Politics June 4, 2018: Out-of-touch with #MeToo, Bill Clinton faces backlash over defiance about not apologizing to Monica Lewinsky

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Out-of-touch with #MeToo, Bill Clinton faces backlash over defiance about not apologizing to Monica Lewinsky

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: The Today Show Screenshot

The #MeToo movement is making men everywhere reckon and confront their actions but not former President Bill Clinton. Clinton appeared in a joint interview on NBC’s Today Show on Monday morning with mystery author James Patterson for their new book “The President Is Missing” when Weekend co-host Craig Melvin confronted the former president about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Melvin shocked a seemingly unprepared Clinton asking him if he ever personally apologized to Lewinsky. In the #MeToo public apologies on rote have become the norm, the let the aggressors, mostly men, find a way for the public to forgive them as a means to salvage their careers. Clinton is now facing a backlash for his defiant response from both liberal and conservatives, men and women, proving although Clinton is living in 1998; the rest of the world is not when it comes to the scandal that nearly brought down his presidency.

Melvin asked Clinton if he would have dealt with the scandal resulting from the fallout from his affair with Lewinsky differently in the time of the #MeToo and “Through the lens of #MeToo now, do you think differently or feel more responsibility?… Did you ever apologize to her [Lewinsky]?” Melvin also asked the former president whether he should have resigned amidst the scandal that led to him being on the second president ever impeached in American history. Clinton was impeached on charges of obstruction of justice and lying under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky. Clinton responded with the same arrogant defiance that he maintained as the scandal unfolded. Responding to whether he personally apologized to Lewinsky, and “Do you feel that you owe her an apology?” Clinton answered Melvin, “I do not. I have never talked to her. But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public. I felt terrible then, and I came to grips with it.”

Clinton became agitated and defensive saying he would not have done anything different in this #MeToo climate, arguing he too was a victim, punished enough for his actions. Clinton told Melvin, “No, yes. And nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this. And I bet you don’t even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not insensitive of that. I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the ’80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were overrepresented in the attorney general’s office in the ’70s for their percentage of the bar. I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts.”

When responding to whether he should have resigned, Clinton conveniently referred to the allegations President Donald Trump is facing. Attacking Melvin, Clinton accused, “A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work, I think partly because they’re frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.” Democratic New York Senator and former Clinton ally Kirsten Gillibrand caused shock waves when this past November when she told the New York Times she believed Clinton should have resigned during the scandal in 1998. It was the first time a high-ranking Democrat, indicated Clinton should have resigned.

Clinton has escaped the leper status that is so common against men accused in the #MeToo era, not only because of the power of being a former president but also because of his public apology to the nation on August 17, 1998, where he acknowledged his affair with Lewinsky. Clinton then admitted, “Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.” That speech, however, consisted of Clinton’s same defiance, never did he say he was sorry or apologized for his actions, he only admitted he misled and he regrets them. Kathleen Hayden in CNN wrote an article, “Analysis: More Apology, Mr. President, And Less Politics, Please,” where Hayden said, “The speech was laced with legal doublespeak and a sharp, defiant edge.” Time even called it a “stony-faced White House address.”

One month later at the National Prayer Breakfast Clinton finally admitted, “I sinned.” Finally, Clinton publicly apologized. Clinton expressed in his speech, “I don’t think there’s a fancy way to say that I have sinned. It is important to me that everyone who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine — first and most important, my family, my friends, my staff, my cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.” That was the only time Clinton apologized to Lewinsky or anyone, for his actions that put in the country in a crisis for no reason, and the pain and suffering that those involved went through and continued to go in through in the aftermath especially Lewinsky. Right or wrong, his apology has given him a pass with a majority of the American public and most probably the main reason he was spared from being convicted by the Senate in their impeachment vote, and let him escape being forced to resign from the presidency in 1998.

The #MeToo has revisited not only the prevalent sexual abuse and harassment that was pushed under the rug but also the meaning of consent especially when there is a difference in power between the two parties. The lopsided power in employment, at universities, relationships between bosses and employees and professors and students particularly. In light of this, Lewinsky, who persistently claimed it, was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky is not the only one reconsidering the relationship and President Clinton’s actions, so is the media.

Recently, Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky emphasized, “If I have learned anything since then, it is that you cannot run away from who you are or from how you’ve been shaped by your experiences. Instead, you must integrate your past and present. As Salman Rushdie observed after the fatwa was issued against him, ‘Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.’ I have been working toward this realization for years. I have been trying to find that power — a particularly Sisyphean task for a person who has been gaslighted.”

Unlike Clinton, Lewinsky realizes how the #MeToo movement era changes how one looks at the Clinton era scandal. Lewinsky acknowledged “Until recently (thank you, Harvey Weinstein), historians hadn’t really had the perspective to fully process and acknowledge that year of shame and spectacle. And as a culture, we still haven’t properly examined it. Re-framed it. Integrated it. And transformed it.” On the reconsideration of her relationship with Clinton, Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)” It impossible to believe a recent university graduate and former White House intern had a choice in her relationship with the president of the country and most powerful man in the free world. The more powerful one, no matter what, always directed the direction of the relationship.

Lewinsky wrote the article in honor of the 20th anniversary since was thrust into the spotlight by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Lewinsky recounted meeting Starr for the first time, and seeing him “as a human being.” She was “paving the way” for Starr to apologize, telling him, “Though I wish I had made different choices back then. I wish that you and your office had made different choices, too.” All Starr did was respond, “I know. It was unfortunate.” Lewinsky never described how she felt like that he did not apologize, as Clinton did not. After the Today Show interview aired, Lewinsky tweeted “grateful to the myriad people who have helped me evolve + gain perspective in the past 20 years.” She also reposted her February Vanity Fair article, saying, “worth reposting this today from @VanityFair.”

Since the #MeToo movement began in the fall of 2017, with the outing of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, powerful men in all industries; entertainment, journalism, politics academia, and business have seen their stars fall as women came forward accusing them of sexual assault or harassment. Legal vindication came with actor Bill Cosby finally being convicted in April of his sexual assaults and Harvey Weinstein’s arrest indictment on felony rape charges at the end of May. The movement has given women once silenced and their credibility destroyed by these men, a voice, and power, now a simple accusation is enough to destroy and turn the tables on the men. Somehow, for all the accusations of misconduct, Clinton has escaped this fate and he has been continually favored despite his gross abuse of power.

The #MeToo movement has seen very little similar apologies whether sincere or not, there has been little “genuine repentance” as Clinton said was necessary. To apologize is to admit defeat and that one is wrong, an almost impossible task for powerful men, who always believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. Public apologies have become the norm, but very few have been genuine and concerned for the victim. Mostly, these men have been looking for a way to salvage their careers, public apologies can help, especially if they show enough remorse as Clinton did. Rarely, however, do they feel the need to apologize privately it serves no purpose on the global stage; the lack of true remorse renders it unnecessary for most aggressors.

Online publication the Perspective wrote an article “on the public apology” describing the different times and repercussions for victims. Author Malkie Khutoretsky writes, “On the heels of #MeToo movement, public apologies for sexual misconduct are being issued on a loop.” The publication listed the benefits and drawbacks of a public apology, and concluded, “A public apology for sexual misconduct is owed as an admission of guilt and a step to healing. But who does the public apology benefit more, the abuser or the victim of sexual abuse or harassment?” As much as the public wants to grade the apologies, what is worse is never receiving an apology that even remotely acknowledges any wrongdoing at all. It shows that the aggressor does not even believe he was wrong at all in his actions.

As someone who has had a #MeToo experience having gone through harassment and retaliation and the everlasting fall out in my life both personally and professionally, I believe any apology has a value and a power. I would have appreciated any recognition that what this man, who was in a position of power, did to me was wrong, and that his conduct was not only wrong towards me but morally wrong considering his position. Although he hypocritically supports the #MeToo movement and religiously believes in forgiveness, I know he would never apologize, because like other men in power and like Clinton, unless their careers are in peril they would never admit they were wrong, and this one always believes he is right. Unfortunately, the same arrogance to makes these men act in the first place makes them unable to feel the remorse necessary to make a private apology and admit any defeat.

An April 2018 article by the Associated Press asks just that, “Can there be forgiveness, second chances in the age of #MeToo?” According to experts, there can be forgiveness if the apologies are genuine and recount exactly what they did wrong to their victims. The article’s author Michelle R. Smith claims, “Forgiveness must be possible if society wants to reduce instances of sexual misconduct, but experts say, it will take work and willingness to change from both the perpetrators and society at large.” Jennifer A. Thompson, an assistant professor of applied Jewish ethics and civic engagement at California State University also believes it is possible. Thompson explains that in the Jewish tradition, “You have to go to the person you hurt and ask, ‘What can I do to make this right?’” Thompson believes that model of redemption could work in the age of #MeToo.

Lesley Wexler, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law concurs, and believes in “restorative justice.” Wexler told the AP, “Part of what should be happening here is personal. Making amends to the victim, restoring the victim. And a separate part is acknowledging that the nature of this harm isn’t just the individual, you are a community. That suggests you also need to be public about what specifically was wrong and what you can do better.”

The interview comes barely a month after Town and Country rescinded their invite to Lewinsky for their philanthropy summit because Clinton would be giving an introduction. The outcry in the news and social media was almost as bad this time around with Clinton’s defiant remarks. Op-eds called Clinton out for not learning anything from the #MeToo movement and sticking to his politics as the usual mantra that was criticized when the scandal broke in 1998. The backlash to the former president’s remarks comes from both liberals and conservatives in the news and social media. Lewinsky was right in the social media age; she has been receiving all the support she needed and lacked while the scandal unfolded and the aftermath. As she wrote in Vanity Fair, “If the Internet was a bête noire to me in 1998, its stepchild — social media — has been a savior for millions of women today.”

Even before Clinton was asked about apologizing to Lewinsky, CNN anchor Jake Tapper and NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd criticized the former president on Todd’s “1947: The Meet the Press Podcast” on Thursday, May 24. Todd remarked, “It galls me that the former president hasn’t even simply apologized to her for ruining her life… Her life is never the same. He ruined it. He got to move on. I’ve never understood why he couldn’t simply apologize to her.” Tapper added, “It’s crazy, it’s crazy,” stating that Clinton “owes her the apology.”

On Twitter, commentators left and right attacked Clinton for his response. Conservative writer Amanda Carpenter tweeted, “Clinton says he apologized to “everyone in the world” and that he left the WH severely in debt because of the scandal. But that’s, in part, because they all lied about it for so long!” MSNBC NBC News Political Analyst Elise Jordan remarked, “Bill Clinton manages to make #MeToo about himself and evades @craigmelvin when asked if he ever apologized to Monica Lewinsky. Thanks @craigmelvin for asking an important and obvious question that WJC should be able to answer.” “Blue writer” Teri Carter concurred, “Bill Clinton STILL refuses to take responsibility for what he did to Monica Lewinsky. He has the “but what about me me me me me” complex.”

National Political Correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC Steve Kornacki, observed, “His tone here — combative, aggrieved — really hasn’t changed in 20 years. This is the same Clinton the nation saw in that 7/98 primetime address in which he admitted the affair but stressed that “presidents have private lives.” While New York Times opinion contributor Maggie Haberman mocked, “Bill Clinton gets asked if he ever apologized to Lewinsky. He responds by saying Starr investigation was unfair.”

In news media, the commentators were not any more forgiving. Red State’s Sarah Quinlan writing “Bill Clinton has not learned anything from the #MeToo movement” for USA Today, claimed, “In the midst of the #MeToo movement, it would have been impressive and powerful for Clinton to demonstrate he had learned from the movement.” Emily Jashinsky’s article “Bill Clinton confronts #MeToo with smirks, arrogance” In the Washington Examiner, claims, “(Bill) Clinton seems to have missed the mood of the public, and expects to laugh and deflect his way through tough questions like it’s nothing, because for two decades his party dismissed those questions too.”

CNN political commentator SE Cupp wrote an op-ed on CNN, aptly titled, “Yep. Bill Clinton is still a monster.” Cupp opened her article, saying, “Former President Bill Clinton has just revealed the ultimate lessons he’s learned in the 20 years since his sordid affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky led to his impeachment: precisely, exactly none.” Cupp was immensely critical of Clinton’s response, “The president, grinning boyishly, insisting he did the right thing, boasting about having never delivered a personal apology to the young intern he once took advantage of in the Oval Office — is like watching a con artist brag about pulling one over on an unsuspecting family. The man is frighteningly, pathologically incapable of shame.”

CNN Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza believes Clinton should apologize personally to Lewinsky in his article, “Bill Clinton still gets it wrong on Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo.” Cillizza called Clinton’s response “a remarkable — and remarkably bad — quote.” Cillizza pointed out, “Apologizing in a public setting — with the obvious dual intent of clearing the decks politically — isn’t the same thing as reaching out to Lewinsky personally to say sorry.” He believes Clinton “seems much more interested in how he was, ultimately, validated by the public than in talking about whether or not he should have apologized to Lewinsky.”

Cupp was right, Clinton’s “demeanor on NBC would make anyone wonder about his sincerity, then or now.” In this changing world, Clinton needs to acknowledge that he should apologize, but without any political gains on the table, he chooses not to keep up his charade of regret. Then Americans were taken in by that same charm that seems grossly out of touch with the changing times. The “genuine repentance” the former president claimed to have in September 1998, was a farce just to garner sympathy from the American public, who were easy patsies, sucked into his continuing web of deceit. Clinton’s response proves he sounds like all the accused men of the #MeToo movement; he was just looking out for his own survival, always.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a over dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics May 10, 2018: Town and Country apologizes to Monica Lewinsky for uninviting her to summit over Bill Clinton, is it enough in the #MeToo era?

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Town and Country apologizes to Monica Lewinsky for uninviting her to summit over Bill Clinton, is it enough in the #MeToo era?

By Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS

Flickr

When is an apology enough? A day after former White House intern and anti-bullying advocate Monica Lewinsky “cryptically” announced on Twitter that she had been uninvited to a social change event by a magazine because former President Bill Clinton would be attending, the magazine apologized. On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Town and Country magazine apologized to Lewinsky via Twitter with a short concise message. Lewinsky’s tweets have gone viral with thousands of retweets and likes. The situation exploded so much that Clinton’s press secretary also commented on Twitter. The reprehensible and insulting act by the magazine was so archaic in the age of #MeToo movement that brings about the question was it enough to make amends?

On Thursday, Town and Country gave a quick apology to Lewinsky on Twitter, writing, “We apologize to Ms. Lewinsky and regret the way the situation was handled.” The public has not received the apology very well with many responding to magazine injustice chastising them. In her tweets, Lewinsky did not name there magazine instead, Huffington Post revealed Town and Country was the magazine that snubbed her from their invitation-only philanthropy summit. The apology was hardly enough and from their online publication and Twitter yesterday they were quite excited about having Clinton at their summit. Lewinsky must have agreed it was not enough, because she did not respond on Twitter.

