Panama Canal Treaty

Is George H. W. Bush The “Best” One Term President In American History, Surpassing James K. Polk, And What About Jimmy Carter?

Now that George H. W. Bush is part of American history, the question arises whether he should be judged the “best” one term President in American history.

We have had the following 12 one term elected Presidents who finished their term, but were not given a second term:

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
James K. Polk
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Rutherford B. Hayes
Benjamin Harrison
William Howard Taft
Herbert Hoover
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush

Eight of them, all but Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, and Hayes were defeated for reelection, with those four choosing not to run, and all of these four, except Polk, very unpopular and aware that they were not wanted to be nominated for another term.

The usual viewpoint has been that James K. Polk, with the acquisition of the American Southwest by war with Mexico, and acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by the Oregon treaty with Great Britain, was the most successful one term President. Labeled an expansionist and an imperialist by many, the fact that he presided over the greatest expansion of US territory since Thomas Jefferson, has helped him to be regarded by scholars as a “successful” President, rated 12 to 14 in scholarly polls.

Now, some are saying that George H. W. Bush may be greater than Polk, due to his foreign policy accomplishments in particular, including the end of the Cold War, the unification of Germany, and the Persian Gulf War, along with his domestic policies of “A Thousand Points Of Light”, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Some on this list, including Van Buren, Pierce, Buchanan, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, Taft, and Hoover are seen in a poor light, while J. Q. Adams is seen as not having succeeded in his one term, although a great man, and his father, John Adams, criticized for the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, curbing civil liberties during his term.

The only other one term President who could be seen as competing would be Jimmy Carter, with his Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, the Panama Canal Treaty, his Human Rights advocacy, his creation of new cabinet agencies (Departments of Education, Health And Human Services, Energy), and his exceptional record on the environment, but his negatives, including high inflation, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Cuban Mariel Boat Lift all help to undermine his case.

So, one could argue that Polk and Bush may be competitive as the “best” one term elected President, without a clear cut answer to the question of who was the better President.

It might be best to say that Polk was the best 19th century one term elected President, while Bush was the best 20th century one term elected President, with Jimmy Carter as the runner up in that regard.

Respect And Applause On Jimmy Carter’s 94th Birthday: A Treasure For The Nation

Former President Jimmy Carter has reached his 94th birthday today, and that is an event which should engender respect and applause, that we have been graced with his long life, only matched by former President George H. W. Bush on June 12 of this year.

Jimmy Carter has been out of office nearly 38 years, an all time record, and his Vice President, Walter Mondale, is still doing well as he nears 91 in early January.

Carter’s Presidency was controversial, due to the Iran Hostage Crisis; high inflation after the second Arab oil embargo of 1978-1979; and the Cuban Mariel Boatlift to Miami, Florida.

But Carter will always be remembered for the 40 year success of the Camp David Accords, the agreement of Israel and Egypt, to establish diplomatic relations, the first such agreement between any Arab nation and the Jewish state.

Carter is also remembered for the Panama Canal Treaty; the establishment of diplomatic relations with China; his promotion of Human Rights; his establishment of three new cabinet agencies (Education, Health and Human Services, Energy); and his great promotion of environmental protection, making him the third most accomplished in that field, after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and more recently challenged by Barack Obama.

He and his wife, Rosalyn, are on the road to being the longest Presidential marriage about a year from now, when they would surpass the length of marriage of George H. W. and his wife Barbara Bush. By that time a year from now, the Carters would be 95 and 91 years of age.

Let us hope that the Carters and Walter Mondale continue to live on, and grace us by their presence.

Jimmy Carter: The Most Underrated, Unappreciated President Since World War II!

Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary today, a year and a half shorter in duration then George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s marriage, the two longest in Presidential history!

Both George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have reached the magic age of 90, with Bush 91 on June 8, and Carter to be 91 on October 1.

