Posts Tagged John F. Kennedy
Former George W. Bush “brain” Karl Rove is totally delusional, as yesterday, he declared on Fox News Channel that George W. Bush belonged with the “greats” among the Presidency, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan!
This is the same man who failed to elect most of the Republicans that he supported through his campaign organization, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy patrons who believed he knew who to back and could win seats in Congress.
This is the same man who said on Election night that Mitt Romney was going to win, and denied the obvious Barack Obama victory when it was already happening!
Bush will make the list of Presidents as one of the FAILURES of the Presidency, in the company of James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Pierce.
Rove has conveniently forgotten Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, all of whom rank better than Ronald Reagan, who might be number 11, but not in the top ten of all Presidents!
And Bill Clinton may eventually rank above Reagan as well, and Barack Obama might also make the top ten to twelve list, when he has left the Presidency, and passions have cooled down!
For those of us who are Presidential junkies, the only time we see a group of Presidents and First Ladies together in public is at openings of Presidential libraries, and at funerals of Presidents and First Ladies.
Since these do not happen very often in either regard, today’s gathering of five Presidents and five First Ladies at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, was an exciting moment, no matter how one feels about the Presidency of George W. Bush.
Seeing Jimmy Carter looking hale and hearty; George H. W. Bush in a wheelchair in obviously poor health although only being less than four months older than Carter; Bill Clinton his usual talkative, charismatic self; George W. Bush being very positive, despite the clear cut failures of his time in office; and Barack Obama, always good with saying the right things, was fascinating!
Seeing Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush looking good, considering their advanced age; Hillary Clinton looking ready to run for President any time now; Laura Bush being her usual sweet self; and Michelle Obama looking always as an elegant lady, was also very inspiring!
Of course, Nancy Reagan, while not mentioned, was absent, as she is in her early 90s and not in good health.
And we saw the two daughters of Lyndon Johnson and of Richard Nixon, along with the daughter of Gerald Ford, but no other Presidential children, other than the two daughters of George W. Bush, of course! But only Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman, was present, not the son and daughter of Nancy Reagan, Ron Jr. and Patti. And neither was Caroline Kennedy, or the other children of Gerald Ford, and none of the children of Jimmy Carter, or the Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea!
In any case, for those who are into photographs of a group of Presidents or First Ladies, today was a very good day!
A very important measurement of Presidential leadership is to evaluate their interest in the advancement of science, and their willingness to support scientific research as a major part of their administrative goals.
Sadly, many Presidents have shown a lack of interest in the advancement of science, and presently, we have a group of KNOW NOTHINGS in the Republican Party who would rather promote religion in government, and deny evolution and global warming, and are generally antagonistic to any suggestion of the advancement of science, such as Barack Obama newly suggesting an investment through the National Institutes of Health to fund $100 million to work on the mapping of the human brain, which could lead to research and advancement in the study of mental illness, and such other major problems as Alzheimers Disease and Parkinson Disease. But in the Sequester environment we are now in, and the push for austerity by the GOP, it will be difficult for the vision of the study of the brain to be understood as a worthwhile and significant investment!
In any case, the Presidents who can be seen as having advanced science include the following,
Thomas Jefferson–arguably the most science oriented of all Presidents, a true genius and intellectual, who sponsored the Lewis and Clark Expedition for its scientific value, as well as the exploration of a large part of the American continent.
John Quincy Adams—a promoter of federal support of the arts and sciences, and helped to promote astronomical studies, and helped to form the Smithsonian Institution, for which he laid the cornerstone in 1846, as well as the US Naval Observatory.
Abraham Lincoln—-promoted the scientific study of agriculture, and signed legislation establishing the National Academy of Sciences.
James A. Garfield—tragically killed early in his term, but a promoter of mathematical studies, devising a mathematical proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, and promoted funding for agricultural research. Garfield was a great intellectual, and in many ways, was a tragic loss of a President whose potential for greatness was lost so quickly!
Theodore Roosevelt—was a great promoter of nature and conservation of natural resources, quadrupling our national parks and national forest lands. He also set up the US Forestry Service, and went on a dangerous trip to map the Amazon River Basin and discover new species of animal and plant life.
Herbert Hoover—a brilliant mining engineer, and elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, and a great intellectual, who was sadly a disaster in the White House, despite his credentials.
Franklin D. Roosevelt—managed the challenge of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, in his promotion of forest conservation, watersheds, and agriculture, and also worked with Albert Einstein and others in development of the atomic bomb to help win World War II.
Harry Truman—signed legislation setting up the National Science Foundation, and saw the need for greater funding of scientific research.
Dwight D. Eisenhower—promoted the beginning of the space program and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in response to the Russian putting of Sputnik I in space in 1957.
John F. Kennedy—promoted the space program goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, and was a great promoter of science in other ways as well.
