spiritedness and cynicism of Walker, Jindal and Christie. At the same time, he offers a substantial record of accomplishment as compared to Senators Paul, Cruz and Rubio.

It could be that O’Malley might not overcome Hillary Clinton or even Joe Biden, but his candidacy would offer competition and an alternative, and might put O’Malley on a short list with former San Antonio Mayor and presently Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro for the Vice Presidency, both of whom would be a great Number Two and safe to have as a backup for the Presidency if something untoward were to occur!

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute For The United States Senate Opens Today!

A wonderful event takes place today, March 30, 2015!

The opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute For The United States Senate today on the University of Massachusetts, Boston campus, adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, will bring many distinguished political leaders, along with President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, together to celebrate the life and career of one of the greatest US Senators in American history.

But it will also celebrate the great institution of the US Senate, and will encourage knowledge and scholarly research on the most fascinating legislative body ever created by free men and women!

Tourists and scholars will love the exhibits, and the full scale replica of the US Senate chamber, as well as the exhibits and documents on the life and career of Ted Kennedy, who served the fourth longest period of time in the history of that body, about 46 years and nine months duration.

Few Senators have had the impact on the Senate and the nation of the brother of the 35th President of the United States, and the nation’s most outstanding Attorney General. It is arguable that Ted Kennedy had the significance that few other Senators have had, and almost on the level of a Presidency!

Ted Kennedy devoted his life to the betterment of average Americans, despite his great wealth, and in that regard, he can be compared to two “aristocratic” Presidents of another family name—Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Promoting study of the US Senate will enrich all of us, and this is definitely on the list for this blogger to make another vacation trip, with the express purpose of spending time in this great new museum!

Nine Presidential Nominees Who Lost In Very Close Races To Their Opponents

It is not generally known that we have had several Presidential candidates who lost the Presidency in very close races, where one could note that a small switch of votes would have changed the result, with five such cases in American history. And some Presidential candidates have lost despite winning the national popular vote, with four such cases in American history. So therefore, nine elections saw these scenarios.

Andrew Jackson lost the Election of 1824 to John Quincy Adams despite winning the national popular vote by about 45,000.

Henry Clay lost the Election of 1844 to James K. Polk by losing New York State by about 5,000 votes.

Samuel Tilden lost the Election of 1876 to Rutherford B. Hayes despite winning the national popular vote by about 250,000.

James G. Blaine lost the Election of 1884 to Grover Cleveland by losing New York State by about 1,000 votes.

Grover Cleveland lost the Election of 1888 to Benjamin Harrison despite winning the national popular vote by about 100,000.

Charles Evans Hughes lost the Election of 1916 to Woodrow Wilson by losing California by about 3,800 votes.

Richard Nixon lost the Election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy by losing the state of Illinois by about 8,000 votes.

Gerald Ford lost the Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter by losing the state of Ohio by 5,600 votes and the state of Hawaii by 3,700 votes.

Al Gore lost the Election of 2000 to George W. Bush despite winning the national popular vote by 540,000, and by losing the state of Florida by 537 votes.

Of course, Jackson, Cleveland, and Nixon went on to win the next national election in each case, and Ford, although never being elected, had the satisfaction of having been President for almost two and a half years.

Tilden and Gore were the most tragic cases, as they never ran again for President, and yet had won the national popular vote in each case.

Henry Clay and Charles Evans Hughes were exceptional public servants in so many ways, but would never be President.

Finally, James G. Blaine losing was probably good, as he was regarded as the most corrupt national candidate in American history!

It Is Time For Other Democrats To Start Presidential Campaigns!

It has been a foregone conclusion to many political observers that former First Lady, former New York Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to announce for President, and based on polls, is a runaway winner of the nomination, and likely to be our first woman President, and to be our 45th President of the United States!

It has never been a good omen that other Democrats have been reluctant to challenge Hillary Clinton, and are, seemingly, afraid to “test the waters” and announce their own candidacies.

Never in American history, except often when a sitting President or sitting Vice President is running for President, have we seen so many potential party challengers in either party simply stay on the sidelines, and of course, there have been challenges to sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents that make them sharper and insure they are better candidates. Such cases as Richard Nixon in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George H. W. Bush in 1988, and Al Gore in 2000 have run better races because of challengers. Presidents such as Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush have had to work harder to gain a nomination for the next term, and they all failed to be elected, but this was part of the political game.

So why anyone, including Hillary Clinton, should expect to have no rivals, is outlandish, and not good for the Democratic Party or democracy.

And frankly, after Hillary Clinton’s poor, unacceptable explanation on her emails on Tuesday, refusing to hand over the server of her email, eliminating thousands of emails by her own decision claiming privacy rights, and basically taking a hard stand on the whole matter, there is a clear cut reason for challengers to her nomination for President. Hillary Clinton has opened up a major wound in her candidacy, and it will not go away, and now it seems highly likely she is a flawed candidate in a major way, and is not anywhere near insured that she could carry enough states and electoral votes to become our 45th President.

