What made Obama president? His absent father.

June 13, 2016

Here it is, the timeless formula for great leaders. Good or bad. Thomas Jefferson or Adolf Hitler. But you are not going to like it.

Most great figures in history were “mama’s boys” with an absent father. But here is the key. It was not good enough to be absent. The prisons of the world are filled with men who are “mama’s boys” with absent fathers. The father must also be seen as heroic or successful in the eyes of their son.

It is a fascinating study.

This video from 20o8 discusses the uncanny similarities between the presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama and their fathers.


Why Jeb Bush is Running For President? Is it really for George P.?

February 8, 2015

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. You don’t really believe that the American people are going to elect three out of the last five presidents from the same immediate family do you?  Ain’t gonna happen.  The American people are in a somnolent trance right now.  It hasn’t registered.

Yes, it’s true that there might have been three presidents from the Adams family. (See how Charles Francis Adams might have been elected president.)  But that stretched out over 100 years.

      So if it is an impossible task why is Jeb Bush running?  Ahhh.  I’m glad you asked.
      Here are six reasons why Jeb Bush is entering the fray.
      1.) He just might win. Maybe he only has a 1-500 chance but would you throw away a lottery ticket with such odds?  He has name recognition, money out the kazoo and the American people are a fickle, unpredictable lot. He could win the GOP nomination and Hillary could slip on a banana peel.
      2.) The polls say he is a factor.  Some polls even have him leading among Republican voters. It is irresponsible for him to ignore those numbers.  He probably entertains that Platonic idea, “If you refuse to lead you are destined to be led by someone worse than yourself.”
      3.) The Republican field is crowded with candidates which means he can consolidate his considerable experience, name recognition, money and contacts to win against a divided field.  And if Bush isn’t the favorite, those factors alone might be enough to beat anybody else.
      4.) Ironically, Hillary Clinton is his best opponent in a general election.  She may be his only chance to win and that may be why he jumped in.  Why wait and have as your opponent some new, sexy face in 2020 and be labelled the old establishment guy with Washington connections?  If he faces Hillary Clinton now, it will be a choice between two old, establishment “guys” with Washington connections and Hillary won’t be able to play the dynasty card against him.
      5.) He can do anything else he was going to do better by running for president anyway.
      Does he want to raise money for an NGO?  Promote a cause?  Change the Republican Party? Champion an issue? Promote an agenda? Be on a slew of board of directors and get paid for it? Get a job as president of a university? Be the next NFL Commissioner? Start a company with billionaire investors? Be a television commentator or have his own show?  Write a book people will read? He can do any and all of those things better if he runs for president than if he doesn’t.
      Maybe, like Charles Francis Adams or Robert Todd Lincoln, he wants to be a cabinet member in the next administration?  Every debate will be a chance to audition for the next president.  Hey, even Hillary Clinton may want him in her cabinet to unite the country.  Like JFK and Barack Obama, who appointed Republicans in their administrations.
      And finally there is this, the big reason…..
      6.) By running now he can clean up the Bush image to prepare the way for his son.
      In case you haven’t noticed, George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, is on his way to the position of Texas Land Commissioner.  It’s a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion.
      George P. has been groomed for a long time.  In 1987 I co-authored a book with George H.W. Bush and while it was dedicated to wife, Barbara, then Vice President Bush insisted that it open with one of his famous letters to his grandson George P.
.
      Imagine? A governor from Texas, who just happens to be Hispanic, with name recognition and the most powerful fundraising machine in modern politics?  Look out.
      But there is one big problem and that is the Bush brand has been severely damaged.  America’s last impression of a Bush president was one who led us into a questionable war with Iraq, under what many argue was false pretenses, with borrowed money, which led to the second worst financial depression in American history.  Not to mention, the ongoing residual effects of that war which has led to mayhem across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with the wholesale slaughter of Christians.
      If Jeb Bush runs for president he will come off as a reasonable, kind, bright man with strong principles.  He will have plenty of Souljah moments, such as immigration, where he resists the Republican brand.  One would think that this will almost certainly lose him the nomination but if he does all of this with grace and humility he resets the brand and George P. can start fresh.  Besides it might actually work.  Americans like a leader, even if they disagree with him.  He has nothing to lose.  And he just might win.  Though probably not.  And therein lies another plus.  The national media always fawns over a Republican that they know can’t actually win.  It makes them look bi-partisan.  All the better for George P. Bush and the future.
      If this is what is going on – and it is surely a factor – then Jeb Bush may be one of the most selfless men in the famous Bush family.  He stood aside for his father.  He stood aside for his brother.  And now, by running for president, he may just be doing the same thing for his son.
      See this CNN interview: Bush Family Dynasty: The long range plan that is now years in the making.


