Nelson Rockefeller

Republican Party History And Reputation Under Attack In Present Constitutional Crisis

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 in opposition to the expansion of slavery, and included many abolitionists within its midst.

The Republican Party became the Party of the Union, and under Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, the Civil War was fought, and the Confederate States of America was defeated, and slavery was abolished.

The Republican Party then promoted citizenship and the right to vote for African Americans.

Then, the party lost its way and became the party of Big Business in the Gilded Age, and was engaged in widespread corruption.

But in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, under President Theodore Roosevelt, and Congressional leaders such as Robert La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin and George Norris of Nebraska and many others, the party became one of reform oriented ideas.

Then, in the 1920s and through the years of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the party became one of opposition to progressive ideas, with a few exceptions of leaders in Congress and in the states.

With the coming of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the rise of the liberal wing of the modern GOP, under Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton, and George Romney. and many US Senators, the battle was fought against a takeover of the party by the extreme right, headed by Senator Barry Goldwater, but despite his defeat for the Presidency in 1964, the coming of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan ushered in conservative ideas, and the GOP became captive to the myth of Reagan.

The party became captive to a foreign policy of intervention in the Middle East, and promotion of massive tax cuts to the wealthy, and destruction of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but were stopped in their quest by Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Now, however, the Republican Party has become more extremist under the most corrupt President in American history, much more than Richard Nixon.

Donald Trump is for the wealthy elite, and that is why the Republicans in Congress are overlooking the disaster occurring before our eyes daily.

The Republican Party history and reputation are under attack in the present constitutional crisis, while at the time of the Nixon constitutional crisis, many Republicans spoke up and led the struggle against the illegalities of the Watergate Scandal.

The future of the Republican Party is at stake, and this could be the time that we will look back on and realize that it led to the demise of the Republican Party as we know it!

John F. Kennedy A Century Later, And 54 Years After His Tragic Death: His Legacy And What Might Have Been

Tomorrow, Memorial Day 2017, is the Centennial of the birth of John F. Kennedy.

It is nearly 54 years since his tragic death by assassination in Dallas, Texas.

The potential of what JFK could have accomplished is all speculation, impossible to know.

We know for sure that he was a dynamic leader with great goals for a nation, but under bitter attack from Southern Democrats and conservatives for his initiatives on civil rights, education, health care, the environment, and his unannounced plans for a War on Poverty.

We know that he was a fantastic orator, who appealed to our better nature, and our optimism.

We know that he was glamorous in his appearance, his wife, and his young children.

We know that he is looked back upon as an ideal time when America seemed to be moving forward, but was also entering a very difficult decade of turmoil and tumult, as his two successors, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, escalated a war in Vietnam that divided the nation in a way not seen since the Civil War.

But we also do not know that he would not have done the same thing, escalate the war in Vietnam.

And we also do not know that he would have won reelection, with the likely loss of Southern states that were crucial to a reelection victory.

If he had been running in 1964, would Senator Barry Goldwater, the right wing Republican who likely would have still been the nominee of his party, been able to win, when he lost in a massive landslide to Lyndon B. Johnson?

Or what if JFK was running, if somehow, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller had somehow overcome opposition within the Republican Party for being a “New York Liberal”, and been the GOP Presidential nominee, could Rockefeller have defeated JFK?

Would a living JFK been able to wage a War on Poverty; passage of Medicare; enactment of expanded federal aid to education: promoted environmental and consumer laws; and been able to gain two major Civil Rights laws, all accomplished by LBJ?

The tragedy is that we will never know what the future would have been with a President JFK beyond November 22, 1963!

Is Mike Pence Able To “Do” A Gerald Ford? “Walk On Eggs” And Keep Legitimacy As A Future President?

43 Years ago, we had a flawed President, Richard Nixon, who was facing an impeachment crisis, as he had clearly violated the Constitution, and was on the way to an early end to his Presidency.

At that crisis moment, we had Gerald Ford, appointed by Nixon in October 1973 to replace the crooked Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who had been forced to resign. Nixon had chosen Ford over other more prominent figures—including John Connally, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller— and two lesser figures of prominence who were much younger—George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole—due to the reality that Gerald Ford was well liked by the opposition Democrats, who would have the balance of power in confirming the Vice Presidential replacement under the 25th Amendment.

