Nelson Rockefeller

Divorce And The Presidency: Adlai Stevenson To The Present

The news of the death of Happy Rockefeller, the second wife and widow of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, brings to mind the issue of “domestic bliss” or the lack of it in our politicians, past and present.

Rockefeller was thought to be the leading Republican candidate for President in 1964, but when he divorced his first wife and married his second wife, his chances for the nomination evaporated very quickly.

Only Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, had been a nominee and been divorced before Rockefeller’s situation came along a decade later.

This did not mean that there were never liaisons and love triangles before, as Warren G. Harding had been cheating on his wife, but never had thought of divorce.

And Franklin D. Roosevelt had stayed with Eleanor Roosevelt, knowing that if he divorced her, his chances for a political career were over.

There was plenty of sexual “hanky panky” throughout American history, without any thought of divorce, including, besides Harding and FDR the following: Franklin Pierce, James A. Garfield, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton, and others.

But none of them ever considered divorce seriously, and Stevenson was hurt by his divorce, as was Rockefeller.

But that changed when Ronald Reagan ran in 1980, and had been divorced more than 30 years earlier.

And since Reagan, we have had Bob Dole, John Kerry, and John McCain, all divorced, but nominated by their parties, although no other divorced person has been elected President.

So divorce, so common in politics now, is no longer an issue, as it was throughout our history!

Who Should Have Been President? The Following List Of 12 Great Political Leaders

A high percentage of the 43 American Presidents are looked upon as having been inferior, disappointing, and in some cases, clearly unqualified to be President.

And then there is a list of both Presidential nominees, and also Presidential seekers, who are looked upon as those who SHOULD have been President, but never were.

First the list, which numbers 12,and then an explanation of each case.

Henry Clay
Daniel Webster
William Seward
Samuel Tilden
Charles Evans Hughes
Robert LaFollette Sr
Adlai Stevenson
Hubert Humphrey
Nelson Rockefeller
Bob Dole
Al Gore
Hillary Clinton

Two of the above (Clay and Webster) were Whigs; five of the above (Seward, Hughes, LaFollette, Sr., Rockefeller, and Dole) were Republicans; and the remaining five of the above (Tilden, Stevenson, Humphrey, Gore, and Clinton) were Democrats.

Henry Clay ran three times for President, in 1824, 1832, and 1844, and is regarded by many experts as the absolutely most outstanding Senator in all of American history, who made many contributions in government, including being Speaker of the House, an influential Senator (Kentucky) , and Secretary of State.

Daniel Webster is the other most outstanding Senator (Massachusetts) before the Civil War, and was seen as being as much of a statesman as Clay, and also served as Secretary of State.

William Seward lost the Presidential nomination to Abraham Lincoln, but was considered the leading Republican in his time as a Senator from New York, and also served as Secretary of State.

Samuel Tilden was the reform Governor of New York, who lost the Presidency despite a major lead, which in percentage, was greater than Al Gore, the other person who won the popular vote, but lost the election, and never became President.

Charles Evans Hughes was a giant figure in American government, as Progressive Governor of New York; Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; Secretary of State; and then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Robert LaFollette Sr. was “Mr. Progressive”, the best state Governor (Wisconsin) in all of American history, and rated one of the top five Senators of all time, and actually tied Henry Clay in a scholarly poll as the best US Senator ever in American history.

Adlai Stevenson was a brilliant intellectual, who could not defeat President Eisenhower, but was regarded as an “egghead”, and served as Ambassador to the United Nations, years after he served as a Governor of Illinois.

Hubert Humphrey was one of the greatest Senators (Minnesota) to grace the upper chamber in American history, and introduced much of what became the Great Society, and he served as Vice President of the United States.

Nelson Rockefeller never was nominated for President, but was seen as a very capable and wise four term Governor of New York, one of the best in American history, served as Vice President, and having the potential to have been a great President, but could not gain the support of his party.

