John F. Kennedy

Can Joe Biden Overcome The Obstacle Course Awaiting Him In 2020?

Former Vice President Joe Biden finally announced his campaign on Thursday, starting off as a front runner in polls.

But can he overcome the obstacle course awaiting him in 2020?

In his long career of 44 years in national office, 36 in the US Senate and eight years as Vice President, the longest public service record of any Presidential candidate in modern history, Biden came across as genuine, sincere, decent, and compassionate, and gained millions of fans, including this blogger and author.

But he also made judgments that are problematical, including being against school busing in Delaware; supporting the credit card industry in his state, and in so doing, undermining the ability of debtors to protect themselves by bankruptcy; his lack of protection of Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, for which he continues to apologize but in an unsatisfactory manner; his support of an interventionist foreign policy in Iraq; his many gaffes, many of them harmless but still giving him a reputation for loose and thoughtless language; and his habit of being too touchy feely with women and girls, although never accused of sexual improprieties.

Biden also promoted tough crime and drug laws in the 1990s, which are now looked at as blunders that put too many African Americans in prison unjustifiably, and his leadership at different times of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been criticized. His ability to “cross the aisle” and work with many Republicans is seen by some as a weakness, while others see it as a strength.

Biden is a centrist Democrat in 2019 at a time when many progressives are much further to the left than him, and one wonders if he could gain the support of those to his left if he wins the nomination, as he is perceived as too close to the traditional power centers of the party.

Joe Biden has many positive attributes, but his negative side and shortcomings, as seen by many critics, could doom him in a race against Donald Trump, when the most important thing possible is to insure that Donald Trump does not gain a second term, as that would be destructive of every progressive goal in the short run and long run.

This blogger and author has always looked at Joe Biden as a hero of his, as much as earlier, Hubert Humphrey was his model of what a political leader should be like. But Humphrey had the same problem 50 years ago of being admired and praised, but seen by many as not the best choice to oppose Richard Nixon in 1968, against Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy.

So the same quandary of 1968 awaits us in 2020, to find the best person to be successful against the greatest menace, Donald Trump, that we have had in a half century of American political history, far more damaging than Richard Nixon.

And while Hubert Humphrey was 57 at the time he ran for President in 1968, Joe Biden will be 78 shortly after the election, and as in 1960, 1976, 1992, and 2008, Democrats were able to elect a “new generation” leadership of John F. Kennedy (age 43); Jimmy Carter (age 52); Bill Clinton (age 46); and Barack Obama (age 47).

Should that be the direction for 2020 is the ultimate challenge for the Democrats.

And will Joe Biden be able to win the white working class of the Midwest and Pennsylvania? Will he be able to keep the African American community around him? Will he be able to draw moderate independents and alienated Republicans, who do not wish to vote for Donald Trump? Will he be able to win suburban whites, who veered toward Democrats in 2018? Will many seniors who supported Trump come back to the Democrats they once supported? And will enough young voters who have supported Bernie Sanders, who is 14 months older than Joe Biden, extend their allegiance to Biden if he stops the Sanders juggernaut?

These are the questions that will dominate the upcoming Presidential campaign of 2020.

25 Years Since Richard Nixon Death On Earth Day

It is now a quarter century since President Richard Nixon died, ironically on Earth Day, April 22, 1994.

Nixon has been rightly criticized and attacked for the Watergate Scandal and related illegal actions, which led to his impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee, before his resignation when the Supreme Court ordered he hand over the Watergate tapes to the Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski.

But historians regard Nixon as the second best Environmental President of modern times, just behind Theodore Roosevelt, and ahead of Jimmy Carter, as he went along with the Democratic Congress in promoting the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, and could have prevented it by a presidential veto.

Many might say that other Presidents belong that high up in the rankings, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and John F. Kennedy, and Obama’s involvement is still being evaluated as to where he should rank in the listings.

One thing for sure, other than TR and Nixon, no Republican President ranks high, except in the damage done, as for instance, particularly with Ronald Reagan, Warren G. Harding, and more than either of them, Donald Trump.

Three Millennial Presidential Contenders: Tulsi Gabbard, Pete Buttigieg, Eric Swalwell

The Presidential Election campaign of 2020 includes three millennials, those born in the 1980s, which means anyone of the three, if elected President, would be far younger than Theodore Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy.