It is a blessing that both are still with us, but it would seem as if Jimmy Carter is likely to outlive Bush, based on health conditions right now.

Bush is being, properly, appreciated in his 90s, but Carter remains the most underrated, unappreciated President since World War II.

The critics, mostly Republicans, conservatives, and right wing supporters of Israel’s often extremist government, are always on the attack, and this blogger has heard from audience members when he gives lectures, that Jimmy Carter is an anti Semite, which is farthest from the truth!

Jimmy Carter could be said to be anti Israel’s government, when it has been right wing extremist, as for instance, it is now under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But people forget how he managed to bring about the only enduring moment in the Middle East since World War II–the Camp David Accords—which brought together former warriors and enemies, Anwar Sadat of Eyypt and Menachim Begin of Israel, despite their being far apart on the issues of Middle East peace.

This is the most impressive and enduring moment of the Carter Presidency, and is not fully appreciated for what it was and is, even today! And Carter is most certainly NOT an anti Semite, and there are many Jews in America who are not pro Israel automatically when the government there is right wing extremist as it is now!

Carter also brought about the Panama Canal Treaty, an historic event; promoted Human Rights, a fundamental principle of this man of high morality, who would eventually win the Nobel Peace Prize; and worked to free the hostages in Iran peacefully, as frustrating as that was, rather than bomb Iran and see all 52 Americans killed in response, the likely result had he gone “hawkish”.

If the attempted rescue in April 1980 had worked out, it is likely that Jimmy Carter would have had a second term, and Ronald Reagan would be a footnote in history!

Carter also became the third best environmental President in American history, after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon; promoted free elections, human rights, democracy all over the world through the Carter Center; condemned violence against women and mistreatment of the poor around the world; emphasized the spreading of health care and education to the deprived parts of the world; and even condemned the most extreme right elements of his own Baptist faith.

He became the most activist former President in American history, and has survived longer after his time in office than any President, now going on 34.5 years on July 20. And his Vice President, Walter Mondale, survives at 87.5 years of age, making them the longest lasting Presidential-Vice Presidential team ever in American history!

Jimmy Carter is not perfect, in or out of office, but he is a very decent man, well meaning, brilliant in intellect, and the author of 27 books, including his new book, released today, entitled: “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety”, a worthwhile read!

It is clear that only when he passes from the scene, like Harry Truman, will he come to be appreciated for the great man and human being he is, always trying to do his best, but humble enough to be willing to concede his shortcomings, much of which he expresses in this new book!

Statesman Jimmy Carter Reaches Age 90, Fourth President In A Row To Reach That Magical Age!

Today, October 1, is the 90th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), making him one of four Presidents in a row to reach that magical age.

Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush all reached the age of 90, Bush just this past June, and Ford and Reagan dying at age 93, with Ford being six weeks older than Reagan.

Now six Presidents, including John Adams and Herbert Hoover, have reached that age, and it is clear that modern medicine and sanitation have helped the Presidents in office from August 1974 to January 1993 to have accomplished this massive achievement!

Carter also has set an ongoing record of nearly 34 years out of office, and shares that with his Vice President, Walter Mondale, as the longest surviving team in the White House in American history!

Carter has long been vilified, and called a “failure”, “the worst President of modern times”, and other insulting terms by people who are ignorant, lacking in knowledge of what makes a President significant.

No one is going to assert that Carter was a highly successful President in the top ten or fifteen, and the fact that he was soundly defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980, harms his historical reputation, as Presidents who lose reelection never stand high in polls of Presidents in history.

But this man was decent and honest, humble and sincere, and accomplished the following:

The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the most outstanding accomplishment in Middle East diplomacy of any President before or since.

The negotiated return of the Panama Canal, to its rightful owners, the nation of Panama, righting the wrong done by Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The strong principle of human rights as an important goal in American diplomacy.

The third best record of any President on environmental reform, and creation of public lands, only behind Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and more amazing, since Carter only had one term in the White House.