Also, Nixon believed that although Ford was well liked as the House Minority Leader by Democrats, that no one thought that highly of Ford as to want to make him a future potential President.

It turns out that the nation was blessed that we had Gerald Ford replacing Agnew in December 1973, as Ford did a masterful job of “walking on eggs” for eight months, demonstrating some support for Nixon, but in a careful measured way, as to keep his basic neutrality, as he fully realized he was likely to become the next President.

In 1998-1999, we know that Vice President Al Gore visited former President Gerald Ford, on a so called “social call”, but actually soliciting advice on how to handle the issue of the Bill Clinton sex scandal, which led to his impeachment and trial. It is now clear that Gore did the best he could in a bad situation, but that the close relationship of Gore to Bill Clinton was strained from that point on, and may have helped to doom the Gore Presidential race in 2000, in which Gore won the popular vote, but lost key states that resulted in George W. Bush winning the Electoral College.

Can Mike Pence, who assuredly will be the next President at some point during this term of office, be able to keep his credibility as Ford did, and Gore mostly did? Hard to say, but his appearance on Meet The Press today was not a good sign, as he clearly squirmed at the questions of Chuck Todd, and his body language betrayed his discomfort. So whether he can keep his legitimacy as the 46th President of the United States, and somehow unite the country when Donald Trump leaves office, is up in the air at this point.

48 Vice Presidents, 45 (44) Presidents?

With the inauguration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we now have our 45th (really 44th) President, and our 48th Vice President!

Some reading this are saying: “Huh?”

So let’s explain the difference in numbers.

Donald Trump is the 44th person to become President, but Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, although he also won the popular vote in 1888, but Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College, the third time out of five (with 2000 and 2016 the 4th and 5th cases) where the popular vote loser won the Presidency.

Now, as to the Vice Presidency:

Several Presidents had two Vice Presidents, and one had three Vice Presidents, therefore making for four additional Vice Presidents more than Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson had Aaron Burr in his first term in the Presidency (1801-1805), and George Clinton in his second term (1805-1809).

James Madison had Clinton stay on as Vice President in his first term, but he died in office in 1812, so only served from 1809-1812, instead of to 1813. In his second term, Madison had Elbridge Gerry as his Vice President, but he served less than two years and died in 1814, so only serving 1813-1814.

Andrew Jackson had John C. Calhoun as Vice President in his first term, but he resigned with three months to go in the term, after being dumped from the ticket for the 1832 election, so served from 1829-1832. Martin Van Buren served in the Jackson second term (1833-1837), and became the last Vice President to succeed directly to the Presidency by election for 152 years, when George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in the 1988 Presidential election.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents–Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865) who he decided to replace for his second election, and Andrew Johnson for six weeks in 1865 until Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents–Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873) who came under investigation for corruption and did not run for reelection; and Henry Wilson (1873-1875) who died in office.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents–Garret Hobart (1897-1899), who died in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, for six and a half months in 1901, until McKinley was assassinated, and TR succeeded him to the Presidency, and then won a four year term of his own in 1904.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, being elected four times to the Presidency, and prevented from occurring again by the passage and adoption of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, had John Nance Garner (1933-1941) in his first two terms; Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) in his third term; and Harry Truman for 82 days of his 4th term in 1945, before FDR died, and Truman succeeded him, and then won a full term in 1948.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents–Spiro Agnew (1969-1973), his first full term and nine months of his shortened second term, until Agnew was forced to resign due to corruption charges, and being replaced two months later by Gerald Ford (1973-1974) under the 25th Amendment, allowing for an appointed Vice President subject to majority approval by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, with Ford serving nine months before he succeeded to the Presidency upon the resignation of Nixon, due to the Watergate scandal.

Realize that George Clinton served under two Presidents (Jefferson and Madison), and the same for Calhoun, who had served as Vice President to John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), before serving as Vice President under Jackson for all but three months of that term. So as a result, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson only had one DIFFERENT Vice President to add to the total number!

Also, realize that Grover Cleveland, in his separate terms, had two different Vice Presidents, Thomas Hendricks for 8 months in 1885, and Adlai Stevenson I (1893-1897).

