Zachary Taylor

C Span 2017 Presidential Survey Results On George W. Bush And Bill Clinton: Little Hope Of Further Rise, And Never Above Barack Obama

The C Span 2017 Presidential survey gives evidence that the two Presidents before Barack Obama–George W. Bush and Bill Clinton—are unlikely to rise very much from their positions in the recent polling.

George W. Bush was a very low 36 in 2009 and now has risen a few notches to 33, while Bill Clinton, who had been 21 in 2000, and rose to 15 in 2009, remained at 15 in 2017.

Bush’s slight rise is due to recognition that he did have some virtues, as with his promotion of immigration reform although it failed to be achieved, his education reforms (No Child Left Behind), his promotion of tolerance toward Muslims after September 11, his prescription drug program for seniors, and his aid to Africa on AIDS.

But there is little room to move up, as to believe that Bush’s failures will ever be overlooked enough that he will rise above Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford, seems delusional.

So at the most, Bush might move above Rutherford B. Hayes, who has had a dramatic drop from 26 in 2000 to 33 in 2009 and slightly up to 32 in 2017; Zachary Taylor (who died after the third shortest term); Benjamin Harrison (who was sandwiched in between Grover Cleveland’s two terms); and James A. Garfield (who died after the second shortest term due to assassination). It is not really an accomplishment to pass two short term Presidents, and two one term Presidents of the Gilded Age. No one higher from Number 28 Richard Nixon upward is a likely candidate to fall below Bush ever in the future. So Bush will not be like Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, or Lyndon B. Johnson, who started off low and then rose to the top ten over time.

As far as Bill Clinton is concerned, his original low standing was due to the fact that he had the most corrupt Democratic Party administration, although it was on a lesser level than Republicans Richard Nixon, Warren G. Harding, Ulysses S. Grant, and Ronald Reagan. His personal sex scandals brought him down as he was leaving office, but his rise in 2009 seemed reasonable, but really what will allow him to rise further, as he did not do in 2017?

The more one looks at Clinton, the more one realizes that his time in office is best remembered for a good economy which just happened to be lucky to coincide, but which included the moat conservative Democratic administration of the 20th century, with him cooperating with the Republicans on ending the Interstate Commerce Commission; ending the federal guarantee of welfare; passing very strict crime bills that backfired over time; and allowing corporate mergers that no other Democratic President would have allowed. And his shortcomings became more evident as his wife, Hillary Clinton, pursued the Presidency, and ultimately lost, even though she won the popular vote by three million.

The only practical way for Bill Clinton to rise is to overcome James K. Polk, who was extremely successful in his one term; or James Monroe, who in his two terms, accomplished enough that his significance has been recognized. So do not expect any rise from number 15 for Bill Clinton, despite his great charisma and personality.

When Bush and Clinton pass away in the future, it might cause some rise in their ratings, but unlikely long term, and it is a reality that Barack Obama, already ahead of both and likely to rise, will always be ahead of the two Presidents before him, as well as certainly so above the President who has succeeded him, Donald Trump, who has in one month set his legacy, that he will be at the bottom or close to the bottom of ratings in future surveys after he leaves office, hopefully sooner than one term.

Donald Trump keeps on saying he inherited a “mess”, a total lie, which will not stand now or in the long run of historical analysis!

The Reality: Mike Pence Likely To Become President

The situation Mike Pence faces as Vice President after less than a month in office is that he must be starting to realize that he will become President at some point during this term.

The same situation faced Gerald Ford in December 1973, when he became Vice President under the 25th Amendment, the first such use of that amendment just passed six years earlier.

Ford knew that Richard Nixon was in trouble, and Mike Pence knows Donald Trump is in trouble.

Both Ford then and now Pence must “walk on eggs”, and be careful about what they say and do, in order to avoid any untoward indications of interfering with the procedures used to judge whether the President they serve is someone who should be removed from office.

But at the end, it is likely that Mike Pence will feel a need to utilize Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, to remove Donald Trump from office as a danger to national security and stability, due to reckless and unstable behavior in the Oval Office.

Both Ford and Pence owed their elevations to the Vice Presidency to their Presidents, but just as Ford was prepared to take over the Presidency. so will Mike Pence be ready when the time is right. which is likely sometime later this first year of the Trump Presidency, which seems assured to be abbreviated to probably more than James A. Garfield (199 days) but much less than Zachary Taylor (492 days).

48 Vice Presidents, 45 (44) Presidents?

With the inauguration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we now have our 45th (really 44th) President, and our 48th Vice President!

