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Today in History (August)


1897 – Sir William Fielding brings in a heavy tariff, but with reciprocal provisions

1946 – Harry Truman establishes Atomic Energy Commission

1952 – William Bennett sworn in as British Columbia’s 25th Premier

1972 – Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein have their first Watergate article published


HAPPY BIRTHDAY Bob Rae, 21st Ontario Premier, Liberal Party of Canada leader

1782 – George Washington creates honorary Badge of Distinction

1864 – Thomas D’Arcy McGee organizes goodwill tour of Atlantic Canada to promote Confederation

1909 – Abraham Lincoln pennies first minted

1943 – John Kennedy’s PT-boat 109 sinks at Solomon Islands

1945 – Harry Truman ends Potsdam Conference with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin

1961 – Leslie Frost resigns as Ontario Premier

1969 – Richard Nixon visits Romania

1988 – Joe Clark lights candle at Rekindle the Light Festival protesting apartheid

1990 – George H. W. Bush orders troops to Saudi Arabia

2005 – Paul Martin appoints 5 new Senators


HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lord Aberdeen, 7th Governor General of Canada

1863 – Abraham Lincoln asked to suspend draft in New York
1923 – Baseball games cancelled to honour the death of Warren Harding
1948 – Franklin Roosevelt advisor Alger Hiss accused of being a Communist
1961 – Tommy Douglas elected leader of New Democratic Party
1981 – Ronald Reagan gives striking air traffic controllers 48 hours to get back to work
2001 – George W. Bush signs the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act Extension Act into law
2005 – Paul Martin announces Michaelle Jean as Canada’s new Governor General
2015 – Barack Obama unveils his Clean Power Plan
2015 – Barack Obama gives Isabel Allende the US Presidential Medal of Freedom
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
1753 – George Washington becomes a Master Mason
1943 – George Drew and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party win election
1955 – Dwight Eisenhower authorizes money for building new CIA headquarters
1960 – John Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights approved by Parliament
1977 – Jimmy Carter establishes Department of Energy
1991 – Robert Bourassa re-joins constitutional talks
2009 – Bill Clinton meets with Kim Jong-il
1861 – Abraham Lincoln signs the first federal income tax, 3%, into law
1919 – William Lyon Mackenzie King elected leader of Liberal Party
1960 – Arthur Meighen passes away
1974 – Richard Nixon admits he withheld information about Watergate break-in
1981 – Ronald Reagan fires 11,500 striking air traffic controllers
2003 – John Hamm and the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party are re-elected
2004 – Bill Clinton has a book signing in Toronto
2014 – Barack Obama signs the Iron Dome Bill, providing military aid to Israel
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lord Lorne, 9th Duke of Argyle, 4th Governor General of Canada
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Paul Hellyer, former Liberal cabinet minister
1858 – John A. Macdonald-George-Etienne Cartier government resigns for one day
1930 – William Lyon Mackenzie King resigns as Prime Minister
1965 – Lyndon Johnson signs Voting Rights Act
1986 – Bill Vander Zalm sworn in as British Columbia’s 28th Premier
1991 – Jean Charest announces new Aulavik National Park
1991 – Bob Rae recognizes First Nations right to self government
1996 – Bill Clinton imposes sanctions on non US companies investing in Libya and Iran
2002 – Joe Clark announces resignation as leader of Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
1782 – George Washington creates the Purple Heart
1858 – George-Etienne Cartier adopts confederation as part of party platform
1858 – John A. Macdonald-George-Etienne Cartier ministry re-sworn in after one day resignation
1865 – Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau joins John A. Macdonald’s ministry as co-premier
1867 – Sir John A. Macdonald begins campaigning in first post-confederation election
1929 – William Lyon Mackenzie King dedicates Peace Bridge
1930 – Richard Bennett invited to form a government
1948 – Louis St. Laurent wins leadership of Liberal Party
1959 – Abraham Lincoln Memorial penny goes into circulation
1975 – Pierre Trudeau announces intent to set up 200 mile economic coastal zone
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Joan Mondale, wife of former Vice-President
1922 – John Bracken sworn in as Manitoba’s 11th Premier
1944 – Maurice Duplessis and the Union National win Quebec election
1945 – Harry Truman signs UN Charter
1968 – Richard Nixon nominated for President by Republicans
1973 – Spiro Agnew denies that he took kick backs from contracts while in Maryland
1974 – Richard Nixon announces he will resign at “noon tomorrow”
1982 – Pierre Trudeau gives one finger salute to protesters
1987 – Pierre Trudeau attends wedding of Rene Simard and Marie-Joseph Taillefer
1996 – Jean Chretien appoints a former Prime Minister as Canadian consul general in Los Angeles
1996 – Kim Campbell named as Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles
1996 – Jean Chretien appoints Jean-Louis Roux as Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
2005 – George W. Bush’s Energy Policy Act is passed by Congress calling the oil sands a strategic continental resource
2013 – Barack Obama names Ben Bradlee as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jacques Parizeau , 26th Quebec Premier