Did the Mafia Kill Kennedy?

November 16, 2013

 

Probably not.  But we will have to wait another generation to know for certain because political forces even to this day prevent any objective discussion.

As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, controversy still surrounds the work of the Warren Commission, the official government investigation into the tragedy.   I have interviewed some of the members of the Commission, including former President Gerald Ford, whom my wife and I have hosted in our own home on two occasions.

While there is still debate about whether or not there was a conspiracy behind the assassination, there can now be little doubt that there was indeed a “conspiracy” behind the Warren Commission’s inadequate report.  Upon his assassination, Kennedy, as in the case of Abraham Lincoln before him, was instantly declared a saint and no politician, investigator, judge or media mogul would risk revealing anything that might appear otherwise. 

The result was that any loose ends that brought out into the open the Kennedy family’s ties to the Mafia or the President’s dalliances with other women or the government’s repeated attempts to assassinate Cuban Premier, Fidel Castro, could not be pursued.  It may be that Kennedy was indeed  killed by an emotionally disturbed, lone gunman, with a “lucky” shot but unfortunately, thanks to an impotent media and compromised investigators, we may never know.

In the next few columns I will offer my best arguments for the most popular theories about this tragic event, including the lone gunman theory.  I start with the so called Mafia Conspiracy.

During the presidential primary season, JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy, had called on old Mafia connections that had helped him in earlier, nefarious business dealings.  He asked for their influence in the West Virginia presidential primary.  Mafia violence, through the Miner’s unions, helped  his son beat Minnesota Senator, Hubert Humphrey, and go on to win the Democratic nomination.  

During the general election of 1960 the Mafia went to work again, this time in Illinois where ballot boxes from Republican precincts were “lost” and ballot boxes from Democratic precincts were stuffed.  It helped Kennedy narrowly beat Nixon in this key state and thus win the White House by a razor margin.

When the President’s brother and newly appointed Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, began to aggressively prosecute those same Mafia leaders there was outrage and  feelings of betrayal.  Led by Chicago boss Sam Giancana, leaders of the underworld began discussing how to kill the president and his brother.

At the time of the assassination the public was not told of the ties between the Kennedy family and leaders of the American mafia. Nor were they shown FBI transcripts of top mafia leaders threatening to kill the president and his brother. Today, all of this is accepted history and the narrative appears in Pulitzer Prize winning books. The FBI transcripts are public.

According to CBS News, “The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that it was likely Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.”

 The gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had lived in Russia and had a Russian wife, also had an uncle with ties to the Mafia.  Oswald stayed with him in New Orleans shortly before the assassination.

Finally, there is much support for the once dismissed story of Judith Campbell Exner who claimed to have had an affair with the president, even as she was the girlfriend to Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.  Ms. Exner claimed that she relayed messages and even money from the government to the Mafia for purposes of funding an assassination attempt of communist, Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro.

Her story, at first dismissed by critics has been buttressed by extensive corroborating evidence, including FBI wiretap transcripts, diaries, travel logs, and released government documents  showing her regular visits to the White House.

Finally, only days after the Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down on live television by nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.  Taking out the hit man before he can talk is a classic Mafia tactic.

David Belin, counsel to the Warren Commission, scoffed at this notion.  “Of course, common sense would dictate otherwise; as a practical matter, so-called Mafia ‘hit men’ do not chose an area where they are surrounded by the police and immediately apprehended.”

Actually, the most famous Mafia hits do indeed happen in public.  Ask Carmine Galante, Albert Anastasia, Crazy Joe Gallo, “Big Paul” Castelllano, John Gotti and many others.  They were all killed in restaurants, barbershops or on the streets of Manhattan.

In 1971, Joe Colombo was shot at the podium of an Italian Unity Day rally.  He survived.  His assailant was wrestled to the ground whereupon another man stepped forward and shot him dead.  Police were all over the event but could not stop it.

Contrary to the “common sense” of the Warren Commission, the purpose of a Mafia public hit is to scare everyone else into silence.

Start reading about Joe Kennedy and his president son and the Mafia in The Raising of a President on Kindle now.


The Legacy of George W. Bush

April 25, 2013

Today, the George W. Bush library will be dedicated and a long list of luminaries will laud the life and legacy of our 43rd president.  I first met the future president in 1986, in Corpus Christi, Texas.  I was an independent businessman at the time, and simultaneously, working for his father as an adviser.  As the host of a business event held at the Corpus Christi Convention Center, I invited in George W. Bush to speak to the group.  He did a great job.  And afterward I took he and Laura and the twins to a Mexican restaurant where we talked politics.

bush picture3

Doug Wead, Mike Smith and George W. Bush in Corpus Christi, 1986.

