Theodore Roosevelt

Presidents In Last Two Years In Office: Tradition Of Opposition Congress And Little Legislation Accomplished!

When one looks back at the past century of Presidential history, it is clear that it is common for the President to have to deal with an opposition Congress in the last two years of his tenure, and in two cases, a divided Congress in the last two years in the White House.

This, of course, means little can be accomplished, other than by judicial appointments, and by executive orders, as significant legislation is unlikely.

Look at the list of Presidents who dealt with opposition Congresses in their last two years:

Woodrow Wilson–1919-1920
Dwight D. Eisenhower–1959-1960
Richard Nixon–1973-1974
Gerald Ford–1975-1976
Ronald Reagan–1987-1988
George H. W. Bush–1991-1992
Bill Clinton 1999-2000
George W. Bush–2007-2008
Barack Obama–2015-2016

Add to this list two Presidents who had a divided Congress in their last two years:

William Howard Taft–1911-1912–Democratic House and Republican Senate
Herbert Hoover–1931-1932–Democratic House and Republican Senate

So if all the Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama are counted, it means ELEVEN Presidents faced a Congress unfriendly to them in the last two years of office, with only TR, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter having “friendly” Congresses in their last two years, with Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy in office too short a term to qualify, since they died in office, unlike Gerald Ford, who actually completed a short term.

So 11 of 17 Presidents, two thirds of the total, have had to deal with the reality of the decline of their ability to control events, other than judicial appointments and executive orders!

Combative President Obama, Ready To Make His Mark In His Last Years In The White House!

President Obama has accomplished so much, but yet it does not show in his public opinion ratings, in the low 40s.

But whoever said that public opinion is knowledgeable, with all of the propaganda that has been unleashed by the right wing, convincing ignorant people that Obama has been a disaster, when he has been anything but that!

Has Barack Obama made mistakes? Of course, he has, and every President does, and every human being who has ever lived does! It is just that if one of us makes a blunder, it does not become public knowledge (thank goodness), and is not beaten to death by critics, who are out to look for the negative, and ignore the positive!

Most of what is wished is that Obama had been more aggressive, more outspoken than he has been, that he unleash the full power of his personality and his goals for the nation, but he has been accused of being too cautious in his approach.

Well, that stage seems to have ended, as Barack Obama is becoming more assertive, demonstrating that he is not going to allow himself to be cowed by critics, that he is determined to promote an activist Presidency in his last two years, and leave a legacy of accomplishment on the level of our great and near great Presidents!

The more he is threatened with lawsuits, with impeachment, with petty threats that he should not be allowed to use Air Force One, or not be allowed to speak before a joint session of Congress, or other demeaning and disrespectful treatment, the more he will fight and challenge his critics, always staying within the Constitution, which he understands far better than his enemies.

In a way, the Republican victories in the Midterm Elections of 2014 have made clear to Obama that he must use the powers of his office, as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson did, to make life better for America, both in domestic and foreign policy areas! He has been liberated to move toward greatness in the annals of the history of the Presidency!

Are We Entering An Age Of Older Presidents?

In American history, we have had only five Presidents who were 64 or older in office when inaugurated—Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, James Buchanan, George H. W. Bush, and Zachary Taylor.

An additional five Presidents were ages 60-63 when inaugurated: Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, John Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, but Truman and Ford were not elected at that age, but instead succeeded to the Oval Office.

This means 33 of our 43 Presidents were younger than 60 when being inaugurated President, with 24 in their 50s, and 9 in their 40s, and with Grover Cleveland in his 40s for his first term, and 50s for his second nonconsecutive term. The nine Presidents in their forties were, at the time of inauguration: James K. Polk and James A. Garfield (49); Franklin Pierce (48); Grover Cleveland and Barack Obama (47); Ulysses S. Grant and Bill Clinton (46); John F. Kennedy (43); and Theodore Roosevelt (42).

