Thomas Jefferson

Twice There Have Been Three Presidents With Two Terms Of Office: Are We Likely To Have This Record Broken In 2020?

The years from 1993-2017 saw three consecutive Presidents serve eight years in office, with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

This was only the second time that this had happened, with the first being under Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe from 1801-1825.

So the question arises what are the odds of Donald Trump winning a second term, and serving eight years in office?

One would think that it would be highly unlikely that Trump, after such a divisive and unconstitutional Presidency, the worst in American history bar none, could possibly accomplish that feat.

But the fear is that it could indeed happen, if the following conditions occurred;

Donald Trump takes us into a major war, as divisive as that might be, because never has a sitting President lost reelection in the middle of a war.

The Democratic Party splits and divides, and is unable to be unified around a nominee.

A major international terrorist attack takes place shortly before the election, having the tendency to unite people around the sitting President in a fit of patriotism.

An independent candidate with money, such as Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame, or Tom Steyer, runs a campaign and gains a substantial percentage of the popular vote, denying it to the Democratic nominee.

The economy continues to flourish, which seems unlikely as this entry is being written, as already, it is the longest economic expansion in American history, and cannot go on forever. But if there are no clear signs of a recession before the election, the President in office invariably gains the edge in the election results.

So with these five scenarios, it is clear that Donald Trump, despite all we know about his shortcomings and abuse of power and corruption, could be the fourth straight President to win two terms in the Presidency, breaking historical record.

Is Chief Justice John Roberts On Road To Judicial Leadership Of John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes, And Earl Warren?

Chief Justice John Roberts is clearly a conservative on the Supreme Court, but he is also very much aware of and concerned about the turmoil in American society, and concerned about the long term reputation of the Court, as well as his own historical image, since he has a sense of history.

So Roberts has surprised Court watchers in some of his decisions, and he has emerged as the “swing” vote on the Court, as only he can prevent the Court from going so hard to the Right that it will lose its image of being an institution that promotes fairness and equity under the Constitution.

So expect that John Roberts will become a true judicial leader on the level of John Marshall (1801-1835), Charles Evans Hughes (1930-1941), and Earl Warren (1953-1969).

These three Chief Justices, generally acknowledged as the three greatest of the 16 previous Chief Justices before Roberts came to the Court in 2005, all demonstrated courage and principle, and came into conflict with Presidents.

Marshall had to deal with the strong opposition of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, while Charles Evans Hughes had Franklin D. Roosevelt challenging the Court during the Great Depression, and Earl Warren steered the Court in a direction not always agreed with by Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

Now John Roberts has to deal with Donald Trump, who he has already issued a criticism, when Trump spoke of “Obama Judges”, “Bush Judges”, and “Clinton Judges”, with Roberts asserting there is no such thing as judges based on a President, but rather judges adhering to the Constitution as they see it.

This makes it quite clear to many observers that Roberts is ready to take a more moderate stand than he does typically, as he did in saving the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) in 2012.

Expect Roberts to side, if necessary, with the four “liberals” on the Court (chosen by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), with the constitutional crisis that has clearly arisen, including trying to convince the four conservatives selected by both President Bushes and even the two Trump judges, to consider how the Court was unanimous in curbing President Richard Nixon in the Watergate Scandal 45 years ago, and Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit 22 years ago.

It is the Supreme Court that is being looked to as the ultimate government branch to rein in a President far more abusive than Richard Nixon, and to reassert separation of powers and checks and balances.

Vice Presidency Has Led To Presidential Nominations Multiple Times Since The 1960s

The Vice Presidency was never good breeding ground for Presidential nominations since the Civil War.

Only John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren and John C. Breckinridge were nominated for President before the Civil War, with all winning the Presidency, except for Breckinridge, who had been Vice President under James Buchanan from 1857-1861, and then nominated by Southern Democrats who refused to accept the official Democratic nominee, Stephen Douglas in 1860.

The only Vice President from 1860 to 1960 who was nominated for President was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term Vice President, Henry A. Wallace, who ran as the Progressive Party nominee for President in 1948 against his own successor in the Vice Presidency, President Harry Truman.

