Presidential Longevity

Gerald Ford, The Right Person To Succeed Richard Nixon, But Is Mike Pence The Right Person To Succeed Donald Trump? NO!

On this day in 1974, the nation was fortunate that Richard Nixon resigned, and Gerald Ford became President of the United States.

We needed someone like Gerald Ford to heal the nation after the Watergate Scandal, and Ford fit the situation very well.

A respectable member of the House of Representatives for 25 years, House Minority Leader for the last nine of those years, and Vice President by appointment for eight months under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, we were fortunate that he was next in line for the Presidency, instead of corrupt Vice President Spiro Agnew, who would have been a disaster in the Presidency, dividing the nation even more than Richard Nixon.

Ford was controversial for pardoning Nixon one month into his Presidency, and it helped to cause his defeat, along with the strong right wing conservative challenge of former California Governor Ronald Reagan, but he had the right personality and instincts, and as a moderate conservative, was able to work with both parties, considering that the opposition Democrats controlled both houses.

Ford was an honest, decent man, and his wife Betty was arguably the most accessible and decent modern Republican First Lady, sharing her private turmoil with alcohol and breast cancer with the nation.

Gerald Ford lost a very close race to Jimmy Carter in 1976, so was the fifth Vice President not to be elected President, the first since Chester Alan Arthur in 1884, but he came to be admired and loved as he aged, and he ended up as the longest living President, when he died at age 93 years and 165 days on December 26, 2006, the same day of the year as Harry Truman died in 1972.

The longevity of Ford will be surpassed by George H. W. Bush if he lives to November 25, just three and a half months from now, and Jimmy Carter will pass Ford’s age on March 15, 2018, although if Bush continues to be alive, it will not break the record of longevity.

Now, however, Mike Pence would be the successor if Donald Trump is impeached and removed, or resigns from office, but Mike Pence is no Gerald Ford. Pence is much more extreme right wing conservative, unlike Ford, and is a religious extremist, promoting church and state combination in government, which is against the spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The policies and programs under Pence, while certainly likely to be somewhat different than Trump, would be dramatically different from those of Gerald Ford.

So one could wish that Gerald Ford could come back from the dead to be available to succeed Donald Trump, but sadly we are going to have to live with a President Pence at some point in the near future.

We can wish him luck, but be prepared to oppose him vigorously in the promotion of his right wing agenda, with less chaos, anarchy, and craziness, but still out of the mainstream of the American people and what they want the policies of our government to be in the future.

George H. W. Bush 93 Years Old Today, Third President To Reach 93, After Ronald Reagan And Gerald Ford!

President George H. W. Bush is 93 years old today, making him the third President to reach that age, after Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

Ford has the record of longevity, 93 years and 165 days; and Reagan had 93 years and 120 days, so Ford outlasted Reagan by 45 days.

If Bush is still alive on November 25 of this year, he will surpass the Ford longevity record.

On October 1, Jimmy Carter will be 93 years old, and if he survives to March 16 of 2018, he will surpass Ford’s longevity as well.

So we have had three Presidents in office since 1974 who have reached 93, and all four Presidents from 1974 to the beginning of 1993 will have reached that age in the next three and a half months.

That is an amazing record, and only two other Presidents reached the age of 90–John Adams at 90 and 7 months and Herbert Hoover at 90 years and 2 months.

What America Is Losing In 13 Days: The Best, Most Elegant, Most Dignified POTUS And FLOTUS In Modern Times!

In just 13 days, America is losing its best, most elegant, most dignified President of the United States and First Lady of the United States in modern times!

This is not to attack the Presidents and First Ladies who came before Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, as many of them had talents and abilities worthy of commendation, and many contributed in a good way to the nation.

But really, the Obamas are the most glorious couple in the White House since the Kennedys (John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy) in the early 1960s.

There were many times when one had to wonder whether Barack Obama would survive his time in the Presidency, as the number of death threats and plots against the 44th President were the greatest since Abraham Lincoln, and twenty such cases were documented in my chapter on Assassination threats, Chapter 16, of my Assassinations book, which will be out in paperback on March 8, 2017.

