Barbara Bush wants Hillary Clinton to run for president.

August 27, 2013

Barbara Bush, not the former First Lady, but the daughter of former president, George W. Bush, has said that Hillary Clinton is “unbelievably accomplished” and hopes she will run for president in 2016.  It’s about as close to an endorsement as a Bush could give a Clinton and surely qualifies as news.  Former First Lady and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is a member of the Democrat Party.  Barbara’s father and grandfather were former presidents and both are Republican.  Her uncle, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, is also a Republican and a possible candidate for president in 2016.

If Ms. Bush eventually endorses Secretary Clinton, it would not be the first time that a son or daughter of a president supported a candidate of the opposing political party.  Ron Reagan, Jr. and his sister Patti Davis, both offspring of Republican president Ronald Reagan, are openly Democrats.  Mr. Reagan addressed the Democrat National Convention in 2004

Democrat president, Franklin Roosevelt, had sons, who supported candidates and causes other than his own.   John Aspinwall Roosevelt, the youngest in the family, complained openly about the New Deal and became a high profile Republican.  He endorsed Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan for president.  In 1954, when FDR, Jr. ran for governor of New York, his brother, John endorsed his Republican opponent.  Meanwhile,  Jimmy Roosevelt, the eldest of FDR’s sons, led “Democrats for Nixon in 1972.”  FDR’s son, Elliott,  worked for FDR’s lifelong enemy, William Randolph Hearst.  When his father announced he would run for an unprecedented third term as president, Elliott told friends it should be unconstitutional.

Political and cultural differences between the generations is nothing new in political dynasties nor should it be surprising to the rest of us.  Each member of a family seeks a separate identity and that is often found in differing political views.  Helen Taft Manning, daughter of conservative, Republican president, William Howard Taft, was one of the most effective leaders of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and openly Democrat on many issues.   Barbara Bush is an advocate of Marriage Equality and other gay issues and has “partnered” with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Michelle Obama’s “let’s Move” campaign.

Children of presidents have often played a role in helping a candidate get elected and govern.  Robert Tyler, son of the tenth president, John Tyler, helped promote the career of Pennsylvania congressman, James Buchanan, who became the fifteenth president.  James Garfield, son and namesake of the twentieth president helped Theodore Roosevelt win the presidency.  His younger brother, Harry Garfield, helped elect Woodrow Wilson.  Both of the Garfield sons became cabinet officers with distinguished careers.  In all three cases the Presidents’ children not only offered a powerful endorsement, they had inside knowledge and experience that was crucial to the success of the candidates.

Help from  a presidents’ son or daughter is not always rewarded.  After he won the White House, James Buchanan shunted aside Robert Tyler whose presence was a reminder of his early political struggles in Pennsylvania.  Tyler moved to Alabama, became a newspaper publisher and passed from the public eye with dignity never complaining about the thankless role he had played and the president’s shabby treatment.

Caroline Kennedy nearly suffered the same fate.  Her endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama came at a crucial time in his race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Kennedy, a political and social icon, gave Obama cache when he needed it most.  But the Obama White House staff chaffed at the idea they owed their election to Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain president, and derailed attempts to reward her.  If Barack Obama had not been re-elected in 2012, the Kennedy endorsement would have gone down in history as one of the greatest unpaid political debts in modern campaign history.  But Obama won re-election, some measure of sanity returned to the Obama White House and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the 35th president was nominated Ambassador to Japan.

It remains to be seen if Barbara Bush will formally endorse Hillary Clinton for president.  Most Bush watchers doubt it will happen until her uncle Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, officially declares his non candidacy.  If not, this statement is probably even better for Clinton, at least from a political standpoint.  It adds to the idea of Clinton’s broadening support without tying her to a president who is unpopular with her base.  It is the ultimate irony.  Having been sunk by one presidential daughter, a Kennedy, she now finds herself buoyed  by another, a Bush.


July 4th Trivia for the 2013 celebration

July 1, 2013

Which three presidents died on the Fourth of July?
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.  Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third president, both died on the same day in 1826, Monroe died in 1831. (Thanks to David Gurowsky for catching a typo on the dates.)

What other presidents died close to the 4th of July?
On July 4, 1850, President Zachary Taylor attended ceremonies for the Washington Memorial and returned to the White House for a bowl of cherries and milk. He became sick to his stomach that night and died five days later. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was shot. He died several months later.

