Woodrow Wilson

Midterm Elections, Second Term, A Political Disaster From Woodrow Wilson To Barack Obama!

The issue of midterm elections, second term of a President, has become one of great interest, as invariably, it weakens the President in his last two years, and inevitably, puts the opposition party in power.

This happened with Ronald Reagan in 1986, George W. Bush in 2006, and now, Barack Obama in 2014.

The second term midterm election also led to stronger opposition support in the time of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, although the Democrats already had control of both houses, gained in the first term midterm elections of 1954.

In the time of Harry Truman, while his Democratic Party kept control in the second term midterm elections of 1950, his party lost 28 seats in the House and 5 in the US Senate, after having lost the first term midterm election and control of both houses to the Republicans in 1946.

In the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt, while his party continued to control both houses of Congress, the second term midterm election in 1938 saw weaker Democratic support than his first six years, with FDR actually gaining seats in the first term midterm election of 1934, the only time until 1998 under Bill Clinton.

In the time of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party lost control of both houses in the second term midterm elections of 1918, just as Wilson was about to go to Versailles to negotiate the end of the First World War, and this insured that the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations would be rejected by a Republican controlled Senate. Wilson had already suffered heavy losses in the first term midterm elections of 1914 in the House of Representatives, although not in the Senate.

The only modern President to avoid second term midterm doldrums was Bill Clinton, who still saw the opposition Republicans in control in 1998, but with the same balance in the Senate and a five seat gain by Clinton’s Democratic Party. However, Clinton and his party had suffered massive losses and control of both houses of Congress in his first term in 1994.

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!

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!

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!

The Wartime Presidency: From James Madison To Barack Obama

Now that it seems evident that America is to be engaged in a long drawn-out war against ISIL (ISIS), it means that we can expect the war to last possibly a generation, 20 years, and affect every Presidential election from 2016 through at least 2032.  It will also transform the Congress, and change the direction of American history, and it comes at a terrible time, as we have greater inequities economically now than even in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

But national security and defense always trump anything else, inevitably and necessarily!

So Barack Obama, who came into office determined to end the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars started by George W. Bush, is to be the promoter of a new war, against his desire.

So this is a good time to reflect on how many Presidents have chosen or been forced  to wage war!

James Madison reluctantly took America through the War of 1812, often depicted as “The Sorry Little War”, which led to the burning of the US Capitol and the White House by the invading British forces.

James K. Polk willingly took us through the Mexican War, leading to the acquisition of the American Southwest and California.

Abraham Lincoln took us into the Civil War, believing there was no alternative to “preserve the Union”.

William McKinley was convinced that the Spanish American War was a moral cause, and it led to the development of the “American Empire” in an age of expansionism and imperialism.  He also waged war to force the Philippines to accept American overlordship, after being “liberated” by the United States from Spanish control.

Theodore Roosevelt continued the fight against the Filipino revolutionaries, in what was well hidden for years and not taught in schools below the college level,, but was known to history as the Filipino Insurrection.

Woodrow Wilson took us into the First World War, after trying to avoid direct involvement for more than two years.

Franklin D. Roosevelt took us into the Second World War against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan,  after isolationists bitterly opposed  such entrance, but forced by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Hawaii.

Harry Truman continued our engagement in the Second World War, and used the atomic bomb against Japan, but also took us into the Korean War.

Dwight D. Eisenhower continued US involvement in the Korean War for the fist six month of his Presidency.

John F. Kennedy escalated our involvement in Vietnam, from 2,000 “advisers”under Eisenhower,  to over 16,500 Green Beret Special Forces by the time he was assassinated.

Lyndon B. Johnson massively escalated our involvement in Vietnam, reaching a grand total of 549.500 troops in 1968.

Richard Nixon continued the Vietnam War for four long years, causing a massive split in the nation, not seen since the Civil War.

George H. W. Bush took us into the Persian Gulf War, to force Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from keeping control of Kuwait, and being a threat to Saudi Arabia.

George W. Bush took us into war in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, and they became the longest wars in American history.

Barack Obama inherited both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and ended our involvement in Iraq, and is soon to end involvement in Afghanistan.  But now the war against ISIL (ISIS) is forecast to last a generation!

So 15 Presidents were commanders in chief in wartime, and this does not include invasions or bombings,  or undeclared naval wars, or wars against Native Americans!

The PBS “Roosevelts” Series Inspires Need For Progressive Leadership To Stop New “Gilded Age”!

The Ken Burns PBS series, “The Roosevelts”, started on Sunday night and continues through Saturday night, a 14 hour event, and is easily the best documentary presented on PBS in many years!

Seeing the story of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt  and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspired a desire in this author and blogger of the need for Progressive leadership of the type that TR and FDR and Eleanor represented, now in the 21st Century, to stop the abuses and damage that right wing conservatism has done, creating a new “Gilded Age’, and seeing wealthy billionaires wield power, and attempt fix elections, similar to JP Morgan and other millionaires at the time of TR in the White House.

But TR used the Presidency and federal power to crack down on unregulated capitalism, in what became known as the Progressive Era, and future Presidents of both parties, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama followed suit, but except for FDR and JFK, not in the same exciting vein and dynamic leadership that TR represented!

We now desperately need a new “Progressive Era”, but the right wing Supreme Court, picked by conservative Republicans, has done great damage, and the Congressional Republicans have made it very difficult for President Obama to accomplish many of his goals, although he has done a great deal that can be commended, despite strong obstructionism!