The level of hatred and refusal to show respect was greatest under Obama since Lincoln, and many still wish his personal demise, including former NY Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Palladino, as just one example.

The level of hate and disrespect displayed by Donald Trump is unmatched in the relationship between any two Presidents, and yet Obama has done everything possible to cooperate with the transition, or as Michelle Obama has said, “when they go low, we go high!”

Let us wish the Obamas a long, productive, and healthy retirement, and let us hope that they will be with us in their 90s, as four Presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush have reached), along with earlier Presidents John Adams and Herbert Hoover; and also five First Ladies (Bess Truman, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush), with Rosalynn Carter reaching 90 in August of this year.

The Era Of The Elderly Running For President: Possibility Of Three Candidates Past 70 Competing For White House In 2016!

We may be witnessing an event that has never happened in the history of Presidential elections–three candidates, or even if only two candidates, all over the age of 70!

The only two cases of a President serving in his 70s are Ronald Reagan, who came to office 17 days short of age 70 and left office nearly 78 years old; and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who left office at age 70, three months and six days of age.

We also have had Senator John McCain running at age 72 in 2008, and Senator Bob Dole running at age 73 in 1996.

Now we have the potential for Donald Trump, who would be 70 years seven months and six days old on Inauguration Day; Bernie Sanders, who would be 75 years four months and twelve days old on Inauguration Day; and Michael Bloomberg, who would be 74 years 11 months and six days old on Inauguration Day!

And even if Hillary Clinton were to replace Bernie Sanders, she would be 69 years, nine months and six days old on Inauguration Day, so would reach age 70 after less than three months in office!

With two former Presidents alive at age 91 (Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush); four consecutive Presidents having reached age 90 (Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, additionally); and four former First Ladies since 1963 having reached age 90 (Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush); and with the average American living much longer and in better health, it should not be surprising that we have Presidential candidates in good health, running at an older age than ever in American history.

But one requirement is that younger Vice Presidential nominees be available as backups in case fate occurs, and the older Presidential winner dies in office!

Since World War II, many of the Vice Presidents have been older than their President, as with Harry Truman and Alben Barkley; John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson; George W. Bush and Dick Cheney; and Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

So now the opposite may likely happen.

New Presidential Record Of Survival In Office, Surpassing 1789-1841!

For the first nearly 52 years of the Republic, every President survived his term of office, from George Washington until William Henry Harrison.

Once Harrison died in office, we had a President die in every generation, with seven of the eight dying, having been elected in a zero election year–Harrison 1841, Abraham Lincoln 1865, James A. Garfield 1881, William McKinley 1901, Warren G. Harding 1923, Franklin D. Roosevelt 1945, and John F. Kennedy 1963, and joined by Zachary Taylor, dying in 1850, a zero year after being elected in 1848.

This became known as the “Zero Election Year Syndrome.”  It occurred seven straight zero election years from 1840 to 1960.  It was finally overcome when Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt in 1981, and when George W. Bush avoided tragedy on September 11 and throughout his Presidency, despite some serious threats.

Since JFK died, we have not had a Presidential death since, almost 52 years, although Richard Nixon did resign from office in 1974, even that being 41 years ago.

The question is how long can this new record of Presidential survival last, in a time of international terrorism and domestic turmoil.

There have been more death threats against Barack Obama than any President since Abraham Lincoln.

The last President to have a serious threat was Ronald Reagan, shot and seriously wounded in 1981, 34 years ago.

But every living President has had death threats, before, during, and after being in office.

A discussion of all these assassinations and threats are covered in my new book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield), out since August 15, and available at the R & L website with a 30 percent discount offer, or at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books A Million websites.

This author has done more than 25 radio interviews, and will be interviewed by C Span Q & A Brian Lamb next week, and the hour long interview will be available to be seen on C Span One a few weeks later at 8 pm, 11 pm on a Sunday night and 6 am the next Monday morning Eastern time, and will become part of the permanent interviews of Brian Lamb at C Span.org, available for interviewing anytime!

The Rising Odds Of A President Leaving Office Involuntarily!

When one thinks about it, the odds of a President leaving office involuntarily are growing.