But it is now likely that the next President will be in his or her 60s, or even 70s, at the time of taking the Presidential oath. There are a total of eight potential Republican nominees in their 60s–ranging from, at the time of inauguration as follows: Mitt Romney (69); Rick Perry (66); Dr. Benjamin Carson (65); John Kasich (64); Jeb Bush (63); Mike Huckabee, Rob Portman, and Lindsey Graham (61). Romney and Perry would reach the age of 70 during a first term, and Romney, Perry, Carson, Kasich and Bush would all be in their 70s in a second term.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have four potential Presidential nominees who will be in their seventies when they would take the oath of office—Jerry Brown (78); Bernie Sanders (75); Joe Biden (74); and Jim Webb (70). All four, plus Hillary Clinton (69) and Elizabeth Warren (67) would reach the 70s during a first term, and Mark Warner (62) would reach 70 as well in a second term.

So a total of eight Republicans and seven Democrats would be over 70, either at the time of the inauguration, or within the next four years after, or the next eight years after!

When one realizes that only Dwight D. Eisenhower (70) and Ronald Reagan (77) were actually in the Presidency past their 70th birthday, and Ike was only three months beyond 70, it is clear that we are likely to create new ground, since much of the talent pool is comparatively old, and from the “Baby Boomer” generation born from 1946 onward.

Of course, there are younger Presidential candidates or potential candidates–for the Republicans–Rick Santorum (58); Mike Pence (57); Rand Paul and Chris Christie (54); and in the 40s in 2016, the following: Scott Walker (49); Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan (46); Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal (45), a total of nine other potential Presidents.

The Democrats have fewer alternatives: in the 50s in 2016 are: Andrew Cuomo (59); Amy Klobuchar (56); Martin O’Malley (54); and Kirsten Gillibrand (50). No one in their forties is seen as a potential Democratic nominee.

So we might end up with the oldest combination of Presidential candidates in American history, with Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney being front runners for now, and both reaching 70 within months of taking the oath of office!

The Coming War On The 17th Amendment By Conservatives!

The right wing in America has a planned strategy to conduct war on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, one of the greatest of all amendments added since the first ten were enacted as the Bill of Rights!

The 17th Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1913, came as the outgrowth of the Progressive Era, and occurred at its peak, the vigorous campaign for progressive reform promoted by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the Presidential Election of 1912. It was also endorsed by the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, who had elements of progressivism in him despite his general reputation as a conservative, which led to his disastrous third place finish in 1912, despite being the Republican nominee.

The 17th Amendment developed in reaction to “muckraker” David Graham Phillips’ path breaking non fiction exposure, “THE TREASON OF THE SENATE”, which demonstrated the corruption of the US Senate, and its leading figure, Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, and led to direct popular election of the US Senate from 1913 onward.

One could argue that even with popular vote, the US Senate often disappoints us, and there are Senators who are an embarrassment and a disgrace to that legislative body.

But now, conservatives are promoting the idea of the repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning us to the method in the Constitution adopted in 1787, to have the often corrupt state legislatures choose the Senators, and deny the population the popular vote involvement in selecting the members of the upper body of Congress.

The theory has developed that all the laws passed to promote political, social and economic reform since 1913, including the massive reforms of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and all other Presidents might be repealed as illegitimate if the Senate method of election returned to the pre 1913 system.

This is an alarming development, and joined with the desire to get rid of the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) and the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage), all of these “Progressive” amendments, could, if enacted take us back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

Jon Huntsman Withdraws From Presidential Campaign Of 2016 Before It Begins; Sees The Handwriting On The Wall!

This blogger and author has, over the past few years, made clear his admiration for former Utah Governor, and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, as an unusually good choice for the Republican Presidential nomination, both in 2012 and now in 2016.

Unlike every other potential nominee, Huntsman has a solid record in foreign policy, and along with Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, is one of the three potential Presidents fully experienced and qualified to deal with the world.

With his announced withdrawal from any consideration for the Presidency in 2016, now the only hope for a well experienced person to deal with foreign policy is either the Vice President or the former Secretary of State and First Lady!

The Republican Party has a dearth of decent, qualified candidates, with most of them far off to the Right, and many of them pure lunatic fringe!

So called Establishment Republicans have lost their own credibility, including 2012 Presidential nominee Mitt Romney; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, all of whom have major shortcomings.

The thought of an Ohio Republican, such as Governor John Kasich or Senator Rob Portman crosses one’s mind, but although Ohio is crucial, the odds of either man becoming the Presidential nominee are very low, and already it has been made clear that Portman, one of only four Republican Senators who has supported Gay Marriage, has no chance, as the GOP will NOT nominate a pro Gay Rights and Gay Marriage nominee, due to the deleterious effect of the Christian Right, which continues to promote hate and poisonous rhetoric on the subject.

