Woodrow Wilson

Historic Leaders Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is one of the most important of all committees in the history of that body, having begun as early as 1816.

It is one of the most significant committees, with many future potential Presidential seekers wishing to be seen as “experts” on American foreign policy.

It is a committee often in conflict with the President of the United States on strategy and policy toward other nations.

There have been many colorful leaders of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, who have become famed or notorious for their principles and impact on American foreign policy.

The committee again has become focused on as part of the heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal, and its recent former Chairman, John Kerry, is now the Secretary of State, charged with gaining the support of the committee, which, clearly, however, under Republican control, is a lost cause.

Among its leaders have been Presidential nominees Rufus King, Henry Clay, and John Kerry; President James Buchanan; and Vice Presidents Hannibal Hamlin and Joe Biden.

Such prominent political figures, other than those mentioned above, who served as Chairman of the committee include: Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Sumner, John Sherman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., William Borah, Arthur Vandenberg, J. William Fulbright, Frank Church, Charles Percy, Richard Lugar, Claiborne Pell, Jesse Helms, and present Chairman Bob Corker, with Fulbright serving the longest as Chairman, 16 years from 1959-1975.

Those who made the most news included Lodge fighting Woodrow Wilson on the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations; Vandenberg playing a crucial role in backing the containment policy of President Harry Truman, despite them being from different parties; Fulbright fighting against the Vietnam War under Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon; and Helms being a major problem for Bill Clinton on many foreign policy issues.

The Uncertainties Of American Politics: Envisioning Donald Trump As Possible President!

Some observers are starting to wonder whether billionaire celebrity Donald Trump could actually be elected President of the United States!

It would seem to be impossible, a crazy idea!

And yet, when one looks at history, one has to consider the following:

In 1911, who would have thought that a recently elected Governor of New Jersey, and former Princeton University President, named Woodrow Wilson, would become President in the Presidential election of 1912?

In 1959, who would have thought that a mediocre Senator of Catholic religion, named John F. Kennedy, would overcome his faith and become President in the Presidential election of 1960?

In 1967, who would have thought that a losing Presidential candidate in 1960 and losing gubernatorial candidate in California in 1962, named Richard Nixon, would overcome his losses and bad press and become President in the Presidential election of 1968?

In 1975, who would have thought that an obscure one term Governor of Georgia, who many ridiculed, named Jimmy Carter, would overcome his obscurity and Southern heritage, to become the first elected Southerner to the Presidency in the Presidential election of 1976, since Zachary Taylor in 1848?

In 1979, who would have thought an aging actor, who had already tried twice for the Presidency, named Ronald Reagan, would overcome disadvantages to become President in the Presidential election of 1980?

In 1991, who would have thought the governor of a small Southern state, Arkansas, named Bill Clinton, would overcome a sex scandal that had destroyed Gary Hart in 1987, and go on to become President in the Presidential election of 1992?

And in 2007, who would have thought that a mixed race African American with the strange name of Barack Hussein Obama, would overcome Hillary Clinton, and go on to become President in the Presidential election of 2008?

So who is to say that Donald Trump cannot overcome obstacles and go on to become the 45th President of the United States in the Presidential election of 2016?

The Top Ten Transformational Presidents

The issue of “transformational” Presidents has revived lately, as it is clear that we are living through a “transformational” Presidency of Barack Obama, with still a year and a half to go in his tenure in the Oval Office.

With all of the controversy that surrounds Barack Obama, there is no doubt now that Obama has been a transformational President in so many ways.

So the question arises, who among our Presidents has been “transformational”? And in what order would Presidents on this list be ranked?

It seems clear that the top of the list would have to be George Washington, for having established standards and traditions that would be long lasting; and Abraham Lincoln, for keeping the Union together during the Civil War, and ending slavery.

Following Washington and Lincoln would be Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took America through the Great Depression and the Second World War, and changed the relationship of the federal government with the population of the nation, promoting a safety net that would help those most needy. He also created a large federal government that would never become smaller again, due to the Great Depression and the Second World War, and then the Cold War.

Once we go beyond Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, ranking gets much more difficult, but this author thinks the rest of the top ten would be as follows from number four to number ten:

Theodore Roosevelt, who would revive the Presidential office from slumber and use the “bully pulpit” to accomplish reform and federal government regulation of the economy, and started America’s role in world affairs.

Lyndon B. Johnson, who would promote the passage of massive reforms, including civil rights laws, Medicare, and a War on Poverty.

Woodrow Wilson, who would promote major reforms domestically and involvement in world affairs, taking America out of isolationism as a policy during the First World War.

Ronald Reagan, who changed the direction of the nation to Conservatism after a half century of Liberalism, and negotiated arms agreements with the Soviet Union, and helped to bring down the rival super power.

Barack Obama, who brought about health care coverage for most Americans; avoided a massive war; promoted social change in many areas; presided over a major revival of the economy only matched by FDR; and became a major environmental supporter.