The establishment of the Health and Human Services Department, the Education Department, and the Energy Department, all added to the President’s cabinet.

Out of office, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, for his human rights record; his promotion of fair elections around the world and the advancement of health care and education through his Carter Center; and his building of housing using his own and his wife Rosalynn’s hands, as part of Habitat For Humanity.

He also wrote 28 books, making him the most prolific President of modern times, and competing with Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon for his extensive writings.

Jimmy Carter set a new standard for former Presidents giving their service to the nation, as Bill Clinton has done, and Carter is often called the best former President of the United States for his contributions in the 34 years since he left office.

Jimmy Carter had obvious shortcomings, but he has lived long enough to be regarded as a statesman, and be given the respect he deserves!

So Happy 90th Birthday, Mr. President!

What The Right Wing Was Wrong About In History

The Right Wing has been proved once again to be wrong, this time on Cliven Bundy, the anarchist in Nevada who refuses to pay his taxes, disobeys the Bureau of Land Management, and says he does not recognize the authority of the federal government.

This is NOT the first time the Right Wing has been wrong!

Consider the following:

Wrong on the threat of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in the 1930s
Wrong in their opposition to Social Security in the 1930s
Wrong in their condemnation of federal spending during the New Deal
Wrong in their glorification of Chiang Kai Shek as Chinese Leader in the 1940s through 1970s
Wrong in their support of racial segregation in the era of civil rights
Wrong in their belief of the detrimental effect of the 1960s on America
Wrong in their opposition to Medicare in the 1960s
Wrong in their blaming of the Left for the loss in the Vietnam War
Wrong in their demonization of Jimmy Carter’s Presidency
Wrong in their opposition to the Panama Canal Treaty because of fear of danger to American security
Wrong in their glorification of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency
Wrong in their demonization of Bill Clinton’s Presidency
Wrong in their support of the Religious Right evangelical Christianity in American politics
Wrong in their promotion of racist politicians even in recent times
Wrong in their attack on the environmental movement and climate change
Wrong in their promotion of denial of human rights and equality to gay Americans
Wrong in their demonization of Barack Obama’s Presidency

Is this enough of a list?

America’s Underappreciated Presidents—James K. Polk, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush

With Presidents Day celebrated on Monday, this is a good time to reflect on which Presidents are underappreciated for their contributions in the White House.

Five Presidents, four of them having only one term, and three of them soundly defeated for reelection, are often overlooked in an unfair manner.

These five underappreciated Presidents are as follows, chronologically:

James K. Polk (1845-1849), Democrat—-who did not wish a second term in office, died only three months after his term of office, but accomplished more than any President, regarding expansion of the nation, as he negotiated the gaining of the Pacific Northwest with Great Britain, and went to war with Mexico to gain the Southwestern United States. Because of Polk, highly controversial due to his manipulation of conditions setting up war with Mexico, and often criticized as an “imperialist”, we gained more land than any other President, including Thomas Jefferson with his Louisiana Purchase.

Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897), Democrat—-the only two term non consecutive terms President, although winning the popular vote three consecutive times, Cleveland accomplished the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act, promoted civil service reform, and became regarded as a man of strong principles, including refusing to take over Hawaii, after a treaty was negotiated by the previous President, Benjamin Harrison. A rare President on the concept of opposing the addition of territory to the United States, he refused to go to war with Spain over the issue of Cuba in his second term, and opposed the Spanish American War and the Filipino Insurrection intervention under William McKinley, standing out as a leading anti imperialist.