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John Gomery, headed commission investigating sponsorship scandal
1870 – George-Etienne Cartier negotiates Imperial Loan Act for Canadian defences
1941 – Franklin Roosevelt meets with Winston Churchill in Newfoundland
1974 – Richard Nixon resigns the presidency
1974 – Gerald Ford sworn in as President
1988 – Peter Pocklington trades Wayne Gretzky
2001 – George W. Bush announces federal funding for research of embryonic stem cells
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Herbert Hoover, 34th US President
1838 – Crown disallows Lord Durham’s ordinance banishing rebels without trial
1891 – Hector Langevin retires
1910 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier drives the first spike on the Alberta Central Railway
1921 – Franklin Roosevelt stricken with polio
1935 – John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, appointed Governor General of Canada
1941 – Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill hold second meeting in Newfoundland
1953 – Louis St. Laurent and the Liberal Party win election
1960 – John Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights becomes law
1963 – Estes Kefauver passes away
1981 – Richard Nixon library in San Clemente closes
1996 – Jack Kemp announced as Republican Vice-Presidential candidate
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Alexa McDonough, former leader New Democratic Party of Canada, Nova Scotia NDP
1943 – William Lyon Mackenzie King welcomes Winston Churchill and US President to Quebec Conference
1943 – Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to Quebec Conference by Canadian Prime Minister
1984 – Ronald Reagan says signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes
1997 – Jean Chretien warns Quebec Premier about the partitioning of Quebec
1997 – Lucien Bouchard warned by the Prime Minister about the partitioning of Quebec
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Roy Romanow, 12th Saskatchewan Premier
1919 – The Prince of Wales arrives in St. John’s on official visit
1955 – Dwight Eisenhower raises minimum wage to $1.00 an hour
1986 – Brian Mulroney & Premiers agree that Quebec be subject of constitutional talks
1992 – Michael Wilson signs NAFTA
2015 – Jimmy Carter reveals he has cancer
1863 – George-Etienne Cartier’s Militia Act includes all males aged 18-60
1868 – Wilfrid Laurier marries Zoe Lafontaine
1886 – Sir John A. Macdonald drives in last spike of Esquimault-Naniamo railway in BC
1950 – Harry Truman gives military aid to Bao-Dai regime in Vietnam
1953 – Dwight Eisenhower establishes Government Contract Compliance Committee
1990 – Gilles Duceppe wins by-election becoming first elected Bloc Quebecois MP
1991 – Dan Quayle makes speech attacking lawyers
1992 – Donald Cameron announces that Nova Scotia Power Corp. is fully privatized
1862 – Abraham Lincoln receives first group of Blacks to confer with US President
1914 – Richard Bennett financed Princess Patricia’s Own Light Infantry leave for European front
1937 – William Lyon Mackenzie King sets up Rowell-Sirois Commission
1941 – Franklin Roosevelt & Winston Churchill sign Atlantic Charter
1942 – Dwight Eisenhower named commander for invasion of North Africa
1943 – William Lyon Mackenzie King opens Quebec conference
1974 – Robert Stanfield announces resignation as PC Party leader
1980 – Jimmy Carter officially re-nominated for President by Democrats
2007 – Stephen Harper announces a new cabinet
1861 – Abraham Lincoln sends reinforcements to Missouri
1881 – Sir John A. Macdonald’s Act to Provide for the Extension of the Boundaries of the Province of Manitoba comes into effect
1930 – William Lyon Mackenzie King urged to accept Rowell-Sirois recommendations
1971 – Richard Nixon announces 90 day freeze on wage & prices
1986 – Ronald Reagan supports replacement for Challenger space shuttle
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Arthur Meighen, 9th Prime Minister of Canada
1861 – Abraham Lincoln bans trade with Confederacy
1910 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier opens first Pacific National Exhibition
1913 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier greeted by 10 000 in St-Hyacinthe
1956 – Adlai Stevenson nominated for president by Democratic Party
1979 – John Diefenbaker passes away
1991 – George H. W. Bush declares that recession is near an end
1999 – John Hamm sworn in as Nova Scotia’s 25th Premier
1911 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier kicks off re-election campaign in Three Rivers
1936 – Maurice Duplessis and the Union Nationale win Quebec Election
1940 – William Lyon Mackenzie King meets with US President on North American defence
1940 –  Franklin Roosevelt meets with Canadian Prime Minister on North American defence
1943 – William Lyon Mackenzie King hosts US President & Winston Churchill at War Conference
1943 – Canadian Prime Minister hosts Franklin Roosevelt & Winston Churchill at War Conference
1943 – George Drew sworn in as Ontario’s 14th Premier
1961 – John Kennedy establishes Alliance for Progress
1987 – Bill Vander Zalm opens the Mascot Gold Mining Company’s open pit mine
1988 – George H. W. Bush nominated for president by Republican Party
1998 – Bill Clinton admits to an “improper physical relationship” with an intern
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rosalynn Carter, former first lady
HAPPY BIRTHDAY William R. Bennett, 27th British Columbia Premier
1938 – William Lyon Mackenzie King & US President dedicate Thousand Islands Bridge
1938 – Franklin Roosevelt & Canadian Prime Minister dedicate Thousand Islands Bridge