The event, Lewinsky was referring in her tweets to was posh Town and Country magazine’s fifth annual philanthropy summit in New York at Hearst Tower. The magazine described those who were attending as “activists, game-changers, and leaders across the field of philanthropy, education, healthcare, and gun control.”

The magazine tweeted early in the day about Clinton’s attendance, writing, Welcome to the 2018 #TandCPhilanthropy Summit! Watch LIVE as @BillClinton of @ClintonFdn introduces @Emma4Change … https://t.co/IoNfCmwIFU — TOWN&COUNTRY (@TandCmag) May 9, 2018. Clinton introduced March for Our Lives panelists, which included including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, shooting survivors and gun control advocates students Emma González and Delaney Turr for the panel, “Rewriting the History of Violence.” The magazine has since listed a video of the former president’s introduction.

After trying to separate himself from the scandal that nearly brought down his presidency and led him to be only the second president ever impeached, Clinton quickly had his press secretary Angel Ureña disassociate him from the uninvite. Ureña took to Twitter on Wednesday evening, writing, “President Clinton was invited to address the Town & Country Philanthropy Summit. He gladly accepted. Neither he nor his staff knew anything about the invitation or it being rescinded.” The tweet, however, insultingly failed to mention and acknowledge Lewinsky by name. The most important point was to make Clinton unaware of the situation to the public, reminiscent of when he was president.

On Wednesday, Lewinsky wrote on Twitter, “Please don’t invite me to an event (esp one about social change) and — then after I’ve accepted — uninvite me because Bill Clinton then decided to attend/was invited. It’s 2018. Emily Post would def not approve.” Lewinsky then posted that it was a magazine that disinvited her, adding they offer to let her write an article in their publication. Lewinsky tweeted, “p.s. … and definitely, please don’t try to ameliorate the situation by insulting me with an offer of an article in your mag.” The original tweet has gone viral with over 170,000 likes.

Twenty years later and the whole issue with the disinviting is reminiscent of the bullying in the news when the scandal broke in 1998. Whereas Lewinsky was not believed at first, Clinton retained high poll numbers as she was vilified. Even after Clinton admitted he lied to the American public, he escaped impeachment, while Lewinsky became late-night fodder. She escaped the public eye for years, re-emerging in 2014 as a Vanity Fair contributor, where she wrote about the scandal and subsequent bullying in the article entitled “Shame and Survival.” She has since worked as a writer and anti-bullying advocate focusing particularly on cyberbullying and online harassment because she calls herself “patient zero,” the first to suffer from cyberbullying on a wide scale. In a 2015 TED Talk Lewinsky, expressed, “What that meant for me personally was that overnight I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly-humiliated one worldwide. I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on the global scale almost instantaneously.”

The #Metoo has revisited not only the prevalent sexual abuse and harassment that was pushed under the rug but also the meaning of consent especially when there is a difference in power between the two parties. The lopsided power in employment, at universities, relationships between bosses and employees and professors and students particularly. In light of this, Lewinsky, who persistently claimed it was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement.

Recently, Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)” It impossible to believe a recent university graduate and former White House intern had a choice in her relationship with the president of the country and most powerful man in the free world. The direction of the relationship was always directed by the more powerful one, no matter what.

Since the #MeToo movement began in the fall of 2017, with the outing of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, powerful men in all industries; entertainment, journalism, politics academia, and business have seen their stars fall as women came forward accusing them of sexual assault or harassment. Legal vindication came with actor Bill Cosby finally being convicted in April of his sexual assaults. The movement has given women once silenced and their credibility destroyed by these men a voice and power, now a simple accusation is enough to destroy and turn the tables on the men. Somehow, for all the accusations of misconduct, Clinton has escaped this fate and was favored despite his gross abuse of power.

Town and Country’s apology was almost as bad as offering Lewinsky a consolation prize for uninviting her to write in their publication. The #MeToo movement has seen many superficial apologies meant to spare reputations as opposed to genuine ones meant to actually make amends. In general, in this climate, they have not been well received by the victims or the public. Clinton has escaped the leper status and given another chance, not only because of the power of being a former president but because of his apology to the nation on August 17, 1998, where he admitted “I sinned” with his affair with Lewinsky and apologized to her for his actions. Right or wrong, his apology has given him a pass with a majority of the American public and most probably the main reason he was spared from being convicted by the Senate in their impeachment vote, and let him escape being forced to resign from the presidency in 1998.

The #MeToo movement has seen very little similar apologies whether sincere or not, there has been little “genuine repentance” as Clinton said was necessary. To apologize is to admit defeat and that one is wrong, an almost impossible task for powerful men, who always believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. An April 2018 article by the Associated Press asks just that “Can there be forgiveness, second chances in the age of #MeToo?” According to experts there can be if they are genuine and recount exactly what they did wrong to their victims.

The article’s author Michelle R. Smith claims, “Forgiveness must be possible if society wants to reduce instances of sexual misconduct, but experts say, it will take work and willingness to change from both the perpetrators and society at large.” Jennifer A. Thompson, an assistant professor of applied Jewish ethics and civic engagement at California State University also believes it is possible. Thompson explains that in the Jewish tradition, “You have to go to the person you hurt and ask, ‘What can I do to make this right?’” Thompson believes that model of redemption could work in the age of #MeToo.

Lesley Wexler, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law concurs, and believes in “restorative justice.” Wexler told the AP,“Part of what should be happening here is personal. Making amends to the victim, restoring the victim. And a separate part is acknowledging that the nature of this harm isn’t just the individual, you are a community. That suggests you also need to be public about what specifically was wrong and what you can do better.” The same can apply to Town and Country, they need to genuinely apologize to Lewinsky, they need to do better or else they sound like all the accused men of the #MeToo movement, just looking to save themselves.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics May 9, 2018: In the #MeToo era Town and Country magazine uninvites Monica Lewinsky from event because Bill Clinton attends

In the #MeToo era Town and Country magazine uninvites Monica Lewinsky from event because Bill Clinton attends

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Wikipedia Commons

The age of #MetToo is not enough to change the age of old views of sexism and abuse of power. History keeps repeating itself for former White House intern Monica Lewinsky as she yet again is at the receiving end of discrimination because of her past involvement with former President Clinton. On Tuesday, May 9, 2018, Lewinsky took to Twitter to announce she had been disinvited from an event on social change because Clinton would now be attending. Lewinsky tweeted about the incident but did not name the magazine, hosting the event, which is believed to be Town and Country and their philanthropy summit.

The affair and resulting scandal led Clinton to be only the second president impeached. Twenty years later the #MeToo movement has been outing sexual abuse and harassment from men in positions of power who abused it, then silenced these women or tarnished their credibility. It is shocking in this era for this type of preferential behaviors to still occur nevermind past an event on social change.

On Twitter Lewinsky wrote, “Please don’t invite me to an event (esp one about social change) and — then after I’ve accepted — uninvite me because Bill Clinton then decided to attend/was invited. It’s 2018. Emily Post would def not approve.” Lewinsky then posted that it was a magazine that disinvited her, adding they offer to let her write an article in their publication. Lewinsky tweeted, “p.s. … and definitely, please don’t try to ameliorate the situation by insulting me with an offer of an article in your mag.”

The tweet has gone viral, with the original tweet been retweeted over 4,500 times and liked over 27,000 times. The second post was retweeted over 400 times and liked nearly 5,000 times. The comments, however, have not all been supportive, with many taking her issue with her bringing up Emily Post’s rules of etiquette considering her affair with Clinton. The bullying in itself is symptomatic of the era of social media but disregards the change in philosophy the #metoo movement has brought about.

In 1998, almost every time President Clinton was mentioned in the news so was Lewinsky then 24 years old. For over six months from the time Matt Drudge broke news of the Clinton-Lewinsky involvement until mid-August when the president finally admitted to the affair and apologized and then with the September release of the Starr Report, throughout the fall when House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton for “high crimes and misdemeanors” perjury and obstruction of justice through to early 1999 when the Senate finally acquitted Clinton, one could not read or watch the news without Monica Lewinsky being discussed, analyzed, mocked and ridiculed. Lewinsky became involved with Clinton in November 1995, when she was a 22-year-old White House intern and the “encounters” and affair continued on into 1997. The relationship became public knowledge through the taped revelations of informant Linda Tripp in the midst of the Paula Jones sexual harassment case after Clinton had asked Lewinsky to lie in her deposition for the case about their involvement.

Twenty years later and the whole issue with the disinviting is reminiscent of the bullying in the news when the scandal broke. Whereas Lewinsky was not believed at first, Clinton retained high poll numbers as she was vilified. Even after Clinton admitted he lied to the American public, he escaped impeachment, while Lewinsky became late-night fodder. She escaped the public eye for years, re-emerging in 2014 as a Vanity Fair contributor, where she wrote about the scandal and subsequent bullying in the article entitled “Shame and Survival.” She has since worked as a writer and anti-bullying advocate focusing particularly on cyberbullying and online harassment because she calls herself “patient zero,” the first to suffer from cyberbullying on a wide scale. In a 2015 TED TalkLewinsky, expressed, “What that meant for me personally was that overnight I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly-humiliated one worldwide. I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on the global scale almost instantaneously.”

The event, Lewinsky was referring to was posh Town and Country magazine’s fifth annual philanthropy summit in New York. The magazine tweeted early in the day about Clinton’s attendance, writing, Welcome to the 2018 #TandCPhilanthropy Summit! Watch LIVE as @BillClinton of @ClintonFdn introduces @Emma4Change … https://t.co/IoNfCmwIFU — TOWN&COUNTRY (@TandCmag) May 9, 2018. Clinton was to introduce Parkland shooting survivor and gun control advocate Emma Gonzalez.

Among the other panels at the summit, was “Activism as the New Philanthropy,” “Rewriting the History of Violence,” “The Politics of Patronage,” “The Future of Cancer Care,” “Conscious Capitalism,” and “How to Make Philanthropy a Family Tradition.” Among the attendees and panelists was a mix of advocates and celebrities. According to Town and Country, they consist of “Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Pulitzer Prize, Tony-, Emmy-, and Grammy Award-winning composer, lyricist, and actor will headline the event along with his family. Additional panelists and speakers include model Karlie Kloss, television anchor and O, The Oprah Magazine editor at large Gayle King, actor Bradley Cooper, entrepreneur Sean Parker, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.” The magazine also honored “ Chef and food activist José Andrés, the James Beard Foundation 2018 Humanitarian of the Year.”

The #Metoo has revisited not only the prevalent sexual abuse and harassment that was pushed under the rug but also the meaning of consent especially when there is a difference in power between the two parties. The lopsided power in employment, at universities, relationships between bosses and employees and professors and students particularly. In light of this, Lewinsky, who persistently claimed it was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement.

Recently, Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)” It impossible to believe a recent university graduate and former White House intern had a choice in her relationship with the president of the country and most powerful man in the free world. The direction of the relationship was always directed by the more powerful one, no matter what.

The fact that 20 years later, Town and Country and the social media is still acting the same towards Lewinsky, shows that the #MeToo movement is not advancing women’s plight and credibility as much as they believe. No matter if Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and other celebrities, politicians, and journalists fall as result; Bill Clinton is still coasting on the power of the presidency. Democratic New York Senator and former Clinton ally Kirsten Gillibrand caused shock waves when this past November when she told the New York Times she believed Clinton should have resigned during the scandal in 1998. She was right, he should not still have the esteem after his treatment of women not only Lewinsky but including an accusation of rape from early his political career.

Clinton, the aggressor is being treated like a victim, needing Town and Country to impose a restraining order to protect him from Lewinsky. The mentality and preferential treatment are reprehensible, not only is it reminiscent of 20 years ago, but in an era long before the feminist movement, and Lewinsky is still bearing the Scarlet Letter A, while Clinton is revered. For the #MeToo movement to truly cause change, situations like this should never occur and all women should oppose it and speak out against such second-class treatments.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

History October 25, 2017: Kennedy assassination documents to be released in time for anniversary

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Kennedy assassination documents to be released in time for anniversary

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump has decided it is time for the public to see the long held remaining documents pertaining to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Wikpiedia Commons

Just in time for the 54th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, finally, historians are going to be able to see the last piece of the puzzle. President Donald Trump announced on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, that he would allow the release of the remaining CIA and FBI documents on the 35th president’s assassination. Trump’s decision ends Congress’ 25-year hold on the documents. On Oct. 26, approximately 3,100 files are set for release, adding to the heavily redacted 30,000 that have already been released.

President Trump tweeted on Saturday morning, “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long-blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.” The White House released a longer statement to the press, saying, “The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise.”

Although the documents will enrich research and scholarship on Kennedy’s assassination, historians do not believe that it will change the narrative or conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Historians are concerned that they will give conspiracy theorists a field day. Originally, Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act in 1992 to thwart the release of the documents.

The law was partially inspired by the rampant conspiracy theories set forth in Oliver Stone’s box office hit JFK, which claimed a vast government conspiracy, was behind Kennedy’s assassination with the CIA and FBI at the forefront. The Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) claimed in their report that the film, a “popularized a version of President Kennedy’s assassination that featured U.S. government agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the military as conspirators.”

The bill gave only the president the power to delay the documents release once the bill expired. The president would have been able to do so claiming national security interests. It is rumored that the CIA appealed to Trump to delay the release. Trump friend Roger Stone claimed, “specifically CIA director Mike Pompeo has been lobbying the president furiously not to release these documents.” The agency denied this and issued a statement saying the CIA “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously unreleased CIA information.”

Many were lobbying President Trump to release the documents, among them his friend Stone and Senate judiciary committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Stone like Trump believes there is a conspiracy surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Stone however, believes the documents “show that Oswald was trained, nurtured and put in place by the Central Intelligence Agency.” Strone says, “It sheds very bad light on the deep state.”

While Grassley recently tweeted his support for the release, writing, “No reason 2 keep hidden anymore. Time 2 let American ppl + historians draw own conclusions.” Earlier, Grassley also introduced a resolution on the Senate floor to release the documents. Grassley argued, “Americans deserve a full picture of what happened that fateful day in November 1963. The assassination of President Kennedy occurred at a pivotal time for our nation, and, nearly 54 years later, we are still learning the details of how our government responded and what it may have known beforehand.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics recently wrote an article in Politico with Philip Shenon entitled, “The JFK Document Dump Could Be a Fiasco.” The article’s subtitle argues, “Later this month, the National Archives is set to release thousands of documents about John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It’s likely to fuel conspiracy theorists for years.” Sabato and Shenon, however, claim that releasing the documents will congest NARA’s website but not doing so would fuel more speculation and theories then releasing them.

Both authors have written books about the assassination, Sabato wrote, “The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy” and Shenon wrote, “A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination” both published in 2013, the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. After President Trump announced his decision on Saturday, Sabato praised Trump on Twitter. Sabato wrote, “Thank you. This is the correct decision. Please do not allow exceptions for any agency of government. JFK files have been hidden too long.”

