Persian Gulf War

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.

The Death Of The 41st President, George H. W. Bush, At Age 94

This blogger woke up this morning to the news that the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, had died last night (November 30) at age 94, and five and a half months.

He had the longest life span of any President, although former President Jimmy Carter will surpass him in age on March 22, 2019.

Bush was one of the most experienced Presidents, with a tremendous resume particularly on national security and foreign policy issues. This included being a Houston, Texas, Congressman; United Nations Ambassador; Republican National Committee Chairman; Second Chief of the Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China; Central Intelligence Agency Director; Vice President of the United States for two terms under President Ronald Reagan; and President of the United States for one term from 1989-1993.

Bush was an honorable, decent man, who knew his own shortcomings and admitted to it, but although he was the first Vice President to succeed his President by election since Martin Van Buren in 1836 after Andrew Jackson, he was unable to win a second term, losing to future President Bill Clinton, in an election which included businessman Ross Perot, who managed as an independent candidate to win 19 percent of the vote. This led to Bush having the second worst defeat for a sitting President, with 37 percent, only ahead of President William Howard Taft in 1912, gaining only 23 percent of the vote in a three way race with Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.

Bush will be best remembered for his leadership in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein; his helping to end the Cold War with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev and usher in the unification of Germany; the promotion of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada; the concept of a “Thousand Points of Light” to encourage local activism to solve problems; the signing into law of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal opportunity for those Americans with disabilities; and the appointment of two Supreme Court Justices, David Souter and Clarence Thomas.

His decision to support tax increases caused a challenge by conservatives, led by Pat Buchanan, in the primaries of 1992, which he overcame, but that plus the recession America was suffering at the time of the election, along with the challenge of not just Bill Clinton, but Ross Perot, making the campaign a three way race, led to his defeat.

Bush lived to see his son George W. Bush become President, only the second such situation, after John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and he had nearly 26 years of retirement, and the longest Presidential marriage, until his beloved wife Barbara died in April, after 73 plus years of a devoted couple, who brought up five children.

Bush is ranked near the middle of all Presidents, generally between 17 and 20, depending on the poll of 44 Presidents, with his failure to win a second term a factor in why he has not risen higher.

His impact on America, however, has been massive, and it is likely his ranking among Presidents will rise in the coming years.

America In World Affairs Since First World War Entrance 101 Years Ago!

America has been actively engaged in world affairs now for a century, finally abandoning isolationism in the first week of April 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson delivered a war message to Congress on April 2, followed by four days of heated debate, and then a declaration of war on April 6.

While America reverted to isolationism in the 1920s and 1930s, it failed, and once we entered World War II, the die was cast that we would always play a major role in world affairs, but not without controversy.

Since World War II, America has engaged in five wars–Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iraq, with none of those wars leading to victory, although at least, the boundary line in the Korean War was restored by 1953.

But we lost in Vietnam, and have not accomplished our goals in Afghanistan and Iraq, although the brief Persian Gulf War was won in six weeks, but the problem of Saddam Hussein reared its ugly head a decade later.

We have also been involved in many invasions, unofficial interventions, and many cases where we had troops without the knowledge of the American people, and often even leaders of Congress.

Secret wars have gone on and are going on right now, and under Donald Trump, we might very well end up sending troops to North Asia to fight North Korea and to the Middle East to fight Iran.

We now have the most militaristic government without any controls under Donald Trump, with his top aides now being extremely militaristic and warlike.

And war will likely reinforce the Trump supporters, and could, conceivably, cause public opinion gains that could help the Republicans keep control of Congress, and keep the White House in Republican hands in 2020!

We are at a very delicate time, with instability of our nation’s relationship with our allies around the world, and his “bromance” with Russia and Vladimir Putin, along with Trump’s “tariff wars” likely to provoke one crisis after another.

This is our situation as the 101st anniversary of our engagement in World War I is upon us three days from now!

A Sobering Centennial: America Enters “The Great War” On April 6, 1917

It has been a century since America entered world affairs in a full sense, as on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson spoke to Congress and asked for a declaration of war against the Imperial German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and allied with Great Britain, France and Italy, in what was called “The Great War” at the time, and later World War I or the First World War.

