James K. Polk

APSA Presidential Greatness Poll 2024: Declines In Presidential Rankings

The American Political Science Association Presidential Greatness Poll of 2024 reveals major declines in Presidential rankings of 6 Presidents from earlier polls in 2015 and 2018.

The most dramatic decline in this poll is Andrew Jackson down 12 since 2015 to number 21. Also, in a major downward spiral is Calvin Coolidge, down 7 to number 34. James K. Polk also declined by 6 to number 25. And down by 5 are Woodrow Wilson to number 15 and Ronald Reagan to number 16. And Bill Clinton is down by 4 to number 12 since 2015.

Joe Biden Becomes A Wartime President

Joe Biden has become a wartime President, alongside James Madison, James K. Polk, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

At this point, he looks more like Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Truman, and George H. W. Bush than the rest of the group.

If fortune goes against him, he might look more like Madison, who saw the nation divide during the War Of 1812 and the White House being burned; like Polk, who caused a split over slavery expansion during the Mexican War that helped to lead to the Civil War a decade later; like LBJ, who divided the nation over Vietnam just as he promoted the Great Society; like Nixon, who continued an unpopular war in Vietnam that ended up in a tragic loss; and like George W. Bush, who started two wars based on poor tactics and planning, and dominated by lies and deception in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Possibility That Neither Donald Trump Nor Joe Biden Will Be On Presidential Ballot In 2024

The possibility now exists that neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden will be on the Presidential ballot in 2024.

There are good reasons for this scenario.

Joe Biden would be 82 a few weeks after the Presidential Election of 2024, and Donald Trump would be past 78 and a half at the time of the inauguration, making both of them the oldest Presidential contenders in American history.

Donald Trump faces multiple lawsuits, and the strong potential for prosecution, both criminal and civil, which could harm any chance of him being the Republican nominee.

And there are many conservatives and Republicans who would want to be rid of the menace of Donald Trump.

Joe Biden’s age, and the hints of possible cognitive tests being bandied about by critics, makes it harder for him to consider a second term, along with all of the problems he is dealing with, which might undermine his future, particularly if the Democrats lose the House of Representatives, and even, potentially, the US Senate.

The feeling of a fresh start, and younger candidates is very appealing to many Americans.

If it turns out that neither Trump nor Biden, and even Vice Presidents Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, are passed by as alternatives, which could be a possibility, then we would have a scenario rarely seen in US history, of Presidential tickets that have neither the President nor Vice President having been nominated for either office.

The only elections since 1824 where no one nominated was ever on a Presidential ballot before being chosen are the following 12 elections out of a total of 50 elections:

1844 election of James K. Polk
1852 election of Franklin Pierce
1868 election of Ulysses S. Grant
1876 election of Rutherford B. Hayes
1880 election of James A. Garfield
1884 election of Grover Cleveland
1896 election of William McKinley
1920 election of Warren G. Harding
1928 election of Herbert Hoover
1952 election of Dwight D. Eisenhower
2008 election of Barack Obama
2016 election of Donald Trump

One Term Presidencies That Mattered: Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush!

President Joe Biden stated at his end of first year press conference yesterday, that he planned to run for a second term in 2024, and that Kamala Harris would again be his running mate.

That is to be expected at this time, but by early 2023, Biden will need to make a final decision on running, so as to open the race to alternative choices if he announces he will retire.

The concept that a President must seek reelection was not the case with three Presidents, who decided not to run–James K. Polk in 1848, James Buchanan in 1860, and Rutherford Hayes in 1880. But Polk, despite not running for another term, is considered to have accomplished his goals, and as it turns out, his health was not good, and he died 105 days after leaving office in 1849.

Buchanan and Hayes are not considered to have had successful terms, and they may have sensed that they could not win reelection.

Other one term Presidents, such as Benjamin Harrison and Herbert Hoover, had horrible depressions to deal with, helping to cause their defeats in 1892 and 1932, and William Howard Taft had a split in his party with former President Theodore Roosevelt, which doomed his campaign for reelection in 1912.