Lyndon B. Johnson—promoted the completion of the moon landing, and encouraged more students to go into science through federal fellowships and grants.
Jimmy Carter—received a Bachelor of Science degree with specialty in nuclear physics from the US Naval Academy, and promoted energy conservation research, with creation of the Energy Department in the cabinet, and signed legislation for the original funding of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Ronald Reagan—promoted the Space Shuttle and a space station, and although flawed, wanted to encourage a system to stop nuclear attack, known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Bill Clinton—promoted the Human Genome Project and the International Space Station as important for the advancement of science.
Barack Obama—is now promoting human brain research, and has called for action against global warming, and the importance of the study of evolution in science classes.
The month of April is a particularly historic month in America’s past in so many ways, with 20 significant events listed below.
April 2, 1917—President Woodrow Wilson asks the Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks.
April 4, 1968—The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
April 6, 1917—Congress votes for entrance into World War I against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks.
April 9, 1865—General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, marking the official end of the Civil War.
April 12, 1861—The Civil War begins, with the South Carolina attack on the federal military fort, Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
April 12, 1945—President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Harry Truman becomes President.
April 13, 1743—President Thomas Jefferson is born in Virginia.
April 14, 1865—President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, dying the next morning at 722 AM
April 17, 1961—A failed attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro failed, coming to be known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and helped to lead to the later Cuban Missile Crisis, the greatest challenge faced by President John F. Kennedy.
April 18, 1775—The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, inspiring the first armed uprising against British oppression, occurred.
April 18, 1906—The highly destructive San Francisco Earthquake occurred, destroying much of the city, and killing 4,000 people.
April 19, 1775—The American Revolution began, with the Battle of Lexington and Concord outside Boston, Massachusetts.
April 19, 1993—The Waco, Texas tragedy of the death of 82 people in the Branch Davidian religious compound, consumed by fire, after an intervention by armored vehicles and federal agents occurred, inspiring conspiracy theories which led to the event below.
April 19, 1995—The worst domestic terrorist act in American history occurred, when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building, killing 168 people and wounding about a thousand others.
April 20, 1914—The Ludlow Massacre of miners by company hired National Guardsmen, killing 19 people, occurred in Colorado over a desire for recognition of the United Mine Workers for the coal miners.
April 20, 1999—The Columbine Massacre in Littleton, Colorado, led to the worst mass shooting of students and teachers in public schools until the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
April 21, 1836— The Battle of San Jacinto near Houston, Texas, led to the victory of Texans led by Sam Houston over the Mexican army of General Santa Anna, leading to Texas Independence.
April 22, 1994—President Richard Nixon dies at the age of 81.
April 24, 1800—The national library of America, the Library of Congress, is established in Washington, DC.
April 30, 1789—George Washington is inaugurated as the first American President at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan.
In the past half century, four Democratic nominees for President, all considered “underdogs”, were elected President.
John F. Kennedy was an underdog in 1960, being a Roman Catholic nominee, thought unlikely to be nominated or elected, but defeating Vice President Richard Nixon, who was far better known.
Jimmy Carter was an underdog in 1976, the first Southern nominee for President since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and really considered the longest of long shots to be the Democratic nominee, and yet won the Presidency over President Gerald Ford.
Bill Clinton was an underdog in 1992, considered part of the “second tier” of possible Democratic nominees for President, and thought to be “dead in the water”, due to the Gennifer Flowers sex scandal, but managing to be the “Comeback Kid”, and win the nomination and the election against President George H. W. Bush.
And Barack Obama was certainly considered an underdog to Hillary Clinton in 2008, and being African American, seemed a particularly “long shot” to go all the way to the Presidency, defeating Senator John McCain of Arizona.
All four Democratic winners all had youth–Kennedy at 43, Carter at 52, Clinton at 46, and Obama at 47 years of age. And get this–these four men were elected exactly SIXTEEN years apart–1960, 1976, 1992, and 2008!
Could this happen again?
Hillary Clinton is seen as the clear front runner, and Joe Biden is the second established “veteran” in the potential race for President in 2016.
But could it be that Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, or Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, or Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, or Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, or Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, or a future Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, or Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts would end up as a sudden surprise during the primaries and caucuses in 2016, and emerge the nominee and the winner of the Presidency?
Who can say, but the past COULD be an indicator of the future!
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and whether Irish or not, the nation tends to celebrate it, almost as if it is a national holiday.
It turns out that fully half of our 43 Presidents–a total of 22– have Irish roots, including:
James K. Polk
Ulysses S. Grant
Chester Alan Arthur
John F. Kennedy
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
It is interesting how exactly half (11) were in the Presidency before 1900, and the same number (11) since 1900, with nine of the modern eleven Irish Presidents with Irish roots since 1961!
As this week is the Presidential week, celebrated this past Monday as Presidents Day, let us do one more entry, this one on Presidential trivia, specifically on the oddities and quirks of Presidential Names.