The controversy over whether Wilson could have kept us out of the war has raged for a century, and his handling of the war effort, and the promotion of restriction on civil liberties during the war has remained highly contentious, and has caused Wilson to decline from Number 6 in the C Span Presidential poll of 2000, to Number 9 in the C Span Presidential poll of 2009, and now Number 11 in the C Span Presidential poll of 2017, all participated in by reputable scholars.

American sacrifices in war had been avoided, as America remained isolated from world affairs and foreign conflict until 1917, but in the last century, we have been in many major wars since then, including World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War, along with many other foreign interventions in Latin America and the Middle East.

No one can be anything but sober to realize that when Congress voted for war on April 6, 1917, it transformed America in a permanent way, helping to create the concept of an American Empire, and America as a world leader since the end of World War II.

And now, with Donald Trump, the whole history of American foreign relations is in flux, and we face many challenges and crises in international affairs, and the hope is that we will avoid further military conflicts in the future, but hard to believe that is the scenario under Donald Trump.

PBS will have a six hour presentation on The American Experience on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings April 10, 11, and 12 on America and The Great War, our nation’s engagement in the First World War, from many different perspectives, highly recommended to all who read this blog.

April The Month For Many American Wars Beginning, And Now Likelihood Of War Against North Korea Soon

When one examines American history, if we do not count wars against native Americans; interventions in Latin America; and the Filipino Insurrection from 1899-1902, we have had 12 wars in the nation’s historical experience.

Six of those wars began in April–The Revolutionary War, the Mexican American War, the Civil War, The Spanish American War, the First World War, and the escalation of the Vietnam War.

These events took place in 1775, 1846, 1861, 1898, 1917, and 1965.

Additionally, two wars began in March–the Second World War if one counts the Lend Lease Act of 1941 as the real beginning of naval engagement before Pearl harbor in December; and the Iraq War on March 20, 2003, the 14th anniversary of that tragic war being yesterday.

And also, two wars began in June—the War of 1812 and the Korean War in 1950.

So only two wars did not begin in the Spring months from early March to late June–the Persian Gulf War in January 1991 and the Afghanistan War in October 2001.

There is something about the Spring months, and particularly April, that seems, maybe coincidentally but maybe not, to be the time for wars to commence.

Based on recent warnings from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson while on a trip to Japan South Korea, and China, war could be coming very soon against Kim Jong Un of North Korea, maybe in April or shortly after, as concern about North Korean nuclear development being a growing threat to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, as well as Hawaii, and also the threat to South Korea and Japan, is alarming.

The Young (Under 45) Challenge To “Baby Boomers” Control Over Politics! Is It For Real?

If one goes by public opinion polls and turnout at rallies, the “young”, defined as those under 45, born after 1970, are rebelling against the “establishment”, the “Baby Boomers” in this upcoming Presidential Election of 2016.

They seem to want a complete  overhaul of government, and many of them are gravitating, ironically, to the OLDEST Presidential candidate of all, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic Socialist, who has been in office for 25 years in Congress, plus eight years as Mayor of Burlington!

One would think that Sanders was an “outsider”, but he has been in government positions for more years than anyone else running, including John Kasich and Hillary Clinton!

But he is seen as a dramatic change because of his attacks on Wall Street, and his non-interventionist foreign policy, including his votes against the Persian Gulf War and Iraq War.

But the question arises whether one can be sure that the young, particularly those under 29, and even more, those who are teenagers or early 20s, can be relied on to show up in the primaries and caucuses, and actually vote in November for the change they say they want.

Many observers are skeptical, and wonder if the youngest “new” voters really even understand politics, foreign policy, and major complicated issues, or are just “along for the ride”, the excitement of being involved now, but losing interest as the months go by.

We shall see just how the young among us will transform American politics, and if it leads, somehow, to the election of a democratic Socialist President, it will be historic, even more so, than the election of the first African American President!

Wars Since 1969 All Under Republicans: Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq!

When one examines American history since the inauguration of Richard Nixon 47 years ago this coming January, one comes to the conclusion that all of our military engagements that led to combat deaths have been under Republican Presidents!

