Day: February 3, 2013

As John Kerry Becomes Secretary Of State, An Assessment Of The Most Influential Secretaries Of State In American History

With Hillary Clinton leaving the State Department, and John Kerry becoming the 68th Secretary of State, it is a good time to assess who are the most influential Secretaries of State we have had in American history.

Notice I say “most influential”, rather than “best”, as that is a better way to judge diplomatic leadership in the State Department.

Without ranking them, which is very difficult, we will examine the Secretaries of State who have had the greatest impact, in chronological order:

Thomas Jefferson (1789-1793) under President George Washington—set the standard for the department, and was probably the most brilliant man ever to head the State Department.

John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) under President James Monroe—brought about the Monroe Doctrine, treaties with Canada, and the acquisition of Florida.

William H. Seward (1861-1869) under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson—brought about the neutrality of Great Britain and France in the Civil War, and purchased Alaska from Czarist Russia, a fortunate development.

Hamilton Fish (1869-1877) under President Ulysses S. Grant—involved in many diplomatic issues in Latin America, had America become more engaged in Hawaii, and settled differences with Great Britain, and often considered the major bright spot in the tragic Grant Presidency.

James G. Blaine (1881, 1889-1892) under Presidents James A. Garfield and Chester Alan Arthur briefly, and full term under President Benjamin Harrison—helped to bring about eventual takeover of Hawaii, and promoted the concept of a canal in Central America.

John Hay (1898-1905) under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt—-involved in the issues after the Spanish American War, including involvement in the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and a major influence over TR’s diplomatic initiatives in his first term.

Elihu Root (1905-1909) under President Theodore Roosevelt—-a great influence in TR’s growing involvement in world affairs in his second term in office.

Robert Lansing (1915-1920) under President Woodrow Wilson—a major player in American entrance in World War I and at the Versailles Peace Conference.

Charles Evan Hughes (1921-1925) under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge—-had major role in Washington Naval Agreements in 1922.

Henry Stimson (1929-1933) under President Herbert Hoover—-was a major critic of Japanese expansion, as expressed in the Stimson Doctrine of 1932.

Cordell Hull (1933-1944) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt—-was the longest lasting Secretary of State, nearly the whole term of FDR, and very much involved in all of the President’s foreign policy decisions.

Dean Acheson (1949-1953) under President Harry Truman—-involved in the major decisions of the early Cold War, including the Korean War intervention.

John Foster Dulles (1953-1959) under President Dwight D. Eisenhower—had controversial views on Cold War policy with the Soviet Union, including “massive retaliation”.

Dean Rusk (1961-1969) under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson—highly controversial advocate of the Vietnam War escalation, but served under the complete terms of two Presidents, and never backed away from his views on the Cold War.

Henry Kissinger (1973-1977) under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford—-easily one of the most influential figures in the shaping of foreign policy in American history, earlier having served as National Security Adviser.

George Shultz, (1982-1989) under President Ronald Reagan—-very close adviser to the President on his major foreign policy initiatives.

James Baker (1989-1992) under President George H. W. Bush—very significant in Persian Gulf War and end of Cold War policies.

Madeleine Albright (1997-2001) under President Bill Clinton—-first woman Secretary of State and played major role in many issues that arose.

Colin Powell (2001-2005) under President George W. Bush—-involved in the justification of the Iraq War based on Weapons of Mass Destruction, which undermined his reputation because of the lack of evidence on WMDs.

Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009) under President George W. Bush—second woman Secretary of State and intimately involved in policy making.

Hillary Clinton (2009-2013) under President Barack Obama—third woman Secretary of State, and hailed by most as a major contributor to Obama’s foreign policy initiatives.

This is a list of 21 out of the 68 Secretaries of State, but also there are 15 other Secretaries of State who were influential historical figures, including:

John Marshall
James Madison
James Monroe
Henry Clay
Martin Van Buren
Daniel Webster
John C. Calhoun
James Buchanan
Lewis Cass
William Jennings Bryan
George Marshall
Cyrus Vance
Edmund Muskie
Alexander Haig
Warren Christopher

So a total of 36 out of 68 Secretaries of State have been major figures in American history, and contributed to the diplomatic development of the United States in world affairs!

A Potential Unbeatable Democratic Ticket For 2016—Hillary Clinton And Joe Biden!

It has recently been suggested by some political observers that a truly unbeatable Presidential ticket for 2016 would be Hillary Clinton for President and Joe Biden for Vice President.

Upon first thought, the idea sounds unbelievable, and many wonder if either or both will even run, but assuming they both are interested, the question arises whether they would be willing to fight each other, come into combat with each other, when both are great friends.

Both Clinton and Biden are competitive and ambitious, but to imagine the knock down, drag out fight between them, is hard to imagine.

Yes, Joe Biden wants to be President, but being already 74 in 2016, and knowing that Hillary Clinton would break a “glass ceiling”, as the first woman President finally and belatedly, it is hard to imagine him unwilling to sacrifice his ambitions to give her the chance, and to be a willing “soldier” willing to help her, and be by her side for another eight years as Vice President!