1940 – William Lyon Mackenzie King & US President sign Joint Board of Defence agreement

1940 – Franklin Roosevelt & Canadian Prime Minister sign Joint Board of Defence agreement
1992 – Constitutional talks begin in Charlottetown
2011 – Simon de Jong passed away
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Bill Clinton, 42nd US President
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tipper Gore, former US 2nd lady
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Fred Thompson, former US Senator
1872 – Election riot in Montreal between supporters and opponents of George-Etienne Cartier
1961 – Lyndon Johnson visits West Berlin
1968 – Lester Pearson appointed head of World Bank commission on aid to developing countries
1976 – Gerald Ford wins Republican presidential nomination
1977 – Rene Levesque offers English education in Quebec for French Education in other provinces
1984 – Ronald Reagan nominated for president by Republican party
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Ron Paul, former US Congressman
1781 – George Washington begins moving troops for fight against Cornwallis
1872 – George-Etienne Cartier meets with Monsignor Bourget
1941 – William Lyon Mackenzie King arrives in England
1964 – Marian Pearson & US first lady open Roosevelt Campobello International Airport
1964 – Lady Bird Johnson & Canadian first lady open Roosevelt Campobello International Airport
1964 – Lyndon Johnson signs Economic Opportunity Act
1972 – Dave Barrett sworn in as 26th British Columbia Premier
1974 – Gerald Ford assumes office
1974 – Nelson Rockefeller selected to be Vice-President
1982 – John Munro wins libel suit against Toronto Sun
1983 – Robert Bourassa announces return to politics
1858 – Abraham Lincoln & Stephen Douglas have first debate
1919 – Edward, Prince of Wales, arrives in Quebec City
1945 – Harry Truman ends Lend Lease program
1999 – Glen Clark resigns as British Columbia Premier
2002 – Jean Chretien announces he will not seek a 4th term
1919 – Edward, Prince of Wales, opens the Quebec Bridge
1925 – Lester Pearson marries Maryon Elspeth Moody
1950 – Louis St. Laurent calls emergency session of Parliament regarding rail strike
1956 – Dwight Eisenhower & Richard Nixon renominated by Republican convention
1979 – John Diefenbaker laid to rest at University of Saskatchewan campus
1984 – Ronald Reagan & George H. W. Bush renominated by Republican convention
1990 – George H. W. Bush calls up military reserves
1992 – Brian Mulroney & the Premiers sign the Charlottetown Accord
2011 – Jack Layton passes away
1939 – William Lyon Mackenzie King warns cabinet of possible war in Europe
1941 – William Lyon Mackenzie King booed by Canadian troops in England
1944 – Dwight Eisenhower meets with Generals Montgomery & Bradley
1947 – Harry Truman’s daughter Margaret gives first public singing concert
1956 – John Kennedy’s newborn daughter passes away
1957 – Tommy Douglas opens Saskatchewan portion of Trans-Canada Highway
1958 – Robert Bourassa marries Andree Simard
1972 – Republican convention renominates Spiro Agnew for Vice-President
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rene Levesque, 23rd Quebec Premier
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mike Huckabee, 44th Arkansas Governor
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gary Filmon, 19th Manitoba Premier
1936 – Franklin Roosevelt gives FBI expanded authority to pursue fascists & communists
1954 – Dwight Eisenhower signs Communist Control Act
1967 – John Robarts announces French secondary schooling for Ontario
1990 – Brian Mulroney sends destroyers to Persian Gulf to participate in Gulf War
2005 – Paul Martin formally acknowledges wrong doings against Ukrainian-Canadians during World War I
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hector Langevin, Father of Confederation
HAPPY BIRTHDAY George Wallace, 45th Alabama Governor, independent Presidential candidate
1919 – Edward, Prince of Wales, visits Toronto City Hall
1940 – William Lyon Mackenzie King urged to release French gold to British
1943 – Franklin Roosevelt makes first “official” visit to Canada by a US President
1950 – Harry Truman orders army to take control of railways to avert a strike
1984 – Brian Mulroney tells Liberal leader “you had an option” in election debate
1991 – Jean Charest announces money to protect ozone layer
2003 – Jean Chretien signs agreement providing self government to Tlicho First Nation in Northwest Territories
2009 – Ted Kennedy passes away
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, 15th Governor General of Canada
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Geraldine Ferraro, former member US House of Representatives
1834 – John A. Macdonald begins practising law in Kingston
1872 – Sir John A. Macdonald sends the telegram that led to Pacific Scandal
1936 – Maurice Duplessis sworn in as Quebec Premier
1939 – William Lyon Mackenzie King sends personal peace appeals to Hitler, Musolini & President of Poland
1961 – John Diefenbaker opens the International Hockey Hall of Fame at CNE
1964 – Lyndon Johnson nominated for President by Democrats
1996 – Bill Clinton signs welfare reform into law
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States
1984 – Ronald Reagan announces the Teacher in Space program
1991 – Brian Mulroney announces Royal Commission on Native Issues
1991 – Brian Mulroney urged to call conference on the economy by Premiers (minus Quebec)
2008 – Barack Obama nominated for President by Democratic Party
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Paul Martin, Canada’s 21st Prime Minister
1872 – George-Etienne Cartier loses seat of Montreal East
1945 – William Lyon Mackenzie King meets with Charles de Gaulle in Ottawa
1981 – Ronald Reagan’s shooter John Hinkley pleads innocent
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John McCain, AZ Senator
1864 – Sir John A. Macdonald leaves Quebec for Charlottetown
1917 – Sir Robert Borden’s Military Service Act receives royal assent
1917 – Sir Robert Borden passes the Soldier Settlement Act
1917 – Earl Grey passed away
1964 – Dick Cheney marries Lynne Ann Vincent
1968 – Hubert Humphrey nominated for President by Democratic Party
1969 – William Bennett and the British Columbia Social Credit win re-election
1983 – Brian Mulroney wins Central Nova by-election
1992 – Robert Bourassa gets Quebec Liberal Party to approve Charlottetown Accord
1996 – Bill Bennett found guilty of insider trading by British Columbia securities commission
2002 – Glen Clark acquitted of charges that led to his resignation
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Don Getty, Alberta’s 11th Premier
1873 – Lord Dufferin issues Order-In-Council constituting the Northwest Mounted Police
1944 – Maurice Duplessis sworn in as Quebec Premier
1968 – Pierre Trudeau cancels Winter Works Program
1971 – Peter Lougheed and the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party win election
1972 – Dave Barrett and the British Columbia New Democratic Party win election
1979 – Jimmy Carter attacked by a rabbit on a canoe trip
1990 – Brian Mulroney appoints 5 new Senators
1935 – Franklin Roosevelt signs act preventing export of arms to belligerents
1993 – Brian Mulroney completely bans all cod fishing
2015 – Barack Obama re-designates Mount McKinley as Denali
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Sitting Presidents Challenged from Within