Some reading this are saying: “Huh?”

So let’s explain the difference in numbers.

Donald Trump is the 44th person to become President, but Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, although he also won the popular vote in 1888, but Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College, the third time out of five (with 2000 and 2016 the 4th and 5th cases) where the popular vote loser won the Presidency.

Now, as to the Vice Presidency:

Several Presidents had two Vice Presidents, and one had three Vice Presidents, therefore making for four additional Vice Presidents more than Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson had Aaron Burr in his first term in the Presidency (1801-1805), and George Clinton in his second term (1805-1809).

James Madison had Clinton stay on as Vice President in his first term, but he died in office in 1812, so only served from 1809-1812, instead of to 1813. In his second term, Madison had Elbridge Gerry as his Vice President, but he served less than two years and died in 1814, so only serving 1813-1814.

Andrew Jackson had John C. Calhoun as Vice President in his first term, but he resigned with three months to go in the term, after being dumped from the ticket for the 1832 election, so served from 1829-1832. Martin Van Buren served in the Jackson second term (1833-1837), and became the last Vice President to succeed directly to the Presidency by election for 152 years, when George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in the 1988 Presidential election.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents–Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865) who he decided to replace for his second election, and Andrew Johnson for six weeks in 1865 until Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents–Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873) who came under investigation for corruption and did not run for reelection; and Henry Wilson (1873-1875) who died in office.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents–Garret Hobart (1897-1899), who died in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, for six and a half months in 1901, until McKinley was assassinated, and TR succeeded him to the Presidency, and then won a four year term of his own in 1904.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, being elected four times to the Presidency, and prevented from occurring again by the passage and adoption of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, had John Nance Garner (1933-1941) in his first two terms; Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) in his third term; and Harry Truman for 82 days of his 4th term in 1945, before FDR died, and Truman succeeded him, and then won a full term in 1948.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents–Spiro Agnew (1969-1973), his first full term and nine months of his shortened second term, until Agnew was forced to resign due to corruption charges, and being replaced two months later by Gerald Ford (1973-1974) under the 25th Amendment, allowing for an appointed Vice President subject to majority approval by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, with Ford serving nine months before he succeeded to the Presidency upon the resignation of Nixon, due to the Watergate scandal.

Realize that George Clinton served under two Presidents (Jefferson and Madison), and the same for Calhoun, who had served as Vice President to John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), before serving as Vice President under Jackson for all but three months of that term. So as a result, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson only had one DIFFERENT Vice President to add to the total number!

Also, realize that Grover Cleveland, in his separate terms, had two different Vice Presidents, Thomas Hendricks for 8 months in 1885, and Adlai Stevenson I (1893-1897).

Also realize that John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), and Chester Alan Arthur (1881), all succeeded to the Presidency because of the deaths of William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield, and never had a Vice President, since there was no 25th Amendment until passage in 1967, allowing Gerald Ford to pick Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President in 1974. And the other four Presidents who had been Vice President, and succeeded due to the deaths of the Presidents in office (Theodore Roosevelt after William McKinley; Calvin Coolidge after Warren G. Harding; Harry Truman after Franklin D. Roosevelt; Lyndon B. Johnson after John F. Kennedy) all were elected in the next term and had a Vice President.

So only 40 men (plus Cleveland in two terms, so called the 22nd and 24th President) in the Presidency chose a Vice President, and only Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, McKinley and Nixon had two Vice Presidents who were unique (not shared with another President), and FDR had three Vice Presidents with his four terms in office. So if you count 41 due to Cleveland’s unique situation, and add seven extra Vice Presidents, you get a total of 48 men who have served as Vice President of the United States!

“Illegitimate” Presidents From JQ Adams To Donald Trump

The question of “illegitimate” Presidents is nothing new in American history.

Any President who has failed to win the popular vote (5), and any President who has failed to win a majority of the total popular vote (11 with 3 two times), due to more than two candidates in the race, has been seen by opponents as “illegitimate”

So we have John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush the first time, and Donald Trump that fit into the first category mentioned above.

We also have James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, Grover Cleveland twice, Woodrow Wilson twice, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon the first time, and Bill Clinton twice, who fit into the second category mentioned above.

So 19 times out of a total of 58 national elections for President, or one third of the time, we have had Presidents who did not have a majority of the voters behind them!

And 16 Presidents out of 43, nearly 40 percent, have not won the majority of the popular vote!