The documents supposedly cover Oswald’s trip to Mexico prior to the assassination. In September 1963, Oswald traveled to Mexico City where he met with officials at the Cuban and Soviet Union embassies about visiting those respective countries, although he also might have met with Cuban and Soviet spies. It was in Mexico City that Oswald came under CIA radar. It is widely speculated that Oswald discussed his plans to assassinate President Kennedy during the trip.

Investigative journalist Gerald Posner spoke to USA Today about the trip and the documents. Posner is the author of the 1993 authoritative book “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK.” Posner concluded in his study that Oswald acted alone. Although the files will not alter long-held conclusions, they could cause embarrassment for the US and Mexico and hinder already strained relations. Posner commented on this factor, “There may not be deep, dark secrets in there, but the release could be embarrassing to people who were involved. You have to remember that Mexico City in the 1960s was a hodge-podge of intrigue where everyone was spying on everyone else. There may be people who were informing to the CIA at the time who have moved on to careers in politics and business, and the revelation that they were informing will be embarrassing to them.”

Among the documents are also historical gems that are unrelated with any theories about the assassination. Posner recounted, “All of those will cause a flash of excitement. For one thing, there’s supposedly a handwritten letter by Jackie Kennedy about the (JFK) funeral. There’s a letter from (former FBI Director J. Edgar) Hoover that’s been closed for all these years. There’s the testimony of (former CIA counterintelligence chief) James Jesus Angleton from the 1970s before the Church Committee.” The Church Committee was an investigation by Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho, about the FBI and CIA and their plans to assassinate Cuba’s, Fidel Castro.

This past July, NARA already began the process of releasing the documents. According to NARA, they released already, “3,810 documents, including 441 formerly withheld-in-full documents and 3,369 documents formerly released with portions redacted.” Researchers and the media clamored to the NARA site, but many of the documents were difficult to read, many illegible others in code or jargon not comprehensible to the public or even scholars. NARA was supposed to release slowly the documents, but instead opted to wait on Trump’s decision, and now release them all on Oct. 26 and cause a traffic backlog on their website yet again.

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States (1961–63), was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. by Lee Harvey Oswald, while in a Presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas heading towards the Texas School Book Depository. Kennedy was in an open limousine waving at the cheering crowd with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nelly when three shots in succession erupted, which hit the Governor, and then the President. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 46 years, 30 minutes after the shooting.

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite first broke news of the assassination, tearing up with his announcement of the president’s death. Afterward there was an immediate outpouring of grief by the nation mourning the loss of an idealized young President. In a recent book “The Kennedy Detail” Secret Service agent Clint Hill has said; “It has taken me decades to learn to cope with the guilt and sense of responsibility for the president’s death, and I have made it a practice to keep my memories to myself. I don’t talk to anybody about that day.”

At 2:38 p.m., Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th US president, aboard Air Force One with Jackie Kennedy standing by his side, still wearing the clothes stained with the President’s blood. Police arrested Oswald two hours later. Oswald, a Soviet sympathizer with ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had shot Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository building. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner fatally shot Oswald, as he was being transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail; Ruby claimed he wanted to spare Jackie Kennedy any further grief.

After three days of national mourning, on November 25, 1963, a state funeral was held for the slain President. It was a preceded by a repose of Kennedy’s body in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours on the 23rd. On Sunday, the 24th, the President’s coffin was carried by the same horse-drawn carriage as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Unknown Soldier before him, to the Capitol building where his body laid in state for 18 hours, with 250,000 people visiting his casket.

On Monday, one million gathered on the route of the processional from the Capitol to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where the funeral was held. Foreign dignitaries from 90 countries, including 19 heads of state came to pay their respects, and millions of Americans watched the funeral on TV, which was covered by the three big networks; ABC, CBS, and NBC. After the Requiem Mass, as the President’s body was carried from the cathedral, three-year-old John Jr. saluted his father’s casket giving the mourning nation an iconic image to remember. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia after the service Jackie Kennedy lit an eternal flame that remains burning over the President’s gravesite.

Kennedy’s assassination was not put to rest with the president on Nov. 25, 1963; conspiracy theories just began their long life. In honor of the 50th anniversary, Fred Kaplan examined the most popular ones in his article, “John F. Kennedy conspiracy theories debunked: Why the magic bullet and grassy knoll don’t make sense.” Even 50 years later, a 2014 poll indicated that 59 percent of Americans still believe there is a conspiracy theory surrounding the enigmatic president’s death. Soon after Kennedy’s successor President Lyndon Johnson commissioned Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to chair an investigation, which resulted in the Warren Commission Report. The report concluded that Oswald alone fired all three shots that hit Kennedy. The public, however, was not satisfied and a flurry of books was published in the wake of the report’s finding. The books introduced and supported a host of conspiracy theories.

A home video fuelled the speculations Abraham Zapruder taped on his 8mm home-movie camera the shooting. The 26-second reel with 486 frames was the only direct recording of the assassination. The graphic shots were not released for the public to view until 1975, when President Gerald Ford decided to make it available. The film was both used as proof by the Warren Commission that Oswald acted alone and conspiracy theorists that he did not.

Among the many theories, the main point of contention was whether one or bullets shot Kennedy and Connally. Since the time between each frame based on the film made it impossible for Kennedy and Connally to have been shot by separate bullets coming from Oswald’s gun, the Warren Commission concluded with some dissension the “single-bullet theory,” claiming the same bullet hit the Texas Governor and then the president. Originally, the report claimed there was “compelling” evidence, but in the end decided on just saying there was persuasive evidence. Without the Warren Commission being definitive, conspiracy theorists clamored to claim there had to have been the second shooter.

The second most popular theory was that one of the shots came from the grassy knoll. Part of this theory rested in the way Kennedy moved when he was shot suggesting the first shot to the neck was from behind, but the second shot to the head was from in front. There was also an audio recording from a Dallas police officer’s microphone radio transmission. The recording seems to indicate four shots were fired not three and that considering the officer’s location one echoed from the grassy knoll. A 1976 House of Representatives Committee determined this from their report, but later the National Academy of Sciences debunked this when they analyzed the tape. The police officer motorcycle was not in the vicinity, and the supposed fourth shot came after the Kennedy had already been hit.

Although most of the conspiracy theories have remained theories, The CIA’s and FBI’s questionable behavior during the time including, coups and killings only add to the speculation as to what will be included in the previously unreleased documents. It might finally uncover Oswald’s motives, which have long been questioned, with many believing it was related to Cuba and Castro, and the Kennedy administration’s desire to overthrow the Cuban dictator in a planned Operation Mongoose. As well, they might reveal more on Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union. These files were so guarded by the CIA and FBI that they never even handed them over to the Warren Commission. Now the public and scholars will finally read this last puzzle, however, if they are anything like the documents released over the summer, they true meaning might still take a while to decode.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics June 25, 2017: Two different models allow Bush and Obama’s post-presidential popularity to surge

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

George W. Bush sees his post-presidential favorable rating surge eight years after leaving office.

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Now that Republican Donald Trump is president, the American public finds themselves missing a simpler time when another Republican occupied the White House former President George W. Bush. A new poll released by Gallup on Monday, June 19, 2017, has Bush’s post-presidency popularity surging. The poll shows Bush seeing a seven percent increase in his favorable rating from the 2016 poll, from 52 percent to 59 percent, putting him closer to other former president’s popularity including the latest arrival to the club, Barack Obama. Both former presidents have chosen two radically different models for their post-presidencies, Bush’s choice to stay out of politics is the main reason his popularity has risen so much since he left office over eight years ago as the most unpopular president in recent history.

According to the latest Gallup poll of “favorable views of former presidents,” Bush has a 59 percent favorable rating. Bush has gained ground, in the over eight years since he left office. Bush left the White House with the second lowest approval rating of all presidents in the post-World War II era with only 34 percent approval and 35 percent favorable rating and even reached 25 percent. The peaks and lows of Bush favorable view in office range from 87 percent just after 9/11 in 2001 to 32 percent in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis.

The groups that seem the most nostalgic for Bush are Democrats and independents, as Gallup pointed out, “his favorable rating has nearly doubled among political independents to 56% and has increased fourfold among Democrats to 41%.” Bush is doing well with Republicans but does not have a high of a favorable rating as he should have. Only 82 percent of Republicans see Bush favorably, only an increase of 10 percent since he left office when 72 percent of Republicans viewed him favorably.

Bush’s favorable rating is also skewed among specific demographics. He maintains his popularity among women more than among men, 60 to 56 percent, and whites over nonwhites 64 to 47 percent. Americans in the two age brackets above 35, 35 to 54 and 55 and plus view Bush with a similar 64 and 65 percent favorable rating. However, Bush still has not won over Millenials, with only 42 percent of young adults viewing him favorably.

Although it seemed unlikely in 2009, Bush is nearly as popular as Democrat Barack Obama. Obama has a 63 percent favorable rating, up five points since he left office in January. Gallup noted that Obama’s favorable rating average in both presidential terms was 54 percent. His highs and lows, however, were never as drastic as Bush’s. At his height, Obama had a 59 percent favorable rating in March 2009. At his lowest Obama’s favorable rating was at 42 percent, polled just after the 2014 midterm election, when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. Obama has always been popular with a large percentage of the public, and rating high among all demographics, Republicans, however, still view him negatively. Only 22 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the most recent former president, but an overwhelming 95 percent of Democrats view Obama favorably.

Recently Bush also saw his historical reputation rise. In February C-SPAN released their third survey ranking of American presidents entitled “Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership,” Bush’s rise was only slight, moving up three from 36th place to the 33rd position. Bush united the country in the aftermath of the worst terror attack on American soil in history when on September 11, 2001; radical terrorist group Al-Qaida used planes that hit the Pentagon in Washington, and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing over 3,000 Americans. After the attack, Bush made records with both his approval and favorable rating according to Gallup.

Bush’s counter attack, initiating over decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, divided the country and mostly resulted in Bush falling out of favor with voters. The unpopular foreign wars coupled with domestic policy mistakes, including the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the worst economic and housing collapse since the Great Depression led to Bush’s low ranking despite being a two-term president with the highest record approval rating from 2001 on record. Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor and C-SPAN historical advisory board member, commented, “The survey is surprisingly good news for George W. Bush, who shot up a few notches.”

After the divisiveness of Bush, Barack Obama came onto the scene, and he was elected in 2008 on a campaign pledge of hope and change. In his first foray in the presidential ranking, Obama was placed in the generous position of 12th. Obama earned the third spot in the category “equal justice for all” and seventh place “moral authority,” eighth for “economic management” and tenth place for “public persuasion.” Obama’s stature among historians counters his ranking in the public opinion polls where he only ranked ninth out of the twelve postwar presidents based on his term average.

Obama’s success was most in domestic policy, as he remained mired up for years in Bush’s wars in the Middle East before withdrawing all troops later in his presidency. Obama was able to turn the economy around with the help of his stimulus plan passed by a Democratic Congress, but it took six years for any actual recovery. Obama was the first president to succeed and provide health insurance coverage for practically all Americans with his Affordable Care Act, the program known as Obamacare.

Obama, however, failed in pursuit of his other goal, immigration reform, creating a legal pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants most of whom came from Latin American countries. Legislation in Congress stalled in the Senate, and Obama’s attempts at going it alone in a limited form through executive actions were struck down by the Supreme Court. Obama will be most remembered for his soaring rhetoric, advancement rights for LGBT Americans and being the first African-American president elected in American history.

Partisan divisions, however, grew in the country under Obama, who, despite promises to unite divided more during his tenure, where he was according to polls the polarizing president in history. His constant wars with the Republican House voted in 2010 and Senate voted in 2014 did nothing to help the partisan divide. Obama was the first black president, however, race relations deteriorated during his tenure, as police violence against Africans Americans rose.

The public’s perception of Bush is improving, largely because he has stayed out of political discourse since leaving office. Historian and Bush biographer Jean Edward Smith has remarked in a 2016 Washington Post article, “George W. Bush was not a good president. As a former president, he’s been exemplary. Bush has provided a model for anyone leaving the Oval Office.” Despite, his successor, Obama constantly criticizing Bush during his first years in office, Bush has never replied or criticized back. In fact, except for supporting his brother, Jeb Bush’s 2016 run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Bush has stayed clear of politics. Bush avoided every congressional and presidential election until 2016 but spoke via video to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Instead, Bush’s post-presidency has been consumed by his presidential center The George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, “with the exception of immigration reform,” he advocates for fighting AIDS in Africa and fundraising for veterans of the two wars started in his presidency, whom he feels a personal responsibility. Bush also authored books, including his presidential memoirs, “Decision Points,” published in 2010 and a biography of his father, former President George H. W. Bush, “41” published in 2014. Bush has also continued the tradition of post-presidential speeches.

Of the all his post-presidential activities the one that has defined Bush the most is that he has taken up painting as former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill before him and inspired by Churchill. What began as a hobby has emerged as a second career and fundraising source. Bush has displayed at his library portraits of the leaders he dealt with as president, most recently the former president made a book “Portraits in Courage” featuring portraits of veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, all of the funds which went to his presidential center. Although art critics have not all liked Bush’s paintings, it has definitely softened his image with the public. Bush is pleased and even happier about his post-presidential career, having expressed, “I think part of having a fulfilling life is to be challenged. I’m challenged on the golf course, I’m challenged to stay fit, and I’m challenged by my paintings…I am happy.”

In the five months of his post-presidency, Obama, on the contrary, has criticized his successor and his policies repeatedly urged resistance and protest and taken the limelight away by meeting foreign leaders. Still, according to a recent Politico article entitled, “Obama’s carefully political post-presidency” “Obama also intends to play a more active role in politics than many former presidents, he is insistent on not being the leader of the opposition. He feels he’s done. And he feels it wouldn’t work, anyway.” The Boston Globe noted Obama’s post-presidency is the opposite. The Globe writes, “In political retirement, he can choose which battles he wants to fight. Though if Obama enjoys it, he might usher in a new model for former presidents.”

Although Obama’s post-presidency is being described as non-political his actions prove otherwise, sometimes giving the impression he does not realize he is no longer the president. Just a week after leaving office, he released a statement praising the protests against Trump’s inauguration and criticizing the new president’s travel and refugee ban executive action. Obama received a backlash for his comments and then took a three-month vacation before his next public event in April. In the interim announcements from the former president revolved around vacation sightings, his and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoirs deal for $65-million with Penguin Random House and the design of his presidential library and center.

Since then Obama has some more restraint criticizing the new administration’s policies, but not mentioning Trump’s name. Obama endorsed his former labor secretary Tom Perez’s quest to become the chairman of the Democratic Party. The former president received the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s annual Profiles in Courage Award. Obama then spoke at the University of Chicago in his first public speech of his post-presidential career. Obama has also caused waves with his post-presidential speaking fees receiving $400,000 for a planned address for Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, a far cry from Bush’s $100,000 to $150,000 average fee.