But since 1960, six Vice Presidents have run as Presidential candidates, including;

Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1968

Hubert Humphrey in 1968

Gerald Ford in 1976 (who had succeeded Richard Nixon under the 25th Amendment)

Walter Mondale in 1984

George H. W. Bush in 1988

Al Gore in 2000

Nixon and Bush won the Presidency, while Ford lost a full term after finishing the partial term he succeeded to, and Gore won the popular vote, but failed to win the Electoral College.

The point is that Joe Biden would be the 7th Vice President who ran for President after serving as Number 2 in the executive branch.

And Nixon the first time, Mondale, Bush, and Gore all had a jump start on the nomination of their party for the Presidency, with only Humphrey and Ford having major challengers.

So at least by recent history in the past half century plus, being a Vice President gives a leap forward to those who wish to run for President.

Barack Obama Fortunate For History That He Is Between George W. Bush And Donald Trump In The Order Of Presidents In Office

In the long run of history, where a President is in the order of attaining the Presidency really matters.

So, for instance, John Adams is between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and while Adams ranks around the middle in ranking of Presidents by historians and political scientists, he is rated much lower than the two Presidents before and after him, who are in the top ten of any listing.

The same goes for William Howard Taft, who is between Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, both of whom are in the top quarter of Presidents, while Taft is rated in the mid 20s.

And the same is true for George H. W. Bush, who is between Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, both of whom are rated higher than Bush, who is rated in the later teens as President.

On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln comes between the two men usually rated the two worst Presidents, James Buchanan before him and Andrew Johnson after him.

And it is now clear that Barack Obama, rated 11th in one poll, 8th in another poll, and 17th in a third poll, all within the two years he has been out of the Presidency, is fortunate to have George W. Bush, rated in the 30s, and Donald Trump rated either at the bottom under Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, or at most just above them, insuring he will, like Lincoln, always be rated much better.

March 4 Presidential Inauguration History Significant So Many Times In American History

Today is the original Presidential Inauguration Day through 1933 every fourth year.

Some March 4ths stand out.

1801–Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated, the first time an opposition party takes over the Presidency, and without any bloodshed or violence.

1829–Andrew Jackson is inaugurated, and a mob descends on the White House to celebrate, and windows, glasses, and China are broken.

1841–William Henry Harrison is inaugurated, gives the longest inaugural address in history, and takes sick with pneumonia that evening, and dies after one month in office.

1861–Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated at a time when Southern states have broken away from the Union and declared their independence.

1865–Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated for his second term, and gives the greatest Inaugural Address in American history, calling for peace and reconciliation when the Civil War ends, and his future assassin, John Wilkes Booth is in the crowd and moving toward the inaugural stand as Lincoln speaks.

1913–Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated as the Democrats, after a half century of Republican dominance of national government.

1933–Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated at the worst moments of the Great Depression, and FDR talks of a New Deal for the American people, the second greatest Inaugural Address, and the Congress pushes through the 20th Amendment, setting up future inauguration dates to be on January 20, starting in 1937.

The Wealthiest And The Poorest Presidents

The American Presidents have varied greatly in wealth acquired or inherited in their lifetimes.

Some were born poor, such as Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, due to family circumstances, with Clinton and Nixon acquiring wealth in their lifetimes, but Johnson would still be the seventh poorest President at death, according to statistics.

Materials gathered by scholars have led to conclusions on the net worth of our 44 Presidents, including their post Presidential years.

Easily, at least by the knowledge we have now, Donald Trump is likely the wealthiest President, although subject to change by further Congressional investigation of Trump’s finances, sure to come in the 116th Congress by congressional subpoenas. By estimate, Trump is wealthier than all the other 43 men who have been President of the United States.

After Trump, probably John F. Kennedy, had he not been assassinated, would have inherited close to $1 billion later in his life.

Other than Trump and Kennedy, George Washington would be considered the wealthiest President, in modern terms, around $580 million.

