President Pro Tempore Of The Senate

Is Presidential Race Of 2020 Beginning Early? Rumors About Mitt Romney And Joe Biden Emerge

Hard to believe, but on the 13 month anniversary today of Donald Trump’s inauguration, rumors and gossip are spreading about the Presidential race of 2020 beginning early.

Early speculation talks about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, now running for the open Senate seat in Utah, being vacated by Senator Orrin Hatch, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, leaving after 7 terms and 42 years of service. Rumors have it that Romney is positioning himself for another Presidential run against Donald Trump or if he leaves office, Vice President Mike Pence, in two years.

Of course, Romney denies such rumors, but it is said that many mainstream conservatives want Romney to run, and possibly Trump realizes that potential, as he has now come to endorse Romney for the Senate, after having encouraged Hatch not to retire,

Romney is well known for his bitter denunciation of Trump’s candidacy in 2016, and then being manipulated by Trump for the possible post of Secretary of State, but passing him by for that position, so this will be something to watch, if Romney decides to challenge Trump or Pence.

Also, former Vice President Joe Biden, ahead in early polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination, over both Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Oprah Winfrey, is making clear through friends that he is seriously considering another run for President, as he is well aware that many have said had he run in 2016, and been the Democratic Presidential nominee, that he would have won the working class white vote in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and defeated Trump. Of course, the tragic death of son Beau Biden prevented that, and is seen by many as a tragic turning point in American history.

Realize, however, that were Romney and Biden to be their party nominees, we would have a candidate who would reach 74 after two months in office (Romney), and a candidate who would reach 78 two weeks after the election in 2020.

Either would be the oldest Presidential first term winner in American history, and once again, despite loyalty of many to both Romney and Biden, as being “Presidential”, one has to wonder if younger voters would be turned off by two “Grandpa” candidates, rather than moving toward supporting nominees in their 40s, 50, or early 60s, as preferable.

There is a long list of such potential nominees, and this will all be explored over time, but for now, the “Old Guard” is in the forefront of speculation.

Speaker Paul Ryan Totally Out Of Line In Demanding That Hillary Clinton Be Denied Access To Intelligence Information As Nominee!

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is totally out of line in demanding that Hillary Clinton be denied access to intelligence information as the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, due to the controversy over Emails, and the FBI director’s criticism of her handling of the matter, while not recommending prosecution.

If that is to occur, then Republican nominee Donald Trump, a dangerous, reckless, “loose cannon” must also be denied access, as he is unable to control his mouth, and might reveal highly sensitive information during the campaign.

It is not Paul Ryan’s place as second in line to the Presidency to intervene and get involved in this controversy, and it makes one wonder how Ryan, if he remains Speaker, and Hillary Clinton, would be able to work together and cooperate next year, if Clinton wins the White House.

Some have thought that Ryan would love to cause a coup and become President himself, as he has done a horrible job as Speaker, and this blogger was highly critical of him when he was Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate in the 2012 Presidential election.

Ryan is totally untrustworthy, and is a good reason to wish that the old Presidential Succession Act of 1886, replaced by the present one in 1947, could be revived. The cabinet members should follow the Vice President in the order of succession, not the three out of four years opposition party Speaker and President Pro Tempore of the Senate being ahead of the cabinet officers in the line of succession, in case of an emergency.

Two Speakers Of The House Who Could Have Become President Due To Presidential Assassination Issues

In 1947, the Presidential Succession Act was changed from cabinet members to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate being right behind the Vice President of the United States.

Since then, as a result of the change of the law, there have been two circumstances involving Presidential assassinations and threats, which provided for the possibility of the Speaker of the House of Representatives becoming President.

The first was Republican Speaker Joseph W. Martin, Jr of Massachusetts in late 1947.  The Zionist Stern Gang group, terrorists fighting for the creation of an Israeli nation, had been engaged in violence and assassinations against the British and their control of Palestine.