California Congressman Eric Swalwell, born in November 1980, would be 40 years and about two months old on Inauguration Day 2021.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, born in April 1981, would be 39 years and about nine months old on Inauguration Day 2021.

And South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, born in January 1982, would be 39 years and one day old on Inauguration Day 2021.

John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected President, and was about 43 years and almost eight months old in January 1961, while Theodore Roosevelt, succeeding to the Presidency upon the assassination of William McKinley in September 1901, was about 42 years and and 10 and a half months old when he became President.

All three fit the image of a new generation of leadership, similar to Kennedy in 1960, Jimmy Carter in 1976, Bill Clinton in 1992, and Barack Obama in 2008.

The odds are growing that Pete Buttigieg may be that leader, after his official opening of his campaign on Sunday, with an inspired message to his supporters in South Bend, Indiana.

The Potential Exists For A Latino Presidential Dynasty Long Term With The Castro Brothers, Julian And Joaquin

With the potential that former San Antonio Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro might end up as the Democratic Presidential nominee in the Presidential Election of 2020, we could witness a new long term Presidential dynasty.

Castro is a very impressive and intelligent Presidential candidate, and being from Texas, he and his identical twin brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro, could have a revolutionary effect on Texas and American politics.

His brother is expected to announce for the Texas Senate seat of Republican John Cornyn, with a good chance to win, and if both brothers are on the election ballot in 2020 in Texas, it could make Texas go Blue, and that would insure a Democratic victory.

And once Julian would be President, and him being only 46, months younger than Bill Clinton, making Castro the third youngest President, and second youngest elected President, with the potential to be President until he was 54, what would prevent a Senator Joaquin Castro, at age 54, after eight years in the Senate from the second largest state, from deciding to try to succeed his brother?

This could be the Latino version of the plan to have Robert F. Kennedy or Ted Kennedy becoming President to fulfill the family hope of a Kennedy dynasty.

And with Latinos being the largest minority in America, with two thirds of all Hispanics being Mexican, it is appropriate to say it is time for a Latino President, now that we have had an African American President, Barack Obama.

Birch Bayh, One Of The Best Senators Of Late 20th Century Dead At Age 91, A Truly Creative Legislator Who Should Have Been President

Former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, who served in the Senate from 1963-1981, passed away this week at age 91.

Birch Bayh was one of the best United States Senators of the late 20th century, a truly creative legislator who should have been President.

He competed in 1976 for the Democratic Presidential nomination against Jimmy Carter and many others, and he was the favorite of this blogger and author.

This is a man who promoted the passage of the 25th Amendment, providing for an Acting President if the President was incapacitated, and of the appointment and approval of a Vice Presidential replacement when there was a vacancy in that office.

This was the reaction of Bayh and others after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and with Lyndon B. Johnson having had a serious heart attack in 1955, and with potential successors being House Speaker John W. McCormack (age 73), and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Carl Hayden (age 86).

Bayh also promoted the 26th Amendment, giving 18 years olds the right to vote, and he also sponsored the unsuccessful Equal Rights Amendment, which failed of passage by enough states.

He also sponsored Title 9 of the amended Civil Rights Act in 1972, ending quotas for women in higher education and giving women equal opportunity to participate in sports.

Additionally, Bayh saved Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy when they were both in a small plane crash in 1964.

Bayh was the father of Indiana Governor and Senator Evan Bayh. He won three close races in Indiana, and then was defeated by future Vice President Dan Quayle in 1980.

The Castro Brothers, Julian And Joaquin, Big Time Political Stars

Two Texas brothers and identical twins, Julian and Joaquin Castro, have become big time political stars, with Julian running for President, and Joaquin leading the charge as his campaign manager, and the leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 116th Congress.

Julian was Mayor of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in America, from 2009-2014, and was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014-2017 under President Barack Obama. If elected, he would be the first Hispanic/Latino President, and the first President since Herbert Hoover whose highest federal position was as a cabinet officer under a President. He was considered a finalist to run for Vice President with Hillary Clinton in 2016, and some observers think he would have helped Clinton to win the Electoral College, but that subject to debate. He gained notice in 2012 nationally when he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

If Julian Castro was elected, he would be the third youngest President, behind Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. He supports comprehensive immigration reform; free trade; first two years of public higher education tuition free; universal health care and Medicare For All; the Paris Climate Accord; refusal to take PAC money as part of his campaign; Affirmative Action; and assault weapons ban; gay rights; and abortion rights. So that makes him a progressive on the left of the Democratic Party, but not seen as far left as Bernie Sanders.