William Howard Taft (1909-1913), Republican—-was unfortunate in coming in between two very charismatic Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, both of whom would end up ranked in the top ten of all Presidents, in most polls of experts on the Presidency. Taft also was the worst defeated President running for reelection, competing against both TR and Wilson, and ended up third, rather than second in defeat, and winning only 23 percent of the vote, two states, and eight electoral votes. But he deserved better, and did have the distinction of becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1920s, where he was much happier. But Taft actually signed a highly successful regulation of the railroads, the Mann Elkins Act of 1910; won lawsuits causing the breakup of the monopolies of Standard Oil, United States Steel, and International Harvester; and supported two constitutional amendments, the 16th (Federal Income Tax) Amendment, and the 17th (Direct Election of United States Senators) Amendment.

Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Democrat—served one divisive term, defeated for reelection by Ronald Reagan, due to the Iran Hostage Crisis, high inflation and unemployment, and the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, and faced primary challenges from Ted Kennedy and Jerry Brown. But he accomplished the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt; the Panama Canal Treaty; the promotion of the principle of human rights in foreign policy; the advancement of the environment, making him the third best President on that issue; and creation of three cabinet agencies–Health and Human Services, Education, and Energy. And his post Presidency, now the longest in American history, has been a model for Bill Clinton’s post Presidency, and Carter continues to promote human rights and economic and social reform nationally and world wide, and is often considered the best former President of the United States in American history.

George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), Republican—the second worst defeated President in American history, despite having led the coalition which forced Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, lessening a threat to the Middle East oil supply and the government of Saudi Arabia, in the Persian Gulf War of 1991; being the President under whom the Cold War came to an end in a stable manner in 1991; managing the unification of Germany between 1989 and 1990 in a skillful manner; and promoting the passage of civil rights law for the disabled population of America, a major reform in American history. Bush was always considered a master in the field of foreign policy, and for years after, had an impact on policy making through his significant staff members, who continued to have an impact.

All five Presidents deserve a better coverage and appreciation, despite the fact that each could be roundly criticized for events that would cause them to be overlooked as outstanding Presidents. Presidents Day is an appropriate time to do so!

88th Birthday Of President Jimmy Carter: Time For Republican Party To Stop Trashing Him!

President Jimmy Carter reached his 88th birthday today, making him the seventh American President to reach that ripe old age!

Only George H. W. Bush, who reached the same age on June 12; Harry Truman who lived to 88 years and almost eight months; Herbert Hoover and John Adams, who lived to 90; and Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, who reached 93, with Ford outliving Reagan by six weeks, have had longer life spans.

Jimmy Carter reaches 88 in the best physical and mental condition of any President who has reached that age, as all the others were declining noticeably, and even Bush has shown signs of wear and tear far greater than Carter.

Carter, and his wife Rosalynn, still travel the world promoting free elections, democracy, fighting hunger, and promoting the struggle against poverty and disease through the Carter Center and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta. He also gained prestige by winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his works.

Carter has become, without question, the most active and involved President in his post Presidential career, and has often been called the “best” former President of the United States.

Despite all this, Carter has been the butt of attacks and vicious denunciations by conservatives and Republicans for his “failings” while in office from 1977-1981, and the fact that he is now 88, and out of office nearly 32 years, has not slowed up the nasty treatment.

The Democrats denounced Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression for a long time, but in his last years, a truce was declared, as the thought was that it was time to stop the attacks as unseemly on an old man who, despite his shortcomings, had made some notable contributions while President and after.

So in the spirit of fairness, it is time for the Republicans and conservatives to stop using Jimmy Carter as a political football, show some respect and deference, and give him the recognition that he deserves for his true accomplishments in office, including:

The Egyptian Israeli Peace Treaty
The Panama Canal Treaty
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty Two With the Soviet Union
Promotion of Human Rights
Advocacy of the Environment, making him the third best on that after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon
Creation of the Department of Education and Department of Energy Cabinet posts
Promotion of a national energy policy which was ignored by his successor, Ronald Reagan
Granting of real authority and influence to his Vice President, Walter Mondale, making it a powerful office
Promotion of civil rights advancements
Healing the Vietnam War divisions by giving amnesty to draft evaders who had fled to Canada during the war

Happy Birthday, President Carter, and many more healthful years to you and your wife!