The Democratic Party and the nation NEED challengers, instead of putting all their “eggs in one basket”, gambling that Hillary Clinton will be able to overcome the old Clinton image of the 1990s, of cover ups, of deceptions, of victimization claims, of stalling tactics, of creating legal issues, that so soured many people about the Bill Clinton Presidency.

Yes, Hillary is brilliant, and qualified, and talented, and intelligent, but she is not the only man or woman who is such, but to put the future of the Democratic Party in her hands is a tremendous gamble, and the country needs a Democratic President more than they need Hillary Clinton herself!

Added to her stubbornness and secrecy about the emails is her stated refusal to return contributions to the Clinton Foundation from leaders and citizens of nations, many in the Middle East, who abuse women and deny them equal rights, a subject Hillary Clinton is well known for advocating since her time as First Lady, attending the conference in Beijing, China in 1995, and speaking up for equality and fairness for women around the globe. But now, suddenly, that issue is on the back burner, and the millions in contributions are more important, and that shows that, having become wealthy, and having tons of money in the foundation as well, that Hillary Clinton has lost her sense of values and principles, and just wants to be President, because she wants to be President, as Ted Kennedy wanted to be President in 1980, when he challenged President Jimmy Carter, but had no real agenda other than wanting to occupy the Oval Office!

Hillary Clinton is not entitled to be President, any more than any other candidate, but for the good future of the party and the American people, it is time for other Democrats to come out of the woodwork and declare their candidacies, and fight hard for the nomination, and save the American people from a horrific set of alternatives for President in the Republican Party.

At this point, Hillary Clinton could take down the Democratic Party and the nation, crashing in defeat, and as a result, leading to a GOP Supreme Court that would last for the next 30 years; and a repeal of much of the good programs of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and beyond!

We could see the good work done in domestic affairs by 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, and Barack Obama, destroyed by a right wing Congress, a right wing President, and a right wing Supreme Court.

We could also see the “neoncons” being triumphant, and taking us into more foreign wars, particularly in the Middle East, and leading to the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of American men and women, sent to fight by a burgeoning defense industry that would make record war profits!

And we might see the end of any sense of what is right and wrong about women’s rights, minority group rights, gay rights, labor rights, and environmental rights.

The nation’s future is more important than what happens to Hillary Clinton, as she has had a stellar career in so many ways, but that does not mean that she is automatically entitled to become our next Commander in Chief!

And if the next President is not a woman, so what? That will come in time, but should not be the crucial factor in selecting the next President of the United States!

So, Democratic Presidential “wannabes”, come out of the shadow, show courage, and announce for the Presidency, as time is afleeting!

The Smartest Presidents Based On Intellect, Not Success!

Being smart, being intelligent, being brilliant is something that in no way guarantees success, but can be noticed for what it is, and we have had our share of Presidents who have been among the brightest public figures we have been blessed with.

Chronologically, this select list would include:

John Adams (1797-1801)
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
James Madison (1809-1817)
John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
James A. Garfield (1881)
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Notice that only three or four of these Presidents are seen as having been successful, including Jefferson, Roosevelt, Wilson and Clinton.

Notice that Hoover, Nixon, and Carter are seen by many as failures or certainly as being in the bottom half of the Presidents.

The two Adamses and Madison are saved by their other massive accomplishments, so are rated in the second ten of our Presidents by most historians.

Garfield, considered the most brilliant between the second Adams and TR is the great unknown, being shot after four months in office and dying after six and a half months in office, but believed to be brilliant and an unknown factor as to his potential for greatness.

Notice that George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy, all rated very high in rankings of Presidents, do not qualify on intellect or pure brilliance, and yet some, particularly Lincoln, FDR, and Kennedy have long been highly honored and respected, despite not fitting the definition of being part of the most brilliant intellects we have had in the Presidency!

American Presidents And Wealth Estimates In 2015!

An update on the net worth of America’s Presidents, their total wealth at time of death, or for the living Presidents, what it is as of 2015, including inflation as a factor, reveals the following:

John F. Kennedy was the wealthiest President, worth within the range of $125 million to possibly $1 billion!

Due to this uncertain range, George Washington might be the wealthiest at $525 million.

The other Presidents over $100 million in net worth are:

Thomas Jefferson $212 million

Theodore Roosevelt $125 million

Andrew Jackson $119 million

James Madison $101 million

Five Presidents over $50 million up to $98 million include:

Lyndon B. Johnson $98 million

Herbert Hoover $75 million

Franklin D. Roosevelt $60 million

Bill Clinton $55 million

John Tyler $51 million

The next six Presidents are worth between $20 million and $27 million, as follows:

James Monroe $27 million

Martin Van Buren $26 million

Grover Cleveland $25 million

George H. W. Bush $23 million

John Quincy Adams $21 million

George W. Bush $20 million

The next five Presidents are worth $10 million to $19 million, as follows:

John Adams $19 million

Richard Nixon $15 million

Ronald Reagan $13 million

Barack Obama $12 million

James K. Polk $10 million

The next ten Presidents are worth between $2 million and $8 million, as follows:

Dwight D. Eisenhower $8 million

Gerald Ford $7 million

Jimmy Carter $7 million

Zachary Taylor $6 million

William Henry Harrison $5 million

Benjamin Harrison $5 million

Millard Fillmore $4 million

Rutherford Hayes $3 million

William Howard Taft $3 million

Franklin Pierce $2 million

The remaining 11 Presidents are worth between under $1 million up to less than $2 million, in the following order:

William McKinley

Warren G. Harding

James Buchanan onward are each worth less than $1 million downward, with Truman the poorest.