For this week’s blog, I think I have another fun topic.  I will be looking at Presidents that faced serious challenges to their party’s presidential nomination from within their party.  This only happened three times in the twentieth century.  Sorry John Ashbrooke in 1972 against Richard Nixon, but, I don’t consider your challenge serious.  Same with Pat Buchanan’s challenge of George H. W. Bush in 1992.  And, sorry Eugene McCarthy in 1968, but, Lyndon Johnson dropped out, before your challenge could be considered serious.  William Taft had Teddy Roosevelt.  Gerald Ford had Ronald Reagan.  Jimmy Carter had Ted Kennedy.

Teddy Roosevelt decided not to see another term as president in 1908.  His hand picked successor was William Taft.  Taft won the election of 1908.  Roosevelt’s expectation was that Taft would carry on the policies that he has espoused.  After 4 years, Roosevelt was not happy with the record that Taft had built for himself.  He chose to challenge him for he Republican party presidential nomination that year.  Taft held onto the nomination.  This wasn’t good enough for Roosevelt, so, he decided to run as a third party candidate.  In the end, Taft lost the presidency to Woodrow Wilson, finishing third behind both Wilson and Roosevelt.  The challenge hurt him.  The entry of a third party candidate killed him.

Gerald Ford had never gone through a primary.  He had never been vetted for national office by the public, his party or the media.  He was vetted by the Nixon administration and by congress.  He became Vice-President after the resignation of Spiro Agnew.  He became President after the resignation of Richard Nixon.  In 1976, he decided that he would seek a full mandate under his own name.   For Gerald Ford items CLICK HERE!  However, someone else wanted the job.  Former California Governor decided that he was better suited to lead the United States of America through those difficult times.  Early on, Ford won primary after primary.  The Reagan campaign seemed over before a race really began.  Suddenly, Reagan started winning primaries.  The two candidates would disagree over key policy points.  Going into the convention, the two were neck and neck.  After the votes were counted, they remained close, but, Ford prevailed.  However, Reagan would have more followers than ever before.  The battle cost Ford.  In the end, the debate he was forced to engage in probably cost him the presidency (that, and the Nixon pardon).