Margaret Truman, the President’s daughter, claimed her father, President Harry Truman, was threatened with death by letter bombs sent by the Stern Gang to Washington, DC, which were intercepted without harm by the Postal Service, with the assistance of the Secret Service.  Had Truman been harmed, however, we would have a switch of parties in the White House, and the second Speaker to become President, with the first being President James K. Polk in the Presidential Election of 1844.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963,  Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had suffered a massive heart attack in 1955, became President, and had he died in office over the next 14 months, Democratic Speaker of the House John W. McCormack of Massachusetts, who was 73 years old, would have become President.

A Secret Service revelation in recent years was that President Johnson was in danger of being shot by an agent overnight after the Kennedy assassination, when he walked out of his home after midnight, leading to an agent, who thought there was an intruder on the property, to withdraw his firearm and aim it until he realized it was the President.  The story is that Johnson backed up in shock, but imagine if he had been killed about ten hours after becoming President!  And then we would have had the oldest President in American history, Speaker McCormack, an unwilling heir apparent!

These incidents make one wish that the Presidential Succession Act  be returned to the 1886 law, making the cabinet members of the President, starting with the Secretary of State, next in line after the Vice President.  But that is unlikely to happen, particularly while the Republican Party controls Congress!

The Dire Need For A Change In The Presidential Succession Act Of 1947

In 1947, the new Republican controlled 80th Congress, the first Congress to have both houses being Republican controlled since 1928, acted in revenge against the memory of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt by changing the Presidential Succession Act of 1886.

That law in 1886 made the succession to the Presidency to be the cabinet officers after the Vice President, including in order, the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Interior. The original law in 1792 made the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House next in line before the cabinet members, and after the Vice President.

This was changed to the present situation in 1947, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and then the President Pro Tempore of the Senate would succeed after the Vice President and before the cabinet officers.

This has  led to people in the line of succession who, much of the time, have been the opposition party to the President, as in 1947-1949 under President Harry Truman; 1955-1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower; 1969-1974 under President Richard Nixon; 1974-1977 under President Gerald Ford; 1981-1987 in the House under President Ronald Reagan; 1987-1989 under President Ronald Reagan; 1989-1993 under President George H. W. Bush; 1995-2001 under President Bill Clinton; 2001-2003 in the Senate under President George W. Bush; 2007-2009 under President George W. Bush; and 2011-2017 under President Barack Obama.

This is not proper, to have the opposition party have the potential to take over the Presidency through having a Speaker of the House and/or a President Pro Tempore of the Senate of their party, rather than having the continuity of the administration though the cabinet members chosen by the President.

So 44 years between 1947 and 2017, out of a total number of 70 years, or just about two thirds of the time, the opposition party has been two heartbeats away from the Presidency, undermining continuity of government.

Also, just because someone is Speaker of the House (elected by one Congressional district) or President Pro Tempore of the Senate ( an often very old person in that position, elected from one state, who has longevity of service) does not make such a person qualified to be President, as much as a Secretary of State, Treasury, etc does!

So while it is unlikely to happen anytime soon, there really is a need to change the Presidential Succession Act back to the one passed and in effect from 1886-1947!

A Proposal To Change Presidential Succession Law Back To Before 1947 Revision

It is clear, to anyone who really analyzes the situation, that the Presidential Succession Law of 1947 needs to be rolled back to what it was between 1886-1947.

The earlier succession law provided that the President’s cabinet members, starting with the Secretary of State, would follow the Vice President in the line of Presidential succession.

The 1947 law changed that to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate as ahead of the cabinet members.

That has been a mistake, as it has caused those two office holders often to be from the opposition party, as under Harry Truman 1947-1949; Dwight D. Eisenhower 1955-1961; Richard Nixon 1969-1974; Gerald Ford 1974-1977; Ronald Reagan 1987-1989 and also for the Speaker from 1981-1987; George H. W. Bush 1989-1993; Bill Clinton 1995-2001; George W.Bush 2001-2003 for the President Pro Tempore, and 2007-2009; and Barack Obama 2011-2017.

That is 38 years out of 70, and also six years for the Speaker and two years for the President Pro Tempore in addition, for a grand total of 46 of 70 years, two thirds of the time.