In Defense Of Jimmy Carter In The Controversy Over Osama Bin Laden

With the debate over the question of whether President Barack Obama should be able to take credit for the death of Osama Bin Laden and use it in the upcoming campaign, we have heard the name “Jimmy Carter” constantly brought up in a derisive manner by Mitt Romney, John McCain and other Republicans, and it makes one want to scream!

Jimmy Carter is very proud of the fact that we did not go to war in his administration; that he helped to negotiate a long lasting agreement, the Camp David Accords, between Egypt and Israel; that he successfully negotiated an agreement to give back the Panama Canal to that nation’s control; promoted human rights, setting a standard principle which has been utilized as a principle of American foreign policy since; and had the courage to take strong action to try and rescue American hostages in Iran, the failed mission occurring in April 1980.

Yes, the rescue mission failed, but Carter could take the credit for the fact that all of the hostages came home, upon the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. The problem was that all of the good that Carter did in foreign policy, as well as domestic policy, was overshadowed by the Iran crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the economic recession that occurred, including an oil embargo that raised gasoline prices.

Carter was the victim of circumstance, but deserves much better treatment and respect, as the only other President so attacked on a regular basis after his Presidency as incompetent, who was Herbert Hoover.

It is ironic that these two Presidents, educated as engineers, both brilliant in intellect, both one term Presidents soundly defeated for re-election, ended up having longer retirements than any other President, with Hoover’s thirty one and a half years in retirement to be passed by Carter on September 8, 2012, just four months from now.

Hopefully, when he reaches that milestone in September, we will see the country celebrate Carter’s longevity, and celebrate his contributions to the country, instead of constant ridicule and disrespect.

But, if anything, Carter’s failure to rescue the hostages probably led to his defeat in 1980 by Ronald Reagan, and that makes Barack Obama’s gamble on Osama Bin Laden, and his courage and decisiveness in the matter, even more impressive, and means everyone should be willing to applaud Obama, and give him the right to use it as an issue in the Presidential Election of 2012!

One can be sure a Republican President would use it as a campaign issue, and we all know that George W. Bush politicized the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to his political advantage!

The 87th Birthday of Jimmy Carter: A Look Back At His Much Maligned Presidency!

Today is the 87th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter, and it is proper to send good wishes to him!

By reaching the age of 87, and in good health, Carter becomes the seventh President to reach that advanced age, with former President George H. W. Bush having reached that pinnacle on June 12 of this year.

Other than the first Bush, only Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan (both 93), John Adams and Herbert Hoover (both 90) and Harry Truman (88) have lived longer.

Jimmy Carter has also had a longer retirement after his Presidency than anyone except Herbert Hoover, and will pass him in longevity in retirement in less than a year, on September 8, 2012.

Jimmy Carter has been much ridiculed, lambasted, and condemned by his critics, and this post is not an attempt to deny the weaknesses and mistakes of his Presidency. Carter has learned how to accept the reality that he is shown little respect for his virtues and accomplishments, with a lot of it due to his defeat for reelection in 1980 by the charismatic Ronald Reagan, who is often now seen as a deity in many circles. There is the reality that IF a President loses reelection, his reputation in history suffers dramatically, no matter what he had achieved in office.

But while there is much controversy over Carter’s Presidency, on his birthday, it is worth it to point out his major successes in office.

1. Carter was able to negotiate the impossible–an agreement between Egypt and Israel, the Camp David Accords, which brought peace, recognition, and security for Israel for the past third of a century.

2. Carter also negotiated the Panama Canal Treaty, much berated at the time, and causing loss of seats for the Democrats and assisting the conservative takeover, but in retrospect, one realizes that the treaty was not harmful and against our national security, but actually helped to improve relations with Latin America, and is now seen as non controversial a third of a century later.