Jimmy Carter won a hard fought battle for his party’s presidential nomination in 1976.  He emerged stronger for the fight and won the presidency against a weakened Gerald Ford.  His presidency saw, as he put it, a malaise over the nation.  The economy was sluggish.  Oil prices were rising, when it was available.  The Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Iran took American Embassy staff hostage.  Many a crises rose.  Most beyond his direct control.  He could do little but watch.  For Jimmy Carter items CLICK HERE!  Enter a candidate with the most famous name in the Democratic party.  Ted Kennedy would challenge Cater for his party’s presidential nomination.  Kennedy called for even more government intervention.  Kennedy spoke to the fears of the nation and the party.  For Ted Kennedy items CLICK HERE!Carter ultimately won the race for the nomination, but not before feeling Kennedy’s sting.  He was badly weakened going into the general election.  He lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan.

In each instance, the major challenge cost the person their job.  In the case of the latter two, Reagan and Kennedy, the challengers based the opposition on appealing to their party’s base; Reagan from the right, Kennedy from left.  The lessons have not been lost.  How often do we hear about candidates appealing to their base during primary season only to move to the centre for the general election?  Challenges can be healthy and welcome.  However, they hurt the incumbent and cost them their jobs.

What do you think?  Share your comments below.

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Bill’s 6: Greatest Presidents the U.S. NEVER Had

And, now the U.S. version of last weeks blog.  The Bill 6 seems quite popular.  The beauty of this kind of topic is that there’s lots of room for discussion.  This week, I am looking at the greatest Presidents the U.S. never had.  These are people who never sought the presidency.  This means that persons that ran as their party nominee are disqualified (sorry Barry Goldwater and Al Gore).  It also precludes people that ran for their party’s nomination and lost (sorry Ron Paul and Edmund Muskie).  I’m also leaving out people that are young enough that they may still run in the future (sorry Hillary Clinton and John Kasich).  Voters had the option of making them President (or will) and rejected them (or may still elect them).  Here we go…

6.  William Sherman – William Sherman was a successful Civil War general.  He managed men.  He led people.  He was sought after by people on all sides to seek the presidency.  He declined.  “If nominated, I will not run.  If elected, I will not serve”.  He felt that he had done his part for God and country.  His renouncing of there being any possibility of his running remains the measure of denials to this day.  When asked, people are urged to give a “Sherman declaration” as their denial.  Most refuse to be so adamant.  Sherman gave his, and it was a loss to his nation.

5.  Mario Cuomo – The New York governor said that the plane was on the runway ready to go to New Hampshire to file his papers, but, there was too much work to do at home.  He staid out of the race.  The voters of New York ended up defeating him their next chance.  However, Cuomo represented something that politics was lacking.  He was true to his convictions.  He was an unabashed liberal when the term had become a dirty word.  He didn’t care.  He was who he was.  He won…and lost being himself.  

4.  Colin Powell – Colin Powell rose through the ranks of the military to serve in the highest offices in the land.  Many in the nation wanted him to seek the presidency.  He declined.  He held views that weren’t popular with many of the base of his party.  He wouldn’t back away.  He did back away from the race.  He offended many in his party by endorsing Barack Obama over his own party nominee.  He could have been the first African American President.  Instead, he helped elect someone else to that position.  For Barack Obama items CLICK HERE!

3.  Martin Luther King – Dr. King never ran for office.  He didn’t have too.  He led women and men.  He sought equality for all Americans.  He sought it through peaceful means.  He knew how to lead.  He knew how to achieve his goals, and the goals of his followers without resorting to name calling or negativity.  He was felled by an assassin’s bullet.  Had he lived, he may have sought office.  His death was a loss, not just to the people that he led, but, to all Americans.

2.  Eleanor Roosevelt – Before there was Hillary Clinton, there was Eleanor Roosevelt.  She was first lady to the longest serving President, Franklin.  She demonstrated leadership in this capacity.  After his passing, she showed strength.  She continued to lead.  She spoke out on the issues that were important to her.  Her party asked her to run for various offices.  She declined.  She felt that she could make a greater contribution to the well being of her country from outside elected office.  She made a great contribution.  Whether it could have been greater, we’ll never know.  For Franklin Roosevelt items CLICK HERE!

1.  Benjamin Franklin – Franklin was a founding father that never sought to lead the nation that he was so instrumental in forming.  He passed away while George Washington was still President, so, we’ll never know what aspirations he may have had for himself going forward.  He was a diplomat.  He was an inventor.  He was a negotiator.  He was a lover (just throwing that one in…really not relevant to being President).  He was a true father in his nation.  For George Washington items CLICK HERE!

What are your thoughts?  Should any of these have been excluded?  What other ones should have been added?  Leave your comments below.

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20th Century Vice Presidential Ascenders

Last week, I looked at Presidents that only served one term.  I excluded Presidents that rose to the office as a result of their predecessor passing (or resigning, as the case may be).  This week, I’ll take a look at the ones that rose to the office because of the constitution instead of an election.  And, I’ll look at their own electoral successes.  Four Vice-Presidents rose to the highest office as a result of the passing of their boss.  A fifth got the job because of a resignation.  The first four won a term in their own right.  The fifth barely lost (at least in the electoral college).  Lets look at Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford.