Brother Joaquin Castro has been a Congressman from the San Antonio area since 2013, so is in his fourth term in the House of Representatives. Earlier, he was a member of the Texas State House of Representatives from 2003-2013. This year, Joaquin has been the leader in organizing to oppose Donald Trump’s Border Wall Emergency Declaration, and has been standing out as one of the leading members of the Democratic caucus.

To differentiate himself from his brother, Joaquin has grown a beard, as otherwise, it is impossible to tell which brother is Joaquin or Julian. Some humorists have said Joaquin could replace Julian in a public sphere, and most people would not know the difference.

It is rumored that Joaquin, while running his brother’s campaign for President, might also seek the Senate seat of Republican John Cornyn in 2020.

It is clear that the Castro brothers will be national figures for the long term future, no matter what happens.

This author and blogger, at this point, is quite enthused by Julian Castro, who is seen as on his short list of favorites for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

It would be fitting if we had a Latino President after Donald Trump has bashed Latinos and people from Mexico as part of his nativism as a candidate and as a President.

It is felt that if Castro was the Democratic nominee in 2020, the state of Texas, with 38 electoral votes would be in play, and if won, the Midwest battleground everyone talks about would not be as crucial in winning the Electoral College.

America Will Never Be A “Socialist” Country, But We Have “Socialist” Ideas Americans Want To Keep: Social Security, Medicare, Environmental, Labor, Consumer, Health Care, Education, And Civil Rights Laws, All Which Make Capitalism Work Better!

Donald Trump attacked “Socialism” in the State of the Union address, knowing full well that is simply a code word to attack progressive reforms that have become part of the American tradition and system of social justice.

“Socialism” in America is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Environmental Laws, Federal Labor Laws, Federal Consumer Laws, Federal Health Care, Education and Civil Rights Laws.

These laws are the hard, years fought for, efforts of primarily Democrats and some moderate Republicans over the century since Theodore Roosevelt, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and even contributions of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and innumerable Senators and Congressmen and state governors who saw these laws as essential for American advancement.

We are a nation of capitalism but with “socialism” mixed in, due to the promotion of such legislation by the Socialist Party of the 20th century, and its leaders, including Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, and most Americans support and see the need for the laws we have.

We are not going to go back to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, as the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the 1960s, and the Obama era have made our nation better, and the right wing attack on all these reforms will be fought bitterly and defeated!

Hillary Clinton Running Again For President Is A Terrible Idea

Rumors are spreading that Hillary Clinton is considering the idea of announcing again for President in 2020.

That would be a terrible idea, and would divide the Democratic Party, when it needs to move on from the disappointments of 2016.

Hillary Clinton is very talented, smart, and knowledgeable, and it is true that she won the national popular vote by 2.85 million votes in 2016, more than many Presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter.

But she was unable to win over the white working class vote of the Midwest, and nothing we know of her would indicate that she can magically win over that voting bloc in 2020.

It is tragic that she lost the Electoral College, but just as with Al Gore after 2000, it is time to move on, as there are so many other talented, smart, capable potential nominees in the Democratic Party, who could carry the mantle of the party into November 2020.

So, please, Hillary Clinton, campaign for others for 2020, make speeches, write books, and enjoy Chelsea’s children, now soon to have a third child. Even Chelsea has said a blessing of the loss was that her mom had a chance to spent more time with her grandchildren.

Enough is enough, and it is time to move on from the Age of the Clintons.

Inspiring January 20s—1961 And 2009, And Then Depressing January 20s, 2017 And Today

Today is commemorated as the Presidential Inauguration Day every four years, since the passage and ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, changing the date from the original March 4 from 1789 to 1933, to the new date starting in 1937 and every fourth year after.

The history of January 20 is one of two particularly inspiring Inauguration Days, those of John F. Kennedy in 1961, with his soaring oratory, and Barack Obama in 2009, with the largest Inauguration crowd in American history, and with this author and blogger in attendance with his older son, witnessing the historic event.