Bob Dole was a masterful Senator (Kansas) with a long career in Congress, and the ability to get things done, and regarded as the second greatest Senate Majority Leader, after Lyndon Johnson, in American history.

Al Gore won the Presidency in popular votes by more than a half million, but lost the contested state of Florida in a Supreme Court vote, based on party line, rather than the principle that the Court had no right to intervene in the state of Florida’s Supreme Court judgments. Gore served as Vice President, after service in the House of Representatives and the US Senate (Tennessee).

Hillary Clinton was one of the most outstanding First Ladies; Senator from New York; Secretary of State; and now had the opportunity, potentially, to come off this list, IF she is able to win the Presidency in 2016 and become our first woman President.

The nation would have been much better if any or all of these 12 political figures had gained the opportunity to serve in the White House!

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!

The Decline Of The New York State Government And Governorship!

New York State, the “Empire State”, is a victim of government decline in so many ways.

This was the state that gave us Presidential candidates in Alfred E. Smith, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas E. Dewey, and potential Presidential candidates in Averell Harriman, Nelson Rockefeller, Mario Cuomo, and George Pataki.

But now, we have had Eliot Spitzer, forced out of office by a sex scandal, and Andrew Cuomo, subject of an ethics investigation, who has displayed arrogance and entitlement about his control of who can investigate him, which has now blown up in his face.

Ironically, Cuomo seems an easy winner for his second term, but could be forced out of office during the next term, reminiscent of the circumstances of President Richard Nixon, who won easy reelection while under investigation, and then was forced to resign in disgrace.

This will end any hope that Cuomo could ever run for the Presidency, if for instance, Hillary Clinton chose not to run.

Having said that as reality, this author wishes to state that he has always had an uneasy feeling about Cuomo, over many years. It is something hard to pinpoint, but this blogger always liked Mario Cuomo, Andrew’s dad, but never felt comfortable with his son, even though he resembles him a lot in speaking manner and appearance!

Mitt Romney Comeback? Give Us All A Break!

The “Establishment” Republicans are running scared, trying to keep the Tea Party Movement from gaining complete control of the party, as it did in a different form when Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater took the nomination away from New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton precisely a half century ago, leading to a disastrous defeat of Goldwater by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964!

Their hope had been New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who won a massive re-election victory last November, and who now sees his Presidential campaign, and even his Governorship, lying in tatters, with the question whether he will be forced to resign or face impeachment in the “Bridgegate” scandal and related scandals in a corruption ridden administration, nothing really new in the history of New Jersey!

A second thought has been that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two Presidents named Bush, with the brother very unpopular after the disasters of his eight years in the White House, might be convinced to run. But Jeb’s mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, has twice said there have been enough Bushes in the Presidency, and that she did not want her younger son to run. Still, Jeb has hinted he is thinking about it, but after a very long time out of public office, ten years, more than any President in the past except Abraham Lincoln, one has to wonder whether Jeb would have a realistic chance at the nomination, and to be elected by a public wary of the Bush Family heritage.

Of course, those who really want a very qualified “Establishment” Republican may want former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman as their choice, but Huntsman’s problem is that he is TOO qualified, TOO sane, too decent and mainstream, to be the GOP nominee, and he also worked for President Obama, which makes him “persona non grata” to most in the Republican Party.

So in desperation, some are starting to think of a “re-do” of the 2012 campaign, by bringing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney into the fray once again, for the third time, but after having lost the election in 2012.

But there are many problems with this scenario:

Despite having run twice for the Presidency in 2008 when he failed to win the nomination, and 2012, when he did and lost, it is a fact that by 2016, Romney will have been out of public office for the same amount of time as Jeb Bush, ten years, and unlike Jeb, who had two terms as Governor, Romney only had one term of four years, making him the least experience in public office, compared to any actual Presidential nominee or President, other than Wendell Willkie and Woodrow Wilson.

Additionally, Romney would be nearly 70 at the time he took the Presidential oath in January 2017, only seven months older than Hillary Clinton, and four years and four months younger than Joe Biden, so this would be a truly “old folks home” race if Romney were the nominee.