Former President Obama’s continued forays on the international stage have seemed more invasive. In early May, Obama endorsed centrist Emanuel Macron in France’s presidential election. Obama then delivered a speech at Seed and Chips a food innovation summit in Italy where he urged citizens to vote, giving an unnamed swipe at his successor which garnered him $2.5 million.

Later, Obama took a tour of Europe at the same time as President Trump’s first official trip abroad. Obama met with German President Angela Merkel hours before she was to meet with Trump. Afterward, Obama visited Prince Harry at Kensington Palace in the United Kingdom. In the beginning of June, Obama spoke at Montreal’s Board of Trade and then had a much-publicized dinner with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where headlines highlighted their continued bromance. All Obama’s meetings undermined new President Trump, who is still working to forge relationships with world leaders.

Publicly, Obama has repeatedly spoken out against President Trump’s policy decisions. First Obama criticized, Trump’s announcement that he was pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Obama expressed, “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Most recently, Obama criticized the Senate revised health care bill that would repeal and replace Obama’s crowning legislative achievement the Affordable Care Act signed in 2010 and known as Obamacare. The former president indicated in a Facebook post, “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family — this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

As Obama’s popularity continues to soar post-presidency, it has less to his actions, but more to do with the Democrats still having a vacuum in party leadership since he left office. The party is directionless with no clear message to counter President Trump and recently lost five special Congressional elections, not faring too well for the 2018 midterm elections. In contrast, Bush’s popularity is rising for the opposite reason he has stayed out of politics and the conflicts rising above them.

The two recent former presidents are following two vastly different models for their post-presidency. Bush, the Republican looked to follow fellow Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Obama, the Democrat is following the actions of fellow Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. According to historian Jean Edward Smith, Bush is following the more historically appropriate model. Smith commended Bush, “That is exactly what an ex-president should do. While in office, a president dominates the nation’s political discourse. But after leaving the White House, that time is over, and he or she should move to the sidelines.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics April 27, 2017: Trump sees lowest 100-day marks in recent history, but is the milestone that important?

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald Trump is planning a big rally to celebrate his first 100-days in office, as polls indicate that the new president has the worst 100-day mark approval rating in recent history. President Trump announced on Saturday, April 22, 2017, via Twitter a “big rally” in Pennsylvania on April 29, the same day as his presidency becomes 100- days old. Meanwhile, Three polls released this week, two on Sunday, April 23, ABC News/Washington Postand NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicated Trump had a 42 and 41 percent approval rating. Days later, on Wednesday, April 26, CNN/ORC pollgave Trump a higher approval rating of 44 percent. Still, these polls show that Trump has the lowest approval rating of all elected post-World War II presidents at the 100-day mark, but does that benchmark really translate into presidential success.

The rally on Trump’s 100th day of his presidency will be held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and is sponsored by his reelection campaign. The rally will also be on the same night as the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, which Trump has long said he will not attend because of his feud with the mainstream media over their coverage of him from the campaign through his presidency. On Saturday, April 22, the president tweeted his followers, announcing the event, “Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it.”

Neither Trump nor is campaign is billing the event as honoring the president’s 100-days. As Trump is approaching his 100-day mark, he is downing playing the importance of the milestone. The previous day, on April 21, Trump called the 100-days a “ridiculous standard.” The President tweeted, “No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!” A White House official commented the milestone is about the voters, not the news media. The official explained, “The media is trying to make this about them when — respectively it has nothing to do with you guys. It’s about focusing on the people.”

Three polls released this past week, gave the public a chance to grade the president. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday, April 23, saw Trump with only a 42 percent approval rating, with 53 percent of American disapproving of his job so far. People who voted for Trump, however, are not feeling buyer’s remorse, 96 percent say it was “the right thing to do,” while only two percent have any regrets.

Trump’s numbers are better when it comes to how Americans view specific actions in his presidency. An overwhelming 73 percent of Americans seem to approve of Trump’s America first policy that has “pressured companies: into keeping jobs in the country. A majority of 53 percent sees Trump as a strong leader. Concerning foreign policy, Trump is getting middling grades with dealing with an aggressive North Korea, with 46 percent approving of his tactics. Despite some good numbers, no other president elected in the post-World War II has had such low approval rating at this point in their presidency.

Another poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday also does not give Trump good grades. The poll found that 46 percent of Americans say the Trump presidency is “off to a poor start,” only 35 percent say it has had a “good or great start,” while 19 percent are in between saying it is a “fair start.” The NBC/WSJ poll also gave Trump a worse approval rating than the ABC News / Washington Post poll with only 40 percent. Trump’s disapproval rating is almost the same at 54 percent. Trump does get some high marks for his foreign policy, 62 percent of Americans approve of his decisive military strikes against Syria after a chemical attack on their citizens, with 50 percent approving of his course against civil-war ridden country.

The CNN/ORC poll released another poll on Wednesday evening, April 26, which found that nearly the 100-day mark, Trump had a 44 percent approval rating and a 54 percent disapproval rating. Trump’s favorability numbers are around the same as his approval rating, with the American public having a 45 percent favorable view of the president and a 53 percent unfavorable view. The numbers are very much partisan, Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the president with 85 percent saying so, while only 8 percent of Democrats say the same.

The poll was mostly negative, with a majority dissatisfied with Trump’s approach to the presidency in almost every facet. His approval ratings on some issues are as low as the 20s and 30s percent, and they have fallen since his election in November. Even his ability to change the country is now negative with only 48 percent believing he can versus 51 percent of Americans saying he cannot. The president, however, is even losing ground within his party with less satisfied with his actions and abilities on different fronts. CNN’s bleak poll indicates the honeymoon is over with Trump and the GOP and that there barely was one with the president and the majority of Americans.

CNN broke down their marks for Trump also by area; some Trump did better while others he lost ground since entering the office. The president has lost points in his handling of immigration and health care, because of his travel bans and his failed first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. On those issues, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s actions. Trump’s numbers are “steady” when it comes to “foreign affairs, national security and the role of commander-in-chief.” Trump is excelling with his handling of the military issues 52 percent approving, the way the country is going 54 percent and the economy at 54 percent approving.

Gallup Poll’s first quarter assessment of Trump’s presidency determined that the president’s average approval is 41 percent, while 46 percent of Americans voted for him. Trump’s approval rating is also approximately 20 percent lower than when other presidents completed their first 100-days, where the average since 1945 is 63 percent. Looking at each post-war president, the numbers show an even larger contrast. The highest showing was John F. Kennedy, who had almost double Trump’s approval rating with 81 percent in April 1961. The lowest numbers were still 17 points higher than Trump, when in April 1989; George H. W. Bush had a 58 percent approval rating.

According to Gallup, here is a rundown of the 100-day approval ratings of all elected presidents since World War II:

Barack Obama 63 Apr 2009
George W. Bush 61 Apr 2001
Bill Clinton 55 Apr 1993
George H.W. Bush 58 Apr 1989
Ronald Reagan 67 Apr 1981
Jimmy Carter 64 Apr 1977
Richard Nixon 62 Apr 1969
John Kennedy 81 Apr 1961
Dwight Eisenhower 74 Apr 1953

President Trump thinks his presidency is successful despite what polls and the press says. Trump has signed up to now 34 executive orders, more than any other president in recent history during their first 100-days. The president has had a Supreme Court Justice confirmed with Neil Gorsuch; on the world stage, he has met with many of the major leaders and asserted his military might in Syria and Afghanistan. Still, the president has not yet had any real legislative success with his major campaign promises, including repealing and replacing Obamacare, tax reform, travel and immigration ban, infrastructure plan or border wall with Mexico.

The White House boasts President Trump signed 28 new laws in first three months but most have minor, including repealing Obama-era rules, personal appointments, veterans’ recognitions, modifying programs, encouraging innovations in government agencies and one extension of an Obama era program. President Trump only saw one major bill extending health care choice for veterans, the tip of the iceberg to Trump’s lofty agenda.

Despite his protests, President Trump is planning a mad dash in the upcoming week before he reaches his 100th day. Congress failed to put the American Health Care Act to a vote in March, and but they plan to introduce the bill with amendments again this week this time with the Freedom Caucus’ endorsement. Trump also outlined his tax reform plan this week, and the White House announced that the president’s infrastructure plan has a summer deadline.

Trump’s major failure has been with his travel ban, which the administration will argue for the second time in Federal Appeals Court after an earlier ban and the present one saw injunctions halting their implementation. The president was also dealt a setback right before his 100-day when a federal judge struck down his attempt to defund sanctuary cities harboring illegal immigrants. The president’s greatest test has an April 29 deadline. President Trump will have a chance to prove his deal making skills and avert a government shutdown, the first budget showdown of his presidency.

The 100-day mark to gauge the early success or failures of the new president started with President Franklin Roosevelt (1933–1945). Roosevelt was elected in the midst of the Great Depression, with almost total economic and bank collapse and15 million or 20 percent of the American public unemployed. In this crisis, Roosevelt set the benchmark having signed 15 bills into law. Roosevelt marked his 100th day with a fireside chat, updating the American public recounted what he has accomplished in 3000 words. In his address Roosevelt explained, “I think that we all wanted the opportunity of a little quiet thought to examine and assimilate in a mental picture the crowding events of the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal…We have built a granite foundation in a period of confusion.”

Early success does not mean a successful presidency and neither does early failure doom the presidency. Everywhere you look, journalists and academics are giving Trump grades for this milestone period, and many are unkind as has been the case with coverage and analysis of Trump’s campaign, transition and now presidency.

Some historians do not see the 100-day mark as important. Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University recently told the Atlantic that grading a president at this early stage could be counterproductive. Zelizer analyzed, “Asking how presidents did in the first 100 days, usually tells us little about what is to come and might even create the exact political incentives we need to avoid.”

Meanwhile, Morton Keller, a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University, who wrote the article with Zelizer, concurs, and does not believe historians should rush to early judgments on a Trump presidency. Keller explained, “This is no time to attempt a conclusive assessment of what the Trump presidency is up to, and where it is heading. The media savants who explain politics to the masses appear to be quite certain of their positions, varied though they are. As historians, we are duty-bound to withhold judgment when the available evidence is as varied and conflicting as, just now, it is.”

Another historian that agrees the milestone is not indicative is Fredrik Logevall, “a presidential historian and an international affairs professor at Harvard University” Logevall spoke to the Washington Post telling them, “I think what history tells us is that it’s an arbitrary benchmark. It hasn’t correlated very much with subsequent success or failure. Whether an administration has success or not really depends on the four years, or eight years if you have two terms.”

Other historians are being harsher in their assessments. Presidential historian Robert Dallek told USA Today, “At this point, I’d give him essentially a failing grade.” Dallek pointed out, “There are no legislative accomplishments, zero,” the plan to repeal and replace the Obamacare “seems to be in suspended animation.” Dallek is probably making an extreme assessment than most. Even the mainstream media Trump calls fake news are running articles that share the view that 100-day s do not indicate the successes or failures of an entire presidency neither do they foreshadow what is to come.

While Roosevelt’s legislative accomplishments were unique, other presidents have passed lasting legislation in their first 100 days. Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969), Barack Obama (2009–2017), and George W. Bush (2001–2009). John son and Obama had the best legislative success, because their party, the Democrats concurrently controlled both Houses of Congress, and were popular with their party. Circumstances surrounding their entry to the presidency also made passing their agenda more urgent.

Johnson, who had been Senate Majority Leader when Kennedy tapped him for Vice President, was known as the Master of Senate. Johnson was the first of the two post-war presidents who were not elected; he came into power after Kennedy’s assassination. In his first 100-days, Johnson was able to ride the wave of pursuing Kennedy’s agenda and had legislative victories with most notably the Civil Rights Act. In his first 100 days after he was elected with a landslide victory in 1964, that saw Democratic control of Congress, Johnson continued to have legislative success with the bulk of his Great Society program, including, “the Voting Rights Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, immigration reform, and Medicare and Medicaid.” After the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, Johnson became mired in Vietnam, which ended his legislative strike and any more expansion of his Great Society.

Obama was also able to catch the legislative magic in his first 100-days after his historic election becoming the first African-American president. After the 2008 election, Congress remained controlled by the Democrats, leading to a string of victories for the new president, including, “the Recovery Act, U.S. auto industry bailout, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, and then a year later in 2010, his legacy making legislation the Affordable Care Act. Obama never had more legislative success after Democrats lost the House of Representatives in the 2010-midterm elections. Obama like Roosevelt inherited a country in economic turmoil, this time a Great Recession where Democrats gave him a blank check to pursue his agenda.

When the same party controls the White House, Congress a president can more easily pursue his legislative agenda, that was not the case with Carter, and neither is turning out to be with Trump. The reason, both were outsiders elected against the Washington establishment and then found resistance from within their party in Congress. In 1976, Carter was an outsider with an ambitious agenda that failed in his first 100-days, planned legislation included “tax reform, infrastructure, and energy independence.” Carter did not have the relationship with Congress, the Washington insiders he needed to make his campaign promises a reality. Trump is facing the same problem with the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare; he is facing resistance from not only Democrats but also different factions of the GOP, including the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.

Both Clinton and George W. Bush had successes and failures early in their presidencies. In 1993, Clinton raised taxes with the help of a Democratic-controlled Congress but faced a backlash for his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military. In 2001, Bush cut taxes as Reagan did 20 years before and laid out the groundwork for his education legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush, however, was later blamed for the 9/11 terrorist attacks for not heeding the signs of a major terrorist attack on the nation. In 1981, Reagan successfully cut taxes, but his 100-days were rocked with an attempted assassination attempt two months after taking office, earning him goodwill with Congress, but cutting his accomplishments in that milestone period.

Foreign policy has been the cause of two post-war presidents stumbling in their first 100-days. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush faced tests too early in their presidencies that were failures. In 1961, Kennedy continued with his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower’s planned coup in Communist Cuba to get rid of its leader Fidel Castro. Kennedy’s Administration altered the original invasion plan and the “Bay of Pigs” became Kennedy’s biggest blunder of his new presidency coming just days before his 100th day. In 1989, Bush also was confronted with Cold War crises and his administration blundered. Bush had to deal with the Tiananmen Square massacre and then later in the year after a failed coup as Kennedy did, but this time, it was in Panama.

In 1993, Clinton probably faced the greatest national security threat in his first 100 days than any other post-World War II president. Just barely a month after Clinton assumed the presidency; terrorists bombed the garage in the World Trade Center in New York. The attack that killed six and injured 1000 saw the perpetrators face the criminal justice system. Clinton never wanted to acknowledge the attack as terrorism, which allowed al-Qaeda to ramp up their attacks on the US. Afterward, there were bombings in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and then in 2000 on the USS Cole. Clinton responded with targeted missile attacks but never did more to solve the increasing problem and danger. Clinton’s actions after the attack might not have seemed like a failure at the time, but in retrospect, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Clinton’s inaction was the greatest 100-days failure because it led to the greatest terrorist attack on American soil.

