Presidents Day

Donald Trump Undermining Department Of Justice, Federal Bureau Of Investigation, Intelligence Agencies, And American National Security

Donald Trump has totally failed as a moral leader, in his constant attacks on the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intelligence agencies, and American national security.

He has disgraced the office daily with his constant Twitter rants against every agency and every person imaginable, and now he has reached a new low, attacking the FBI for their inadequate response to the threat of the young man who committed the horrific massacre of students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in Broward County.

His attack on the FBI as having spent too much time on the investigation of Russian collusion as the cause of their failure to stop the massacre is outrageous and totally preposterous, as the FBI is always involved in multiple investigations and issues at the same time.

Trump’s refusal to accept the indictments of 13 Russian nationals as proof that they influenced the Presidential election results of 2016 is just a coverup and a lie to deny the truth, and his condemnation on Twitter of his National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster for his comments accepting the truth, bode us toward a constitutional crisis coming soon, as Robert Mueller gets ever closer to an indictment of many people around Trump for illegal collusion and obstruction of justice, and reaching into the Oval Office.

No decent scholar or intelligent person can now deny that Donald Trump has acted in an unpresidential manner, and it is tragic that this conclusion can be reached on Presidents Day, as Trump besmirches the office that he holds.

Presidents Day On Monday, And JFK, Reagan, Obama Rated Top Three Presidents Since 1953, But Much Ignorance And Lack Of Historical Knowledge!

Every year on and around Presidents Day, public opinion polls are taken to judge who the American people most admire among past Presidents.

For the past decade, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have switched with each other as the best President of the past half century.

This year, the University of Virginia Center For Politics, operated by Professor Larry Sabato, and Ipsos, an international, independent marketing research firm have come to the conclusion that the rating of JFK is the highest, with Ronald Reagan close behind, but Barack Obama a competitive third place, followed by Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush tied for fifth place.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is seventh, followed by Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and then Donald Trump in 10th place, just a bit ahead of Lyndon B. Johnson, and then Richard Nixon in last place.

This polls shows that Obama has remained popular a year after leaving the Presidency, and a sign he will likely remain high in public opinion, quite an accomplishment considering the bitterly divided America we have at the present time.

But it shows ignorance, to have the two Bushes in a tie, and probably mostly because the younger Bush is a recent President, and many are confused by the similar names.

To put Eisenhower seventh is more a lack of knowledge of a President from the 1950s, and to put Trump, a disastrous President low on the list, but ahead of LBJ and his Great Society and Nixon and his diplomacy, is a true sign of pure lack of historical knowledge by the American public. It is true that Johnson engaged America in the disastrous Vietnam War and Nixon was forced out of office due to the Watergate Scandal. But their accomplishments were enough to put them above Trump in a realistic situation where people know historical facts.

So clearly, there is a dire need for major emphasis on the study of history and of the Presidency, as this lack of knowledge brought us Donald Trump to the White House, with zero qualifications for the White House!

Presidents Who Were Fortunate To Become President Since 1900!

Today is Presidents Day. There is a tendency to look back on the Presidency’s history, and assume that those who made it to the White House were a certainty, when the opposite is, actually, often the case!

Since 1900, many of our Presidents gained that office by pure luck and timing.

Theodore Roosevelt would never have been President if Vice President Garret Hobart, under President William McKinley, had not died in office in 1899, and therefore, not on the ticket with McKinley in 1900.

Woodrow Wilson would never have been President if the Republican Party had not split in 1912 between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt, and if there had not been a two thirds rule for the Democratic nominee in place, preventing Speaker of the House Champ Clark from being the Democratic nominee for President.

Richard Nixon would never have been President if the Democratic Party had not divided over Vietnam in the mid 1960s, and if George Wallace would not have run as a third party candidate in 1968.

Gerald Ford would never have been President if Vice Spiro Agnew had not been caught in corruption, forcing his resignation in 1973, and if there was no 25th Amendment, providing for a replacement Vice President by appointment of the President and approval by a majority of both houses of Congress.

Jimmy Carter would never have been President if the Watergate Scandal had not occurred, disillusioning many Americans about their national government, and finding a state governor as an appealing alternative, with his image as an “outsider” who would always tell the truth.

Bill Clinton would never have been President if the economy had not declined as it did in 1992, and if Ross Perot had not run on a third party line in that election, undermining George H. W. Bush.

George W. Bush would never have been President if the Supreme Court had not intervened, a revolutionary action, to stop the vote recount in Florida in 2000, with the reality that Al Gore had more than a half million popular vote lead nationally, and yet would lose the Presidency because of that action by the Supreme Court.