Finally, Romney has proved to be a chameleon, supporting health care for Massachusetts, but then opposing a similar plan known as “ObamaCare”, and completely remaking himself to please the extreme right wing, but coming across as unprincipled, mercenary, and opportunistic, as well as being a massive liar, on a scale way beyond the norm of any Presidential campaign. He came across, also, as arrogant, insensitive, uncaring, phony, and will never be able to live down the “47 percent” comment, which will be part of the historical record for all eternity! How can Romney “remake” himself, and be taken seriously and seen as truthful, when he has proved to be totally unable to be believed and trusted?

So the best idea is to inform Mitt Romney to forget about it, be happy you are super wealthy, continue to amass that gigantic fortune that you wish to leave to your heirs, so that they do not have work and struggle like the rest of us “peons”, and be thankful you at least had the opportunity to run for the Presidency, which in itself is a special group that goes down in history! Be honest, making money as an obsession, is what you are best at, so go for it, and leave America alone!

The Greatest Rockefeller In Public Office, With The Least Fanfare!

A long unsung hero in American politics and the US Senate is West Virginia’s former Governor Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring as Senator after thirty years of service at the end of 2014.

The only Democrat in the Rockefeller family political history has been an outstanding Senator for one of the poorest states, and will be remembered for how much he has done to promote the economic future of his state.

Jay Rockefeller could have replaced Senator Robert F. Kennedy by appointment of his uncle, Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, in 1968, but refused the opportunity and moved to the poor state of West Virginia, with the intention of bringing reform and change to his adopted state. He also refused to allow his father in law, Illinois Republican Senator Charles Percy, to use his influence in any way.

Instead, Jay Rockefeller worked his way up the political struggles to become a member of the West Virginia state legislature, Secretary of State, Governor of the state for two terms, and now finishing five terms in the US Senate.

Unlike his more famous uncle, Nelson Rockefeller, who sought the Presidency three times and was Vice President under Gerald Ford, Jay Rockefeller was satisfied to have an influence on his state, and to promote liberal Democratic ideas. He is now also actively engaged in investigation of the Chris Christie scandal, and is unafraid of challenging the status quo and the establishment’s leaders, always having supported and promoted progressive causes.

Jay Rockefeller has turned out to be more significant in many ways than his uncle Nelson, hard to believe, and certainly more so than his other uncle, Winthrop, Republican Governor of Arkansas in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And his career has been much longer, without any interest in seeking the Presidency in his younger years.

So Jay Rockefeller will be much missed when he retires from his distinguished career in the Senate at the end of this year!

Presidents Replacing Their Vice Presidents: Not Very Productive

The new book, DOUBLE DOWN: GAME CHANGE 2012, states that Barack Obama’s campaign seriously considered dumping Vice President Joe Biden for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a rumor long believed and promoted.

Would such a change have brought about a different election result? Hardly so, and Obama came to realize that his Vice President was an asset, and that it was best to leave well enough alone.

When one looks at history, it is clear that “dumping” a Vice President is not a good idea, although there have been cases of such situations sometimes being necessary.

This is true of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with Burr having tried to take the Presidency away from Jefferson in the Presidential Election of 1800.

It is also true of Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun, who were at tremendous odds over the protective tariff in 1832, with Calhoun finally resigning the Vice Presidency with three months left in the term, before being replaced by Martin Van Buren for Jackson’s second term.

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to dump Hannibal Hamlin for Andrew Johnson in 1864 is seen as a mistake, as Johnson ended up being impeached, although not convicted, by Congress when he became President.

Ulysses S. Grant’s first term Vice President, Schuyler Colfax, being involved in scandal, was replaced by Henry Wilson for the second term, a necessary action, due to the Credit Mobilier Scandal revelations.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had three Vice Presidents in his four terms, with John Nance Garner refusing to run with FDR when he went for his third term. But Henry A. Wallace was replaced with Harry Truman for the fourth term, due to opposition from Southerners and conservatives who worried about Wallace on the issue of race relations, and his views of the Soviet Union during World War II. Looking back, it was better that Truman, rather than Wallace, became President upon FDR’s death in April 1945.