But to recognize the democratic nation that TR and FDR promoted, we need a massive change, and this series could have such an effect on the American psyche in the future, and we should all pray for that as the only way to advance democracy, justice, and true freedom in America in the future!

The Top 30 Presidential Cabinet Officers In American History

Presidents do not accomplish their goals and policies on their own, but rather depend on the best advice and counsel of their cabinet members.

Since the Presidential Cabinet idea was formulated by George Washington and the first Congress under the Constitution, we have had the creation over time of 15 Cabinet agencies, and some of those who have held Cabinet posts under Presidents have had a dramatic impact on their times.

Below is a list of what the author believes are those 30 Cabinet officers who have had the greatest effect on American history, without ranking them in any order:

Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington

Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State under James Monroe

William Seward, Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State under Ulysses S. Grant

Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior under Rutherford B. Hayes

John Hay, Secretary of State under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt

James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture under William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior under Woodrow Wilson

Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman

Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Henry Morgenthau, Jr, Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt

George C. Marshall, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford

George Romney, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Richard Nixon

Cecil Andrus, Secretary of the Interior under Jimmy Carter

Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton

Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton

Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton

Richard Riley, Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and Barack Obama

Note that 25 Presidents and 12 of the 15 Cabinet Departments are included in this list. Nine Secretaries of State; three Secretaries of the Treasury; one Secretary of Defense; one Attorney General; six Secretaries of the Interior; two Secretaries of Agriculture; one Secretary of Commerce; three Secretaries of Labor; one Secretary of Health and Human Services; one Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; one Secretary of Transportation; and one Secretary of Education make up the list.

Also note that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had five cabinet members who made the list; Bill Clinton had four; and Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson had three each!

A Century Ago, Full Scale Outbreak Of “The Great War”, And Woodrow Wilson’s Neutrality Declaration!

A century ago, with Great Britain and France joining the war in Eastern Europe, which had begun on July 28, “The Great War”, World War I, was in full swing!

The event shocked President Woodrow Wilson, who declared American neutrality, and stated that America would be “neutral in thought, as well as action”, a statement not easily enforced, as how could one prevent partisanship on the events going on, as to which side should win, and whether American should join the war “to save democracy?”

So the debate goes on ever since, with many blaming President Wilson for us entering the war in April 1917, and some stating the whole interventionist foreign policy of America dates from that event, and sees Wilson as the perpetrator, indirectly, of every “sin” America has been engaged in since 1914!

Others have seen Wilson as the great idealist, who wanted to make the world safe for democracy, and supports his goals of ending war and starting the ill fated League of Nations.

Others have argued over the years for isolationism in world affairs, that this is the only way to keep America safe from foreign wars, and loss of life on a massive scale.

The historical reputation of Woodrow Wilson has gone through ups and downs over the past century, and continues to be heatedly debated even in 2014!

President Warren G. Harding Love Letters Revealed After Nearly A Century!

This author and blogger has taught at the college level now for 42 plus years, and one of his favorite discussions was of the Presidency of Warren G Harding (1921-1923), generally acknowledged as the worst President of the 20th century, and close to the bottom of all Presidents on any ranking, sharing that with James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce.

Harding is not remembered for very much, but he was the President who appointed former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice; pardoned Socialist leader Eugene Debs from prison; had his Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, who had been the Republican Presidential nominee in 1916 against Woodrow Wilson, negotiate the Washington Naval Conference that promoted naval disarmament; established the first federal child welfare program; supported the idea of an eight hour work day; advocated an anti lynching bill to protect African Americans; and created the Bureau of the Budget.

He also had the greatest popular vote victory for a first term President in American history, and the percentage of the vote was only later surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon after already residing in the White House!

Despite these accomplishments, Harding is best remembered for the scandals of his administration in the Justice Department, the Interior Department, and the Veterans Bureau (all of these generally known as the Teapot Dome scandals); and also, even more notably his sexual liaisons in and out of the White House years, most notably with Nan Britton, with whom he had an illegitimate daughter; and with Carrie Phillips, who he shared love letters discovered in the 1960s, but banned from revelation and publication at that time to avoid embarrassment.

Well, now those love letters, originally held by the Ohio Historical Society, are opened to scholars and journalists, and are the most extensive set of love letters ever discovered about any President! Much of it is x rated, and a bit shocking to many, as he describes his private parts as “Jerry”, and is extremely descriptive in his sexual language.

So one of the stories I told my students, that they would have to wait decades to learn about in detail, is open and available, revealed this week at the Library of Congress!

It will bring more attention to the 29th President, but is unlikely to raise him from the basement of rankings of Presidents of the United States!

Presidential Candidate Losers Become Secretaries Of State

If one cannot win the White House, there is always the consolation prize of being the leader of the Presidential cabinet, as Secretary of State.

So we see a distinguished list of Presidential candidate losers who took on the most important and most publicized cabinet agency, the State Department. What follows is the list of these distinguished public servants and the national election that they lost.

Henry Clay (1824) was Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams.

Daniel Webster (1836) was Secretary of State under William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore.

Lewis Cass (1848) was Secretary of State under James Buchanan.

James G. Blaine (1884) was Secretary of State under James Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison.

William Jennings Bryan (1896, 1900, 1908) was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.

Charles Evans Hughes (1916) was Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

John Kerry (2004) was Secretary of State under Barack Obama.