Also realize that John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), and Chester Alan Arthur (1881), all succeeded to the Presidency because of the deaths of William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield, and never had a Vice President, since there was no 25th Amendment until passage in 1967, allowing Gerald Ford to pick Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President in 1974. And the other four Presidents who had been Vice President, and succeeded due to the deaths of the Presidents in office (Theodore Roosevelt after William McKinley; Calvin Coolidge after Warren G. Harding; Harry Truman after Franklin D. Roosevelt; Lyndon B. Johnson after John F. Kennedy) all were elected in the next term and had a Vice President.

So only 40 men (plus Cleveland in two terms, so called the 22nd and 24th President) in the Presidency chose a Vice President, and only Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, McKinley and Nixon had two Vice Presidents who were unique (not shared with another President), and FDR had three Vice Presidents with his four terms in office. So if you count 41 due to Cleveland’s unique situation, and add seven extra Vice Presidents, you get a total of 48 men who have served as Vice President of the United States!

Could Donald Trump End Up As Nixon-Rockefeller Type Of Republican, Very Different Than Present Republicans In Congress?

If one looks at Donald Trump’s statements about public affairs over many decades, he often seemed to be a liberal Democrat.

Now he is consorting with powerful military figures recently retired, and powerful corporate people from Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs and other corporate types, and is in bed with right wing Republican forces in Congress.

Trump changes his mind so much and so often that one wonders where his leanings are, but right now it seems to be moving to the hard right, based on appointments.

But one can hope that he might evolve into a Richard Nixon-Nelson Rockefeller type of Republican, a pragmatic, mainstream view of foreign policy as Richard Nixon had, and a support of basic domestic programs and ideas as Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller tended to support.

Under present circumstances, IF Trump turned out to be a Nixon-Rockefeller type of Republican, he would become very different than most Republicans in Congress are in 2016-2017. But he would also alienate the party that elected him, so do not expect Trump, who is totally unpredictable, to be a profile in courage.

But if he were, that would be the best we could expect from him, but do not hold your breath!

Republican Presidential Nominees And Presidents, And Their Running Mates: No Love Lost, Historically!

It is clear from the study of history and news coverage over the past half century that Republican Presidential candidate and even Republican Presidents have NOT been enamored with their Vice Presidential running mates or Vice Presidents.

We go back to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew as the first example, with Nixon using Agnew to attack the news media and Democrats in the midterm 1970 Congressional elections, but having little personal regard for him, and unwilling to come to his support when Agnew was revealed to be engaged in corruption, which would force his resignation in October 1973.

Then, Nixon selected Gerald Ford as his Vice Presidential replacement more on the idea that he felt that Ford, while well liked in Congress, would not be seen by opposition Democrats as all that competent to replace Nixon during the impeachment crisis of 1973-1974.

Gerald Ford seems to have really admired and felt comfortable with Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President under the 25th Amendment, but agreed to drop him from the ticket in 1976 to please conservatives, led by Ronald Reagan, and to select Senator Bob Dole of Kansas as his replacement.

Ronald Reagan may have utilized George H. W. Bush’s expertise, but had little personal regard for Bush, and the Bushes were never invited to dinner at the White House during the eight years of their association.

Bush certainly had little faith and trust in Dan Quayle during his Presidency, and the nation knew it, and worried about the incompetence of Quayle.

Bob Dole’s selection of Jack Kemp in 1996 to be his running mate as Vice President certainly was not as a result of friendship or warmth, and they seemed an ill fit, often disagreeing during the campaign.

George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney in 2000 due to his vast experience, and allowed himself to be dominated in the first term, but their association soured dramatically in the second term.

John McCain seems to have been forced to select Sarah Palin in 2008, and Palin helped to undermine McCain, but McCain continues to defend Palin even today, although it seems clear how uncomfortable he is when answering questions about Palin.

The Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan connection in 2012 seems also not to have been one of great warmth and friendship.

And Mike Pence is squirming a lot as Vice Presidential running mate for Donald Trump, seeing Trump contradict him openly and making clear his lack of regard for Pence, including being upset that Pence performed better in his debate with Tim Kaine, than Trump did with Hillary Clinton in their three Presidential debates.