In March, 19987, he joined his father’s campaign and co-opted my work with coalitions so I reported directly to him.  It was then that he learned the power of the evangelical vote and how to tap into it.

I may be the first person, outside of his own random fantasies, who actually thought of him as a future president.  Shortly after his father was elected I wrote a 44 page memo on presidential children.  In the study I learned how many sons pursued the presidency themselves.  Not just the first son born to a president, which was John Quincy Adams, but nine others.  A few of them came close, including John Van Buren and Robert Taft.  So I wrote about that possibility for the young Mr. Bush and talked about him to journalists, including a description in an article dated 1991.  (George Jr. exhibits clout in Bush White House. Denver Post. December 15,1991, p6a.)

George W. Bush has a dynamic personality, a cunning sense of humor and was the most decisive person I had ever met in my life.  While I never stopped praying or rooting for him, personally, I publicly parted ways with him over the war in Iraq.   It was a decision that would cost me dearly in my career.  Even before, when a 1998 CNN/Gallup poll showed George W. Bush as the leading presidential contender, I warned my wife.  “If he wins the presidency we will go to war with Iraq and we will kill Saddam Hussein and we will kill his sons.”  After 9-11, I watched helplessly as our war against Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda shifted to a war against Saddam Hussein, the man who had tried to kill  Bush’s father.

There were many unintended consequences to the war in Iraq and to the subsequent upheaval across the Middle East.   It was called “the Arab Spring” as dictatorships toppled.  But Democracy, offered to voters in the region is routinely voted down as soon as it is won.  The people want theocratic dictatorships.  And they choose them at the ballot box.

Christianity, which existed in Iraq for 2,000 years and traced its lineage to the apostles ,  numbered one million believers before the Iraq war.  It has been cut in half, with churches destroyed and members killed or fleeing to Jordan.   Now the Coptic Christians of Egypt, one of the oldest Christian communities in history faces possible annihilation.

In 2011, when the whole West, including President Obama, were celebrating the change of governments in the Middle East, I was hotly criticized for throwing cold water on the celebration.  It was not out of any loyalty to the dictatorships they replaced.  But rather to the naive confidence with which we so easily brushed aside the tenuous house of cards that were in place.  We did so by what we said and did and what we did not say and did not do.  And we accomplished this without debate or adequate consideration, acting on instinct rather than logic.  The consequences have meant death to many and the blood bath may have only begun.

Today, supporters of President George W. Bush say that he kept America safe and never raised taxes.  Opponents say his war in Iraq had unintended consequences that are unhinging the whole Middle East and his spike in spending wrecked the economy.

Presidents spend their time in office trying to shape what happens and when its over they spend their time trying to shape what we think happened.  Both with limited success.  Today, President George W. Bush  has begun his campaign for his legacy.  What do you think?  How would you rank the president’s time in office?  Today the former president has a a 47% approval rating which is exactly the same as President Obama.

Participate in this poll and learn the results.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DVKPDR6


George H.W. Bush: Tweets before Twitter, his personal notes

March 4, 2013
.
The Forty First president, George H. W. Bush, has reissued his book All the Best.  And with the new publication come another trove of personal notes and observations.  These were tweets before twitter.  Here is my take.
.
What do you think of the notes and personal letters of GHWB?

I think the presidents’ notes and letters constitute some of the most valuable writings of any president in all of American history.   And by the way, only a fraction of those notes are in the book.

And why do you think they are important?

Well, they are more than “stream of conscious” they are “stream of heart.”  As he conducts business, congratulating a birthday or issuing instructions to a staffer, he is also talking about what is going on around him.  It’s a twitter diary before twitter.  Communications reduced to a few words.  But they reveal more than dates and times, they reveal how the president feels about what is happening and what is being said.  And most presidents and politicians guard their feelings.

Give me some examples.

His mounting disgust over Saddam Hussein’s treatment of Kuwait.  Which led to a great miscalculation on the latter’s part.  It was the same miscalculation that Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega made.  Bush, Sr. has a tender heart but a will of iron.  You can read the notes and see that war was coming.

What notes in the book are the most revealing to you?

The president’s constant comments on his pain and deep feelings about the criticism of his son.  Both men, father and son, would rather be attacked themselves than to see the other attacked.