How many people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th?
Only two.

When was the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence?
It was July 8, 1776.  The Liberty Bell rang out from Independence Hall to summon the crowd.

On what date did most of the signers actually sign the doc?
August 2, 1776.

Who was the oldest signatory?
Benjamin Franklin. He was 70.

Who was the youngest?
Edward Rutledge.  He was 26 years old.  Rutledge owned 50 slaves. He later became governor of South Carolina.

Name the State that had the most delegates sign?
Pennsylvania.  There were nine. 

Who was the last signatory of the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas McKean, January, 1777. He was at one time the president of the continental congress, later became a governor of Pa.

When did Abraham Lincoln give his 1863, July fourth address?
On July 7, 1863. On July 4, citizens in Washington were celebrating what appeared to be a victory at Gettysburg and wanted Lincoln to give a speech but he would only issue a short proclamation. He was waiting to get a complete report and for further news out west, where General Grant was laying siege to Vicksburg. He later found out that Vicksburg had fallen on July 4th. Lincoln gave his speech three days late.

What other countries celebrate the 4th of July?
Denmark, Norway, Sweden and England.

In what year did July 4 become a paid legal federal holiday?
It became an unpaid federal holiday in 1870. And a lot of trivia sites say that it became a paid holiday in 1941 but it was actually passed by congress in 1938.

How did Nathan’s, Fourth of July, Hot Dog contest begin?
It started out as a dispute among four immigrants over who was the most patriotic. And so, that explains why this country is overweight. We are patriotic?

What American President was famous for playing golf every Fourth of July?
Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What modern First Lady wore a bejeweled American Flag in her lapel on every Fourth of July? Pat Nixon, Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton or Betty Ford?
Jackie Kennedy. And the jewelry actually sells on e-bay.


Presidents’ Vacations

July 19, 2010

Presidents’ vacations.

There is an uproar over President Obama’s vacation.  And once again the charge is hypocrisy.   He is a president who champions public schools for the masses, while sending his own daughters to private schools.  And in this case, a president who urges us to visit the beaches of the devastated Gulf while he slips away to Maine.  But all the uproar over Obama’s summer vacation should be seen in context.  Presidents have always taken time off.  And most observers think they should.

In 2000, when the Supreme Court finally declared that George W. Bush was the president-elect and he made his historic flight back to Washington on Air Force One, a friend of mine was onboard.  He said that the plane was practically empty.   No family members, only a couple of staffers and my friend, who was a journalist.   Bush quickly turned the tables on the journalist and asked him the first question.

“How many days did Ronald Reagan spend on his ranch in California?”

Bush was already groaning under the pressure and he had not yet been inaugurated for spent a single day in office. He would pass Reagan’s days off but by no means set the record for a modern president.

The record, if it can be called that, belongs to Lyndon B. Johnson who served 5.5 years in office and spent well over one of those years at his Texas ranch.  484 days to be exact. And the record for the fewest days off belongs to Jimmy Carter, who took off only 79 days.

President Kennedy loved his time off and the Kennedy family had all kinds of retreats.  There was the family compound with multiple homes at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the home in Palm Beach, Florida, and of course the President had Camp David and just in case they needed it, another home in the Virginia fox country, an hour outside of Washington, D. C.

Eisenhower wanted to get rid of Camp David.  It reminded him of Franklin D. Roosevelt who had purchased the place.  Only his wife Mamie, who liked it, and the fact that he was able to successfully rename it after his grandson, David Eisenhower, made him finally decide to keep it.  Not that Eisenhower didn’t like to take time off.  He was an avid, year round, golfer.
The work of a president is making decisions.  And that work never stops.  Even when they sleep.  Woodrow Wilson was scandalized by the pace.  It had been the family tradition for him to spend his evening with his wife and daughters reading together but after a few frustrating evenings he confessed that he was exasperated.  He said he was being forced to make decisions without any reflection.  “I can’t even take a walk to think it through.”

In earlier times, when it took three months to get a pair of scissors from Europe, decisions were more deliberate and less predictable.  James Madison once took a four month long vacation.  The business of the nation could simply wait.

No president would likely find fault with Barack Obama, for going where he wants to go or even when.  Nixon strongly urged his successors to take time off to reflect, to walk the beach.  This crisis will pass and the nation will survive.  One may disagree with Obama on the direction of the country.  The direction of his family vacation this summer, should be his own.


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