Teddy Roosevelt (William McKinley) – McKinley was the third president to be assassinated.  Roosevelt, the former governor of New York, hadn’t even been on the ticket the first time around.  He was added to strengthen the ticket for the 1900 election campaign.  It worked.  After assuming the presidency, he observed that the office provided a “bully pulpit” to the office holder.  He dramatically expanded the national park system.  He won the election of 1904 (name the guy he ran against-’nuff said).  He didn’t seek another term.  And, he could have.  In 1912, he tried a comeback as a third party candidate, finishing second.  His political career came to an end.

Calvin Coolidge (Warren Harding) – Harding went on a trip to the west coast, developed pneumonia, and never recovered.  Calvin Coolidge is the president that conservatives harken back to when they refer to the better days.  Even Ronald Reagan referred to him as his favourite president.  He won his own term in 1924 against Al Smith.  The country wasn’t ready for a Catholic president.  And, Coolidge would epitomize the “small government” conservative presidency that modern Republicans talk about.

Harry Truman (Franklin Roosevelt) – Harry Truman got his job by 82 days.  If Franklin Roosevelt had passed away earlier, there was another Vice-President (though, given the election was 2 1/2 months before that, he still would have, ultimately, become the President).  Roosevelt, had 3 different Vice-Presidents.  For Franklin Roosevelt items CLICK HERE!Truman was his last.  Truman would definitely put his stamp on the office.  “The Buck Stops Here”.  “Give Them Hell, Harry”.  He sought his own term in 1948.  Though the Chicago Sun Times called it for his opponent, Thomas Dewey, he won his own term.  For Thomas Dewey items CLICK HERE!  The Korean War began during his own term.  A constitutional amendment was adopted during his term limiting the time a President could serve in office.  He was exempted, but chose to not seek another term.  For Harry Truman items CLICK HERE!

Lyndon Johnson (John Kennedy) – John Kennedy was the fourth (and last) president to have his life taken from him while in office.  For John Kennedy items CLICK HERE!The assassination has still raised questions.  There are many who believe that there was a conspiracy afoot.  Many believe that his Vice-President, Lyndon Johnson, was part of that conspiracy.  It is believed by many of those conspiracy theorists that Johnson was to be dropped from the ticket.  There is no proof to substantiate any of the theories.  However, upon Kennedy’s death, Johnson rose to the presidency and, a year later, won a term in his own right against Barry Goldwater.  For Barry Goldwater items CLICK HERE!  Johnson came forward with an aggressive agenda.  The Civil Rights Act was adopted.  The “Just Society” programs came into place.  The Vietnam War expanded.  Then, his address to the nation.  “I will not seek, nor will I accept my party’s nomination”.  He would serve out his term and not seek another.  For Lyndon Johnson items CLICK HERE!

Gerald Ford (Richard Nixon) – Nixon remains the only president to have ever resigned the office.  Gerald Ford remains the only person to have assumed the office without winning a national office through a general election.  A corruption scandal forced Vice-President Spiro Agnew from office.  Under changes to the Constitution, a new person could be appointed to the office.  Gerald Ford became the first person to ever have that privilege.  Soon after, the Watergate scandal would force Nixon to resign his office.  For Richard Nixon items CLICK HERE!  Gerald Ford became president.  The final troops came home from Vietnam during his brief time in office.  What’s more often remembered about his time in office is his pardon of his former boss, Richard Nixon.  Given the closeness of the vote in the 1976 general election, it’s quite easy to believe that the pardon cost him the election.  His time in office was brief.  The Democrats used Watergate and defeated him.  For Gerald Ford items CLICK HERE!  Jimmy Carter became the 39th president of the United States.  For Jimmy Carter items CLICK HERE!

In the case of Gerald Ford, it’s clear he lost because of the scandal that elevated him to the presidency.  Though not involved in any way with it, his pardon of Nixon was enough to tie him to the scandal.  However, the four who made it because of the passing of the predecessor represent another story.  Roosevelt, Coolidge and Truman had opportunity to make the office their own.  Were their predecessors forgotten?  And, were people happy with what they saw?  Even Johnson had legislative victories prior to facing the voters.  Again, were voters happy with what they saw.  Did the four receive “sympathy” votes in honour of the men that passed? Was it a simple matter of voters being happy with the job they were doing in the office?  Were their opponents just weak?  This latter one is the most interesting of all.  Opponents always seem weak after they’ve lost.  If one looks closely, 3 of the four really were weak (I’m being generous to New York governor Thomas Dewey).