In the post-World War period, only Ford fared worse in the polls than Trump at the 100-day mark, mostly because he pardoned Nixon after he resigned from the presidency in August 1974, which led to Ford assuming the office. While the other presidents’ had higher approval ratings than Trump does at the 100-day mark, most had some failures or setbacks in that early period and their major legislative successes and the policy that defined their presidencies came later, for other they never could recapture that early success. Periods of crises have led to the most productive first 100-days out of necessity, like Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama.

The problem is the benchmark Roosevelt created has pressured many of his successors, including Johnson, Nixon and even Trump. Despite his successes, Johnson wanted to pass the most legislation as possible; Nixon created the Hundred Days Group and during the campaign, Trump made his “Contract With the American Voter” in a speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The contract was “a 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.”

Trump promised in his contract, “On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities and honesty to our government. This is my pledge to you.” Among those pledges were 10 bills including repealing and replacing Obamacare on his first day in office. The president’s goals were too lofty. Kennedy, although the youngest elected in the post-war period, he was also the wisest when it came to the presidential milestone. In his inaugural address, he expressed, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration … but let us begin.”

The 100-day mark is too early in a presidency to determine success or failure. Neither is looking at Roosevelt’s accomplishments a fair standard. Each presidency and their time are different. Trump was the only president in history to be elected without a political or military background. The first weeks were chaos not only from within the White House but the negative response from the press and public that made governing difficult. Now, cooler heads are prevailing and despite some negativity and bias, Trump is being treated, as a president should from the press, Democrats, and dissenters within the Republican Party. With that in mind, Trump’s next 100-days could be more worthy of watching and marking than his first.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics March 28, 2017: Trump’s record low approval rating first in presidential history

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Trump’s record low approval rating first in presidential history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump’s approval rating numbers are sinking fast. The latest Gallup Poll released on Sunday, March 26, 2017, indicated that the president now has a 36 percent approval rating. The number is ten points less than his high of 46 percent just after his inauguration. Trump may not have the lowest approval rating in Gallup’s history, but it is the lowest so early in a presidential term. The poll comes just after the House of Representatives failed to vote on their Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

After just over two months in office, Trump’s approval rating is tumbling. The president has a 36 approval rating with a disapproval rating of 57 percent. The disapproval rating is not Trump’s highest on record for his short presidency; on March 18, he had a 58 percent disapproval rating. The approval rating number is also lower than his predecessor Barack Obama’s eight-year term. Obama had a 38 percent approval rating; however, it was in late in his first term in 2011 and his second term in office in 2014.

Trump’s first term low is only comparable to Democrat Bill Clinton (1993–2000). Clinton had a 37 percent approval rating during the summer of 1993, six months into his term. Clinton’s approval rating went on to rebound to 56 percent by September. Clinton also ended up serving two presidential terms, and he had one of the highest approval rating averages of all post-war presidents. Clinton’s low numbers early on did signify bad news for his party, the Democrats during the midterm elections. In November 1994, the Democrats lost the House of Representatives to the Republicans.

Gerald Ford (1974–1977) also saw 37 percent approval rating in his first year in office in January 1975, five months after assuming the office upon Nixon’s resignation mostly over his pardon of Nixon. Ford’s story did not have the positive ending Clinton did; Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.

The Gallup Poll was conducted just after the Republicans failed to garner enough support to repeal and replace Obamacare. The repeal was a significant promise Republicans made to their constituents since the health care bill first passed in 2010. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the presidency, the time seemed ripe for a change in the legislation. The conservative House Freedom Caucus, however, found the bill to moderate and too much like Obamacare Lite that their opposition tanked the bill.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was scrambling on Friday, March 24 to garner enough votes to pass the bill, but without the Freedom Caucus or any Democrats intending to vote in favor, the bill simply did not have enough votes, and Ryan decided to pull it upon the president’s request. With Trump’s five-point drop in his approval rating in one week, from 41 percent to 36 percent it is clear, Americans are blaming the president for failing to close the deal.

Trump’s approval rating numbers are not the lowest in presidential history. According to Gallup, the following presidents all saw their numbers below 36 percent during their presidencies. They include “Presidents George W. Bush (25%), George H.W. Bush (29%), Ronald Reagan (35%), Jimmy Carter (28%), Richard Nixon (24%), Lyndon Johnson (35%) and Harry Truman (22%).”

A low presidential approval rating is not all bad news for a president. The entire above-mentioned presidents saw their numbers improve except for Nixon, who went to resign in 1974 the presidency over the Watergate scandal. Trump, however, has his brewing scandal over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign that swung the election to his favor. Inquiries are now trying to determine whether Trump campaign officials or even the president was involved in Russia’s election interference.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics March 10, 2017: Historians predict impeachment Trump presidency will not survive Russia scandal

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Historians predict impeachment Trump presidency will not survive Russia scandal

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The way the Trump campaign transition Russia contact scandal is growing one historian believes Donald Trump will be forcibly removed from office in one of the shortest presidencies in American history. Ronald L. Feinman, a history professor at Florida Atlantic University, revealed his prediction for the longevity of a Trump presidency in a blog post on the History News Network, entitled “Donald Trump Is On His Way to Second or Third Shortest Presidency in American History,” published February 15, 2017. Historian Allan Lichtman, who successfully predicted Trump’s election, also predicts the new president might be impeached. Only the developing scandal with Russia gives these historians fantasy theories a little realism.

According to Feinman, Trump’s presidency would “likely between the 31 days of William Henry Harrison in 1841 (dying of pneumonia) and the 199 days of James A. Garfield in 1881 (dying of an assassin’s bullet after 79 days of terrible suffering and medical malpractice).” At the most, Feinman states Trump’s presidency “is unlikely to last the 16 months and five days of 12th President Zachary Taylor, who died of a digestive ailment while Head of State in 1850.”

Feinman is the author of the recently released book, “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama” (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). Unlike the presidents Feinman wrote about in his book; he believes Trump would be either be impeached or forced to resign, which is why he is accounting for a possible longer “dragged out,” term. One of the possible ways, Feinman sees Trump leaving the presidency besides impeachment or resignation is that “Pence could, even if Trump vehemently opposed it, invoke the 25th Amendment, Section 4 with the approval of a majority of the cabinet, which would make Pence “Acting President.” Some might call it a “palace coup, “ but Pence could make a convincing case that it is too risky to leave Trump in power.”

The Florida Atlantic University professor wrote his post just as Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign because he lied about his contact with Russian officials before Trump’s inauguration and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the contacts. The scandal has clearly grown. Now Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the former Senator from Alabama lied at his Senate confirmation hearing about being in contact with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice before the election.

Other members of Trump’s inner circle including Senior Adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was present at a meeting with the Russian ambassador before the inauguration. At question is whether Trump and his campaign worked with Russia to get him elected. Russia did help Trump by hacking the Democratic National Committee and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s email accounts and then transferring them to WikiLeaks, who posted them online.

Now it has been discovered that Trump met the Russian ambassador during the campaign at a receiving line before delivering foreign policy address at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. During the speech Trump, said, “I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength — is possible.” The White House however, vehemently denied any negotiations between the two at the time in an official statement. Additionally, a senior White House official explained, “If they met, it was in passing at arrival reception hosted by National Interest which [Trump] was present at for all of 5 minutes. We arrived minutes before the speech began and departed immediately after.”

Trump has repeatedly denied any contacts or relationship with Russia, recently stating, “Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything.” Still, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling for investigations, Republicans will have no choice to heed to the demands for the sake of the party, with Senate and House intelligence committees looking into investigations and questioning Flynn. Sessions has already recused himself from any potential investigation the Justice Department may conduct.

Besides the Russia investigation, which had not fully exploded when Feinman wrote his blog post, he listed other causes that could lead to a Trump impeachment. Feinman explained, “Many foreign policy professionals are shaking their head at Trump’s inappropriate behavior and language every time he speaks in public, or issues a Twitter comment, and his instability and recklessness.” The historian also mentioned Trump talking the North Korean missile test in the public dining room at his Mar-a-Lago resort, his fight on the phone with the Australian Prime Minister, his speaking with Taiwan upsetting China, his position on Israel, respect for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and criticism of NATO.

Professor Feinman also believes “The Pence Presidency seems inevitable.” He pointed out that “Pence is already asserting himself with Trump, and it seems clear that Pence will not stand by and allow our foreign policy to be damaged, or our national security to be endangered.” Discussing Pence’s credentials Feinman calls the former one-term Indiana-Governor and former Congressman an “establishment Republican,” “a no-nonsense, hard-nosed Republican whose strong Christian convictions have shaped his politics.” Feinman notes that Pence’s “stands on issues” have “alienated moderate Republicans in his state.”

Feinman is not the first historian to predict that Trump could be impeached Allan Lichtman also predicted, shortly after Trump’s election that he would be impeached. Lichtman, however, successfully predicted that Trump would win the election, unlike Feinman, who thought Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win in an Electoral College landslide. Lichtman was predicting just a week after the election, that “There’s a very good chance that Donald Trump could face impeachment.”

Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, has been successfully predicting presidential elections since 1984. Lichtman again this year laid out his case in the book, “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016.” Lichtman uses keys, “a set of 13 true/false statements. If six of them are false, the incumbent party loses the presidency.” The keys are rooted in a “historically based prediction system that were founded on the study of every presidential election from 1860 to 1980.”

Using this method, Lichtman has been right for every election since 1984, except 2000, where Democratic nominee Al Gore won the popular vote, and Republican George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote only after the Supreme Court awarded him Florida’s Electoral College votes. Lichtman might have used a semi-scientific method for predicting the election results, but his prediction on Trump’s impeachment is based on his “instinct.”

Lichtman had some reasons to back up his claims, arguing, “First of all, throughout his life, he has played fast and loose with the law. He has run an illegal charity in New York state. He has made an illegal campaign contribution to that charity. He has used the charity to settle personal business debts. He faces a RICO lawsuit.”

The probability that a Republican-controlled Congress would impeach Trump seems improbable, but Lichtman does not think so. According to the American University professor, “The Republicans are nervous about Donald Trump. He is a loose cannon. Nobody knows what he really believes or really where he stands. He can’t be controlled. The Republicans would vastly prefer to have Mike Pence, an absolutely predictable down-the-pipe conservative Republican.”

Both are known as liberals and Democrats, whose predictions may be tinged with bias. If it would not be for the growing scandal around Russian contacts within the Trump campaign before his inauguration and Democratic calls for an independent counsel to investigate, Feinman’s blog post might sound utterly sensational; a liberal fantasy baits click.

In fact, many of Feinman hypotheticals seem that way, the professor’s tone comes out fanatically liberal. Feinman sounds especially so with the line, “Pence faces now a situation that has some similarity to Gerald Ford under Richard Nixon during a time of trouble and controversy, and the possibility of future Congressional action against Donald Trump if his mental behavior continues to disturb the top leadership of the Republican Party and the foreign policy establishment.”

Trump’s temperament has become an issue because he maximizes the social media when everyone comes out looking like they have psychological problems with over-sharing. Trump is hardly the first president with a temper, hatred or suspicion of the press or even conspiracy theories, just the first to have a platform to disseminate his thoughts readily to the public.

The scandal with Russia, however, lends some credibility to Feinman’s claims. Even if Democrats and Hillary Clinton have their wish fulfillment and Trump is impeached, the chances of that happening under a Republican controlled Congress are not very high. If in the midterm- elections in 2018, Democrats win a majority Trump could be more at risk, since liberals are fantasying about his impeachment even before he was inaugurated and actually did anything impeachable.

Still, that would take much longer than Feinman’s assessment. Chances are Feinman and Lichtman will both be wrong, the more probable bet is that Trump will probably not have one of the shortest presidencies in history, resign or even be impeached, but could very much join the ranks of the many presidents who have only served one term in office. Then again, Trump could surprise everyone as he did with his first election, and become a two-term president, and then maybe Democrats possibly might realize their dreams of impeachment.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

History March 9, 2017: Lincoln may be on top but presidential rankings remain controversial

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Lincoln may be on top but presidential rankings remain controversial

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Lincoln remains nation’s best president according to new historians poll

Credit: Whitehouse.gov

The greatest American presidents in history cemented their positions in the latest ranking of presidents by historians. On Friday, February 17, 2017, C-SPAN released their third survey ranking of American presidents entitled “Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership,” where Civil War President Abraham Lincoln again tops the poll conducted by 91 historians. C-SPAN has done the ranking three times each time after the latest president left office in 2000, 2009 and now 2017. This time Barack Obama has his first ranking in the pantheon of presidential greats, and he comes in a respectably high 12th place. Presidential rankings are often controversial whether conducted by presidential scholars or public opinion polls, with both often-generating conflicting results and not indicative of presidential history or greatness.

According to C-SPAN’s survey, the top four presidents after Lincoln are George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt. Lincoln (1861–1865), has topped the C-SPAN survey all three times. Lincoln served as president during the Civil War, was able to save the Union, put an end to slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, but whose time was tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet before he could implement his Reconstruction plan. Washington’s (1789–1797) high status is attributed to his being the nation’s first president and the model all presidents have strived to since.

Franklin Roosevelt (1933–45) had the longest time in office, he was the only president elected to four terms but died in months into his fourth term. Roosevelt created the modern welfare state and expanded presidential powers that no previous president had done, creating the first imperial presidency. Roosevelt’s New Deal program helped the nation recover from the great economic depression and later presided over the country and its involvement in World War II. Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909), was the first president of the 20th century and the first modern president. Roosevelt instituted some progressive reforms while bringing the country as a major world power. Roosevelt was also the first president to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his foreign policy, brokering peace that ended the Russo-Japanese War.

The majority of the top ten presidents are from the 20th century, with only three from 18th and 19th century, with the addition of Thomas Jefferson, (1801–1809) the nation’s third president at number seven. Half of the top ten are presidents from the middle of the 20th century, serving between 1933 and 1969. Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961) in fifth, Harry Truman (1945–1953) in sixth place, John F. Kennedy (1961–63) in eighth and Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969) in tenth. There was only one president ranked in the top ten from the later part of the century, Ronald Reagan (1981–1989). While three died in office, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy, with Lincoln and Kennedy being assassinated.

Historian Richard Norton Smith, an academic advisor for the survey, commented on this mid-twentieth century golden era in presidential history, “Five presidents from this era each rank in the top ten which tells you something about the criteria that historians tend to use. It reinforces Franklin Roosevelt’s claim to be not only the first modern president but the man who, in reinventing the office, also established the criteria by which we judge our leaders.”

On the other bottom of the ranking is the presidents usually considered the worst in history and the worst of the worst remains the same. James Buchanan (1857–1861) is again at the bottom of the list, as the president right before the Civil War, historians blame him the most for the dissolution of the Union as sectional divisions eroded and the fragile balance collapsed.