And then we have Barack Obama, who won a majority of the popular vote twice, but has had constant attacks that he is “illegitimate” based on a “Birther” theory that he was not born in the Unites States.

This issue of “illegitimacy” is rampant right now regarding Donald Trump, because he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million, much larger than the other four popular vote losers who won the Electoral College, and civil rights icon John Lewis, Georgia Congressman, has said, rightfully, that he sees Trump as “illegitimate” and will not attend Trump’s inauguration next Friday.

Since Trump led those who said Barack Obama was “illegitimate”, appropriate that John Lewis take the stand he has, and there is an old saying” “What is good for the goose is good for the gander”, and also “What goes around comes around”!

How Slim Margins Decide So Many Presidential Elections And Affect American History And Government Policies!

The argument that many ill informed people have is that “voting does not matter”, when just the opposite is true.

As we begin 2017 and the reality of President Trump in 19 days, a look at history tells us clearly how small numbers of votes or percentages of votes make a dramatic difference, as demonstrated in the following elections in American history:

1844– a switch of a few thousand votes in New York would have given the election to Henry Clay, instead of James K. Polk, and the difference was the small third party, the Liberty Party.

1848–a switch of a few thousand votes, again in New York, would have given the election to Lewis Cass, instead of Zachary Taylor, but Free Soil Party nominee, Martin Van Buren, former Democratic President and from New York, won ten percent of the total national vote, and threw the election to Whig candidate Taylor in New York.

1876—the dispute over the contested votes of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida led to a special Electoral Commission set up, which rewarded all of those three states’ electoral votes to Rutherford B. Hayes, although Democrat Samuel Tilden led nationally by about 250,000 popular votes.

1880–James A. Garfield won the popular vote by the smallest margin ever, about 2,000 votes, and won the big state of New York by only 20,000 votes, in defeating his opponent Winfield Scott Hancock.

1884–Grover Cleveland won his home state of New York by about 1,000 votes, which decided the election, and nationally only by about 57,000 votes over James G. Blaine.

1888–Grover Cleveland won the national popular vote by about 90,000, but lost in close races in his home state of New York and opponent Benjamin Harrison’s home state of Indiana, so lost the Electoral College, as Harrison became President. The Harrison lead in New York was less than 14,000 votes and in Indiana, less than 2,000.

1916—Woodrow Wilson won California by less than 4,000 votes, but enough to elect him to the White House over Republican Charles Evans Hughes.

1948–Harry Truman won three states by less than one percent–Ohio, California and Illinois–over Thomas E. Dewey, and that decided the election.

1960–John F. Kennedy won Illinois by about 8,000 votes; Texas by about 46,000 votes; and Hawaii by under 200 votes, and only had a two tenths of one percentage point popular vote victory nationally, about 112,000 votes, over Richard Nixon.

1976–Jimmy Carter won over Gerald Ford by two percentage points, but a switch of 5,600 votes in Ohio and 3,700 votes in Hawaii would have given the election to Ford.

2000—Al Gore lost Florida by 537 votes, in the final judgment of the Supreme Court, which intervened in the election, and had he won Florida, he would have been elected President, even though he won the national popular vote by about 540,000. Bush also won New Hampshire by only about 7,000 votes, but won the Electoral College 271-266.

2016–Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by about 2.85 million, but lost the crucial states of Michigan by about 10,000; Wisconsin by about 22,000; and Pennsylvania by about 46,000, to Donald Trump, so together about 79,000 votes decided the Electoral College.

So the idea that voting is not important, does not matter, is proved wrong so many times in American history! Every vote does indeed count, and has long range implications on who sits in the White House, and what policies are pursued, which affect all of us!

Millard Fillmore’s Third Party Candidacy in 1856: Unique In American History In Many Ways!

The 1856 Presidential Election is unique in many ways.

It was the first national campaign of a political party, the Republican Party, which had been founded two years earlier in opposition to slavery and to its expansion.

The Republican Party replaced the moribund Whig Party, and many of the latter’s members had joined the new party. John C. Fremont was its nominee for President, and lost by about 500,000 popular votes margin to Democratic nominee James Buchanan.

The Democratic Party, bitterly divided over slavery, was on its way to a victory in a divided country, but it would be the last Democratic Party victory until Grover Cleveland squeaked out a narrow victory three decades later in 1884. Its nominee was James Buchanan, who won the election with 174 electoral votes to 114 for Fremont.

It was also a time of a “comeback” by the last Whig President, Millard Fillmore, who had succeeded Zachary Taylor upon his death in 1850, and had signed the Compromise of 1850 and opened up relations with the Japanese Kingdom.