Behind him would be Thomas Jefferson ($234 million); Theodore Roosevelt ($138 million); Andrew Jackson ($131 million); James Madison ($112 million); and Lyndon B. Johnson ($108 million), with all those numbers being estimates.

Other Presidents who had substantial estimated wealth would include Herbert Hoover ($82 million; Bill Clinton ($75 million); Franklin D. Roosevelt ($66 million); and John Tyler ($57 million). Clinton acquired most of his wealth post Presidency by speeches and authored books, and will likely rise much higher if he lives a long life.

At the other end of the scale, we had 13 Presidents who had $1 million or less wealth by all estimates, in 2016 dollars, including in ranked order:

William McKinley

Warren G. Harding

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

James A. Garfield

Chester Alan Arthur

Woodrow Wilson

Calvin Coolidge

Harry Truman

Notice that the bulk of these Presidents served in the years from Buchanan to McKinley, the last half of the 19th century, a total of seven out of eleven Presidents.

The three Presidents from Wilson through Coolidge also are on this list, and Harry Truman ends up as the least prosperous President at his death, as compared to Andrew Johnson the poorest at birth.

Barack Obama is rated just below John Tyler at number 13 on the wealth list at an estimated $40 million, with potential over a long lifetime to become one of the top few wealthiest Presidents by speeches, books, and other activities due to the stature and prestige of being a former President in modern times.

Other Presidents are rated in the middle on wealth, such as George W. Bush at $39 million; George H. W. Bush at $26 million; John Quincy Adams at $23 million; John Adams at $21 million; Richard Nixon at $17 million; Ronald Reagan at $14 million; Dwight D. Eisenhower at $9 million; and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter at $8 million each.

The Struggle Of Donald Trump With Chief Justice John Roberts More Dangerous Than Earlier Challenges Of Presidents To Supreme Court Chief Justices

Donald Trump has challenged Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court, just as he has challenged every other institution of government, but Chief Justice John Roberts seems well prepared to deal with Trump, if and when he gets out of hand.

It is certainly a dangerous struggle, as Donald Trump has an authoritarian bent unlike any earlier President, but it seems clear that Roberts is ready to do what must be done to keep the President within the Constitution.

Earlier in history, there were major confrontations of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson with Chief Justice John Marshall; Abraham Lincoln with Chief Justice Roger Taney; Franklin D. Roosevelt with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes; Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon with Chief Justice Earl Warren; Richard Nixon with Chief Justice Warren Burger; and Barack Obama with Chief Justice John Roberts.

But Trump has demanded that the court system favor him in all of his executive orders, and other executive actions, but the Court has refused to back him on a regular basis, leading Trump to say that there are Clinton Judges, Obama Judges, and Bush Judges, but Roberts responding that there are no such descriptions, as all are dedicated to the rule of law, a true rebuke of the President.

On a recent executive order to deny asylum automatically to those who seek it, the Court ruled 5-4 against it, with Roberts joining the four Democratic appointments on the Court, and he has earlier upheld ObamaCare in 2012, and at other times, has sided against conservatives.

It is clear that Roberts sees the Supreme Court as “his Court”, and is concerned about the reputation of the Court long term, so one can be assured that if a case comes up against Trump trying to grab too much power, that he will, likely vote against him, as the entire Court, including three Nixon appointees, voted against him in US V. Nixon of 1974, and when the Court, including two Clinton appointees unanimously voted against Clinton in the Clinton V. Jones Case of 1997.

Is George H. W. Bush The “Best” One Term President In American History, Surpassing James K. Polk, And What About Jimmy Carter?

Now that George H. W. Bush is part of American history, the question arises whether he should be judged the “best” one term President in American history.

We have had the following 12 one term elected Presidents who finished their term, but were not given a second term:

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
James K. Polk
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Rutherford B. Hayes
Benjamin Harrison
William Howard Taft
Herbert Hoover
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush

Eight of them, all but Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, and Hayes were defeated for reelection, with those four choosing not to run, and all of these four, except Polk, very unpopular and aware that they were not wanted to be nominated for another term.