Buchanan was president while slaveholders and anti-slavery fought in bleeding Kansas over slavery in the state, where he supported the proslavery and rigged Lecompton Constitution in 1857 to resolve the issue and allow Kansas to enter as a slave state. During Buchanan’s tenure was the 1857 Supreme Court decision on Missouri slave Dred Scott that determined that slaveholders could maintain their ownership of slaves anywhere in the country invalidating Congress’ attempt since 1820 to contain the expansion of slavery. John Brown’s Harpers Ferry Raid in 1859 was the last straw; the anti-slavery Brown had previously killed “five pro-slavery Kansas settlers” now wanted to raid the “federal arsenal” at Harper’s Ferry and lead a “slave uprising.” After two days of fighting, he was captured, and later that year hung for treason.

In the second to last spot is Buchanan’s predecessor, Franklin Pierce, who signed the ill-fated Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 that led to the disintegration under Buchanan’s tenure. The act allowed for popular sovereignty, allowing the state decides whether they would have slavery or be free soil. Historian Steven E. Siry writing in John E. Findling and Frank W. Thackeray’s “Events That Changed America in the Nineteenth Century” indicated, “No other piece of legislation in American history has produced such immediate and far-reaching changes.” (p. 10)

Andrew Johnson is perpetually in the third to last spot. Johnson, a Southern Democrat from Tennessee, was Lincoln’s Vice President as part of their 1864 Union ticket; he oversaw Reconstruction after the war and subsequently was the first president ever impeached by the House of Representatives. Johnson hoped to continued Lincoln’s more lenient plan of Reconstruction, allowing the Southern rebels states back into the Union after taking a loyalty oath, a plan most Republicans in Congress opposed leading them implementing a more radical plan after the midterm election in 1866 filled with military occupations of the Southern states.

Johnson was not one to compromise and has been called “the living incarnation of stubbornness” by historians Findling and Thackeray. (p. 123) Johnson’s constant vetoes that the Republican Congress eventually overrode led them to impeach him. Congress used as grounds that Johnson violated the Tenure of Office Act for removing his Secretary of War, who supported the radical reconstruction plan. Johnson was acquitted by just one vote in the Senate, affirming the right of a president to disagree with Congress.

Despite the constants in the top and bottom of the list, the greatest interest seems to be the ranking of the latest presidents including the three that successively joined the ranking since CSPAN began their survey in 2000, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now the most recent addition to the former presidents club Barack Obama. Clinton, who presided over the biggest economic boom of the post-war era, but he was also the second president to impeached is seeing his ranking improve since he joined the list in 2000. Clinton began in 2000 at 21st place, but has moved and remained at the 15th position in the last two editions.

Clinton’s good ranking mostly has to do with his economic record, the 1990s job boom, and balancing the budget ending his term with a surplus. Clinton failed primarily in foreign policy by not dealing with the growing terrorist threat that erupted early in his successor’s term and his personal scandals. It was Clinton’s lying to cover up his affair with a White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which started during the 1995 government shutdown that led to his impeachment mostly because of his perjury in a deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against him. Clinton, like Johnson, was able to avoid conviction by being acquitted in the Senate’s trial.

Bush also sees his historical reputation rise, but only slightly, moving up three from 36th place to the 33rd position. Bush united the country in the aftermath of the worst terror attack on American soil in history when on September 11, 2001, radical terrorist group Al-Qaida used planes that hit the Pentagon in Washington, and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing over 3,000 Americans.

Bush’s counter attack, initiating over decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, divided the country and mostly resulted in Bush falling out of favor with voters. The unpopular foreign wars coupled with domestic policy mistakes, including the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the worst economic and housing collapse since the Great Depression led to Bush’s low ranking despite being a two-term president with the highest record approval rating from 2001 on record. Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor and C-SPAN historical advisory board member, commented, “The survey is surprisingly good news for George W. Bush, who shot up a few notches.”

After the divisiveness of Bush, Barack Obama came onto the scene, and he was elected in 2008 on a campaign pledge of hope and change. Obama success was most in domestic policy as he remained mired up for years in Bush’s wars in the Middle East before withdrawing all troops later in his presidency. Obama was able to turn the economy around with the help of his stimulus plan passed by a Democratic Congress, but it took six years for any actual recovery. Obama was the first president to succeed and provide health insurance coverage for practically all Americans with his Affordable Care Act, the program known as Obamacare.

Obama however, failed in pursuit of his other goal immigration reform, creating a legal pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants most of whom came from Latin American countries. Legislation in Congress stalled in the Senate, and Obama’s attempts at going it alone in a limited form through executive actions were struck down by the Supreme Court. Obama will be most remembered for his soaring rhetoric, advancement rights for LGBT Americans and being the first African-American president elected in American history.

Still, partisan divisions grew in the country under Obama, who despite promises to unite divided more during his tenure, where he was according to polls the polarizing president in history. His constant wars with the Republican House voted in 2010 and Senate voted in 2014 did nothing to help the partisan divide. Obama was the first black president, however, race relations deteriorated during his tenure, as police violence against Africans Americans rose.

Despite his shortcomings, in his first foray in the presidential ranking, Obama was placed in the generous position of 12th. Obama earned the third spot in the category “equal justice for all” and seventh place “moral authority,” eighth for “economic management” and tenth place for “public persuasion.” Obama’s stature among historians counters his ranking in the public opinion polls where he only ranked ninth out of the twelve postwar presidents based on his term average.

Edna Greene Medford, a Howard University professor and a member of C-SPAN’s historical advisory board thought Obama’s ranking was low, “Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey.” Meanwhile, fellow board member Brinkley believes, “That Obama came in at number 12 his first time out is quite impressive.”

As for the survey’s methodology, the historians rated each president with a grade of “one (“not effective”) to ten (“very effective”) scale” on ten attributes, and the average represented their total overall ranking. The attributes consisted of “ten qualities of presidential leadership” which include, “Public Persuasion,” “Crisis Leadership,” “Economic Management,” “Moral Authority,” “International Relations,” “Administrative Skills,” “Relations with Congress,” “Vision/Setting An Agenda,” “Pursued Equal Justice for All,” and “Performance Within the Context of His Times.”

The CSPAN “Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership,” was overseen by an academic advisory team which included, Douglas G. Brinkley Professor of History Rice University, Edna Greene Medford, Professor of History Howard University and Richard Norton Smith, Presidential Historian, and Author. The advisory board chose the historians to participate based on those from “a database of C-SPAN’s programming.” In the end, 91 scholars, journalists or authors decided to participate. A problem with the ranking might be the caliber of historians who participated, most are liberal leaning, although there are some that participated are well known and respected, others are barely known, with some notable scholars glaringly absent.

Presidential rankings history dates back nearly 70 years and is a product of the postwar period, but has expanded greatly at the turn of the millennium. The eminent historian and professor at Harvard University Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. conducted the first presidential ranking in 1948; Schlesinger conducted it again in 1962, with the help of 75 historians, while his son, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. did the third edition of their ranking years later in 1996. Along the way, both colleges and news media have tried their hand at conducting rankings of the presidents aided by presidential scholars.

Among them, include the Chicago Tribune in 1982, Siena College’s Research Institute made their ranking a tradition, publishing it each time after a president left office or ended a term starting in 1982, then 1990, 1994, 2002, and most recently 2010. Sienna College’s ranking often ranked the latest president although they were usually just starting or in their middle of their term, not giving a complete picture or fair ranking. The Wall Street Journal attempted for a fair and unbiased ranking in their two editions conducted in 2000 and 2005 by including an equal amount of liberal and conservative scholars.

Another attempt for balance was William J. Ridings, Jr., and Stuart B. McIver who conducted a poll with 719 scholars, politicians and celebrities between 1988 and 1996. They looked for representations from all states, female historians, and African American historians for their ranking that was published as “Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent.” Recent presidential rankings include, the Times of London conducted one in 2008, the United States Presidency Centre (USPC) at the University of London in 2011, while the American Political Science Association (APSA) produced one in 2015.

Most of the rankings agree that Lincoln, Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt rank in the top three while the bottom consistently includes Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and the scandal-filled Warren G. Harding (1921–23). There have been some differences when conservative scholars are included in the decision-making process.

Wall Street Journal’s polls saw successive Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson ranked lower in 18th and 17th in 2000 and 15th and 18th in 2005, with both receiving their lowest ranking of all surveys, Kennedy in 2000 and Johnson in 2005. Meanwhile, Republican President Ronald Regan saw his status improve with Conservative historians involved; Reagan had his highest showing at eighth in 2000 and sixth in 2005.

The largest partisan divide is with the ranking of George W. Bush; most rankings have near the bottom of the list like C-SPAN despite his two-terms and high poll numbers dealing with the aftermath of 9/1. Liberal scholars view him negatively as WSJ’s 2005 survey indicated ranking him 37th out of 43, while Republicans considered him in the top 10 in sixth place, both suggest that Bush’s usual low ranking may show partisan bias a major flaw in the rankings. Meanwhile, Obama might be ranking higher than he should in his first outing, because liberals consider him a hero not based on his approval ratings, or any historical perspective because he just left office.

In addition to surveys compiled from expert opinions, there have been numerous polls asking the public their view of who was the greatest president, with even more conducting partial polls looking at the recent postwar presidents. CSPAN conducted a full survey in 2000, as did ABC News, Washington College conducted one in 2005, Rasmussen in 2007 and Gallup in 2011. The results differed greatly from those of scholars, usually more recent presidents fared better either entering the top ten or higher up making the top five. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan consistently did better, as did Bill Clinton, even the public had a more favorable regard for George W. Bush than academics.

Quinnipiac University released a partial survey of “the best and worst presidents since World War II” in January. In the top five best presidents were Reagan, Obama, Kennedy, Clinton, Eisenhower, and George W. Bush in sixth out of the twelve presidents. Of the worst, the top five were Nixon, Obama, George W. Bush, Carter and Reagan with Clinton in sixth place.

Presidential rankings have long been controversial even when they are conducted and are the opinions professional scholars, historians and political scientists. One of the largest problems is rankings in the humanities is not a science, the bias of the historians is always problematic, whether it be political as much academics are liberals or even personal based on their area of research.

Presidents and historians alike find the rankings controversial. Lincoln biographer, Harvard professor, and doyen David Herbert Donald recalled Kennedy’s negative opinion of presidential rankings when they met in 1961. Donald recounted, “No one has a right to grade a President-even poor James Buchanan-who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions.”

Historian James MacGregor Burns noted the problems with ranking some presidents with major successes and failures. An example is Richard Nixon, (1969–1974) the only president ever to resign because of the Watergate scandal cover up but made significant inroads in Cold War foreign policy with a détente with the Soviet Union, and opened the door to relations with China. Lyndon Johnson is another, his record with civil and voting rights legislation, his war on poverty with his Great Society program represented highs in his presidency marred by the deepening conflict the Vietnam War, which led him not to run for a second full term. As well as Clinton, who had a scandal-filled presidency, complete with impeachment, but had tremendous approval ratings and success with the economy.

Princeton professor and presidential scholar Julian E. Zelizer, considering his influence in the profession was not one of the participants of C-SPAN’s survey, because of his disapproval of the rankings. Zelizer commented in his 2011 op-ed for CNN “What’s wrong with presidential rankings” lamenting that “rankings don’t tell us much about presidential history. The rankings are weak mechanisms for evaluating what has taken place in the White House.” Zelizer claimed presidential reputations change over time with perspective and context. While there are also problems with the criteria evaluating the presidents, assessing presidents with conflicting records as MacGregor Burns noted, and political bias.

Professor Zelizer is right, presidential; rankings are superficial and do not truly indicate historical greatness, and the complicated decisions each president was faced with at the time, as Kennedy argued to Donald. Academics would do better to recommend thorough biographies of each president for students of history and the public for them to have a more nuanced comprehension of presidential history than participating and promote rankings that are almost always rifled with bias and as Zelizer indicated just make great headlines.

Full overall rankings from CSPAN’s 2017 survey:

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
4. Teddy Roosevelt
5. Dwight Eisenhower
6. Harry Truman
7. Thomas Jefferson
8. John F. Kennedy
9. Ronald Reagan
10. Lyndon Johnson
11. Woodrow Wilson
12. Barack Obama
13. James Monroe
14. James Polk
15. Bill Clinton
16. William McKinley
17. James Madison
18. Andrew Jackson
19. John Adams
20. George H.W. Bush
21. John Q. Adams
22. Ulysses Grant
23. Grover Cleveland
24. William Taft
25. Gerald Ford
26. Jimmy Carter
27. Calvin Coolidge
28. Richard Nixon
29. James Garfield
30. Benjamin Harrison
31. Zachary Taylor
32. Rutherford Hayes
33. George W. Bush
34. Martin Van Buren
35. Chester Arthur
36. Herbert Hoover
37. Millard Fillmore
38. William Harrison
39. John Tyler
40. Warren Harding
41. Franklin Pierce
42. Andrew Johnson
43. James Buchanan

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics February 2, 2017: Obama should follow the rules of the former presidents club and not criticize Trump

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Obama should follow the rules of the former presidents club and not criticize Trump

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Just ten days into his successor Donald Trump’s presidency and former President Barack Obama has decided to him. On Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, Obama released a statement through his spokesman praising public protests and dissent to his successor temporarily travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim nations without stable governments and halt to the Syrian refugee program. Obama broke tradition with the former presidents club, who usually chooses to avoid criticizing their successor allowing them to run the country and make their mistakes or successes, it was a model Obama’s predecessor Republican former President George W. Bush religiously upheld, making only one comment six years into Obama’s presidency. Obama’s choice to speak out imperils his legacy, historical perspective while blurring the lines of the presidency.

After Trump issued his executive order on Friday evening, Jan. 28, protests erupted at airports across the country, while lawsuits were filed and heard for those caught in the ban. The executive order halted travel to the US from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, with nonimmigrant or immigrant visas. The order halted refugee entries for 120 days and the Syrian refugee program for an indefinite period.

The order was amended to allow entry to those with green cards, dual Canadian citizens and possibly those who worked with the US military. The order is based on the 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention Act and its amendment in February 2016 under President Obama, which established these countries as threats because they do not have a stable government to communicate with US immigration to vet travelers. The bill created more extensive and vetting process for refugees from those countries. Obama’s bill caused little fanfare or objections.

On Monday, Obama’s spokesman issued a statement supporting the very vocal protesters, who held rallies at airports, city streets and even in front of the White House. Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, expressed in the statement, “President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day.”

Obama’s spokesman continued, saying, “Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” Lewis concluded, with the sharpest rebuke to President Trump, saying, “About comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

Former First Lady, 2016 Democratic nominee and Secretary of State under Obama, Hillary Clinton also tweeted her support, while daughter Chelsea participated in a protest in New York over the weekend. Apparently, the former president wanted his former Democratic supporters to protest as they have been doing in the little over a week Trump has been president. Former White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told the Washington Post, “What is notable about the grass-roots response to Trump .?.?. is that it is exactly the response that President Obama called for in his farewell address.” Essentially, Obama wanted dissension to Trump’s presidency and was always planning to be critical given the new president’s campaign pledges.