So the fact that Huntsman realizes the odds are impossible for a decent, solid candidate like him to run, is a sign of the death knell of the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower!

The Presidential Election of 2016 will be a landslide Electoral College victory for the Democrats!

The Future Of The Republican Party: Rob Portman Vs. Mike Huckabee As A Symbol!

With Gay Marriage rapidly expanding, by refusal of the Supreme Court to stop it in eleven states, raising the total of states to 30 and counting, the Republican Party now faces its future!

With a majority of states and population now supporting or accepting gay marriage, and with a majority of people under 50, and even a majority of Catholics and even evangelical Christians in support, how long will the Republican Party hold out and be on the wrong side of history?

Do they wish to be recorded and remembered in the long run for their refusal to accept that marriage is NOT something to be voted on, to have a popular vote (which would not be lost in any case) on a basic human right, both in race in Loving V. Virginia and on sexual orientation now? Do they wish to be seen for what they are now, biased, prejudiced, hateful, narrow minded, and allowing religious beliefs of some people to dictate the lives of everyone else, when we have separation of church and state?

Conservatives were wrong on civil rights for African Americans, wrong on interracial marriage, wrong on women’s rights, wrong on immigration then and now, and wrong on gay rights and marriage, and for the Republicans to continue to follow their hateful, narrow minded views, will guarantee the demise of the party of Lincoln, TR, and Ike!

The Republican Party has a choice! It is time for MORE Republican Senators, Congressmen, and Governors and other office holders to come out in support of gay marriage NOW! So far, only four sitting US Senators and a few members of the House of Representatives have had the courage to speak up. The Senators are Liza Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Susan Collins of Maine, and Rob Portman of Ohio.

The GOP will have a massive problem being elected to the House and Senate majorities in 2016, as it is, and the suddenly emerging “dark horse” status of Rob Portman, the only one of the above four Senators, who MIGHT consider running for President, and have a shot at being the nominee, present the Republican Party with a choice!

Either demand that any GOP nominee accept the inevitable, OR nominate Senator Portman as the most legitimate candidate for 2016, bypassing all the other extremist, lunatic, whacky candidates in the field, picking a moderate mainstream conservative as the future of the party!

Republicans, reject Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and anyone else who refuses to accept gay marriage, and ONLY support a person such as Rob Portman, who has accepted it, and is from a key swing state, Ohio, which every winning President has won except in 1960 in modern times!

It is true that Portman supported gay rights and gay marriage due to his son coming out as gay, but he could have done what many so called “religious” people do, and repudiated his son, a most despicable act for any so called “religious” person to do, a mockery of the idea of religiosity!

If the GOP decides to follow the route of the above candidates who have made it clear that they will not accept gay marriage, the ideal candidate for them would be former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a once seriously mainstream conservative candidate for President in 2008, who has gone off the deep end, become a lunatic, a bigoted man with crazy views, since he joined Fox News Channel, and now mirrors the lunatic right wing talk show hosts on radio, as well as Fox News Channel!

Huckabee has made clear that he will NOT accept what is happening on gay marriage, and if the GOP continues to give in to Supreme Court actions or lack of action on gay marriage, that he will leave the Republican Party!

The best thing the GOP could do is repudiate Huckabee, who has already destroyed his name in history, and have him leave the Republican Party, and let the swinging door hit him in his rear end, or in fact, kick him out the door, declaring to him and others like him, “good riddance!”

The best thing the GOP could do is nominate Rob Portman, or others who finally accept gay rights and gay marriage, and look to a future of NOT accepting prejudice, bias, and the power of the Religious Right, which should be escorted to the door, and told to go to Hell, where they belong!

A great ticket right now would be Portman of Ohio for President and Susan Collins of Maine for Vice President, and that would also overcome the misogyny of the Republican Party!

Statesman Jimmy Carter Reaches Age 90, Fourth President In A Row To Reach That Magical Age!

Today, October 1, is the 90th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), making him one of four Presidents in a row to reach that magical age.

Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush all reached the age of 90, Bush just this past June, and Ford and Reagan dying at age 93, with Ford being six weeks older than Reagan.