Republicans have always been willing to point out that Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson, all Democrats, led America into major wars–World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

But since Nixon became President and continued the Vietnam War for four more years, causing greater casualties than under Lyndon B. Johnson, all four wars that have been fought have been under Republican Presidents:  the Vietnam War from 1969-1973; the Persian Gulf War in 1991; the Afghanistan War begun in 2001; and the Iraq War begun in  2003.  These wars occurred under Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  The war in Iraq was continued by Democrat Barack Obama until 2011, and the Afghanistan War still continues on a smaller scale under Obama.

More Gun Deaths Since 1968 Than War Deaths In All Of American History!

The crazy lack of gun control, in the midst of the growing level of violence in America in the past half century is a sign of a massive crisis that Congress, under Republican leadership, refuses to deal with, due to the dominating influence of the National Rifle Association and its public spokesman, Wayne La Pierre, who has blood on his hands, as the NRA even opposed basic background checks, or denying people on the Transportation Security Administration Watch List for airline passengers the right to purchase firearms!

This is total insanity, particularly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in 2012; all of the mass shootings since then; and the newly fresh San Bernadino, California Massacre two days ago!

A particular statistic that is a sign of the reality of this crisis is what Hillary Clinton said yesterday, that we are losing 90 people every day to gun violence!

But also, the statistic that since 1968, nearly 1.5 million Americans have died from gun violence, while ALL war deaths in all of American history total, by comparison, only close to 1.2 million people!

So in the past 47 years, 300,000 more Americans have died than all war deaths in the American Revolution; the War of 1812; the Mexican War; the Civil War; the Spanish American War; World War I; World War II; the Korean War;  the Vietnam War; the Persian Gulf War; the Afghanistan War; and the Iraq War!

How much longer can this nation suffer under refusal to do anything to deal with this disaster, which if a health crisis due to disease, would have led to rapid federal action to resolve the issue?

What will convince Congress, and particularly the Republican Party, to react?  Will the tragedy of harm to the President, Vice President, or Presidential candidates, or any other public figures, due to lack of action and concern, even lead to changes, as we had the Brady Bill, a decade after the assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan, which was allowed to expire in 2004 by lack of action by President George W. Bush?

Will ANY tragedy lead to action?  Right now, it seems unlikely, crazy as that concept is!

25 Years Since The Middle East Crisis Which Led To Persian Gulf War Against Iraq, Led By President George H. W. Bush

It was 25 years ago this week that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, invaded Kuwait and incited US intervention by January 1991, in what became the six week Persian Gulf War.

Iraq had even been supported by the United States during the Iran Iraq War in the 1980s, but it now became the major menace of the Middle East, and forced the United States to intervene, with the backing of Saudi Arabia, which feared it would be the next victim of Iraqi aggression.

So President George H. W. Bush created a United Nations coalition, and with the assistance of General Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, James Baker, and Dick Cheney, and others, the fear that it would be a long war turned out not to be the case.

The UN went into this war, the first since the Korean War, with the understanding that the goal was to force Iraq out of Kuwait, and nothing more, so Saddam Hussein was able to remain in power, cause more trouble, and lead to another Iraq War, which would go on for many years under his son George W. Bush, and be ended under Barack Obama.

The whole mess in the Middle East became much more complex as a result of all of these circumstances, and helped, as we look back, to the rise of ISIL (ISIS), with not only the continued disarray in Iraq, but also with the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and the horrific civil war in Syria.

Despite all these circumstances, George H. W. Bush, now 91, is seen as having done the right thing a quarter century ago, and keeping the limits set up by the United Nations coalition that fought the war in true unity with the United States. It is still one of his greatest accomplishments as President.

“Surprise” Presidential Nominees, And Often Winners, In American History

As we are about to enter August, the year before the Presidential Election Of 2016, we find two “surprise” candidates doing very well, if one is to judge by crowds and public opinion polls.

Whether Donald Trump and or Bernie Sanders have a real chance to be the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties is impossible to know this far ahead.

But in American history, there have been many surprise nominees, and or winners of the Presidency.

The examples of this phenomenon follow—17 Presidents and 6 Presidential nominees in 23 Presidential elections:

In 1844, James K. Polk was nominated by the Democrats on the 9th ballot, and went on to defeat the better known and more famous Henry Clay.

