Robert F. Kennedy

Centennial Of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Birth: Most Prominent American Historian In Second Half Of Twentieth Century

Today, October 15, marks the centennial of the birth of renowned American historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, considered by many scholars to be the most prominent American historian in the second half of the 20th Century.

I was fortunate to have been a graduate student under Schlesinger at the City University of New York Graduate School from 1966 to 1975, and I was one of eleven graduate students to have had the opportunity to produce a Ph. D. Dissertation under his support and tutelage. That dissertation, later revised, was published by The Johns Hopkins University Press under the title: TWILIGHT OF PROGRESSIVISM: THE WESTERN REPUBLICAN SENATORS AND THE NEW DEAL in 1981.

Schlesinger was a very cordial and supportive sponsor of my dissertation, and we kept in touch occasionally over the next three decades, and I was saddened by his death in February 2007 at the age 89.

Schlesinger helped for me to confirm my liberal and progressive convictions, and my blog that you are now reading was partly inspired by his influence, and has now been operated for more than nine years.

While I do not claim any of the greatness that Schlesinger represented, I am proud of my association with him.

Schlesinger was a public intellectual and social critic, and although he never went beyond an earned Bachelors degree from Harvard University, he was a leading historian, although he had many critics.

He was a Cold War Liberal, strongly anti Communist, and a founder of the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Reinhold Niebuhr in 1947, and was its national chairman in 1953-1954.

A professor at Harvard University from 1947-1960, he was the son of the renowned historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr, and related also to 19th century historian George Bancroft through his mother.

He was a speechwriter to Democratic Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956; speechwriter and Latin American policy adviser to President John F. Kennedy; speechwriter and adviser to Senator Robert F. Kennedy during his Presidential campaign in 1968; speechwriter and adviser to 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee George McGovern; and also speechwriter and adviser to Senator Edward M. Kennedy in his 1980 Presidential primary campaign against President Jimmy Carter. That year, Schlesinger broke with his Democratic Party roots and voted for Independent Presidential nominee, Republican Congressman John Anderson, as did former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, both only revealed in their votes in the past few years.

Schlesinger was the author of more than 30 books and hundreds of articles, and was most famous for his two Pulitzer Prizes for his books: THE AGE OF JACKSON (1946) and A THOUSAND DAYS: JOHN F. KENNEDY IN THE WHITE HOUSE (1966). He also wrote three seminal volumes on Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, only getting as far as 1936, and telling me of his goal to finish in a few more volumes, but that never happened.

But he also wrote an important book on the threat of Richard Nixon–THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY (1973)—and also the standard study of his friend, Robert F. Kennedy–ROBERT KENNEDY AND HIS TIMES (1978).

Schlesinger was the recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities Chair at the City University of New Graduate School from 1966 to 1974, and that is how I became one of his graduate students.

His impact on the historical profession and American politics continues a decade after his death.

49 Years Since Robert Kennedy’s Assassination: The Beginning Of The End Of The Triumph Of Liberalism In The 1960s

It is now 49 years since Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York was tragically assassinated in Los Angeles, where I am right now, in my first visit to the number two city in America.

RFK was seen as likely to win the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1968, and it is believed that he would have defeated former Vice President Richard Nixon in a close race, without being tied to the Vietnam War policy of Lyndon B. Johnson, which Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey had as an albatross around his neck, from which he was unable to escape.

It often seems as if RFK’s death marked a turning point to the right, from which America has never fully recovered, despite the best efforts of Barack Obama, the most liberal President since LBJ, but with the reality of a strong Republican opposition that helped to prevent much of his agenda.

Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, while certainly more “liberal” than any Republican President in the past half century, were unable, and also to a great extent, unwilling to go anywhere as far as Obama attempted.

So in a sense, America lost its liberal champion, which Ted Kennedy represented after his brother’s death, but due to his own Chappaquiddick scandal, was unable to promote, with one failed attempt in 1980 against President Carter.

RFK was certainly one of the most talented and creative politicians we have seen, and had a broad appeal, and his goals and aims to unite people of all backgrounds in promoting progressive change, remain the goal of Democrats as they look ahead to 2020, and wish to find the best Presidential nominee possible.

The Democratic Presidential Rumor Mill Grows From 18 To 25! But Probably 10 “Serious” Possibilities!

Nine days ago, this blogger published an article, discussing 18 potential Democratic Presidential candidates for 2020.

My article was a bit ahead of the media in bringing up the issue, but now the rumor mill has come up with 7 more potential Democratic candidates, making for a total, in theory, of 25!