The possibility of a President being impeached, specifically President Obama, has grown by leaps and bounds, at least if one pays attention to the lunatic Tea Party Movement crowd, which infests a portion of the House Republican Conference, and a few United States Senators, headed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz!

But of course, even if Barack Obama were to be impeached, the chance of gaining two thirds of the US Senate ready to convict and remove him, is extremely remote, and basically would never happen!

And yet, death threats are multiplying against President Obama, and the Secret Service monitors an average of 30 threats per day, not all serious, but still threats that have to be investigated, whether by someone in person, on the phone, in mail, or email, or on social media.

The author is finishing a book on Presidential assassinations, attempts, and threats, and has uncovered at least 35 serious enough threats against Barack Obama, in the sense that they have been reported in the news media, but it is clear that many more in multiple numbers, not public knowledge, have occurred!

Thank goodness the Secret Service and other agencies are doing what seems to be a great job in protecting the President and First Family, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, but all it would take is one breakdown in security, and a dirty deed could be accomplished, creating a national tragedy!

The problem is the level of hate is so intense, that many “religious” people, racists, and right wing nuts, including talk show hosts and politicians, fuel the fires, and incite people by their rhetoric, so that some whacko could get off shots at our leadership, and one can be sure that were something untoward to happen, there would be some elements of the population, which would applaud such a horrible deed!

So the odds of a tragedy, or possibly of a natural death in office grow, particularly when one considers, that we had a President die in office, either naturally or by assassination every generation from the 1840s to the 1960s, about 20 years apart in most cases, followed by the resignation of Richard Nixon forty years ago this summer.

Since the first demise of a President, William Henry Harrison, in 1841, 52 years after the establishment of the Constitution, we have had nine President leave office, four by assassination, four by natural death, and one by resignation.

But the last President to die naturally was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, 69 years ago! The last President to die in office, and by assassination, was John F. Kennedy in 1963, 51 years ago, meaning the longevity of no deaths between 1789 and 1841 is about to be matched next year! And even the last President to leave office, Nixon resigning in 1974, is 40 years ago, double the average time between deaths of Presidents over a period of 122 years from 1841 to 1963!

So one cannot help but have trepidation at the rising odds of a President leaving office involuntarily, as the years tick by! With exactly two years and seven months left in office for Barack Obama, as of today, all decent people, whether supportive or critical of his Presidency, must pray for his continued good health and safety as he faces the challenges of his times with courage and principle!

Analyzing the “40s” Presidents As Barack Obama Celebrates His 52nd Birthday!

President Barack Obama celebrates his 52nd Birthday today, and all good wishes to our Commander in Chief!

Since this is his birthday, it brings to mind the fact that Obama is one of only nine Presidents to be inaugurated in his 40s, with Obama being the fifth youngest to be sworn in. The list of “40s” Presidents is as follows:

Theodore Roosevelt 42 years 322 days
John F. Kennedy 43 years 236 days
Bill Clinton 46 years 154 days
Ulysses S. Grant 46 years 311 days
Barack Obama 47 years 169 days
Grover Cleveland 47 years 351 days
Franklin Pierce 48 years 101 days
James A. Garfield 49 years 105 days
James K. Polk 49 years 122 days

Six of these nine Presidents were Democrats, all but Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, and James A. Garfield, who were Republicans.

All but Theodore Roosevelt became President by election, with TR succeeding William McKinley upon his assassination, so while TR is the youngest President, John F. Kennedy is the youngest elected President, although TR went on to be elected to a full term!

Five of these nine Presidents would be ranked in the top 15 of our Presidents, in the view of most scholars and experts—TR, JFK, Clinton, Obama, and Polk.

Cleveland would make a list of the top half of our Presidents, with Grant and Pierce rated much lower on their performance in the White House, and Garfield hard to rate, since he had such a brief term as President, a true loss to the nation that he died so early in his administration!

Tragedy was a factor in many of these “40s” Presidents, including:

Assassination of Garfield and Kennedy
Alcoholism of Pierce and Grant
Short retirement of Polk–103 days
Short life span of Kennedy, Garfield, Polk, TR, Grant, Pierce
Scandals under Grant and Clinton

So becoming President in one’s 40s is a mixed blessing, and one can simply ask Bill Clinton and Barack Obama how they feel about the torment and vicious attacks they have both faced, but how they have managed to overcome their critics and have outstanding records overall in the Oval Office!