Crazy Dream Of Many Republicans Who Initially Rejected Trump–That He Will Magically Transform From His Sins–He Won’t!

It is amazing how many Republicans in office have caved in to Fascist Donald Trump’s candidacy, but it demonstrates their total delusional nature, that they think that he will magically transform from the sinner he is to a rational, mainstream human being.

By signing on with Trump, the Republicans in the US Senate will be massacred this fall, and we will see a massive repudation of Republican philosophy.

At the same time, intelligent conservatives at the National Review and The Weekly Standard are still holding back, as are the Bush Family and Mitt Romney and Christie Todd Whitman (former New Jersey Governor), and a small group of others who identify as Republicans.

But the Republican Party, which survived the disaster of 1912 with William Howard Taft challenged by Theodore Roosevelt; and 1964 with Barry Goldwater challenged by Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton, George Romney and others; is no longer, as principle no longer matters for most Republicans and some conservatives.

So this is a transformative election that will go down in history!

Vice Presidency More Significant Than Ever Before In 2016, With Oldest Presidential Nominees In American History!

The Vice Presidency has been growing in significance and stature in the six decades since Richard Nixon was Vice President and started to grow the office.

We have had outstanding men in the Vice Presidency since then, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, George H. W. Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden.

We have also had “lemons”, including Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle, and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to scare us at the thought of her being a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Now that our Presidential candidates will be the oldest in American history in combination, with average age of past 70, combining Democrat Hillary Clinton at 69 plus and Republican Donald Trump 70 plus on Inauguration Day, it is more essential than ever that we have the best possible men or women placed in that position for the upcoming Presidential election!

But so many of the proposed nominees, that have been bandied about by the news media and the candidates’ campaigns are far from the best possible candidates, and they can cause worry about succession, if the winner of the election dies in office of natural causes or by assassination in the next four years, with the odds growing on each possibly occurring.

The idea of two “senior citizens” competing for the most stressful job in the world is not comforting, and the fact that it has been 53 years since John F. Kennedy was killed, and 71 years since the natural death of a President in office (Franklin D. Roosevelt), as well as 42 years since Richard Nixon resigned.

We need distinguished Senators or Governors ready to come forth and offer a strong backup to the two nominees, but particularly in the case of the Republicans, the odds of such a person arising is not likely!

Joint Party Tickets A Good Idea? History Tells Us NO!

Recently, there has been some discussion of a “fusion” ticket as the way to stop Donald Trump.

One such scenario is to have Hillary Clinton run with John Kasich as her running mate.

That is totally preposterous, and history tells us that when the Vice President is of a different party than the President, it does not work out well.

The first contested Presidential election led to Thomas Jefferson as Vice President under his opponent, John Adams from 1797-1801, and that did not work out well, and in fact, helped to promote the 12th Amendment in 1804.

Then we had John C. Calhoun as Vice President under John Quincy Adams in the years 1825-1829, and that did not work out well.

William Henry Harrison was elected in 1840 with this Whig candidate having a Democrat, John Tyler, as his Vice President.  Within a month, Harrison was dead, and Tyler had constant battles with the Whig Congress, because he did not wish to follow Whig platform ideas.

Abraham Lincoln chose Andrew Johnson as his second term Vice President, despite the fact that Johnson was a Democrat in a Republican Presidency, and when Lincoln was assassinated six weeks later, we had one of the worst struggles in American history, as Johnson fought and resisted the Republican Party which had put him into the Vice Presidency, albeit briefly.

With these four examples, none of them working out well, we have never had such a situation arise again since, but we have had suggestions of doing what has never worked out well.

There were suggestions that Hubert Humphrey select Nelson Rockefeller in 1968, and that John McCain choose Joe Lieberman in 2008.

It simply will not work, and it undermines party loyalty and commitment to a President and his administration, if the next in line, in case of tragedy, transforms the power base in the Presidency.

As it is, we have had top cabinet members who are of the other party, particularly in the War Department as it was known before 1947, and the Defense Department, as it has been known since then., including:

Henry Stimson under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1940-1945

Robert McNamara under John F. Kennedy, beginning in 1961, and continuing under Lyndon B. Johnson until 1968.