This has helped to promote stalemate and gridlock much too often, and has led to lack of continuity fear if a President had left office.

Luckily, that only happened twice in the first 27 years, and now it is 41 years since the last President left office early, a trend that is defying American history for turnover of the Presidency during a term, which happened seven times between 1841 and 1945!

The Secretaries of State have often been major figures, and since foreign policy is so crucial now, more than ever, the need for a Secretary of State to be second in line to be President, and a Secretary of the Treasury to be third in line, outweighs the idea of an often mediocre Congressman and a overly aged US Senator being next in line instead! And the importance of party loyalty and support of the President in office also is a major factor.

Presidential Succession Law Of 1886-1947 Needs To Be Renewed!

In 1947, the Republican controlled 80th Congress, in a fit of partisanship and anti FDR sentiment, changed the Presidential Succession Law of 1886, enacted during the first term of President Grover Cleveland.

That law made the succession for the Presidency beyond the Vice President to be as follows: Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, Attorney General, and then other cabinet agencies, including Interior and Agriculture.

That law made sense, as it meant that in case of tragedy hitting the President and Vice President, that members of  that President’s cabinet, people loyal to him, knowledgeable in  foreign and defense policies, and domestic policies, would be next in  line, in case of an emergency.

But the Republicans after World War II were furious that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected four times, so not only added the 22nd Amendment, limiting any future President to two elected term, or a maximum of ten years if he succeeded during a term, but also decided to make the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate second and third in line behind the Vice President.  That, of course, meant, that if anything had happened to President Harry Truman, and with no Vice President for the remainder of that term of office, that Speaker Joseph Martin, a Republican, would have succeeded him.

The idea of having the opposition party gain the Presidency during a term due to a tragedy was not based on what was good for the nation, but pure partisanship by the GOP.

But now, the extremism in the GOP, including the Tea Party Movement right wing whackos, makes the idea of John Boehner, or some other Republican gaining power of the executive branch under a Democratic administration totally reprehensible, as that would mean a dramatic turn to the far Right, although the people voted in a Democratic administration.  Also, the President pro tempore of the Senate, a position which is honorary based on seniority in the majority party in the Senate, brings the danger, not only of partisanship, but also the reality of a very old Senator, unfit to serve, being third in line for the Presidency, and at the time of Truman, second in line to be President!

That is why there is a need to repeal the 1947 law and return to the 1886 law, which makes the most sense, as the Speaker of the House, while elected, is only chosen by one Congressional district out of 435, and is therefore NOT representative of the nation, as much as a cabinet member, selected by the President but subject to Senate confirmation, is representative of the policies and ideals of the elected President!

The likelihood of this happening short term is near zero, but it is worthy of consideration for the near future!

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!

Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye Dies After 50 Years Service, Age 88

The second longest serving United States Senator in all of American history, Hawaii Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, died this afternoon at age 88, after 50 years of service.

Only West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd served longer, a total of 52 years, with South Carolina Republican Senator Strom Thurmond serving about 48 years, but less than Inouye, and Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy serving 47 plus years before his death.

Inouye is easily the most famous Japanese American politician in American history, and was injured fighting in Italy in World War II, at a time when Japanese Americans were being interned in prison camps because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He lost an arm to the war, but was always proud of his service in units that won more medals, honors and awards than any others in the Second World War. Inouye won the Medal of Honor for his service.

He is the most important person in promotion of the University of Hawaii, and of the cause of veterans, both disabled and otherwise.

As the senior member of the Senate in the past few years, Inouye served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, which put him third in line to be President, behind the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

A man of courage and strong principles, Inouye will be remembered as a Senator who made a real difference!

He served as Hawaii’s first Congressman beginning in 1959, and came to the Senate in 1962 at the same time Ted Kennedy came to the upper chamber.

Inouye served on the Watergate and Iran Contra committees, and was long time chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He did a great deal to bring federal aid to Hawaii, and to promote the advancement of native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, and native Americans, and was a major promoter of transportation projects and of education. There was never a better advocate of the Hawaiian Islands than him.

May he rest in peace, having done a great job serving his constituents!