And there are layers of irony in that because some historians will judge one or the other president wrong on Iraq.    Either the father was right to leave well enough alone, after driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.  Or the son was right to have a war and get rid of the tyrant, even though Iraq became an Islamic Republic and with that unintended consequences, such as Christians being drven out for the first time in 2,000 years.  One can argue either way.

How will history judge Bush, Sr.?

In the interest of full disclosure, I served in his White House.  But I can tell you that observers in the former Soviet Union credit him as much as Reagan with the collapse of their empire which for us meant the end of The Cold War, and the end of the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Under Bush, Sr. there was a very real chance of a counter revolution.  And he had pressure on every side to act.  But he wisely invoked Napoleon’s dictum, “never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”  And in the end, he finished what Reagan started.

There are many football teams that do well for three quarters and then lose the game at the end.  George H. W. Bush, won the last quarter of the Cold War and that sealed the deal.

See Doug Wead on CNN speaking to this topic.

http://startingpoint.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/05/bush-41-opens-up-about-bush-43-in-new-book-author-doug-wead-shares-the-highlights/


Almost Presidents: Sons of presidents who almost won the White House themselves

September 26, 2012

Eight men who might have been president.

Everybody knows that there were two sons of presidents who became president themselves.  John Quincy Adams, son of our second president, John Adams, was elected the sixth president of the United States.  And George W. Bush, who was the son of  George Herbert Walker Bush, was elected the 43rd president.  But there were many others who thought about it and eight who either declared or were promoted for the position or were highly expected to run.

1.) Charles Francis Adams

Charles Francis Adams was the son and grandson of presidents and might have become one himself.  He was fluent in several languages, graduated from Harvard at age seventeen and was elected to the House of Representatives.    As Ambassador to the Court of St. James during the American Civil War he is credited with many for keeping England from supporting the Confederacy.

2.) John Van Buren

Many said he was a better lawyer, businessman and politician than his father.  But when “Prince John” as he was called, was elected to the House of Representatives he kept fighting his fathers old battles.

3.) Robert Todd Lincoln

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, his eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln rose to prominence in America.  After graduating from law school, every major corporation looked to his services and many offered him positions on their board of directors.   Within decades he became one of the richest men in America and was a cabinet officer and an ambassador.  Heads of State who visited America, often stopped to call on Mr. Lincoln as well.  But many were concerned that his political rise was unhealthy.   At one point, no less than Joseph Pulitzer, himself, railed against the possible presidency of Mr. Lincoln “simply because he is the son of a president.”

4.) Jesse Grant

Jesse Grant, son of President Ulysses S. Grant, joined his mom and dad on their famous round the world trip during their retirement years.  Jesse fell in love with the lavish lifestyle foreign potentates showered on the son of a former head of state and succumbed to their flattery.  Failing to understand how American elections worked, and living in cultures where power rested in a few families, many foreign leaders anticipated that Jesse Grant, himself, would one day be an American president.  It all apparently went to Jesse’s head.  He eventually returned to America and announced he was running for president but the press and the public largely ignored him and his campaign fizzled.

5.) Theodore Roosevelt , Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was on the fast track to the presidency.  His father had been appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy on his way to the White House, and so had his cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt.  So when TR, Jr. received the same appointment many expected the pattern to be repeated.  But fate did not comply.  Ted served as governor of Puerto Rico and the Philippines.  He was a hero in World War II but recent disclosures show a jealous FDR restricted his press coverage.  TR, Jr. was the only General to land with his own troops on the first wave, on the first day of the Normandy D Day invasion during World War Two.  He died shortly afterward and was awarded the Medal of Honor in absentia.

6.) Robert Taft

Senator Robert Taft, son of President William Howard Taft, is considered by many to have been one of the top five greatest lawmakers in American history.  He ran for president three times and very nearly won the Republican nomination in 1952.

7.) John Eisenhower

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, son of President Dwight Eisenhower,  is one of America’s greatest military historians.  He served as U. S. ambassador to Belgium in the Nixon administration. In the 1960’s, the Democratic National Committee commissioned a private poll which showed John Eisenhower as their most formidable Republican opponent for president, beating out both Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller but Eisenhower was not tempted.  He is in retirement and is the oldest living child of a president.

8.) John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Many observers believed that JFK, Jr., son of John F. Kennedy, had the best chance to retrace his father’s steps and win back the White House for a Kennedy family member.  Kennedy never traded on those expectations and wisely kept his own counsel about any political ambitions.  His sister made a brief appearance in public life, jockeying for appointment to the Senate.  It did not go well.  JFK, Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999.  He was 38 years old.
.
Caroline Kennedy’s public moment