This is the silly season, right after the First Hundred Days of Donald Trump, and having a list this lengthy does seem a bit ridiculous.

However, for the record, the other 7 names being bandied about are:

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley from 2007 to 2015 and Baltimore Mayor before that from 1999-2007, age 57 in 2020, who this blogger should NOT have left off the original list. O’Malley was once thought of as the “new generation” of leadership, but could not compete against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and the rumors that Joe Biden would run. Certainly, he belonged on the original list of 18, making it 19, and has a likely better chance in theory than some on that list.

Entrepreneur, businessman, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, Mark Cuban, age 62 in 2020, who is very personable and appealing, and could be the “outsider”, equivalent of the Democrats’ Donald Trump, but personally, this blogger is not keen about outside businessmen with no government experience, and Donald Trump just adds to that feeling, that it is not a great idea.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, age 63 in 2020, who leaves office at the end of this year, but was formerly Democratic National Chairman from 2001-2005; Bill Clinton co chair in the 1996 Presidential campaign; and Hillary Clinton chair in the 2008 Presidential campaign, has the disadvantage of being connected to the Clintons, and has an image of being a bit sleazy and crooked throughout his political career, so would not seem a likely choice to get very far in the 2020 Presidential race. If anything, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner seem more likely candidates from Virginia.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, age 60 in 2020, whose sister Mary was a long time US Senator from Louisiana fromJimmy 1997 to 2015, and whose father, Moon Landrieu, was Mayor of the city from 1970-1978, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary under Jimmy Carter from 1979 to 1981, has become recently controversial with his decision to remove Confederate monuments in the city, including those of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. Being a moderate Southern Democrat might make some think of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, but it would seem highly unlikely that he would have much of a shot at the nomination for President.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who would be 49 in 2020, and who is Jewish and also of Mexican heritage as well, and mayor of the second largest city in America in the largest state in America, might possibly be a more serious nominee on paper. Garcetti has long experience in city government, being a member of the LA City Council, and then its President, for nearly a total of 12 years on the Council, and Mayor since 2013. Being a person of urban and multiple ethnic and religious Los Angeles, the most diverse city possible in America, might just be a positive in the long run, and this is a person to watch, in the view of this blogger.

We also have two Massachusetts members of the House of Representatives, Seth Moulton, who would be 42 in 2020; and President John F. Kennedy’s grand nephew, Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson, and former Congressman Joe Kennedy II’s son, Joe Kennedy III, who would be only 40. Moulton has served since 2015 in the House, and Kennedy since 2013, and both have made names for themselves with their liberal views, and both are seen as ambitious rivals, but a bit young to be thinking of running, or be considered at all for the Presidency. Also, only James A. Garfield in 1880 went directly from the House to the Presidency, and then he was tragically killed within months. To believe a House member would be elected is highly unlikely.

In the view of this blogger, one could add O’Malley and Garcetti to the shorter list with Chris Murphy, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, Mark Warner, Sherrod Brown, and Elizabeth Warren as the most legitimate candidates.

So I am saying a total of 10 serious candidates is likely, which is certainly long enough—6 US Senators, 3 Governors (assuming Newsom is elected California Governor), and 1 Mayor, LA Mayor Garcetti. The list also includes 2 women, 1 African American, and 1 Jewish and Mexican combination (Garcetti). This is a pretty representative list.

Any commentary by my readers on this and the April 25 article is welcome!

Presidential Family Members And The American Presidency

The growing influence of Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, is a significant factor in Donald Trump’s approach to the Presidency.

His reliance on and loyalty to his daughter and son in law demonstrates the power of family.

Other Presidents have also utilized family members as follows:

John Adams relied on John Quincy Adams as Ambassador to Prussia.

Woodrow Wilson had his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, conduct cabinet meetings after he had a stroke in October 1919.

Franklin D. Roosevelt relied on his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, for advice on so many domestic and foreign policy issues, and in his last two years, his daughter, Anna, also was available to assist him.

Dwight D. Eisenhower used his son John Eisenhower as a staff aide in the White House.

John F. Kennedy had the most prominent relative in his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, serving as Attorney General of the United States for the entire time of the Kennedy Presidency.

Lyndon B. Johnson leaned on his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, for much advice.

Ronald Reagan followed the advice of his wife, Nancy Reagan, on a host of issues, including developing a relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Bill Clinton utilized his wife, Hillary Clinton, on a proposed national health care program, as well as a host of other issues.

Barack Obama capitalized on the advice of wife Michelle Obama, as they were a very close couple.