Kennedy was the youngest elected President, and the first and only Catholic President, and Obama was the first and only mixed race African American President, and both appealed to the highest ideals of the American spirit.

Already, both are rated in the top third or better of our Presidents, and both will always excite and inspire our image of what America could be.

But sadly, now we are in a crisis, which makes Richard Nixon look better, something thought to be impossible after the Watergate Scandal. We never thought we could have a worse and more corrupt President than Nixon, who with his manifest shortcomings actually had some positive contributions.

But with Donald Trump, we have a wrecking ball out to destroy American domestic policies since Theodore Roosevelt onward, and American foreign policies since Harry Truman onward.

We have a President who has collaborated and colluded with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, and yet we have one third to 40 percent of the nation totally in delusion, and proving that as PT Barnum said long ago, “There’s a sucker born every minute!” People who should know better have their heads in the sand, as if they are ostriches, and nothing will convince this ill informed and morally deficient portion of the population to see the reality of the disaster we face.

Donald Trump gave a bitter, divisive Inaugural Address two years ago today, and has not stopped from his mission of total destruction, and division of our population with his insults, his racism, his nativism, his misogyny, his repudiation of our long time allies, and his promotion of the destruction of the environment and the concept of civil rights and civil liberties in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

January 20, 2017, was not a day to celebrate, and January 20, 2019 is not either, as the Federal Government Shutdown continues, with the long range goal of the undermining of the Federal government agencies, and the destruction of the lives of millions of dedicated workers, and the collapse of the American economy, as we hurtle toward another Great Recession or maybe even another Great Depression.

It is impossible to have hope that we can survive this Trump disaster without long range damage and harm that will permanently undermine the future of American democracy.

The Wealthiest And The Poorest Presidents

The American Presidents have varied greatly in wealth acquired or inherited in their lifetimes.

Some were born poor, such as Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, due to family circumstances, with Clinton and Nixon acquiring wealth in their lifetimes, but Johnson would still be the seventh poorest President at death, according to statistics.

Materials gathered by scholars have led to conclusions on the net worth of our 44 Presidents, including their post Presidential years.

Easily, at least by the knowledge we have now, Donald Trump is likely the wealthiest President, although subject to change by further Congressional investigation of Trump’s finances, sure to come in the 116th Congress by congressional subpoenas. By estimate, Trump is wealthier than all the other 43 men who have been President of the United States.

After Trump, probably John F. Kennedy, had he not been assassinated, would have inherited close to $1 billion later in his life.

Other than Trump and Kennedy, George Washington would be considered the wealthiest President, in modern terms, around $580 million.

Behind him would be Thomas Jefferson ($234 million); Theodore Roosevelt ($138 million); Andrew Jackson ($131 million); James Madison ($112 million); and Lyndon B. Johnson ($108 million), with all those numbers being estimates.

Other Presidents who had substantial estimated wealth would include Herbert Hoover ($82 million; Bill Clinton ($75 million); Franklin D. Roosevelt ($66 million); and John Tyler ($57 million). Clinton acquired most of his wealth post Presidency by speeches and authored books, and will likely rise much higher if he lives a long life.

At the other end of the scale, we had 13 Presidents who had $1 million or less wealth by all estimates, in 2016 dollars, including in ranked order:

William McKinley

Warren G. Harding

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

James A. Garfield

Chester Alan Arthur

Woodrow Wilson

Calvin Coolidge

Harry Truman

Notice that the bulk of these Presidents served in the years from Buchanan to McKinley, the last half of the 19th century, a total of seven out of eleven Presidents.

The three Presidents from Wilson through Coolidge also are on this list, and Harry Truman ends up as the least prosperous President at his death, as compared to Andrew Johnson the poorest at birth.

Barack Obama is rated just below John Tyler at number 13 on the wealth list at an estimated $40 million, with potential over a long lifetime to become one of the top few wealthiest Presidents by speeches, books, and other activities due to the stature and prestige of being a former President in modern times.

Other Presidents are rated in the middle on wealth, such as George W. Bush at $39 million; George H. W. Bush at $26 million; John Quincy Adams at $23 million; John Adams at $21 million; Richard Nixon at $17 million; Ronald Reagan at $14 million; Dwight D. Eisenhower at $9 million; and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter at $8 million each.