This list also does not include Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, all of whom would never have been President if Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy had not died in office.

Chris Hayes’ ALL IN Discussion Of Worst President Ever: Interesting And Food For Thought!

Chris Hayes on his ALL IN show on MSNBC last night had a fascinating, nearly 20 minute discussion, with three experts on who was the worst President in American history. Certainly, this was very appropriate for Presidents Day!

This author has written about this before, but the four choices discussed were:

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Johnson
Herbert Hoover
George W. Bush

Seeing Andrew Jackson on the list (actually the choice of Chris Hayes) startled me, as he tends to be listed at about Number 12 or 13 on most surveys, and used to be in the top ten near the bottom. But Hayes made a good case based on the Trail of Tears massacre of native Americans, along with forced removal to Oklahoma, and the destruction of the National Bank as good reasons for putting Jackson near the bottom.

This does not mean that this author agrees he is the worst President, but the arguments were food for thought, but consider that Jackson is on the $20 bill, so it is certainly a bit awkward to label him, possibly, the worst President.

The case for Andrew Johnson is much stronger, and he is usually put in the bottom few, which is where this author would put him, but I tend to see James Buchanan as the worst President.

Herbert Hoover is certainly a failure, the President of the Great Depression, but some sympathy for him in his plight does exist, including by this author.

Now George W. Bush labeled the worst, which is becoming a popular thought, seems somehow a bit unfair, but certainly he would rank in the bottom ten without any doubt.

And of course, besides Buchanan, who I have mentioned is generally seen as the worst President, let us not forget other competitors—Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding, Ulysses S. Grant, and to some, although not to this author, Richard Nixon!

Reassessing Presidents On Presidents Day

Here we are again, Presidents Day, and time for reflection on Presidential leadership, and there will be much disagreement, but it seems clear certain Presidents will move up in image, while others will move down in the ratings. Except for Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, all of the below are 20th century Presidents, undergoing the greatest change in ratings. In each category, listing is chronological.

Who remains high in ratings?

George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Theodore Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman
Lyndon B. Johnson
Bill Clinton

Who is moving up in ratings, if one is honest?

William Howard Taft
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Jimmy Carter
Gerald Ford
George H. W. Bush

Who is moving down in ratings?

Woodrow Wilson
John F. Kennedy
Richard Nixon
Ronald Reagan
George W. Bush

Whose rating does not really matter, as insignificant, historically?

Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover

And finally, what about Barack Obama? What rating would this controversial occupant of the White House gain, in the mind of this blogger and author?

B to B PLUS—very solid in social policy, solid in foreign policy, more difficulty in economic policy! Of course, on economic policy, the Congressional Republicans have caused a lot of the problem!

Where should he be put in the ratings? With three years to go, Obama is certainly in the top 15 of 43 Presidents, and this author would put him closer to 12-13 in the ratings, but subject to change. And one must realize to ignore the Right Wing whackos, as their judgment will have no long range effect, any more than they had with FDR or Lincoln, both bitterly criticized in their tenure in office!

I welcome comment and debate on this listing!

First Lady Poll On Presidents Day

A Siena College poll has ranked First Ladies and their historic role as we celebrate Presidents Day.

The highest ranking in order are:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Abigail Adams
Jacqueline Kennedy
Dolley Madison
Michelle Obama
Hillary Clinton
Lady Bird Johnson
Betty Ford
Martha Washington
Rosalynn Carter

Laura Bush, Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, and Bess Truman were all judged to have played an inadequate role as First Lady, although many First Ladies stayed in the background, and only since the 1960s has the role expanded, with the earlier major exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, who stands way above the rest of the list.

Surprisingly, Mary Todd Lincoln, Lucy Hayes, Frances Cleveland, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Grace Coolidge, and Barbara Bush were not listed as among the most influential, while one could argue that at least Edith Bolling Galt WIlson and Barbara Bush belonged in the top ten, more so than Martha Washington and Dolley Madison.

Oddities And Quirks About Presidential Names: One More For Presidents Week!

As this week is the Presidential week, celebrated this past Monday as Presidents Day, let us do one more entry, this one on Presidential trivia, specifically on the oddities and quirks of Presidential Names.

Four Presidents are remembered for the use of their middle names with their first and last names:

John Quincy Adams
William Henry Harrison
Chester Alan Arthur
William Howard Taft

Thirteen Presidents are usually referred to with their middle initial included:

James K. Polk
Ulysses S. Grant
James A. Garfield
Warren G. Harding
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush

Notice that Truman’s middle initial is also his name, as his family could not agree on what name to use, just the letter S, so there is no period after the initial.