But notice how mostly it was First Ladies who were engaged in helping their husband, with only John Quincy Adams, Anna Roosevelt, John Eisenhower (children) and RFK (brother) as important aides to the President, and Ivanka and Jared are in many ways unique in their growing role, with only RFK being of an equal or greater significance.

The Growing Role Of Jared Kushner: Will It Make A Difference And Transform Donald Trump?

It is now clear that son in law Jared Kushner, and his wife, daughter Ivanka Trump, have a great and growing influence over Donald Trump, as the President is very loyal to family.

The question is whether it will make a difference and transform Donald Trump from a nasty, mean spirited right wing Republican, out to destroy the system, exactly what Stephen Bannon wants, or will move toward the center, and be able to appeal to moderate Republicans and some Democrats, as after all, Kushner was a Democrat in his politics that we know of, earlier in his life.

Kushner has been given great responsibility, to reorganize the federal government, as well as deal with the Middle East, and has also been engaged in traveling to Iraq this week, and the issue is whether he really has the qualifications and knowledge to be able to handle these responsibilities in a way that will lead to good results.

In other words, is Jared Kushner possibly the new Robert F. Kennedy, who had already had government experience before he became Attorney General under his brother, John F. Kennedy, and proved to be indispensable to his brother?

Is Jared Kushner the next Hillary Clinton, who took on health care reform unsuccessfully as First Lady under Bill Clinton, but was also one of the leading attorneys in America?

First impressions of Jared Kushner is that he is nothing special or impressive, more a spoiled rich kid who married into the right family, and had assets to start a New York City newspaper.

The future of America short term, and for the reputation of Donald Trump in history, may be based on the level of Jared Kushner’s success, which at the moment is much in doubt.

Nepotism Outlawed in 1960s After RFK, But Back In Full Swing With Ivanka And Jared Kushner

Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of President John F. Kennedy, was Attorney General to his brother, and briefly to Lyndon B. Johnson, from January 1961 to June 1964, and while he is perceived overall as a great cabinet member, the Congress passed legislation after this situation had ended, to prevent nepotism from being used in the future.

But now Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, and her husband, Jared Kushner, are working for the President, although they are unpaid.

That does not really matter, as it is simply against the spirit and substance of the nepotism law that they are influencing government policy.

It is just another of numerous examples of Donald Trump violating the law, and getting away with it.

There is a need to reassert that such family influence is not permitted, and this needs to be pursued expeditiously, as it cannot have a positive ending.

Can Bill Clinton Hold Government Position Under Hillary Clinton? NO, As Of 1964 Nepotism Law

The Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign is spreading information that former President Bill Clinton may be utilized by his wife in a government position if she wins the White House.

However, under the 1964 Nepotism Law, passed after Robert Kennedy left the government to run for the US Senate, it is illegal for a relative of any President to be in a public, paid position in the government. It is seen as a conflict of interest, so for instance, Jeb Bush, after leaving the Governorship of Florida in 2007, was not eligible to serve in the administration of his brother, George W. Bush.

RFK was Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, but the Congress decided after the Kennedy Administration’s end, that such a situation should not happen again. Also, JFK’s brother in law, R. Sargent Shriver, served as head of the Peace Corps.

So Bill Clinton could be an unpaid advisor, but cannot go on the government payroll, even assuming he would agree to donate any government paycheck to charity, as RFK did under his brother.

It is clearly assumed that Bill Clinton would have an important background role, but again, it cannot be as a cabinet officer or an official part of the White House staff, unless Congress agrees to change the law, but that is highly unlikely in the present political climate, with a Republican Congress, and the likelihood that at least the House of Representatives will remain Republican after this year’s Presidential and Congressional elections!

Imagine A Three Way Presidential Race Of Three New Yorkers, And Possibly Two Of Them Of Reform Judaism Religion!

The scenario now exists that the Presidential Election Of 2016 could involve THREE New York residents competing against each other, an idea which seemed impossible to happen even with one candidate since the time of Thomas E. Dewey’s loss to Harry Truman in 1948.

We saw Nelson Rockefeller fail three times in the 1960s to be the GOP Presidential nominee; we saw Robert Kennedy’s tragic campaign come to an end in 1968 by assassination; we saw John Lindsay attempt a Presidential run in 1972 and fail badly; we saw Mario Cuomo flirt with the idea in 1992 and decide not to run; we saw Rudy Guiliani flop badly in 2008; we saw George Pataki also flirt with the idea of running, and when he finally did in 2015, totally flop; and of course, we saw Hillary Clinton fail to stop Barack Obama in 2008.