Gerald Ford was a special situation, having not been elected, succeeding Richard Nixon, and having a bad economy, which doomed his desire for election to a full term in 1976, although he is considered in a kind manner at this point, having worked to unite America after the Watergate Scandal and resignation of Nixon.

But the two most recent Presidents defeated for reelection, before Donald Trump, had real accomplishments in office, although they were unable to win a second term, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George H. W. Bush in 1992.

Clearly, all Presidents since Rutherford Hayes in 1880, who have survived a term, have attempted to be reelected, but since Biden will be 82 years old weeks after the Presidential Election of 2024, he might decide not to run, or his health might be such that he is told he should not run.

C-Span Presidential Historians Survey 2021 Announced Today!

For all Presidential followers, including scholars and specialists in the American Presidency and Presidential history, today is a great day, as C-Span announced its Presidential Historians Survey results for 2021!

It will take time to analyze the results, but a few points stand out:

Barack Obama went up from 12th to 10th in the overall listings.

Donald Trump ended up tied for 42nd out of 44, with Franklin Pierce, with only James Buchanan at 44 and Andrew Johnson at 43 below him.

Woodrow Wilson slipped from 11th to 13th as he continues to decline in overall rankings.

Andrew Jackson slipped dramatically from 18th to 22nd, and is now just in the middle of the overall rankings.

James K. Polk slipped from 14th to 18th, a continued decline in overall rankings.

John Adams and John Quincy Adams both rose four points from earlier rankings.

Bill Clinton dropped from 15th to 19th, a dramatic decline after having risen in earlier rankings.

Jimmy Carter ended up tied with James A. Garfield at 26th, and in the “battle” of Gerald Ford vs Carter, Carter came out ahead for the third time in the four C-Span surveys, in 2000, 2008 along with 2021, with Ford ahead in 2017.

Nancy Pelosi Will Be Ranked One Of All Time Greatest Speakers Of The House, As Well As Most Powerful Woman In American History

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is assured a ranking as one of the all time greatest Speakers of the House, as well as the most powerful woman in American history.

She will rank in the category of Sam Rayburn, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, Henry Clay, John W. McCormack, Nicholas Longworth, Champ Clark, Thomas Reed, Thomas Foley, James K. Polk, and Joseph Cannon. She is already 11th longest serving, and if she remains as Speaker through 2022, her planned date for retirement, she will be 5th longest serving, only behind Sam Rayburn, Henry Clay, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, and John W. McCormack.

At the age of 79, with her birthday being March 26, she will become the oldest Speaker in American history on February 5, 2020, when she surpasses Sam Rayburn, who died 51 days before his 80th birthday. So she will reach 80 in March, very alert, competent, and totally in charge, and President Donald Trump is very much afraid of her, like he has never been of any other woman.

Understand that Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American history in her position, two heartbeats away from the Presidency. The highest ranking women otherwise have been multiple Secretaries of State–Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton, all four heartbeats away from the Presidency. There has also been four Supreme Court Justices—Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Additionally, there were two prospective Vice Presidents–Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin. But that is the list, a short list, and only Nancy Pelosi has reached the pinnacle of power, and at a time of a challenge of a corrupt President, who would love to have absolute power, but has been stopped dead in his tracks by the woman from San Francisco!

Censure Of President Trump An Alternative To Impeachment, Since Conviction Impossible With Republican Senate

With the latest poll indicating that 56 percent of Americans do not favor the impeachment of Donald Trump, it might be wiser for the Democrats to consider a censure motion instead, much less controversial and likely to gain some Republican support.

Censure was done by the Senate against Andrew Jackson in 1834 over the National Bank issue, and the House of Representatives agreed to censure of James K. Polk over the Mexican War prosecution in 1848.

Attempts to censure John Tyler in 1842, Abraham Lincoln in 1864, and Bill Clinton in 1998 failed.

It is far from an impeachment, but it would be a strong statement by either house were censure to be considered in place of impeachment, which would never get a two thirds vote of the Senate for conviction.

It looks more than ever that impeachment will NOT happen, due to the circumstances that are present, and it sets a bad standard for the future regarding Presidential abuse of power.

Latest Presidential Ranking Survey For Presidents Day Changes Ratings Of Several Presidents Upward And Downward

The game of Presidential rankings is one always changing, and the newest survey of scholars, including this author as a participant, does not disappoint in that regard.