Harry Truman, who responded to the Cold War with the Soviet Union in an effective way and determined the direction of foreign policy for a half century, and institutionalized the New Deal of FDR.

James K. Polk, who accomplished the great expansion of American territory by treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, creating the continental United States.

Notice that Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton do NOT make this list!

Commentary on this analysis is welcomed!

Could We Have Four Way Race For President, As In 1860, 1912, and 1948?

With the American political system in turmoil right now, and Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders getting most of the attention, and Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, the so called “Establishment” candidates getting heavy criticism from within and outside their party structures, one has to wonder if it is possible we might have a four way race for President, with any result possible!

Certainly, either the Republican or the Democratic nominee would win the election, but it might lead to a situation where that winning nominee only gets as low as Abraham Lincoln gained in 1806 (39.5 percent) or as Woodrow Wilson gained in 1912 (42 percent) of the entire vote. Or the winner could gain as much as Harry Truman gained in 1948 (49.5 percent).

It all depends on how strong the third and fourth party candidates would be, with all four candidates in 1860 gaining double digit support; three of the four candidates in 1912 gaining double digit support; and only the two major party candidates in 1948 gaining double digit support.

Right now, if Donald Trump rain as a third party candidate, it would seem he would gain double digit support, while if Bernie Sanders ran, it seems more likely that he would gain medium single digit support.

The 1948 situation, where the third and fourth party candidates only gained about two percent each of the popular vote seems unlikely, but even in that year, one of those candidates (Strom Thurmond) gained four states and the second highest number of electoral votes up to that time for a third party candidate

The 1912 situation, with two candidates having results in the 20s and the winner 42 percent seems more likely in 2016, with the fourth candidate gaining about the six percent that Socialist Eugene Debs gained in 1912, with Bernie Sanders likely that individual.

The 1860 situation, with all four candidates being double digit, and the winner being under 40 percent could also happen, but still the two major party candidates would win the bulk of the electoral votes, and one would win the Presidency.

With the likelihood that Hillary Clinton (the presumed Democratic nominee) will be able to keep the loyalty of a higher percentage of her party than Jeb Bush would have in the Republican Party; and with Donald Trump likely to gain more total public support than Bernie Sanders, we would have the result being Hillary Clinton winning, and the potential for Donald Trump to beat out Jeb Bush or some other Republican for second place in popular votes and electoral votes, making the 2016 GOP Presidential nominee only the second major party nominee (after William Howard Taft in 1912) to end up third rather than second in the final election results!

The 10 Worst, Most Disastrous Supreme Court Justices Since 1900

The Supreme Court has had 58 of its 112 members since 1900, with 9 of them being Chief Justices, and 4 of those also having earlier served as Associate Justices.

It is more fun to discuss the greatest Supreme Court Justices since 1900, as done in an earlier blog post, but here are the 10 worst, most disastrous Supreme Court Justices, listed chronologically,

Willis Van Devanter
James Clark McReynolds
George Sutherland
Pierce Butler
Fred M. Vinson
Tom C. Clark
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito

The first four are known as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, united against the New Deal, and causing Franklin D. Roosevelt to become engaged in the controversial Court Packing Plan of 1937. Van Devanter was appointed by William Howard Taft; McReynolds by Woodrow Wilson; and Sutherland and Butler by Warren G. Harding.

Vinson and Clark were appointed by Harry Truman, with judicial appointments one area that Truman was rated as poor in selection, despite other areas of strength in his Presidency.

Powell was selected by Richard Nixon; Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Alito by George W. Bush.

Powell wrote a memorandum that had a long range influence, promoting the development of right wing think tanks, and forecasting the eventual Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010, granting corporations and wealthy individuals the right to engage in politics without any financial limitations. He saw those who wished to regulate business as dangers to unregulated capitalism, and argued for aggressive actions against any regulatory power by governments at all levels. This memorandum was sent before Powell was appointed to the Supreme Court, and was not generally known about until recent years, after his death.

So 3 of the 10 worst Justices were selected by Democrats, and the other 7 by Republicans, a total of 8 Presidents involved in these terrible selections.

The 15 Greatest Supreme Court Justices Since 1900

The Supreme Court has become more controversial than ever in recent years, and the decisions of the John Roberts Court in 2015 only added fuel to the fire, regarding who the greatest and worst Supreme Court Justices have been in American history.

We have had 112 Supreme Court Justices, and 17 Chief Justices, including 5 who served as Associate Justice as well.

58 Justices have served since 1900, with a few selected before that date but serving into the 20th century. This includes 9 Chief Justices, including four who had served as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.

If one had to select the top 15 Supreme Court Justices since 1900, without ranking them specifically, but instead creating a list chronologically, they would be listed as follows:

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Charles Evans Hughes
Louis Brandeis
Harlan Fiske Stone
Benjamin Cardozo
Hugo Black
Felix Frankfurter
William O. Douglas
Earl Warren
William J. Brennan, Jr.
Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun
John Paul Stevens
Sandra Day O’Connor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Note that 9 of these 15 Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republicans—Holmes by Theodore Roosevelt; Hughes by William Howard Taft and then elevated to Chief Justice by Herbert Hoover; Stone by Calvin Coolidge; Cardozo by Herbert Hoover; Warren and Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Blackmun by Richard Nixon; Stevens by Gerald Ford; and O’Connor by Ronald Reagan.