Four Presidents are remembered for the use of their middle names with their first and last names:
John Quincy Adams
William Henry Harrison
Chester Alan Arthur
William Howard Taft
Thirteen Presidents are usually referred to with their middle initial included:
James K. Polk
Ulysses S. Grant
James A. Garfield
Warren G. Harding
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
Notice that Truman’s middle initial is also his name, as his family could not agree on what name to use, just the letter S, so there is no period after the initial.
Two Presidents use a nickname as their name:
Four Presidents switched names, and preferred to be known by their middle name:
Hiram Ulysses Grant
Stephen Grover Cleveland
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
David Dwight Eisenhower
Two Presidents had their name changed as children
Leslie Lynch King Jr.—Gerald Ford
William Jefferson Blythe III–Bill Clinton
Also, many Presidents are also known by other names or titles, including: Andrew Jackson as “Old Hickory”, Martin Van Buren as “The Little Magician”, William Henry Harrison as “Old Tippecanoe”, James K. Polk as “Young Hickory”, Zachary Taylor as “Old Rough And Ready”, Franklin Pierce as “Handsome Frank”, Calvin Coolidge as “Silent Cal”, Dwight D. Eisenhower as “Ike”, John F. Kennedy as “Jack”, Richard M. Nixon as “Dick”, Gerald R. Ford as “Jerry”, Ronald Reagan as “Ronnie”, and Barack Obama as “Barry”.
That is it for Presidential names!
The Biggest Loss Of A President Ever, Never Had Chance To Show His Brilliance—Our 20th President, James A. Garfield (1881)
America has suffered the loss of eight Presidents who died in office, four by natural causes, and four by assassination.
Each one was a loss, but the greatest loss is clearly James A. Garfield, our 20th President, who served four months before being wounded by an assassin, Charles Guiteau, and proceeded being the victim of medical malpractice and ignorance, and died after 80 days, much of it in a coma.
Sure, the death of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy were horrible losses, but all three had already made major contributions.
Sure, the death of William Henry Harrison after a month, and Zachary Taylor after 16 months, was a loss, but both, who had served as military heroes in wartime, did not have the same potential to have a dramatic impact upon history.
Sure, the death of William McKinley by assassination was a tragedy, but it caused America to have Theodore Roosevelt as President.
The death of Warren G. Harding led to Calvin Coolidge, who was certainly an improvement.
But the death of Garfield in 1881 was a case of a man who did not have a chance to show his brilliance, as pointed out yesterday in the Washington Post.
Garfield was born into poverty, but became a professor, Civil War general, businessman, and member of the House of Representatives, elected to the Senate at the same time he became President by a narrow margin, and the only President, therefore, to go directly from the House of Representatives to the White House.
A “dark horse” nominee who really did not want the Presidency, he gave a powerful Inaugural Address on March 4, 1881, speaking up for African Americans and civil rights, and also in his brief term, pushing hard for civil service reform.
Garfield appointed famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass and three other African Americans to posts in his administration, and he was said to have the ability to write in Greek and Latin with both hands, an amazing feat!
Garfield was a man of principle and conviction, and there are various memorials in Washington, DC and elsewhere in honor of a man who only served briefly in the Presidency, and a visit to his home in Mentor, Ohio, as this author has been fortunate to visit, is indeed a memorable event!
So as much as the loss of other Presidents is hard to deal with, the Garfield story is, in many ways, the most tragic!
When one looks at the relationships between Presidents and Vice Presidents historically, it is clear that most Presidents look at their Vice Presidents and see their own mortality; often see the Vice President as a rival; often have disdain for the Vice President; and often do not support the Vice President in his Presidential ambitions to follow the President in office.
Examples of the above abound:
George Washington ignored John Adams, and Adams lamented that he was in an office that had no influence or respect.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were at constant odds, being of different political parties, and elected together by the early quirks of the Electoral College, later resolved by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution in 1804.
Thomas Jefferson literally refused to recognize Aaron Burr, after Burr tried to steal the Presidency from him in 1800, with Burr’s contention that he and Jefferson had ended up in a “tie” vote in the Electoral College, forcing Alexander Hamilton, a rival of both Jefferson and Burr to intervene and call for support of Jefferson, which led to the gun duel between Hamilton and Burr in 1804, and Hamilton’s tragic death.
John Quincy Adams discovered that John C. Calhoun was undermining him, and Calhoun switched sides and ran with Andrew Jackson in 1828.
However, Jackson and Calhoun became bitter rivals, and the Nullification Crisis over the protective tariff, with Calhoun enunciating the doctrine of states rights, nullification, interposition, and secession almost led to civil war, prevented by the intervention of Henry Clay, but only after Jackson threatened to hang Calhoun, a threat that could not be ignored, since Jackson had killed several opponents in gun duels.