Two Presidents use a nickname as their name:

Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton

Four Presidents switched names, and preferred to be known by their middle name:

Hiram Ulysses Grant
Stephen Grover Cleveland
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
David Dwight Eisenhower

Two Presidents had their name changed as children

Leslie Lynch King Jr.—Gerald Ford
William Jefferson Blythe III–Bill Clinton

Also, many Presidents are also known by other names or titles, including: Andrew Jackson as “Old Hickory”, Martin Van Buren as “The Little Magician”, William Henry Harrison as “Old Tippecanoe”, James K. Polk as “Young Hickory”, Zachary Taylor as “Old Rough And Ready”, Franklin Pierce as “Handsome Frank”, Calvin Coolidge as “Silent Cal”, Dwight D. Eisenhower as “Ike”, John F. Kennedy as “Jack”, Richard M. Nixon as “Dick”, Gerald R. Ford as “Jerry”, Ronald Reagan as “Ronnie”, and Barack Obama as “Barry”.

That is it for Presidential names!

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!

Transformative Presidents In Diplomacy And Foreign Affairs

With Presidents Day coming up on Monday, this is a good time to assess the Presidents who were transformative in diplomacy and foreign affairs.

The Presidents who truly made a difference in foreign policy would include the following, chronologically:

Thomas Jefferson—who presided over the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 negotiated with France, and the handling of the Chesapeake Affair of 1807, avoiding war with Great Britain, but causing decline in public opinion about Jefferson as he left office, due to the economic decline caused by the Embargo Act.

James Monroe—who, with the brilliant leadership of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, was able to gain control of Florida in 1819, settle much of the Canadian boundary in the same time frame, and promote the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, a major part of American foreign policy in the future.

James K. Polk—under whom the Pacific Northwest was gained by negotiation with Great Britain, and the American Southwest and California by war with Mexico between 1846 and 1848.

William McKinley—under whom Hawaii was added as a territory, and America gained an “Empire” by engagement in the Spanish American War in 1898.

Theodore Roosevelt—under whom America fully engaged with the outside world, including foreign crises and wars in Europe and Asia, as well as growing intervention in Latin America between 1901-1909.

Woodrow Wilson—under whom America fully entered into international war involvement in the First World War in 1917, and then rejected internationalism as Wilson left office in 1921.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—who took America out of isolationism in the late 1930s, and presided over our involvement in World War II between 1941-1945, and the growth of America as a super power by 1945.

Harry Truman—who led us into the Cold War with the Soviet Union after 1945, with transitional foreign policy leadership that set the mold for the next half century until 1991.

Richard Nixon—who moved America toward detente with the Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, and opened up to mainland China between 1969 and 1974.

George H. W, Bush—who smoothed the end of the Cold War, was receptive to a unified Germany as a result, and created a coalition to prevent Iraqi domination in the Middle East in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Other Presidents who had an impact on diplomacy and foreign affairs in a major, if not transformative manner, would include:

George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George W. Bush

Sadly, Lyndon B, Johnson and George W. Bush were mostly negative forces in foreign affairs; Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were mixed in their results; while George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy were much more positive.

Great Republican Presidents And Infrastructure Investment In The Future

As we come up on Presidents Day Weekend and Week, it is a good time to reflect on the record of the most outstanding Republican Presidents, and how they made great investments in infrastructure, in many ways their greatest contribution.

Abraham Lincoln made the building of the transcontinental railroad a high priority, although the Civil War slowed up the completion of the project, the finishing of the Union Pacific Railroad, to the year 1869, four years after his death. He saw the transcontinental railroad as a promoter of economic growth, and to make America truly a nation unified by a massive transportation system.

Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the importance of the development of the Interstate Highway System, and committed to it in the 1950s, as a way to promote economic growth and national security, and the continuous expansion of that system is a testimony to his commitment to this greatest of all public works projects.

Theodore Roosevelt saw the preservation of the environment through the building of a great national park system as good for the unity and growth of the nation, and he presided over the quadrupling of the our parks and other nature sites as the long range commitment to our future, as a nation which cared about its natural resources and respected the significance of nature.

Each of these three greatest Republican Presidents, about 40-50 years apart in their Presidencies, made a contribution to the future of our nation which cannot be measured by normal parameters. No wonder they are ranked as among the top ten Presidents in polls of intelligent observers of the office of the American Presidency!