Fillmore would go on to win the 8 electoral votes of Maryland, the only electoral votes Fillmore ever won for the Presidency, as he was denied the nomination of his party for a full term in 1852, the last national campaign of the Whigs.

Fillmore became the first of two former Presidents to win electoral votes and states after being President, the other being Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive (Bull Moose) party line in 1912, when he won six states and 88 electoral votes.

Former President Martin Van Buren had run on a third party, the Free Soil Party of 1848, won ten percent of the popular vote, but won no states or electoral votes.

But Fillmore actually won 21.5 percent of the total national popular vote in 1856, winning about 873,000 total votes, running on the American (Know Nothing) party line, campaigning against Catholic immigration from Germany and Ireland, which would not add to his stature, unfortunately! Ironically, Fillmore was not present at the convention that nominated him, and never actually joined the American Party, but he accepted the nomination, nevertheless, and he ran as a nativist, not good for his historical reputation!

Front Runners In Delegates At National Conventions Who Failed To Become The Nominee Of Their Party: William Henry Seward, Champ Clark, And Martin Van Buren!

Senator William Henry Seward of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Republican National Convention in 1860, but Abraham Lincoln won the nomination on the 3rd ballot, and went on to become the greatest President in American history!

Speaker of the House Champ Clark of Missouri was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1912, but Woodrow Wilson won the nomination on the 46th ballot, and went on to become one of the most significant President in American history, and took us through World War I.

Former President Martin Van Buren of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1844, but James K. Polk won the nomination on the 9th ballot, and went on to gain more territory, by peace treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, than any President except Thomas Jefferson!

Seward went on to become Lincoln’s and Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State, and helped to prevent Great Britain or France from recognizing the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and was able to arrange the purchase of Alaska from Czarist Russia in 1867.

Champ Clark remained Speaker of the House, and served eight years, from 1911-1919, one of the longer lasting Speakers in American history, with only five Speakers serving longer than him.

Martin Van Buren could have been the first Grover Cleveland, to have served two non-consecutive terms in the White House, but instead ran for President once again in 1848 as the candidate of the Free Soil Party, and in so doing, undermined the Democratic Party nominee, and helped indirectly to elect Whig nominee Zachary Taylor.  Van Buren became the first former President to run on a third party line, and the Free Soil Party was the first significant third party, winning 10 percent of the national popular vote, and being a forerunner of the modern Republican Party, which formed six years later, in 1854.

A total of  nine times in American history, we have seen the front runner in delegates fail to win the party’s nomination–three times for the Democrats, five times for the Republicans, and once for the Whigs, so if Donald Trump were to be denied the Republican nomination  in 2016, it would be far from unique or unusual!

New Presidential Record Of Survival In Office, Surpassing 1789-1841!

For the first nearly 52 years of the Republic, every President survived his term of office, from George Washington until William Henry Harrison.

Once Harrison died in office, we had a President die in every generation, with seven of the eight dying, having been elected in a zero election year–Harrison 1841, Abraham Lincoln 1865, James A. Garfield 1881, William McKinley 1901, Warren G. Harding 1923, Franklin D. Roosevelt 1945, and John F. Kennedy 1963, and joined by Zachary Taylor, dying in 1850, a zero year after being elected in 1848.

This became known as the “Zero Election Year Syndrome.”  It occurred seven straight zero election years from 1840 to 1960.  It was finally overcome when Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt in 1981, and when George W. Bush avoided tragedy on September 11 and throughout his Presidency, despite some serious threats.

Since JFK died, we have not had a Presidential death since, almost 52 years, although Richard Nixon did resign from office in 1974, even that being 41 years ago.

The question is how long can this new record of Presidential survival last, in a time of international terrorism and domestic turmoil.

There have been more death threats against Barack Obama than any President since Abraham Lincoln.

The last President to have a serious threat was Ronald Reagan, shot and seriously wounded in 1981, 34 years ago.

But every living President has had death threats, before, during, and after being in office.

A discussion of all these assassinations and threats are covered in my new book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield), out since August 15, and available at the R & L website with a 30 percent discount offer, or at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books A Million websites.

This author has done more than 25 radio interviews, and will be interviewed by C Span Q & A Brian Lamb next week, and the hour long interview will be available to be seen on C Span One a few weeks later at 8 pm, 11 pm on a Sunday night and 6 am the next Monday morning Eastern time, and will become part of the permanent interviews of Brian Lamb at C Span.org, available for interviewing anytime!