Abraham Lincoln hardly dealt with his first term Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, and then “dumped” him, for Andrew Johnson, someone he hardly knew.
When Theodore Roosevelt decided not to run for another term in 1908, he ignored his own Vice President, Charles Fairbanks, and backed his Secretary of War, William Howard Taft.
Woodrow Wilson gave little concern to the role of his Vice President, Thomas Marshall, and when Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, he did not intervene to prevent his wife from preventing Marshall from visiting him, and ascertaining the state of his health, or allow him to take over Presidential authority.
Franklin D. Roosevelt ignored his three Vice Presidents—John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, and Harry Truman. This led Garner to say the Vice Presidency was not worth a pitcher of “warm spit”. Wallace was allowed to “hang in the wind” over his public statements on civil rights, and be “dumped” on the demand of Southern Democrats in 1944. Harry Truman was not informed of anything, including the atomic bomb project, in his brief Vice Presidency.
Dwight D. Eisenhower had a strong dislike for his Vice President, Richard Nixon, as shown by his original plan to “dump” Nixon in 1956; his lukewarm support of Nixon in 1960; and his having problems remembering Nixon as a potential future nominee in 1964. At the end, however, Ike witnessed his grandson, David, marry Nixon’s younger daughter, Julie, and was supportive of Nixon in his last year of life, the first year of the Nixon Presidency.
John F. Kennedy failed to use the talents of Lyndon B. Johnson, his Vice President, to a great extent due to the hatred of his brother, Robert Kennedy, for LBJ. Robert Kennedy went out of his way to embarrass and humiliate Johnson in every way possible.
Johnson abused his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, once he realized that Humphrey was critical of his Vietnam War policies. He threatened to leave Humphrey out of his cabinet meetings, and forced him to speak up for the war, which undermined Humphrey’s own Presidential campaign in 1968. And secretly, because Humphrey started to veer from support of the administration policies late in the campaign, Johnson hoped for a victory of Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon utilized his Vice President, Spiro Agnew for political gain, but showed little respect for him, and let him “hang in the wind” when Agnew was forced out of the Vice Presidency in 1973. And Nixon picked Gerald Ford as his successor Vice President under the 25th Amendment, thinking that this insured that Nixon would not be impeached and be removed from office.
Gerald Ford had a strong respect for Nelson Rockefeller, who he selected as his Vice President, but yet “dumped” him for Bob Dole in the 1976 Presidential race.
Ronald Reagan was never close to George H. W. Bush, who had been his chief rival for the 1980 Presidential nomination, and never invited the Bushes to a private dinner at the White House, although he utilized Bush’s expertise in foreign policy and intelligence, as Bush had been head of the CIA.
Bush did not care for Dan Quayle very much, and considered “dumping” him in 1992 over Quayle’s embarrassing flubs. Quayle was given less involvement in the administration than his recent predecessors, and when he tried for the Presidential nomination in 1996, Bush did not back him in any way.
Bill Clinton was closer to Al Gore, but their friendship and collaboration suffered greatly during the scandal over Monica Lewinsky, and the pursuant impeachment trial. Gore decided not to ask Clinton, who remained popular, to work for him in the last days of the 2000 Presidential campaign. After his defeat, there were recriminations between Gore and Clinton over who had been responsible for Gore’s defeat.
George W. Bush relied on his Vice President, Dick Cheney, a lot in the first term, but became estranged from Cheney in the second term over the Scooter Libby scandal and in other ways, as Bush asserted himself much more, making clear he did not need Cheney as much as in the first term.
With all of the above examples of estrangement, or lack of closeness of Presidents with their Vice Presidents, there are two shining examples of very close, warm relationships between two Presidents and their Vice Presidents.
These would be Jimmy Carter with Walter Mondale, and Barack Obama with Joe Biden.
Carter and Mondale were the closest team in American history, with Carter allowing Mondale to share just about every decision in a way no Vice President, before or since, was able to do, and they remained close personal friends, for what is now the all time record of 32 PLUS years out of the Presidency, the longest lasting team in American history, with Carter now 88 plus and Mondale just passing 85, and both still in good health. No sense of any rift has ever existed between the two men, and their relationship was the smoothest ever, a lot of it due to Carter’s lack of insecurity about his Vice President, a testimonial to the former President!
Also, every indication is that Obama and Biden have as close a relationship, but with Biden nearly a generation older, while Carter and Mondale are less than four years apart in age. It seems as if there might be some issues between Obama and Biden, but that will have to be left to the future to find out. Also, a question arises as to how Obama will handle a possible competition for the next Presidential nomination between Biden and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have been crucial to his Presidency’s success so far.
So the Presidential-Vice Presidential relationships have been almost always far from warm and close, with only the two exceptions mentioned above.
This would be an excellent topic for a future scholarly study!