Short Term Retirements Of Six Presidents, And How History Might Have Changed Had They Still Been In Office!

Much more attention is paid to longevity of retirement of America’s Presidents, or those who died in office, than those who died within less than a term after leaving the Presidency.

So it is generally well known that some Presidents have had long retirements, including Jimmy Carter (who keeps on adding to his record of retirement, presently 32 years, seven months and two weeks as of today), Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, and John Adams.

And eight Presidents died in office (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy).

But it is also a fact that five Presidents who retired, died within the next Presidential term, and one died just two days after that next Presidential term ended, so we could have had at least five more Presidents die in office, and likely, due to the stress of the job, a sixth one, as well!

So who are these Presidents who would have died in office had they served another term?

James K. Polk, who died just 103 days after leaving the White House.
Chester Alan Arthur, who died 624 days after leaving the White House.
George Washington, who died 1015 days after leaving the Presidency (The White House was not yet built).
Woodrow Wilson, who died 1066 days after leaving the Presidency.
Calvin Coolidge, who died 1403 days after leaving the Presidency.
Lyndon B. Johnson, who died 1463 days after leaving the Presidency (two days after the next term of office ended).

Try to imagine Washington dying in office, our first President, and a Vice President having to challenge, earlier than John Tyler had to do in 1841, the issue of whether the Vice President could have all the Presidential authority by succeeding to the office, instead of being elected! Also, the reality that Washington would have set a precedent for a third term, which might have affected the views and attitudes of future Presidents on a third term!

Imagine James K. Polk dying in the midst of the controversy over the territories gained in the Mexican War, and how that might have affected the debates which led to the Compromise of 1850!

Imagine Chester Alan Arthur, having succeeded the assassinated James A. Garfield in office, being the second successive President who died in office!

Imagine Woodrow Wilson dying in office, after the American people had decided to elect him to an unprecedented third term, and how it might have affected the political realities of what became the conservative 1920s!

Imagine Calvin Coolidge having to deal with the Great Depression, as compared to Herbert Hoover, and the reality that he would have died just about two months before the end of his term, with his Vice President likely only serving those two months!

Imagine Lyndon B. Johnson in declining health in his extra term, and maybe dying earlier than two days after the end of that term, and his Vice President likely serving only a very short time in the Presidency, had Johnson died from the stresses of that extra term in office!

This is all theory, of course, what is known as “What If”, but it is food for thought regarding the short retirement of six of our Presidents!

Having stated all of the above, the odds are that Polk would not have been reelected due to the controversy over the Mexican War; that Arthur was denied the nomination in 1884, due to the civil service reform bill he signed into law (The Pendleton Act); that Wilson was still recovering from a stroke in 1920, and would unlikely have been reelected, had he been the nominee of his party; and that Johnson would have had trouble being reelected, due to the Vietnam War. Only Washington and Coolidge probably would have had another term, had they sought it, but even there, Washington might have had opposition to a third term on the basis that it would be creating an image of a monarchy for him to have more than two terms in office. So only Coolidge would have been likely to have had smooth sailing for another term in the White House!

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!

Jimmy Carter Surpasses Herbert Hoover As Longest Retired President!

Today, former President Jimmy Carter surpassed former President Herbert Hoover for longevity in retirement, having reached the 11,554th day after leaving the Presidency.

He has been retired for 31 years, seven and a half months, and has been an extremely active former President, much like Herbert Hoover was.

Both were constantly berated in retirement and seen as failures, because they lost re-election to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, often considered the two Presidents of the 20th century who have had the most impact on the nation in the past century!

Carter will be 88 on October 1, with only Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan at 93, John Adams and Herbert Hoover at 90, and Harry Truman and George H. W. Bush at 88, having lived longer!

Carter seems to be in excellent health, and it would not be surprising if he manages to live long enough to surpass Gerald Ford in March 2018 as our longest lived President of the United States!