Democratic Presidents chose the following: Brandeis by Woodrow Wilson; Black, Frankfurter and Douglas by Franklin D. Roosevelt; Stone elevated to Chief Justice by FDR; Marshall by Lyndon B. Johnson; and Ginsburg by Bill Clinton.

Barack Obama Now Insured Of Stature As Historic Domestic Reform Leader With Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, And Lyndon B. Johnson!

The victory yesterday of ObamaCare at the Supreme Court, by a margin of 6-3, insures that Barack Obama will be listed historically in the company of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson in their massive accomplishments in domestic reforms!

Woodrow Wilson accomplished the passage of the Federal Reserve Act; the Federal Trade Commission Act; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; and the enactment of the first federal labor laws and assistance to farmers. His programs were both the “New Freedom” and elements of Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt accomplished the massive list of reforms known as the “New Deal”, in the areas of banking, the stock market, government intervention in business, labor, agriculture, housing, and most significantly, in Social Security and other aid to the poor, as well as major public works programs. He also took us out of the worst of the Great Depression.

Lyndon B. Johnson accomplished the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, along with immigration reform, civil rights legislation, greatly expanded aid to education, and the “war on poverty”, all part of the “Great Society.” Johnson also enacted consumer and environmental legislation and two new Cabinet agencies. He brought about the greatest amount of domestic reform since FDR, who he idolized.

Barack Obama has now accomplished health care reform to cover all Americans, a massive step first proposed by Theodore Roosevelt in his “New Nationalism” campaign as a third party campaign for President in 1912. Additionally, he has promoted environmental legislation by executive order; advancements in civil rights enforcement; a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Wall Street reform; immigration reform through executive order; and many lesser reforms that all add up to the best domestic record of achievement since the 1960s! He also took us out of the Great Recession, the greatest economic downturn since FDR and the Great Depression! He is the greatest reform President since Lyndon B. Johnson!

President William Howard Taft’s Massive Impact On Supreme Court History!

President William Howard Taft, our 27th President, never gets a fair shake in history, due to the misfortune of being in office between two charismatic Presidents,Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and facing both in the Presidential Election of 1912, and ending up third, the only time a major party Presidential candidate ended up other than first or second in an election.

Taft may have had the worst re-election defeat in American history, winning only two states and 8 electoral votes in 1912, but despite that, Taft goes down in history as, in many ways, the most influential President on the matter of the Supreme Court, other than Franklin D. Roosevelt.

How is that, one might ask?

Well, Taft set a record of making the most appointments in one term ever in American history, as SIX vacancies opened up on the Court, including Chief Justice Edward Douglass White and Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes having the most impact. Also, strong conservative Willis Van Devanter served 26 years on the Court, working against FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s.

Only George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt surpassed him in appointments, and Andrew Jackson matched him.

Since Taft served as Chief Justice by appointment of President Warren G. Harding after 1921 until 1930, he both picked his predecessor, and was followed as Chief Justice by Hughes, who was appointed by President Herbert Hoover as his replacement, with Hughes having resigned from the Court to run against Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

Additionally, Taft was the Chief Justice who did the lobbying that led to plans for a separate Supreme Court Building, although he died in 1930, never seeing the Court building completed and opened in 1935.

So William Howard Taft had a vast impact on the history of the Supreme Court!

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!

Divorce And The Presidency: Adlai Stevenson To The Present

The news of the death of Happy Rockefeller, the second wife and widow of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, brings to mind the issue of “domestic bliss” or the lack of it in our politicians, past and present.

Rockefeller was thought to be the leading Republican candidate for President in 1964, but when he divorced his first wife and married his second wife, his chances for the nomination evaporated very quickly.

Only Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, had been a nominee and been divorced before Rockefeller’s situation came along a decade later.

This did not mean that there were never liaisons and love triangles before, as Warren G. Harding had been cheating on his wife, but never had thought of divorce.

And Franklin D. Roosevelt had stayed with Eleanor Roosevelt, knowing that if he divorced her, his chances for a political career were over.

There was plenty of sexual “hanky panky” throughout American history, without any thought of divorce, including, besides Harding and FDR the following: Franklin Pierce, James A. Garfield, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton, and others.

But none of them ever considered divorce seriously, and Stevenson was hurt by his divorce, as was Rockefeller.

But that changed when Ronald Reagan ran in 1980, and had been divorced more than 30 years earlier.

And since Reagan, we have had Bob Dole, John Kerry, and John McCain, all divorced, but nominated by their parties, although no other divorced person has been elected President.

So divorce, so common in politics now, is no longer an issue, as it was throughout our history!