The usual viewpoint has been that James K. Polk, with the acquisition of the American Southwest by war with Mexico, and acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by the Oregon treaty with Great Britain, was the most successful one term President. Labeled an expansionist and an imperialist by many, the fact that he presided over the greatest expansion of US territory since Thomas Jefferson, has helped him to be regarded by scholars as a “successful” President, rated 12 to 14 in scholarly polls.

Now, some are saying that George H. W. Bush may be greater than Polk, due to his foreign policy accomplishments in particular, including the end of the Cold War, the unification of Germany, and the Persian Gulf War, along with his domestic policies of “A Thousand Points Of Light”, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Some on this list, including Van Buren, Pierce, Buchanan, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, Taft, and Hoover are seen in a poor light, while J. Q. Adams is seen as not having succeeded in his one term, although a great man, and his father, John Adams, criticized for the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, curbing civil liberties during his term.

The only other one term President who could be seen as competing would be Jimmy Carter, with his Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, the Panama Canal Treaty, his Human Rights advocacy, his creation of new cabinet agencies (Departments of Education, Health And Human Services, Energy), and his exceptional record on the environment, but his negatives, including high inflation, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Cuban Mariel Boat Lift all help to undermine his case.

So, one could argue that Polk and Bush may be competitive as the “best” one term elected President, without a clear cut answer to the question of who was the better President.

It might be best to say that Polk was the best 19th century one term elected President, while Bush was the best 20th century one term elected President, with Jimmy Carter as the runner up in that regard.

George H. W. Bush And John Adams: Comparisons

With the death of George H. W. Bush, we can make many comparisons with John Adams.

Both were born in Massachusetts.

Both served as Vice President under their Presidents for eight years, John Adams under George Washington, and George H. W. Bush under Ronald Reagan.

Both only had one term as President, defeated for reelection.

Both are seen as lower in ranking than their predecessors, George Washington and Ronald Reagan, who served two terms in office.

Both had the President elected after them rank higher in rankings of Presidents, and both Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton served two terms in office.

Both outlived their wives.

Both had a son become President, and live to see that occur.

Both reached to the age of 90, with Adams being the longest lived until Ronald Reagan, then Gerald Ford, then George H. W. Bush, and then Jimmy Carter surpassed his age.

Bush died at the oldest age of any President, although Jimmy Carter could surpass Bush if he lives to March 22, 2019.

Both died after 25 plus years in retirement.

Both have been rated higher than their son, John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush, in rankings of historians and political scientists, and it is unlikely that their sons will ever surpass them.

Presidents In Conflict With The Judiciary Are Nothing New Historically, But Trump Could Be The Biggest Threat Yet To Our Constitutional System

The conflict of President Donald Trump with the judiciary is not the first time there has been a challenge from a President to the judicial branch.

Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson had regular conflict with Chief Justice John Marshall and the federal courts in the first third of the 19th century.

Abraham Lincoln had vehement disagreements with Chief Justice Roger Taney in the era of the Civil War.

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both found the Supreme Court as standing in the way of progressive reform in the early 20th century.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was so frustrated by a conservative Supreme Court negating important legislation of the New Deal in the mid 1930s, that he proposed the idea of adding six new Justices to the Court in 1937. This came to be known as the “Court Packing” plan, and was soundly defeated, including by members of his own Democratic Party.

Richard Nixon had issues with the rulings of the Earl Warren Court before he was President, and the continued Warren influence on the Court under his successor, Warren Burger. And, Nixon was stopped dead in his tracks in US. V. Nixon in 1974, forcing him to hand over the Watergate Tapes to the Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leading him to resign the Presidency in August 1974.

Barack Obama was critical of the John Roberts Court on its conservative decisions early on in his Presidency in 2010.

And now, Donald Trump has unleashed what many consider the strongest challenge to the whole federal judiciary, alarming many constitutional experts as far more dangerous and threatening to the checks and balances of the Constitution and the separation of powers.

It is clear that Trump has declared war on the judiciary, but it could be that the Roberts Court will smack back at him when cases regarding his abuse of power make it to the Court, so Trump may be “hoist by hid own petard”, and regret the attacks he has made on the whole court system.