Now six Presidents, including John Adams and Herbert Hoover, have reached that age, and it is clear that modern medicine and sanitation have helped the Presidents in office from August 1974 to January 1993 to have accomplished this massive achievement!

Carter also has set an ongoing record of nearly 34 years out of office, and shares that with his Vice President, Walter Mondale, as the longest surviving team in the White House in American history!

Carter has long been vilified, and called a “failure”, “the worst President of modern times”, and other insulting terms by people who are ignorant, lacking in knowledge of what makes a President significant.

No one is going to assert that Carter was a highly successful President in the top ten or fifteen, and the fact that he was soundly defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980, harms his historical reputation, as Presidents who lose reelection never stand high in polls of Presidents in history.

But this man was decent and honest, humble and sincere, and accomplished the following:

The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the most outstanding accomplishment in Middle East diplomacy of any President before or since.

The negotiated return of the Panama Canal, to its rightful owners, the nation of Panama, righting the wrong done by Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The strong principle of human rights as an important goal in American diplomacy.

The third best record of any President on environmental reform, and creation of public lands, only behind Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and more amazing, since Carter only had one term in the White House.

The establishment of the Health and Human Services Department, the Education Department, and the Energy Department, all added to the President’s cabinet.

Out of office, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, for his human rights record; his promotion of fair elections around the world and the advancement of health care and education through his Carter Center; and his building of housing using his own and his wife Rosalynn’s hands, as part of Habitat For Humanity.

He also wrote 28 books, making him the most prolific President of modern times, and competing with Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon for his extensive writings.

Jimmy Carter set a new standard for former Presidents giving their service to the nation, as Bill Clinton has done, and Carter is often called the best former President of the United States for his contributions in the 34 years since he left office.

Jimmy Carter had obvious shortcomings, but he has lived long enough to be regarded as a statesman, and be given the respect he deserves!

So Happy 90th Birthday, Mr. President!

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill Of Rights (January 11, 1944) Not Yet Achieved In 2014!

Now that THE ROOSEVELTS series on PBS, the seven part series presented to the nation by the great documentarian Ken Burns, is over, many thoughts and emotions cross one’s mind.

FDR offered so much to the nation in his New Deal, and in his leadership of the struggle against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in World War II.

But what struck this author more than any of this, while watching this 14 hour series over the past week, is an often forgotten speech, the State of the Union speech of January 11, 1944, delivered by FDR in a joint session of Congress.

The speech dealt with the issue of a “Second Bill Of Rights”.

FDR knew that the Bill Of Rights had made America the beacon of the civilized world, with the basic civil liberties it granted to all Americans.

But FDR was looking ahead to the end of World War II, and envisioned a nation that would extend the concept of a bill of rights to other issues that affected all Americans.

So FDR called for a future guarantee of everyone having a decent job with a living wage; a guarantee of decent housing for all Americans; a guarantee of a decent supply of food, clothing, and leisure for all; a guarantee of a decent education providing opportunity for all to advance; an expansion of Social Security beyond the beginning of the concept nine years earlier in 1935; and  provision for a decent health care system for all Americans.

Now 70 years later, none of these have been accomplished, although Social Security has improved tremendously for the elderly, and for women who are widowed and children who lose a parent or are orphaned: Medicare has done so much to help the elderly and disabled; and ObamaCare, under great duress, has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had health coverage before.

But yet, conservatives and Republicans are out to make Social Security and Medicare privatized, and want to destroy ObamaCare!

But we have too many people who cannot find work, due to the Great Recession of George W. Bush and cannot even gain extension of the New Deal concept of unemployment compensation; many Americans live in substandard housing; many people go hungry and live in dire poverty; many have to work multiple jobs and cannot have time for leisure, with most Americans not able to have vacation time, less than any European democracy, or Canada or Australia;  and many children are denied a good education system and can only gain minimum wage employment as adults.

The right wing extremists are trying to destroy the New Deal and Great Society reforms, and return American to a century ago before there was social justice and economic opportunity and political reform offered, starting with the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

How can any decent American not rise up in protest and anger at the selfishness and greed of the elite one percent and their propagandists, who do not care what happens to anyone other than their own class?  Why is acquisition of obscene wealth and power so important that these right wingers have no humanity, no common decency, no desire to see their fellow Americans have a chance to succeed as they were given?  Why is the hatred of taxes so vehement, as if one can take his or her wealth to the grave, or give it in obscene amounts to offspring who will never know responsibility or the virtue of accomplishing on their own?  What is wrong with this nation, that 70 years after the “Second Bill of Rights” speech of FDR, we have made very little progress on the goals of the speech, and have even backtracked on them, and we have evil forces wanting to destroy the most significant programs of the New Deal and Great Society?