“Non Politicians”–Presidential Winners And A Few Presidential Nominees

With three Republican Presidential candidates for 2016 being “non politicians”, people who have never served in a government position on the city, state or national level, the issue arises: have there been any other such candidates in the past?

It turns out that we have had several military generals who never served in a civilian position, that could qualify as “non politicians”.

This includes the following:

Zachary Taylor 1848 (Mexican War)

Winfield Scott 1852 (Mexican War)

George McClellan 1864 (Civil War)

Ulysses S. Grant 1868, 1872 (Civil War)

Winfield Scott Hancock 1880 (Civil War)

Taylor and Grant were elected, while Scott, McClellan, and Hancock were defeated in their attempts to become President.

McClellan did serve as Governor of New Jersey from 1878-1881, AFTER running for President against Abraham Lincoln.  But Taylor, Scott, Grant and Hancock never ran for public office.

Additionally, Horace Greeley, the New York Tribune publisher, ran for President in 1872, as the candidate of the Democratic Party and the breakaway group in the Republican Party opposed to Grant’s reelection, known as the “Liberal Republicans”.  He served very briefly as an appointed member of the House of Representatives, but not by vote of the people, but rather a choice of Whig Party leaders to fill a short term replacement before the election for the next term in Congress.  He served a total of only three months from December 1848 to March 1849, and did not run for the New York City seat.  Technically, one could say he had that political experience, but so little in time, that he could be seen as basically a “non politician” when he ran for President 24 years later, although being the editor of the New York Tribune was certainly “political” in nature.

Then we have Wall Street industrialist and businessman Wendell Willkie, who ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, after stirring the Republican National Convention and overcoming much better known Presidential candidates, but while running a good race, he lost, and then supported the World War II effort and cooperated with FDR until Willkie died in late 1944.

And finally, we have billionaire Ross Perot, who ran for President as an independent in 1992 and as the Reform Party candidate in 1996.

So only Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant were “non politicians” who were elected President.

The odds of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, or Dr. Benjamin Carson being elected President in 2016, therefore, are astronomical!

Likelihood Of Oldest Presidential Candidate Race Ever In American History!

As the 2016 Presidential campaign heats up, it looks more and more likely that the two major party nominees will be among the oldest ever nominated or elected.

The Democrats have the following candidates who will be 64 or even beyond 70 as possible nominees:

Hillary Clinton 69
Joe Biden 74
Bernie Sanders 75
Jim Webb 70 (but nearly 71)
Lincoln Chafee 63 (but nearly 64)

The Republicans have the following candidates who will be 64 or beyond as possible nominees:

Jeb Bush 63 (but nearly 64)
Donald Trump 70
John Kasich 64
Rick Perry 66 (but nearly 67)
Jim Gilmore 67
George Pataki 71
Dr Benjamin Carson 65

Between the likely Democratic nominee and the likely Republican nominee, we can expect the oldest combination of Presidential candidates if one for each group above are the chosen nominees.

Right now, the Democratic nominee seems likely to be one of the top three on the list–Clinton, Biden or Sanders; and the Republican nominee likely to be one of the top three on that list—Bush, Trump, Kasich.

However, IF the Republican nominee turns out to be the younger candidates, such as Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio, we could have a bigger difference in age than we have rarely had, with only vast differences in age of William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and 1900; Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944; Harry Truman and Dewey in 1948; Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale in 1984; Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush in 1992; Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996; Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008; and Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Note that in the cases of a much older and much younger opponents, the older candidate won with McKinley, FDR, Truman, and Reagan, but the younger candidate won with Clinton twice and Obama twice.

If Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee or Lindsey Graham were the GOP nominee, the average age of the two opponents would still be close to the highest in history, with their average age in the low 60s at inauguration.

Remember that the only Presidents to be 64 or older at inauguration were Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, James Buchanan, George H. W. Bush, and Zachary Taylor.

The only other Presidents over the age of 60 at inauguration were:

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Andrew Jackson
John Adams
Gerald Ford
Harry Truman

So only 10 Presidents out of 43 were 60 or older when taking the oath, while now we are very likely to have both candidates over the age of 60, with 11 out of 17 Republican candidates being over 60, and 5 out of 6 (Martin O’Malley the exception) of the Democratic candidates over the age of 60.

So while we had a “new generation of leadership” three times in the past half century with John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, now we are almost certain to have an “old generation” of leadership coming to power on January 20, 2017.