In the end, especially in the days before extensive internal polling was done, it’s really impossible to know why voters did what they did.  One thing is clear…in the twentieth century, having your boss die was good for ones own electoral prospects.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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20th Century One Term Presidents – Why They Failed to be Re-Elected

Back to a regular blog.  This week, I’m going to look at twentieth century one term U.S. Presidents.  For the purposes of this blog, a one term President is one who originally attained office in their own right and then lost their bid for re-election.  This precludes individuals that first rose to the office as a result of the passing or resignation of the sitting President (Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford).  This leaves us with only 4 20th century one-termers, William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George Bush.  There is one common element that all four faced, and a second that 3 of the four faced.  Here is my analysis.

William Taft (1909 – 1913) – The United States faced a significant economic downturn in the early part of the 20th century.  As is usually the case, the person at the top got the blame.  Taft inherited an economy that was doing okay, but, watched, helplessly as it fell into recession.  He faced a second challenge.  Third party candidate Teddy Roosevelt decided that he wanted his old job back.  He ran as a third party candidate.  He did so well, that the incumbent president finished third in the popular vote.  Both lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Herbert Hoover (1929 – 1933) – In the first year of Hoover’s presidency, the stock market crashed.  Whether you subscribe to the numerous economists who suggest that the crash was a result of the coming depression or whether you subscribe to the J. K. Galbraith theory that the crash caused the depression, the fact is, the economy went into the tank and the Hoover government was helpless to stop it.  Try as he might, the depression came about.  His opponent in the 1932 election provided hope.  Hoover lost his bid for re-election to Franklin Roosevelt.  For Franklin Roosevelt items CLICK HERE!

Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981) – Under Jimmy Carter’s watch, the U.S. economy fell into recession.  Instead of offering the hope that Franklin Roosevelt would offer, he criticized the very people he would need to be re-elected.  He complained of a “ma-laze  in the nation”.  He was, of course, correct.  But voters don’t want to be blamed for their problem; they want to be offered solutions.  For Jimmy Carter items CLICK HERE!  Add to the fact that a liberal Republican (yes, there used to be those), having lost his own party’s nomination, ran as an independent.  IL congressman John Anderson would garner some of the votes from the left, votes that would more likely have gone to Carter.  For John Anderson items CLICK HERE!  In the end, both would lose to Ronald Reagan.  For Ronald Reagan items CLICK HERE!

George H. W. Bush (1989 – 1993) – Bush’s election was, in itself, an oddity.  Usually, Vice-Presidents don’t get elected after an 8 year term in the office.  Bush, however, bucked that trend.  He led an allied coalition in the Gulf War.  He seemed unbeatable going into the 1992 election.  Events overtook him.  After breaking his “no new taxes” pledge, the economy went into recession.  For George H. W. Bush items CLICK HERE!  Enter a third party candidate that had prior ties to the Republican party, Ross Perot.  He challenged the president from the right.  He mocked his economic policies.  He won almost 20% of the vote.  For Ross Perot items CLICK HERE!  In the end, both would lose to a new generation of American.  Bill Clinton would beat them both.  For Bill Clinton item CLICK HERE!

My thesis should be obvious.  James Carville was right when he said, “it’s the economy, stupid”.  Presidents lose office when the economy turns against them.  In three cases, the faltering economy led to third party challenges.  In every case, the President was unable to hold onto office.

Do you agree?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Bill’s 6: Biggest Political Bone-Head Moves (U.S.)

Last week, I launched a blog idea that I promised when I launched the site.  The first Bill’s 6 proved to be very popular.  Here’s the follow up.  Week 1 was for Canada…here’s the one for the U.S.

In putting this list together, I want to point out that I specifically chose not to include areas of public policy.  Governments are elected to enact legislation and I have no desire to open a debate on the merits of those policies (it’s the reason “the Pardon” isn’t on the list).  That goes beyond what I’m doing with this list (besides…it could anger people and the intent of this particular list is entertain).  Also, when I launched the site, I noted that I wasn’t going to include contemporary politics.  Therefore, I am not including anything on the list about anyone or anything that could in any way be considered as a part of current politics (again…don’t want to anger people about current events).  I hope that you enjoy…

6.  Henry Wallace –  Wallace was a Republican that Franklin Roosevelt appointed as Secretary of Agriculture.  He would later appoint him as his Vice-Presidential nominee.  He proved to be a poor choice and was dropped from the ticket going into the 1944 election.  Roosevelt was re-elected as President with Harry Truman sworn in as Vice President in 1945.  82 days later, Roosevelt was dead and Truman was president.  Had Wallace not proven to be such a poor Vice President, he could very well have been President of the United States.

5.  The First 1960 Debate – John Kennedy showed up tanned and wore make up.  Richard Nixon did not.  Polls after the debate showed that people who listened to the debate on radio thought Nixon had one.  People who watched it on TV though Kennedy had won.  Many more watched it on TV.  Kennedy suddenly gained credibility as a candidate and would ultimately win the election.  Not wearing make up cost Richard Nixon the presidency.  For John Kennedy Items CLICK HERE!