At the most, it looked like Hillary Clinton would run, as she has again in 2016, and would have a good chance to be the first New Yorker to run for President and actually be the nominee since 1948, but the idea that THREE candidates would all be from New York is amazing, considering the rise of the Sun Belt since World War II, and the slow decline of New York into political oblivion, although still even now the fourth largest state.

But now we have Clinton; we have Bernie Sanders, who is a Vermont Senator, but grew up in Brooklyn, and left for Vermont in 1968, but is still a New Yorker in the way he speaks; we have Donald Trump who is certainly a New Yorker through and through; and we have former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, originally from Boston, but a long time New Yorker, and Mayor from 2002-2014.

So the possibility of three New Yorkers running is very much alive, and if Sanders is the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg, alarmed by Sanders’ candidacy as well as Trump as a possible Republican nominee, does actually run on a third party or independent ticket, we would have two Reform Jews running along with Presbyterian Trump!

1968 Political Turmoil Over Vietnam Now Being Repeated Over Middle East Terrorism Threat In 2016

In 1968, the nation was bitterly divided over the war in Vietnam, and a major Presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, became a victim of the turmoil over that, but also of the Middle East conflict, with the Six Day War of 1967 provoking the assassination of RFK by a Palestinian Arab immigrant, who happened to be Christian, but is often perceived as the beginning of the issue of Middle East terrorism come to America’s home front.

After the Paris terror attack by ISIL (ISIS), it is clear that we are going to become a major target for similar kinds of attacks in public places, and also, it has often been wonderment that we have not had suicide bombers in this country, and it is likely we will experience that as well.

The danger is that fear and reality will lead America to elect an extremist right wing candidate, such as Donald Trump or Ted Cruz to the Presidency, which would undermine American democracy and our basic civil liberties.

Ironically, the terrorists will have won if we end up going hysterical, and allow the domestic reforms and civil liberties advancements, which have been the hallmark of the past century, to be lost in the desire for security!

Do not be shocked that we might see a real threat to the life of the President or some Presidential candidate over the next year to the election, and it might be from Middle East terrorism, or could be from a right wing National Rifle Association fanatic who decides he must eliminate someone who is seen as the danger to the future of “traditional values” in an America under siege!

The Secret Service needs, immediately, more membership, more training, more preparation for what is likely to come!

What Beau Biden’s Death Shows About Joe Biden And The American People

The tragic and tormenting death of Beau Biden, the older son of Vice President Joe Biden, of a brain tumor at age 46, was not the first time that a President or Vice President has experienced the death of a family member while in office.

Presidents, including Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy had also had the death of children while in office.

Presidents, including John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, and Woodrow Wilson had wives die while in office.

But Beau Biden, while not a child, had come to be highly respected as Delaware Attorney General, and serving in the Army National Guard during the Iraq War.

Beau Biden resembled his dad in appearance, and in many ways, in his zeal to serve in public life.

Beau Biden gained the emotional support of many Delaware citizens and anyone else he touched in his public life, as well as people he knew in his private life.

The public response to his death, with the potential for his future lost forever, hit many Americans very hard, including this author, who thought of the tragic death of others in public service in their 40s, all of whom were much more consequential than Biden was. The names of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Alexander Hamilton crossed his mind.

The question that arose is why this shock and deep mourning occurred, and the author came to the conclusion that a lot of the reaction was due not only to the good nature and great public service of Beau Biden, but the widespread love and emotional attachment of millions of Americans to Vice President Joe Biden himself.

Joe Biden is in his 43rd year of public service, and it is not only this author, but millions of others who love him, who respect him, who admire his sincerity, genuine nature, true concern and desire to do good deeds for his fellow Americans.

Joe Biden is a very rare public servant, and that is why there are still millions who hope he runs for President, knowing the odds are against him to win the nomination, were he to challenge his close friend and fellow member of the Obama Administration, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Those of us who love and admire Joe Biden know he would make a great President, but that he is one of many good people, past and present, who cannot, likely, be elected President of the United States, a distinguished list.

Instead, it now seems likely that Joe Biden will end his 44 years of public service in January 2017, with the total admiration and respect of millions. The loss of his beloved son, Beau, and his own sense that it might be wise to give his family time to share the rest of his time on earth at age 74, have certainly sobered any desire to fight for the White House.

In a sense, Joe Biden saw the eulogies and deep mourning that he will gain when, at some day in the future, he leaves us. The death of Beau Biden gave us that dress rehearsal!