The Siena College survey, now done six times since 1982, once for each new President being considered in the rankings, has some surprises.

157 experts, questioned by the Siena College Research Institute, raised two of the Founding Father generation to the top ten, with James Madison number 7 and James Monroe, his successor at number 8. In so doing, two modern Presidents were dropped out of the top ten, with Ronald Reagan at number 13 and Lyndon B. Johnson at number 16.

A rare occurrence was that Abraham Lincoln was number 3, when usually he is on top, although in earlier Siena College surveys, Franklin D. Roosevelt had been number one, now number two, with George Washington moving up to number one.

Barack Obama, number 8 in the American Political Science Association survey in 2018, and number 12 in the C Span 2017 survey, ended up number 17 in the Siena College survey, so below such Presidents as Woodrow Wilson, James K. Polk, John Adams, and Bill Clinton.

And Donald Trump, who was dead last in the APSA poll, was number 42, above James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, with Johnson ending up below Buchanan, the opposite of both the C Span and APSA surveys.

Of course, the game of Presidential ranking is a never ending and highly debatable one, and the way that Presidents are ranked is purely in the eyes and expertise of the beholder.

Should a great man, such as Madison or Monroe, but not as accomplished as more modern Presidents, such as Reagan or LBJ, be higher in the ratings?

That is left up to how people perceive Presidents, and whether they include the whole life, or just the actual years of the Presidency, in their judgments.

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.

Presidential Pets From George Washington To Donald Trump, With Only Four, Including Donald Trump, Having No Pets

Forty of the 43 American Presidents from George Washington through Barack Obama, with the exception of Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson, have owned and had pets while they served as President, as well in almost all cases, before and after the Presidential years.

Donald Trump is the first and only President since Andrew Johnson NOT to have pets.

But not only that, but also Donald Trump has utilized the term “dog” and the term “animal” as a pejorative against individuals, such as Omarosa Manigault Newman, and groups, such as Mexican immigrants.

Trump has also declared war on endangered species, and protection of wildlife, including advocacy of hunting and bringing home to America endangered animals from other nations in Africa and around the world as sport. So he disdains any respect for nature, a despicable trait.

Even the pardoning of turkeys before Thanksgiving has led to a hostile reaction by such turkeys and by the President himself, who seems uncomfortable with the holiday tradition.

Most of the Presidents have had dogs, with the exceptions of the following ten:

James Madison
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Andrew Johnson
Chester Alan Arthur
William McKinley

Every 20th century President and early 21st century have had dogs as pets, until Donald Trump.

Earlier Presidents mentioned above who did not have dogs still had other pets, including horses, birds, cows, and rabbits, with the exceptions again of Van Buren, Polk, and Andrew Johnson.

Cats are rare pets for Presidents, with only Abraham Lincoln, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley owning cats before the 20th century, and Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush having cats as pets since 1900, so a total of 12 Presidents out of 44.

The eleven Presidents with the most pets were in chronological order:

George Washington (7)
Abraham Lincoln (8)
Rutherford B. Hayes (10)
Theodore Roosevelt (24)
Woodrow Wilson (7)
Calvin Coolidge (25)
Herbert Hoover (10)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (7)
John F. Kennedy (19)
Lyndon B. Johnson (8)
Ronald Reagan (11)

So Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Herbert Hoover, and Rutherford B. Hayes had pets in double digits, while the other five listed had 8 pets (Lincoln and LBJ) and 7 pets (Washington, Wilson, and FDR).

Among the most famous pets in chronological order:

Warren G. Harding (Laddie Boy)
Calvin Coolidge (Rob Roy)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (Fala)
John F. Kennedy (Macaroni, a pony)
Lyndon B. Johnson (Him) and (Her)
Richard Nixon (Checkers, before the White House years) and (King Timahoe)
Gerald Ford (Liberty)
Ronald Reagan (Rex) and (Lucky)
George H. W. Bush (Millie)
Bill Clinton (Socks, a cat) and (Buddy)
George W. Bush (Barney) and (Miss Beasley)
Barack Obama (Bo) and (Sunny)