Were anything untoward to happen to Hillary, Joe would be there to take over, but even if he did not ever become President, he would have served a theoretical 16 years as Vice President, an amazing record, and be in on all the important decisions, treasured for his wisdom and counsel by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and giving the nation his talents and abilities, with the recognition that he would become regarded as the most powerful, influential Vice President in American history!

And there is no ticket that the Republican Party could run, which would match the experience, the breadth of knowledge, and the talents and abilities of these two public servants, who have already had a massive effect on our country!

With the Electoral College situation as it presently is, is there anyone who can come up with a scenario where any Republican ticket could possibly gain a majority, in a nation with growing Latino-Hispanic participation, and Arizona, Texas and Georgia likely to tip “Blue” in the future?

Geraldo Rivera Vs Cory Booker In New Jersey Senate Race Of 2014–A Joke Of A Race!

It is time for New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, in office for 30 years, and nearing 91 in 2014, to retire, as only Strom Thurmond has ever been elected to the Senate in his 90s, and Thurmond was often not mentally present in his last years in office. The Senate should not be a nursing home for those nearing the end of their lives, and it is not unreasonable to say that 90 year old politicians should retire!

So, assuming Newark Mayor Cory Booker would be the the Democratic nominee for that Senate seat, the question arises whether the Republican Party would be willing to promote a pro gay rights, pro abortion rights, pro immigration reform candidate, who works for Fox News Channel, and is seen as a total joke by any serious journalist or intelligent human being, as he only can be described as a total character without any ethics or morals, including being married five times!

We are talking here about Geraldo Rivera, who represents the worst of journalism, and has a long list of scandals in his background, both personally and professionally.

It seems clear that Geraldo Rivera is only trying to gain more publicity and make more money in the process, as he would lower the image of the Senate, as bad as it is, to an all time low level, were the people of New Jersey crazy enough to elect him to the US Senate over a substantial, accomplished candidate such as Cory Booker!

The Boy Scouts, Zach Wahls, And Gay Rights

The Boys Scouts of America has become the center of controversy for having a policy forbidding gay membership or leadership, and Zach Wahls, son of two lesbian parents but himself straight, has become a leader in the fight to stop discrimination and prejudice in an organization so crucial to boys’ emotional development.

The national organization, which won a Supreme Court case, Boy Scouts Of America V Dale by a 5-4 vote in 2000, allowing discrimination because they are a private group, is now moving toward allowing local chapters to make their own decision, which is some progress, but Wahls is fighting it, as permitting religious groups, which often sponsor Boy Scout chapters, to promote a double standard, where some local groups will allow gays to be participants, while others will not.

Zach Wahls should be seen as a civil rights leader, even though that is not his intention to draw attention to himself. But to have a straight man fight so hard on such a controversial and emotional issue is something worthy of respect, admiration, and praise!

Hopefully, we will soon see another major victory for gay rights, and work against the bullying and mistreatment of young boys at a very vulnerable age.

And it is time for organized religious groups to stop promoting hate and narrow mindedness, with some groups, including the United Church Of Christ, already making progress in that direction!

The Extreme Right Wing Vs Barack Obama: The Winner Is Obama!

Three months after the resounding victory of Barack Obama in the Presidential Election of 2012, the extreme right wing is still attacking the President, and they are rapidly marginalizing themselves.

We are hearing hysteria that Barack Obama is destroying this country by issuing some innocuous executive orders on gun regulations, and that he is undermining the nation’s security by promoting immigration reform. And we are seeing an African American President compared to Hitler, causing the Anti Defamation League to protest.

We are seeing Rush Limbaugh flailing about in anger that Obama will be around for the next four years, while his audience declines.

We are seeing Fox News Channel decline rapidly in the key 25-54 demographic, as more people realize that they are a station that constantly lies, misleads, deceives,and distorts, and the realization that one learns less about what is going on news wise by watching that channel, than if one watches no news at all!

We are seeing Glenn Beck promoting a separate community that would operate as a haven for those who, like him, claim to be terrified by the government being controlled by a Hitler for the next four years, meanwhile confusing Nazism, Fascism, Socialism, and Communism as one and the same.

The common thread of all these characters is that they are exploiting ignorance and prejudice, and becoming extremely wealthy at the expense of gullible listeners and watchers. They are charlatans who gain by their unwarranted attacks on the President, and they have no ethics, morals, and scruples, and one has to wonder how anyone with any brains in their head could possibly believe a word they say!

But a vast majority of Americans want gun regulations, and a substantial majority want immigration reform, and Barack Obama has 60 percent support in a poll from the Washington Post and ABC News, , despite all of these vicious attacks on him as a threat to the Republic.

So there is real hope that the days of manipulation and deceit are declining rapidly, and that these extremists face a future of being seen for what they are—a menace to American values and decency!