Gerald Ford is the last President to replace his Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, with the choice of Bob Dole, but that helped to defeat him in a close race with Jimmy Carter.

Overall, it is best for a President to stick with his Vice President when running for a second term, unless there are extenuating circumstances as with Jefferson, Jackson, Grant and FDR.

A Great Moment In American History 39 Years Ago Today As The Rule Of Law Triumphed, And Sanity Returned With Gerald Ford Becoming President!

39 years ago today, President Richard Nixon resigned from office, as the rule of law triumphed, and America returned to sanity with the the inauguration of Gerald Ford as our 38th President.

Nixon might have accomplished a great deal in his five and a half years in the White House, but he represented the greatest threat to our government stability since the Civil War, as he abused power, showed definite signs of mental illness, and had proved on the Watergate tapes that he had obstructed justice and broken the law, and had expressed what we did not know clearly at the time, overt racism and anti semitism!

The Constitution worked, as the Congress and the Supreme Court intervened and saved America from a President out of control, and we were blessed with a man who replaced him, who we now realize was the right person to take the helm at a time when we desperately needed a person of conscience, decency, and principles.

We found that man in Gerald Ford, who never had ambitions to be President, but came along as an acceptable choice under the 25th Amendment, which had only been added to the Constitution six years earlier, in 1967. We were saved from a fate worse than Nixon, the crooked, unqualified, and demagogic Spiro Agnew, who scared the living daylights out of many decent, principled Americans.

Ford came into the Presidency, moved us past the nightmare of Richard Nixon by pardoning him, so that the nation could look to the future, and deal with the many problems it faced at that time in the mid 1970s…He suffered defeat for a full term in 1976 by a small margin, certainly caused by that controversial pardon. But he steadied the ship of state, and gained respect for his handling of a terrorist incident, the Mayaguez Affair with the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; gave us one of the greatest recent Supreme Court Justices, John Paul Stevens, who served 35 years, longer than any Justice except William O. Douglas; graced us with his wonderful wife, Betty Ford, who set a modern standard for First Ladies to follow, as the most active since Eleanor Roosevelt; and held off the right wing tilt of the Republican Party for four years, by stopping Ronald Reagan’s attempt to turn the party to the Right. He also gave us one of our best and most activist Vice Presidents, Nelson Rockefeller, and bravely survived two assassination attempts within 17 days of each other in September 1975. Ford also showed us how a Republican President could be a responsible, mainstream conservative.

Gerald Ford restored the dignity and status of the Presidency at a time when it desperately needed a boost, and graced our nation for a longer life than any President of the United States.

Having visited the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, last month brought this author and blogger to a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions of Gerald and Betty Ford. While he served the shortest term of a President who did not die in office, it was a significant 895 days, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his service in the Presidency, as well as his 25 years in the House of Representatives.

The “What Ifs” Of The Vice Presidency And Succession To The Presidency!

The “What If”s of history are a topic that continues to fascinate, such as Jeff Greenfield’s new book on a second term in the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, had he not been assassinated.

There are so many examples of situations where a Vice President could have become President, and the fortunes of history did not make that work out. And twice, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate could have become President, as next in line, and with no Vice President at the time of the situation!

A total of 15 circumstances could have occurred, as follows:

John Tyler came close to being killed on the USS Princeton on a Potomac River trip on February 28, 1844, when an explosion occurred, killing the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy, but Tyler was unhurt. Had he died, and with no Vice President, as Tyler had succeeded William Henry Harrison in 1841, the President of the United States Senate would have been President Pro Tempore Senator Willie P. Mangum of North Carolina, a Whig Party member..

James K. Polk had constant intestinal ailments during his one term in office from 1845-1849, and chose not to run again, and died 103 days after his Presidency. Had he died during the term, Vice President George M. Dallas would have been President.

If Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated in his first term, rather than his second, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin would have been President, and Andrew Johnson would not have been President.

If Andrew Johnson had been convicted on impeachment charges in 1868, President Pro Tempore Benjamin Wade, Senator from Ohio, would have been President.

If Grover Cleveland, who had surgery for jaw cancer in 1893, had died, Vice President Adlai Stevenson I, the grandfather of the two time Democratic nominee for President in 1952 and 1956, would have been President.

If William McKinley’s first term Vice President, Garret Hobart, had not died in 1899, he likely would have been Vice President in the second term, when McKinley was assassinated in 1901, and Hobart would have been President, and Theodore Roosevelt would not have been President.

If Woodrow Wilson, having suffered a paralytic stroke which limited his ability to do his job for the last 18 months of his Presidency, had either died or resigned, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have been President.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt had been killed in an assassination attempt 17 days before his Presidency began, John Nance Garner would have been President.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt had not “dumped” Vice President Henry A. Wallace for his fourth term, Wallace would have been President, and not Harry Truman.

If Harry Truman had been successfully assassinated in a 1950 attempt, Vice President Alben Barkley would have been President.

If Gerald Ford had been a victim in either assassination attempt against him in September 1975, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller would have been President.

If Jimmy Carter had been the victim of John Hinckley, who stalked him at a campaign event in October 1980, the same person who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan less than six months later, Vice President Walter Mondale would have been President.

If George H. W. Bush had died of an atrial fibrillation during his term, Vice President Dan Quayle would have been President.

If Bill Clinton had been removed on impeachment charges or resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Vice President Al Gore would have been President.

And if George W. Bush had been shot down by terrorists on September 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney would have been President

Try to imagine Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman NOT being Presidents!

And imagine Presidents Willie P. Mangum, George M. Dallas, Hannibal Hamlin, Benjamin Wade, Adlai Stevenson I, Garret Hobart, Thomas Marshall, John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Alben Barkley, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney as Presidents of the United States, which would have meant, instead of nine Vice Presidents succeeding to the Presidency during a term, it could have been 19 Vice Presidents out of 44, nearly half (leaving out Vice Presidents Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman from the list of 47 Vice Presidents)! Plus two Presidents Pro Tempore of the Senate would have been President!

159th Anniversary Of Founding Of Republican Party: Not A Celebration!

The Republican Party, which gave us Abraham Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, William Seward in the years of the 1850s and 1860s; which gave us Theodore Roosevelt, Robert La Follette, Sr, George Norris, William Borah, Hiram Johnson in the 1900s-1940s; which gave us Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr,, George Romney in the 1950s-1960s; and which gave us Mark Hatfield, Charles Mathias, Charles Percy, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford in the 1970s–1990s, reached its 159th birthday today.

The Republican Party began as an anti slavery expansion party, with elements of abolitionism also present when the party began on this day in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854.

It became the party of civil rights legislation, three civil rights constitutional amendments, progressive legislation, and supportive of much bipartisan legislation with Democrats in the New Deal and Great Society eras.

Of course, they had their evil elements, including McCarthyism, nativism, and tying themselves to organized religious influences that wished to take America backward, but until the past few years, they always had redeeming values in many ways, and would often denounce the extremists in their midst.

But now the Republican Party has become a party dominated by Tea Party radicals, who promote racism, misogyny, nativism, concern only to promote the welfare of the wealthy, and willingness to engage in foreign wars that have cost us dearly in treasure and loss of life and limb!

The Republican Party is no longer, in any way, reflective of its past, and in fact, insults its honorable, respectable history, sullying the names of its heroes and champions over a century and a half!

This is a tragedy of massive proportions, and the name “Republican” should be co-opted by the true moderates who are sitting by, watching the destruction going on, and holding their heads in their hands, ashamed that the name has been so damaged by reckless, anarchistic haters of the federal government! The party which fought the Civil War to uphold the Union is now more like the secessionist Democrats of that era!