Such sharp criticism by a former president of his successor is the exception rather than the rule, even more so when it occurs just over a week after leaving the office. The Washington Post, which is highly critical of Trump, even had the headline, “Obama, in a rare move for an ex-president, breaks silence to criticize Trump on immigration.”

Twice, Obama implied he would only comment on Trump’s presidency in exceptional circumstances. Two days before leaving office at his final press conference on Jan. 18, Obama said, “There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.”

Obama indicated which issues would warrant his opinions, “I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination ratified in some fashion; I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise,” Obama said. “I would put in that category, institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else.”

Just after the election in November, at his press conference in Lima, Obama also expressed what he would publicly say about Trump after he left office. Obama said, “I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance. As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it is necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes.” Obama remarks should come as no surprise, according to the Washington Post Obama organized his post-presidency office for political advocacy.

Obama however, surprised everyone by his criticism, it is unprecedented in American history for a former president to comment especially so early on in their successor’s term. Presidential historian Robert Dallek told the Washington Post, “I don’t think it’s very common at all for an ex-president to be commenting on the performance of his successor.” Obama is certainly not following the traditional and examples of most former presidents in American history.

Obama’s behavior is somewhat surprising given the respect, his predecessor George W. Bush gave to him when he embarked on the presidency. Although Obama spent much of his first term criticizing Bush and his policies, Bush never said a word to counter his successor or disparage him publicly for most of his time in office. Speaking in 2009, Bush said of Obama, “He deserves my silence. There’s plenty of critics in the arena. I think it’s time for the ex-president to tap dance off the stage and let the current president have a go at solving the world’s problems.”

Bush explained in 2014 over five years after leaving office the two reasons why he chose not say anything about the Obama presidency. Bush indicated, “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president; I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter.” Bush also said his reasons were personal, “Secondly, I really have had all the fame I want. I really don’t long for publicity. And the truth the matter is in order for me to generate publicity … I’d have to either attack the Republican Party, which I don’t want to do, or attack the president, which I don’t want to do. And so I’m perfectly content to be out of the limelight.”

In a 2013 interview with CNN Bush mentioned another reason why he will not criticize his successor, “I don’t think it does any good. It’s a hard job. He’s got plenty on his agenda. It’s difficult. A former president doesn’t need to make it any harder. Other presidents have taken different decisions; that’s mine.”

Bush finally broke his silence in 2015, at what was suppose to be a private event, without media coverage. Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition and donors in Nevada, Bush criticized Obama’s Middle East policies including negotiating a deal with Iran and withdrawing troops from Iraq. Supposedly, Bush said of the Iran deal, “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”

Most of the former presidents kept silent in public refusing to criticize their successors in office. Afterward, many have grown close even after contentious campaigns where they were opponents. Rivals in the 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush became close friends in 2005, as did Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford who were opponents in the 1976 election. President Harry Truman became friends with one of his predecessors; Herbert Hoover after the Republican helped the Democrat “restructure the executive branch.” Lyndon Johnson reached out to his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and during the Vietnam War, and he was friends as well with Truman.

Dwight Eisenhower happens to be the best example of a recent former president not criticizing their successor, even if seems appropriate. Eisenhower never admonished his successor Democrat John F. Kennedy, even during biggest blunder the Bay of Pigs although he criticized him privately calling him “Little Boy Blue.” Afterward, Kennedy sought Eisenhower’s advice, and apparently, Kennedy admitted, “No one knows how tough this job is until he’s been in it a few months.” Eisenhower responded, “Mr. President. If you will forgive me, I think I mentioned that to you three months ago.”

Jimmy Carter has been the most vocal and critical post-World War II president criticizing three of his successors. Carter was a one-term president, with an active post-presidency. He criticized fellow Democrat Bill Clinton’s morals on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his pardon of Marc Rich; he criticized Republican George W. Bush saying in 2007, “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.” Carter even was critical of Obama for how he handled North Korea and Iran. Carter’s criticism and meddling in foreign affairs made him the most disliked living former president.

Carter was not the most severe case of post-presidency criticism, that prize might go to Republican Theodore Roosevelt to his handpicked successor William Howard Taft. Taft made promises to keep Roosevelt’s cabinet and stay true to his policies but soon moved on to forge his own path. With Republican encouragement, Roosevelt mounted a campaign against Taft even winning more primaries, but Taft won the nomination after discrediting Roosevelt’s delegates.

Roosevelt, in turn, mounted a third party run with the newly formed the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party with a progressive “New Nationalism” platform. Roosevelt ended up being competitive to the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson and secured a second place finish in the election that Wilson won, leaving Taft in the dust. Even with all the animosity, later on, Roosevelt said in 1910 after returning from an extended trip to Europe and Africa, “I will make no speeches or say anything for two months. But I will keep my mind open .?.?. As I keep my mouth shut.”

Time magazine editors and presidential historians, Nancy Gibb and Michael Duffy in 2012 book “The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity,” argue that there are usually bonds between the presidents. Gibb and Duffy write, “Such are the journeys this book attempts to trace: the intense, intimate, often hostile but more often generous relationships among the once and future presidents. It makes little difference how much they may have fought on the way to the White House; once they’ve been in the job, they are bound together by experience, by duty, by ambition, and by scar tissue.”

There are also rules including as former President George H. W. Bush has said, “No matter the politics, you know and understand the weight of the decisions the other guy had to make, and you respect that.” Gibb and Duffy indicate the two most important rules, “The Presidents Club has its protocols, including deference to the man in the chair and, for the most part, silence about how the members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity get along and the services they provide one another.”

Obama seems to be breaking with one of the most important precedents set out by the first former president George Washington. As Gibb and Duffy indicate, “but most of all to relinquish his power peacefully, even prematurely given his immense stature, at that time a striking act of submission to untested democratic principles.” Obama seems to look to incite Democrats many who have said Trump is “not their president” or claimed like Rep. John Lewis that he is “not the legitimate president.” Instead, Obama should have looked to precedent, where former presidents,
“join forces as needed, to consult, complain, console, pressure, protect, redeem.”

Obama speaking out so soon shows he is having difficulty letting go of the presidency and that confuses Democrats and his supporters who seem so adamantly against President Trump. Obama is showing too much partisanship, just after the election, and the inauguration of a new president. Gibb and Duffy say, “They can support whomever they like during campaigns; but once a new president is elected, the others often act as a kind of security detail.” The partisanship does nothing to help Obama who left the office with an average approval rating lower than the majority of post-war presidents. In the post-presidency, most former presidents reputations heal, and their popularity soars, because they stay out of the partisan fray, leaving it to the current president.

Obama needs to stop encouraging protests and chaos from his supporters and Democratic Congressional leadership, and instead look to give Trump some advice and guidance in private while letting his supporters know Trump is the president. Whether Democrats and liberals like Trump’s policies or not they need to look for effective means to make a difference rather than protesting in the streets and airports because all it seems like is lawlessness and pettiness because the Democratic Party just never accepted the election results of a president that legitimately won.

Sources:

Gibbs, Nancy, and Michael Duffy. The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “Theodore Roosevelt: Campaigns and Elections.” Accessed February 1, 2017. http://millercenter.org-/president/biography/roosevelt-campaigns-and-elections.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

 

Politics January 29, 2017: Obama polarizing historical legacy as the nation’s divider-in-chief

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Obama polarizing historical legacy as the nation’s divider-in-chief

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Obama era was the most partisan; Barack Obama reigned over the country as the polarizing president history according to a new Gallup poll released on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 that looked at the partisan support of Obama during his eight-year presidency. The survey proved what already seemed obvious from the news media and recent events that Americans are more partisan than ever in American history. It is leading the country down the wrong path and divides not seen since the Civil War, ironically by a president who was elected on a pledge to unite rather than divide.

According to Gallup, Obama had the largest “party gap in presidential job approval ratings” in support of all presidents in the post-World War II era, with 70 percent, up nine points from the presidency of Republican George W. Bush. A trend started in Republican Ronald Reagan’s era, but steadily grew during George W. Bush’s presidency, and became a fact during Obama’s time in office. According to the Gallup, the partisanship has to do with the times even more than his policies, explaining, “The extreme polarization in Obama’s ratings could reflect his policies and approach to governing, it also reflects the era in which he governed.”

Gallup has been crowning the last six years of Obama’s presidency as polarized with an increasingly larger partisan divide. According to Gallup, Presidents Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bush and now Obama a party gap of over 50 percent, with 52, 55, 61 and 70 respectively. Nixon was the only president to a gap in the 40s range with 41 percent. Three presidents had gaps in the 30s, Dwight D. Eisenhower, with 39 percent, George H. W. Bush with 38, and John F. Kennedy with 35 percent. The least divisive presidents partisan wise were Jimmy Carter and Lyndon B. Johnson with a 27 percent gap, and Gerald Ford with a 29 percent.

Party support divide among recent presidents:

Average approval, Republicans Average approval, Democrats Average party gap
% % pct. pts.
Obama 13 83 70
G.W. Bush 84 23 61
Clinton 27 82 55
Reagan 83 31 52
Nixon 75 34 41
Eisenhower 88 49 39
G.H.W. Bush 82 44 38
Kennedy 49 84 35
Ford 68 37 29
Johnson 44 71 27
Carter 30 57 27

George H. W. Bush presidency might not seem divisive because it was not during its first three years with a party gap of only 32 to 24 percent, but his last year in office when the economy was in trouble became far more polarized with a gap of 54 percent, which continued through the Clinton era. Gallup indicated that the average party support gap from 1953 to 1981 was only 34 percent, from 1981 to 2017 it grew to a 54 percent average.

Pew Research Center conducted a similar survey, which they released earlier this month, just before the inauguration. Pew published their review on Oct. 28, 2016, just days before the 2016 election. Obama had a 54 percent approval rating and 42 percent disapproval, but the margin of approval differed greatly between the parties. Pew claims Obama’s poll ratings were “more politically polarized than any president’s dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.”

According to Pew “An average of just 14% of Republicans have approved of Obama over the course of his presidency, compared with an average of 81% of Democrats.” Pew explains, “The gap in partisan presidential ratings has widened in recent decades as Americans have grown more divided in their basic values and beliefs along partisan lines and as partisan animosity has increased.” Pew indicates, that “Partisan divisions in assessments of presidential performance, for example, are wider now than at any point going back more than six decades.”

Gallup, however, tracks that this polarization has increasingly become a problem in the last 15 years, under Bush and Obama, where the party gap averaged 60 percent. Pew Research Center determined recently in a survey entitled “Political Polarization in the American Public” found one of the reasons for the rise in partisanship is attributed to the disappearing middle, centrist American, the so-called mushy middle. Instead, “92 percent of Republicans are now to the right of the median Democrat, and 94 percent of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.” While the “partisan animosity” is so that each side believes the other “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being.”

It is ironic that Obama was at the center of the growing partisan divide since he burst onto the national scene at the 2004 Democratic National Conventionwith a keynote address calling for an end to red and blue states division, which at that point he called a figment of the media. Obama with soaring rhetoric said, “Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America… The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into the Red States and the Blue States; the Red States for Republicans, the Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too… We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

Obama echoed that call throughout his 2008 campaign of change and hope, speaking at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa back in November 2007, he firmly stated, “I don’t want to spend the next year or the next four years refighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s. I don’t want to pit red America against blue America. I want to be the President of the United States of America.” In his March 2008 speech on race calling for a “more perfect union,” Obama made clear he was the choice candidate for unity and end of divisive politics, saying, “For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism…. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”

Obama’s failures as president had more to do with intense partisanship than any other determining factor; it was his inability to compromise with Republicans and they with him that led to a legislative gridlock that was the hallmark of Obama’s presidency since the Republican took control of Congress in the 2010-midterm elections. When the GOP won the House of Representatives in 2010, Obama divisively declared, “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.”

Republicans could not forgive Obama for passing with the Democratic-controlled Congress the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and most importantly the Affordable Care Act, healthcare law, which passed into law without a single Republican vote, that the GOP spent the remainder of his presidency trying to repeal it. Obama’s inability to compromise led to the sequestration, across the board spending cuts to reduce the deficit in March 2013, and later that year one of the longest government shutdowns in October that last over two weeks over failing to agree on a federal budget. Obama had little legislative success for his last six years in office, because of his confrontational and cold war attitude to the Republican Congress.

President Obama’s go it alone rhetoric on executive actions while chastising Republicans in Congress for not passing legislation he desired including immigration reform also added to the partisan “rancor.” His threats of “governing” by “pen and phone” to create a “year of action” in 2014 just before his State of the Union address only caused more of a partisan divide, without attempts to negotiate really with Republicans he just angered them. Speaking at his first cabinet meeting that year, Obama made clear, “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. One of the things that I will be emphasizing in this meeting is the fact that we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need.”

Jeffery Rosen, Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School, commented to NY Magazine on Obama’s legacy in the January 2015 article, “53 Historians on Obama’s Legacy.” Rosen analyzes, “Nevertheless, Obama’s rhetoric on executive orders has been so polarizing — “Where I can act without Congress, I’m going to do so.” — that he has inflamed his opponents and strengthened their resolve to reverse his achievements.”

Obama, however, inflamed more with his talk than actions, he only issued 277 executive orders only a 35 per year average, less than his immediate predecessors did and less than any president in 120 years based on a yearly average. Just as he used his rhetoric to unite Americans in his 2008 campaign, he used it to divide them in during his presidency.

Instead of negotiating with the opposing party in Congress, as most presidents did in an attempt to pass legislation, Obama thought ridicule was the way to go. It had the opposite effect; it made the Republican Party stronger, their supporters more resolute resulting in the 2016 election where the GOP swept the elections at almost every level. The Boston Globe put it best, “Like all presidents, Obama has been frustrated by partisan opponents. But no chief executive in modern times has been so quick to impugn his critics’ motives, or to resort to mockery and demonization when amicable persuasion would serve so much better.” They concluded how much Obama contributed to the partisan divide, stating, “When presidential rhetoric is mean and contemptuous, the whole public square is befouled.”

Rosen indicated that Obama’s blazon executive actions had not fared well especially with the courts, where the Supreme Court struck down his recess appointments and then did the same in 2016 with his orders on immigration. Rosen contextualized, “Throughout history, unilateral presidential actions designed to circumvent Congress have led to pushback in the Courts and Congress that have ultimately undermined, rather than strengthened, the president’s legitimacy.”

Obama realized how much he contributed to the partisan divide in the nation by his last year in office. The former president called it his greatest regret since he campaigned in 2008 as a uniter but became a divider. First Obama lamented his failures as he was running reelection in September 2012 during an interview, saying, “I’m the first one to confess that the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren’t constantly in a political slugfest . . . I haven’t fully accomplished that. My biggest disappointment is that we haven’t changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked.” Still, Obama turned his positive hopeful campaign from 2008 into a more insulting model in 2012.