3. Carter’s promotion of human rights as a major foreign policy goal was ridiculed by conservatives and Ronald Reagan, but later it turned out that future Presidents, all of them, utilized the concept in some form as part of their foreign policy goals.

4. Carter made us aware of the energy crisis, and the need to expand energy resources beyond oil, and while it has not been pursued as he emphasized by later Presidents, it is clear that Carter was correct in his emphasis on alternative sources of energy being essential for America’s future.

5. Jimmy Carter had the best one term environmental record of any President, greatly expanding national parks and forest land, and focusing on the environment as an issue in a very admirable manner.

6. Carter appointed more minorities to appointed positions than any President before him, and fully backed affirmative action, which became a controversy during his Presidency due to the Bakke case.

7. Three new cabinet agencies were started during his Presidency, although now under attack by conservatives in 2011–Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Energy.

8. Carter presided over the smallest increase in the national debt during his administration, attempting to have very tightly negotiated budgets, although all were with deficits.

9. Carter issued an executive order on his first day in office, granting amnesty to Vietnam draft evaders, which however caused a rift with military supporters who opposed this courageous act.

10. Carter negotiated the SALT 2 (Strategic Arms Limitation) Treaty with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, which was never ratified by the US Senate because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but its details were obeyed by both sides despite the rejection of the agreement in the Senate.

It would be easy to list the faults and shortcomings of Jimmy Carter, and as the years go by, and eventually Carter passes from the scene, there will be much more research done on him and his Presidency. When that happens, it is likely that a reassessment of Carter in a much more sympathetic manner, will occur.

For now, Mr. President, Happy Birthday and many more!

The Change In The Democratic Party Image On Foreign Policy: From JFK To Obama

Ever since the failure of John F. Kennedy to overthrow Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April, 1961, Democratic Presidents have had to carry the burden of being perceived as weak and ineffective in foreign policy.

Of course, this is not totally the truth as John F. Kennedy negotiated very skillfully through the Cuban Missile Crisis a year after the Bay of Pigs, but the concept stuck to the party image.

In so many cases, it proved to be true in many people’s minds.

Lyndon Johnson escalated our involvement in Vietnam, and could not resolve the conflict in a satisfactory manner, and was forced out of the race for the Presidency in 1968 as a result.

Jimmy Carter was unable to accomplish the goal of rescuing the 52 hostages being held in Iran after the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. and the humiliation of those hostages being held for 444 days still rankles many Americans.

Carter’s inability to stop Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, and the problems involved in the Cuban wave of immigrants to Florida, known as the Mariel Boat Lift, also doomed his image.

Bill Clinton’s constant threats to intervene in Bosnia with air power, a total of eleven threats, before actual intervention in a successful way, also doomed him as being perceived as weak and ineffective.

The fact that JFK not only handled the Cuban Missile Crisis expertly, but also brought about the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, is forgotten.

The fact that Carter brought about the Panama Canal Treaty and the Egyptian Israeli Camp David Accords is forgotten.

The fact that Bill Clinton brought about the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the fighting in Bosnia; the successful intervention in Kosovo by NATO; and the peace arrangement in Northern Ireland is also forgotten.

And, of course, the fact that Barack Obama overcame the Somali Pirates seizure of a merchant ship in 2009 is also forgotten, conveniently.

But now, with the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the gathering of much evidence that should help the apprehending of more Al Qaeda terrorist operatives, suddenly the reputation of Democratic Presidents may be undergoing a renaissance!

It will be very difficult for the Republican Party to sully the reputation of Barack Obama, as they have been doing for the past two plus years, as a result of this gutsy, courageous, daring decision by Obama to take a chance, realizing it could have been total failure, but demonstrating resolve and commitment to the principle of fighting terrorism wherever it is!

So from April 17, 1961 to the first day of May 2011, exactly fifty years and two weeks apart, the image of the Democrats has now been transformed for the good of the future of the “party of the people”!