In 1848, Mexican War General Zachary Taylor, with no political experience, and no stands on political issues, was nominated by the Whig Party, and elected over Lewis Cass and Free Soil Party nominee, former President Martin Van Buren.

In 1852, little known Franklin Pierce was nominated by the Democrats on the 49th ballot, and went on to defeat famous Mexican War General Winfield Scott.

In 1860, one term Congressman Abraham Lincoln, not in public office in 12 years, was the choice of the Republican Party, and defeated Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell.

In 1868, Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War Union Army hero, with no political experience, was nominated by the Republicans, and defeated Horatio Seymour.

In 1872, the Democrats and a fringe group known as the “Liberal Republicans” nominated well known journalist Horace Greeley, who had never served in public office, losing to President Grant.

In 1892, former President Grover Cleveland, who had lost reelection in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, came back and defeated Harrison, becoming the only President to win, lose, and then win, and therefore, being listed as the 22nd and 24th Presidents of the United States.

In 1896, a former Nebraska Congressman, only 36 years old, William Jennings Bryan, inspired the Democratic convention and was nominated for President, but lost to William McKinley.

In 1904, an unknown (except in New York) state court judge, Alton B. Parker, was the Democratic nominee against Theodore Roosevelt, but lost.

In 1912, President of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson, nominated on the 46th ballot by the Democrats, defeated President William Howard Taft, former President Theodore Roosevelt (running on the Progressive Party line), and Socialist Eugene Debs.

In 1920, an obscure Senator with no special accomplishments or credentials, Warren G. Harding, was nominated by the Republicans, and defeated Democratic nominee James Cox.

In 1924, the Democrats were deadlocked at their convention for 103 ballots, and finally nominated corporate attorney John W. Davis, who lost to President Calvin Coolidge and Progressive Party nominee Robert LaFollette, Sr.

In 1928, the Democrats nominated the first Catholic Presidential candidate, Alfred E. Smith, but he lost to Republican nominee Herbert Hoover.

In 1932, the Democrats nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been judged as having “no particular qualifications” for the Presidency, and he went on to defeat President Herbert Hoover.

In 1940, the Republicans nominated a businessman with no political experience, Wendell Willkie, after he inspired their convention, but he lost to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1948, President Harry Truman shocked the political world by winning a full term over Republican Thomas E. Dewey, States Rights nominee Strom Thurmond, and Progressive Party nominee, former Vice President Henry A. Wallace. He had been shown to be way behind Dewey in every political poll taken that year.

In 1952, a World War II general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, never having been involved in politics, was finally convinced to run for President, and defeated Democratic nominee Adlai E. Stevenson.

IN 1960, the second Catholic nominee for President, John F. Kennedy, was able to overcome the religion barrier, and be elected over Republican Richard Nixon, the well known and experienced Vice President under Eisenhower.

In 1968, former defeated Presidential candidate Richard Nixon came back eight years after having lost, and he won the Presidency over Hubert Humphrey and American Independent Party nominee George Wallace.

In 1976, a one term Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, considered unknown to most and given little chance for the Democratic Presidential nomination, surprised everyone and was elected over President Gerald Ford.

In 1980, an aging two time candidate for President, Ronald Reagan, ended up winning the Republican nomination, and was elected over President Carter.

In 1992, despite a sex scandal, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination, and was elected over President George H. W. Bush and Independent nominee Ross Perot, even with Bush having enjoyed a 91 percent public opinion poll rating during the Persian Gulf War 18 months earlier.

In 2008, an African American first term Senator, with an Islamic middle name of Hussein, Barack Obama, overcame former First Lady Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and defeated Republican nominee John McCain for the Presidency.

So anything can happen in 2016, with further coverage of the upcoming election being resumed when the Iowa Caucuses take place on February 1.

Until then, this blogger will focus on the promotion of his new book on Presidential Assassinations and Threats. He will give information on the interviews that he will have on radio, tv/cable, the internet, and print media, so that my readers will have an opportunity to investigate my activities over the next six months.

When he has time, he will look at American political, diplomatic and constitutional history solely, as there is much fascinating material that can and should be discussed and analyzed. It will make a look at the future much more significant, as a result of the historical analysis of the Presidency, elections, political parties, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.