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

James A. Garfield

Chester Alan Arthur

Woodrow Wilson

Calvin Coolidge

Harry Truman

Many of the early Presidents were landowners and slave owners, and were, therefore, extremely wealthy.

The Presidents of the middle and late 19th century were mostly quite poor, including those who were military generals.

Presidents since 1929 have been generally much wealthier in most cases.

Many Presidents in modern times have become wealthy through speeches and writings.

Bill Clinton has the potential to become of the wealthiest Presidents in American history as time goes by, and more so, if his wife, Hillary Clinton, becomes President! The long term potential for Barack Obama is also for great wealth over his lifetime, leaving office at age 55!

The Most Overrated and Underrated Presidents, According To The American Political Science Association Presidential Poll

Further study of the American Political Science Association Presidential poll of 2014 reveals the following:

The most overrated Presidents are John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Andrew Jackson.

The most underrated Presidents are Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H. W. Bush, and Harry Truman.

These consensus judgments seem legitimate, as this author thinks those listed are an accurate assessment.

However, also underrated, and not even making the top 24 Presidents, with a 50 percent rating or above as deserving to be on the list of significant Presidents is Jimmy Carter.

Additionally, Lyndon B. Johnson will, over time, make it to the top ten, above Eisenhower and Bill Clinton, both of whom seem higher than they should be, and also above Jackson.

If any Presidents were to be added to Mount Rushmore, it is clear that Franklin D. Roosevelt is easily the most deserving, and really, no one else qualifies on legitimate grounds, even though there are supporters of Kennedy, Reagan and Eisenhower to join him, if there were additions made, which is, realistically, not going to happen!

American Political Science Association Presidential Poll Substantially Different Than 2009 C Span Poll

It has been nearly six years since the last C Span poll on Rating Presidents took place in 2009, and now we have the American Political Science Association Poll of 162 Professors, scored late in 2014, and the differences between the two polls is startling.

First, the number of Presidential experts questioned is two and a half times as many now than in 2009.

But more than that difference is the ranking of many on the list, as for instance:

John F. Kennedy fell from 6th place to 14th place.

Andrew Jackson went from a tie for 12th place up to 9th place.

Dwight D. Eisenhower reached the highest he has ever been polled, up to 7th place.

Bill Clinton shot up from 15th place to 8th place.

Harry Truman fell to 6th place from 5th place, and Thomas Jefferson went from 6th place to 5th place.

Woodrow Wilson fell from 9th place to 10th place.

Barack Obama, not part of the 2009 poll, but ranked in 15th place in an early poll in 2011, ended up in 18th place.

James Madison (13th) moved ahead of James Monroe (17th) in the ranking, which seems odd when one looks at their Presidencies, with Monroe being 14th and Madison 20th in the C Span poll.

James K. Polk slipped from tied for 12th to 19th, which seems really strange.

Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson slipped one each, from 10th and 11th places, to 11th and 12th places.

This author disagrees greatly with this poll in many ways, including:

Kennedy being dropped eight places seems acceptable, except that to put Jackson, Clinton, and Madison ahead of him seems not very sensible.

Jackson is back in the top ten, but it seems wrong to move him up.

Clinton being in the top ten may help Hillary Clinton, but realistically, this author thinks he is much too high, and will eventually slip out of the top ten back to mid teens where he was. He has risen fast, being 21st in the 2000 C Span Poll and 15th in the 2009 poll.

Truman should have remained ahead of Jefferson, and in fact, should be moved up to 4th ahead of Theodore Roosevelt and Jefferson, due to his crisis leadership, and will end up there in time in this author’s belief.

Wilson has been slipping constantly, from 6th in 2000 to 9th in 2009 to 10th now, but this author would put him a bit higher and ahead of Jackson, Clinton, and Eisenhower.

Obama slipped from an early 2011 poll of 15th down to 18th, but this author would put him back at about 13th, ahead of Jackson, Madison, and Monroe.

Madison being ahead of Monroe seems ridiculous for his Presidency, although Madison was a great man, but not very successful as President.

Polk being an “imperialist” is a negative image to many, but no one term President was as successful, and he should not end up behind many of those ahead of him, and should remain about 12th or 13th.

Reagan and Johnson dropping one position each is not a big difference, but this author would put Johnson ahead of Reagan.

The debate on ranking Presidents will go on, but these are my thoughts on the topic, and I welcome commentary and analysis on this issue of ranking Presidents in 2015!