William Cohen under Bill Clinton from 1997-2001

Robert Gates under Barack Obama from 2009-2011

But the Vice President needs to be “on the team”, not a rival of the President in office!

 

How Death “Might” Have Affected American History! Eleven Potential “Turning Points”!

Assassinations and assassination attempts, and threats, have affected American History, as is covered in my book, “Assassinations, Threats, And The American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson To Barack Obama”, Rowman Littlefield, August 2015.

But then there are cases, not covered  in my book, of situations that could have occurred and affected American history, that have nothing to do with assassinations.

Witness the following:

In 1857, newly inaugurated President James Buchanan was extremely ill at the time of the inauguration, and almost failed to deliver his Inaugural Address, and was in bed for a few weeks after the inauguration, until he recovered.  It was believed he might have been poisoned by an unsafe water supply at the hotel he stayed at before his inauguration.  Had he died in office, Vice President John C. Breckinridge would have been President, and would have been only 36 years old, the youngest President in American history, and actually elected in November 1856, when he was still 35!

Stephen Douglas, Senator from Illinois, was the Democratic nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1860, a four way race won by Abraham Lincoln, but had Douglas won, he would have died in office three months later, two months after the Civil War had begun, transforming the whole era if that had occurred!

In 1872, Democratic and Liberal Republican Presidential nominee Horace Greeley, who lost the Presidential Election of 1872 to President Ulysses S. Grant, died three weeks after the election, and before the Electoral College met.  What if he had won the election?  It would have meant that Vice Presidential nominee, B. Gratz Brown, Governor of Missouri and, earlier, Senator from Missouri, would have been President!

President Chester Alan Arthur  (1881-1885) succeeded President James A. Garfield after his assassination in September 1881, and finished out the term, but was denied nomination for a full term in 1884, which turned out to be fortunate as Arthur died in 1886, and therefore, would have died in office!

President Grover Cleveland, in his second nonconsecutive term in the White House from 1893-1897, had serious surgery for cancer of the jaw in 1894, done in secret on a boat on the Hudson River, and kept secret until after his death in 1908.  Had he died of cancer, Vice President Adlai Stevenson, the grandfather of Democratic Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956, would have been President!

President William Howard Taft (1909-1913)  saw his Vice President, James Sherman, die in office in October 1912, shortly before the Presidential Election of 1912, which Taft lost, in the worst reelection defeat of any President in American history, winning only two states.  But when the Electoral College met, the name of Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler was substituted to count the electoral votes.  However, there was no provision for a replacement Vice President, so had Taft won, he would have had no Vice President for the entire term of 1913-1917!

President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had a severe stroke in September 1919, and never fully recovered in his last year and a half in the White House, and his wife ran cabinet meetings in his absence, but had Wilson resigned or died, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have become President!

Franklin D. Roosevelt had Henry A. Wallace, his Secretary of Agriculture, as his third term Vice President from 1941-1945, and had he not been lobbied to replace the unpopular Wallace with Harry Truman for his fourth term run for the Presidency, it would have been Wallace who would have succeeded FDR in the Presidency after 82 days of the fourth term in 1945!

FDR’s Republican opponents in the Presidential Election of 1940 were businessman Wendell Willkie for President, and Oregon Senator Charles McNary for Vice President.  Had they won the White House, the nation would have faced losing both of them in the last year of the term–McNary dying in February 1944, and Willkie in October 1944, an unprecedented situation to have had both the President and Vice President in the same term die in office!  And this would have occurred during the height of the battle to win World War II, a very dangerous time for such an occurrence!

Harry Truman’s Vice President in his full term from 1949-1953 was Alben Barkley, who wished to run for President in 1952, but was pushed aside since he was already in his 70s, and it was felt it was not a good idea to have a President of that age come to office.  It was fortunate that this happened, since Barkley died in April 1956, so would have died in office!

President Gerald Ford replaced Vice President Nelson Rockefeller as his running mate in the 1976 election for Senator Bob Dole, under pressure from conservative Republicans led by Ronald Reagan, and lost the Presidential Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter.  Had Ford kept Rockefeller on the ticket, some think he would have defeated Carter, and if that was so, then Ford would have lost his Vice President in office, as Rockefeller died in January 1979!