The Tea Party Out To Destroy All Progress Since 1900! Progressives MUST Fight To Retain Social Justice And Economic Advancements!

America has changed so much in the past 114 years, from the time of the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, the Great Society, and the time of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

America at the end of the Gilded Age was a selfish, greedy nation of the few elite wealthy victimizing the rest of American society.

But then came Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on big business; showing concern for labor; promoting the Food and Drug Administration; and vastly extending the concept of protection of the environment and conservation.

Then came Woodrow Wilson, who gave us the Federal Reserve Banking System; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; the Federal Trade Commission; and the first national labor laws.

Then came Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, changing our lives long term with Social Security; public works programs; bank deposit insurance; stock market regulations; the Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Unemployment Compensation; and labor laws which gave workers and labor unions the right to collective bargaining.

Then came Harry Truman, who promoted integration of the armed forces and Washington, DC; advocated for national health care; and emphasized the need for national commitment to education.

Then came Dwight D. Eisenhower, who enforced civil rights enforcement; promoted federal aid to education; the development of an interstate highway system; and the development of a national space commitment.

Then came John F. Kennedy, who advanced civil rights; promoted the space program; started the Peace Corps; cracked down on the steel industry;  and advocated national health care for the elderly.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson, who promoted massive civil rights laws; successfully passed Medicare and Medicaid; pursued a War on Poverty; massive increases in federal aid to education; began a national commitment to environmental and consumer legislation; and appointed the first African American to the cabinet and to the Supreme Court.

Then came Richard Nixon, who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and attempted wage and price controls to keep down the inflation level.

Then came Jimmy Carter, who further promoted civil rights; saw the need for an Energy Department; and became the third best environmental President after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Then came George H. W. Bush, who signed into law civil rights legislation to promote disabled people.

Then came Bill Clinton, who promoted civil rights advancements; a greater commitment to education; and attempted a national health care program.

Finally came Barack Obama, who brought about ObamaCare; promoted great environmental expansion; advocated for equality of gays and lesbians including gay marriage; and started to take moves toward immigration reforms.

So much has been done by these twelve Presidents to advance social justice, and economic reform—eight Democrats and four Republicans.

But now, the 2014 Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremists and the right wing radio talk shows and Fox News Channel and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and they have declared war on all humane, decent actions that have taken place in the past 114 years, including advocacy of destroying Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of national parks and all labor reforms and the rights of women and the poor!

This is all very shocking and unbelievable, but the battle for progressivism and the retention of the great work done from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama must be forthright and the battle for the future has just begun.  The Republican Party needs to be smashed and reconstituted, if the nation is to grow in the 21st century, rather than move backwards to the 19th century!

Important Anniversaries To Commemorate!

The last few days have seen some important anniversaries worthy of mention.

On September 14, the day that THE ROOSEVELTS Ken Burns series started on PBS, it was the 113th anniversary of the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the Presidency, due to the assassination of President William McKinley, who had been shot on September 6, and died eight days later.  It was no accident that the Ken Burns series, the best documentary in many years, started on that significant day, marking the beginning of the transformation of the American Presidency over the next century and more!

On September 17, two important anniversaries were noted.  The 227th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by the Founding Fathers, a group which saw a need for a strong national government and broad interpretation of the Constitution, as shown through Article 1, Section 8, the “elastic clause”, was celebrated as Constitution Day.  The right wing conservatives and most Republicans of the 2014 variety, including the despicable Tea Party Fascists, have tried to distort the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, and this warping of the Founding Fathers must be fought to reverse the damage done by these groups!

Also, September 17 marks the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, at Antietam, Maryland, in 1862, the 152nd anniversary of that tragic event, and an important moment for the Union in its battle, under Abraham Lincoln, to preserve the Union.

Also, today, September 18, is the 163rd anniversary of the NEW YORK TIMES, still the best newspaper in America, despite some notable shortcomings over the years.

So we have a lot to note and commemorate in mid September!