4.  1948 Chicago Sun Times – Dewey Defeats Truman.  Or so said the headline the day after the election.  The polls and pundits all said it would be true.  The paper, seeing no reason to doubt it, went to press with the headline.  Except…he didn’t.  Harry Truman was elected President of the United States.  Thomas Dewey went down to defeat.  It is the most famous of all media headline screw-ups.  For Harry Truman Items CLICK HERE!

3.  Thomas Eagleton and the 1972 Vice-Presidential Nomination – If Thomas Eagleton were selected a political candidate today, no one would give it a second thought.  However, in 1972, there was a much greater misunderstanding of mental illness.  After his nomination, it was learned that Eagleton had suffered from mental illness and received a “non-conventional” form of treatment to combat it.  As a result of the lack of knowledge at the time, he was eventually forced off the ticket.  George McGovern went through a very exhaustive list of replacements, all of whom said no.  He finally got a running mate, but, by then the damage was done.  McGovern’s campaign sputtered to a smashing loss.  For George McGovern Items CLICK HERE!

2.  Gary Hart “Prove It” – There had been suspicions that Democratic presidential hopeful Gary Hart was not being faithful to his wife.  Instead of backing away he dared the media to prove he was.  The Miami Herald accepted the challenge.  The photo of Hart with his companion on the boat “Monkey Business” (tell me that’s not the most ironic name in history), ended his campaign for the presidency.  Prior to the revelations, Hart was the front runner in for his party’s presidential nomination.  He also led national polls in head to head match-ups with Republicans.  He was the only candidate presenting new ideas.  He lost it all because he couldn’t keep it zipped for a few months.  For Gary Hart Items CLICK HERE!

1.  Watergate – No list of political bone-head moves could be complete without watergate.  The scandal had two components…the actual break in and the cover up.  Both were bone-head moves…both could have made this list…combined they make number 1.  The “burglars” broke into the Democratic party’s headquarters.  They attempted to learn info from their opponents.  In the end, Nixon won with about 60% of the vote.  The info the DNC had was unnecessary to the winning campaign.  Later, President Nixon participated in the cover-up made to help higher ups in his administration.  He broke the law.  He became the only president to resign the presidency.  A meaningless, unnecessary third rate burglary led to the resignation of the most powerful man in the world.  Yup…if that’s not a bone-head move, I don’t know what is.  For Richard Nixon Items CLICK HERE!

Do you agree with my choices?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Lessons from John Kennedy

Not that long ago, we remembered the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John Kennedy. As a result, there was a great deal said about the man and his legacy. I’d like to add to that by compiling a list of lessons that contemporary politicians can take away from the former President:

1. Think Big – Right in his inaugural address, Kennedy stated that the United States would put a man on the moon and bring him back safely before the decade was complete.  No one, including the President, had any idea of how they would do it…but, he had absolute confidence that the people that he led could do it.  And, they did.  He demanded the impossible of his nation, and they made it happen.

2.  Don’t Back Down From the Forces of Evil – Every leader in a free society faces a form of evil that renounces the very freedoms that we hold dear.  Kennedy was no different.  The Cuban Missile Crises presented him with just such a challenge.  The former Soviet Union decided to place offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba.  Kennedy knew this to be an unacceptable threat to his nation and it’s people.  Without going into the details of the 13 days of the crises (this is a blog and not a book), Kennedy demanded their removal and was prepared to do what was necessary to ensure the safety of the nation he led.  He refused to accept as inevitable the imminent threat that was posed to his nation, and, the missiles were removed.

3.  Face Your Opponents – John Kennedy had many critics for his policies.  Forgotten to time is the fact that his approval rating was not as high as a President seeking re-election in one year would hope.  An example of a piece of legislation that was causing problems for his popularity, at least in a portion of the nation, was the Civil Rights Act (that was finally passed under Lyndon Johnson).  Kennedy could have focused on legislators from northern states, his natural constituency, to ensure it’s passage.  Instead, he chose to demand action from all corners of the country…including Texas.

4.  Take Responsibility – The Bay of Pigs invasion, fiasco, during the first 100 days of his administration could have derailed his entire presidency.  He had an out…the plan was put together during the Eisenhower administration.  He could have blamed “the other guy”.  Instead, he took full responsibility.  He did not shy away from the fact that (using the Harry Truman maxim) “The Buck Stops Here”.  He explained the facts, but took responsibility for the invasion’s failure.

This is, by no means, a comprehensive list.  It does, however, provide another reason that the Kennedy legacy translates forward after 50 years.  Each of these lessons can (and should) be used by every contemporary politician, regardless of party, or ideology.  And, that’s probably why he is still held in such esteem after all this time…his own presidency transcended both party and ideology (a discussion for a future blog).

John Kennedy Items click here

What do you think?  Are there more lessons?  Am I stretching it with the ones that I’ve presented?  Post your comments.