Again, in his last State of the Union Address in January 2016, Obama admitted his presidency’s failure to close the partisan gap, expressing, “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”

In the same State of the Union, Obama made a final “plea” to end the partisanship, saying, “A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions, different attitudes, different interests. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. It doesn’t work if we think our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us.” The president, however, never seem to take his advice or practice what he preached.

Obama failed to do anything to soothe the partisan divide in his last year in office and possibly inflamed according to Gallup with his intensely partisan rhetoric as he campaigned for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The campaign between Clinton and Republican, now President Donald Trump was one of the nastiest in American history with a deep partisan divide between two vastly different candidates and the demographics of their supporters.

During his campaign speech for Clinton, Obama made the differences between the parties stark, with rhetoric as divisive as the GOP who was accusing the same of, saying the day before the election, “So we got one more day. And we can choose a politics of blame and divisiveness and resentment. Or you can choose a politics that says; we’re stronger together. Tomorrow you can choose whether we continue the journey of progress or whether it all goes out the window.” Obama’s stump speech was full of insults he opposed during his first campaign not just for the Republican nominee but the party, “If you think ‘Voting for Endless Gridlock’ is a good slogan, you should vote for the Republicans.”

Obama’s failure to bridge the partisan divide only led to a more divisive presidency, and it is only getting worse. According to the first numbers Gallup collected from Trump’s fledgling presidency show the nation is even more divisive and partisan under Trump. According to Gallup, Trump is seeing a 76 percent gap between party approval ratings with 90 percent of Republicans approving of him while only a meager 14 percent of Democrats. Trump’s first week in office included a flurry of executive actions, adding a wall to the Mexican border, approving oil pipelines, and barring refugees and immigrants from some Muslim countries resulting in reactionary protests across the country and around the world, ensuring a new age of even more polarizing politics.

Obama’s polarizing numbers show a greater failure, while Trump had always campaigned as a divisive, controversial, revolutionary and populist choice, Obama overriding theme throughout his career in national politics was the aim to unite the partisan divide. Instead, his period in the spotlight created the most intense divisions within the country not seen since the Civil War when the North and South waged war over their brothers over states rights and slavery.

Now the country seems on the verge of a new ideological civil war between the Red and Blue States, Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals. While not yet violent, this new war uses the weapons of words and protests against those they ideologically oppose, with Obama’s Democrats being the most vocal and extreme. Obama always wanted to emulate Abraham Lincoln, but now his only semblance to the great president who presided and ended the Civil War was the Lincoln, the divider which when elected in 1860 saw half the states of the union secede. Unlike Lincoln, Obama further tore the country apart and never tried to put it back together.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Politics January 25, 2017: Trump sees lowest approval rating of any new president in recent history

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Trump sees lowest approval rating of any new president in recent history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Donald Trump entered the presidency with the lowest approval rating of any newly inaugurated president. According to Gallup poll’s first three-dayapproval rating tracking of the Trump presidency released on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, the new president only received a 45 percent approval rating, the lowest for any president in the post-World War II era. Trump also received a 45 percent disapproval rating. In contrast, the American public felt much better about his inauguration on Friday, with 39 percent feeling hopeful, which is on par with the last inauguration.

According to Gallup Trump has a 45 percent approval rating, new president usually sees some of their highest numbers in this honeymoon period. Only Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George H. W. Bush in 1989 came close with a 51 percent approval rating upon entering the office. Reagan also won in a close election that was more an anti-Jimmy Carter vote than pro-Reagan one. Even George W. Bush fared better with 57 percent, despite losing the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore, with the Supreme Court deciding the presidency over a month after Election Day.

Approval ratings upon entering the presidency:

1. Harry S. Truman (June 4, 1945) 87 percent
2. Lyndon B. Johnson (Dec. 9, 1963) 78 percent
3. John F. Kennedy (Feb. 14, 1961) 72 percent
4. Gerald Ford (Aug. 18, 1974) 71 percent
5. Dwight D. Eisenhower (Feb 4, 1953) 68 percent
6. Barack Obama (Jan. 24, 2009) 67 percent
7. Jimmy Carter (Feb. 6, 1977) 66 percent
8. Richard M. Nixon (Jan. 27, 1969) 59 percent
9. Bill Clinton (Jan. 25, 1993) 58 percent
10. George W. Bush (Feb. 3, 2001) 57 percent
11. Ronald Reagan (Feb. 1, 1981) 51 percent
12. George H.W. Bush (Jan. 25, 1989) 51 percent

Trump has been a divisive figure; he surprised all political polls and pundits to win the election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, winning the all-important Electoral College with 306 votes but lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly three million votes. Trump was not able to endear himself to the American public during his presidential transition period. Many Democrats protested Trump’s election, questioned his legitimacy because he lost the popular vote. Insulted, instead of reaching out, Trump continued to play to his supporters, choosing the most all white male cabinet since Reagan’s in 1981.

According to polls taken in the week before his inauguration, disapproval for Trump’s transition was up at historically high numbers. A survey from Fox News on his inauguration day said 37 percent approved of the then president-elect, while 54 percent said they disapproved. A poll from ABC/Washington Post released earlier in the week showed that only 40 percent approved of Trump and his transition. Meanwhile, Obama had an 80 percent approval during his transition.

Gallup released a similar poll on Monday, Jan. 16, that looked favorability ratings. In that poll, only 40 percent of American view Trump favorably while 55 percent view him unfavorably. His Vice President’s numbers are not much better with only 42 percent having a favorable view of Mike Pence.

Trump’s numbers were historically low. Most president-elect facing their inaugurations had high favorability ratings. In 2009, Barack Obama had a 78 percent favorability rating, in 2001; George W. Bush had a 62 percent, while in 1993 Bill Clinton had a 66 percent favorability rating. According to Gallup, Trump did not even high numbers among Republicans, with only 82 percent having a favorable view of him. In comparison, in 2001 97 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Bush, while in 2009, 95 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Obama and in 1993, 92 percent had a favorable view of Clinton.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 28, 2016: Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

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Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CNN

President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton remain the country’s most admired in 2016. Gallup Poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, their annual list of most admired men and women for the year with predictable results. For the ninth straight year, President Obama has topped the list of most admired men, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of most admired women for as record-breaking time. Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump came in a close second to the outgoing president.

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 22 percent of the vote, up from 17 percent last year, but his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 12 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last nine years. Trump came in a rather close second with 15 percent, while Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence sees his first appearance on the list coming in at number 10. Last year Trump tied for second with Pope Francis but with only 5 percent of the vote. This year is the president-elect’s sixth appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Trump is looking to gain the most admired title next year an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed.

President Obama has the second overall most admired titles besting former Presidents Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) but behind Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). It is no surprise Obama won most admired, it is a tradition for the sitting president always to be named the most admired, and has been the case for 70 years since the poll originated in 1946. Only 12 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. Most recently in 2008 when then President-elect Obama edged out President George W. Bush who was seeing extremely low approval ratings at the end of his tenure.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2016 Top 10:

1. Barack Obama 22
2. Donald Trump 15
3. Pope Francis 4
4. Bernie Sanders 2
5. Rev. Billy Graham 1
6t. Benjamin Netanyahu 1
6t. The Dalai Lama 1
6t. Bill Clinton 1
6t. Bill Gates 1
10. Mike Pence 1

Despite losing the presidential election to Trump Former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 21st time and 15th year in a row. Clinton’s popularity coincides with her winning the popular vote in the election by nearly 3 million ballots although she lost in the Electoral College.

Clinton only lost the number one spot in 1995 and 1996 to Mother Theresa, and 2001 when First Lady Laura Bush took the position. Clinton only received 12 percent of the vote to reach the top of the list, last year she had 13 percent. Clinton has appeared on the list 25 times. First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 8 percent her best showing on the list since her husband was re-elected in 2012 and her best support since 2009 when she had 7 percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2016 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 12
2. Michelle Obama 8
3. Angela Merkel 3
4. Oprah Winfrey 3
5. Ellen DeGeneres 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Malala Yousafzai 2
8. Condoleezza Rice 2
9. Elizabeth Warren 1
10. Sarah Palin 1

This year’s list is seeing some record number of appearances for both the most admired men and women. For the men, Rev. Billy Graham has his 60th top 10 finish having been in the top 10 every year since 1955, except for 1962 and 1976, while former President Bill Clinton has his 25th appearance on the top 10. On the women’s side, Hillary Clinton has the most top honors on the list with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt second with 13 top honors. Queen Elizabeth has the most top 10 appearances of all women with 48, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 29 showings.

Gallup believes there is a possibility that the poll’s most admired might have a shake up next year “as both move into the post-political phase of their careers.” They believe Trump will assume the top spot among the men, with Obama still ranking high in the top 10. Gallup also thinks Clinton still has a possibility of reigning among the women since former first ladies have won 35 out of 67 times, and assuming a non-political role will only help her popularity.

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics October 22, 2016: The real October Surprise will Monica Lewinsky speak out on the Clintons?

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The real October Surprise will Monica Lewinsky speak out on the Clintons?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: TED Talks

The 2016 campaign has descended into the gutter, policy positions rarely matter, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s political scandals are a blip and all that seems to concern the news media or the voters are the sexual exploits or lewd remarks of Republican nominee Donald Trump versus Former President Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. The one woman at the center of the debate eighteen years later, Monica Lewinsky has remained quiet on the whole campaign, could her insights and opinion, be the October Surprise that could resolve who is personally worse, Bill Clinton or Trump?

Trump aiming to hit Clinton low started the game, throughout the campaign Trump has repeatedly brought up Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. Trump went as far as to bring three of Clinton’s victims, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey to the pre-debate press conference and then they were his guests at the debate. Additionally, Kathy Shelton was in attendance, Shelton was raped in 1975 when she was 12, Hillary Clinton defended the 41-year-old man accused of raping her and ensured he received convicted of lesser charges with jail time of less than a year. Trump has not only attacked Bill Clinton’s sex scandals but Hillary’s complicit behavior, blaming, threatening and ripping apart the reputations of the women involved all with the aim of protecting her and her husband’s political futures.

Bringing up the Clinton scandals came back to haunt Trump as a 2005 tape emerged with Trump bragging about kissing and grabbing women because he can be as a celebrity and talked about his failed attempt for an affair with a married TV host. Trump apologized, called it “locker room talk” and denied acting on it during the second presidential debate. After that denial, ten women have come forward claiming that between 1980 and 2007 Trump kissed, fondled or grabbed them without their permission.

While all of Clinton’s former accusers have come out against Hillary’s campaign calling her an enabler, the only one person refuses to be brought into the fray, Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was at the center of Clinton’s scandal in 1998 while he was president. The affair with the former White House is the reason he perjured himself leading to him being only the second president impeached.

Lewinsky stayed out of the public eye for years, reemerging in May 2014 with an article inVanity Fair entitled “Shame and Survival” about the ordeal she went through during the scandal and being at the center of the media storm and their mocking. Lewinsky wrote, “Anybody who has gone through any kind of trauma knows it doesn’t just go away with a snap of the fingers. It lives as an echo in your life. But over time the echo becomes softer and softer.” She then became an anti-cyber bullying advocate remaining in the public eye, but much to the chagrin of the press refusing to comment on the election or her position on Clinton’s run.

The Clinton and Trump camps are fighting whose sex scandals are worse. The Democrats who long defended Clinton’s actions as president, saying the personal actions should not matter to his duties as president are contradicting themselves when it comes to Trump’s actions. Both behaviors are reprehensible whether founded or not, the difference remains Clinton’s actions were as president. Clinton abused his powers with a star struck White House intern then perjured himself in a deposition, lied to the nation and then ended up impeached all while Democrats, some Republicans and the public primarily gave him a free pass with high approval ratings.

The issue has become why is good for one but not the other, when the actions mostly come under the same umbrella, inappropriate and abusive. Recently Vice President Joe Biden spoke to NBC and said, “I can’t make any excuse for Bill Clinton’s conduct. And I wouldn’t attempt to make excuses for his conduct. But he paid a price. He was impeached. And he expressed his deep sorrow and acknowledged what he did.”

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama ravaged Trump‘s behavior in a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. The First Lady said Trump’s comments have “shaken me to my core in a way I couldn’t have predicted.” Mrs. Obama continued, “This is not normal, this is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable. We simply cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer. Now is the time for us all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.”

Trump’s Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence is certain that Clinton‘s actions are worse than anything Trump had said or is accused of because they happened when Clinton was president. In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Indiana Gov. Pence noted, “Bill Clinton didn’t just talk about doing things, he did them. It took a while to find all that out. He was under oath in 1998 and he finally came clean on having taken advantage of a 23-year-old intern at the White House named Monica Lewinsky, in the most appalling behavior by an American president in the history of this country.”

Despite being at the center of the storm, yet again with a presidential election in the balance, Lewinsky is staying out of the debate. On Friday, Oct. 14, a photographer stopped her at Los Angeles International Airport at 5:30 A.M. asking her if “she thought Trump was ‘fit to be president‘.” Lewinsky avoided the question, responding, “It’s 5.30 in the morning, you should be asleep. You should not be at the airport bothering people with your camera.” She later tweeted, “Nothing like a pap at LAX somehow spotting u in seconds… when ur w/o a stitch of make up @ 5.30 AM. gee, thx @Delta!”

Is Lewinsky staying out of the race because she wants to, and might still have a soft spot for the former president or like Trump accuses the Clinton’s made sure she kept her mouth shut with a legal agreement or threat? Public figures like to stifle free speech if they can especially where personal matters are concerned that might destroy their careers no matter how it affects who they stifle.

What is certain is her best friend actor Alan Cumming is supporting Clinton and Lewinsky has called herself a “conscientious Democrat.” Throughout the scandal, Hillary Clinton made her opinion of Lewinsky known, but Lewinsky never focused on the then First Lady. The clearest view Lewinsky has of Hillary comes from her Vanity Fair article.

Lewinsky spoke out about then to recent reports that Clinton called Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon,” to her friend Dian Blair. Lewinsky responded, “Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband’s mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman — not only me but herself — troubling.”

In the article, Lewinsky seems to defend Hillary, writing, “If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky. Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him. Although she regarded Bill as having engaged in ‘gross inappropriate behavior,’ the affair was, nonetheless, ‘consensual (was not a power relationship).’”

Lewinsky also defended Bill behavior with her, “My boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship.” However, Lewinsky noted the spiral in her life came from the Clintons’ actions, “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.” The abuse and the media’s scrutiny became so bad that she recounts, “I, too, was suicidal, so much that her mother was worried and scared Lewinsky “would be literally humiliated to death.”

If Lewinsky would emerge in the debate now and give her opinion, it might sway opinion, as to whose behavior with women, is worse Bill Clinton or Trump. Lewinsky’s comments or even previously unrevealed insights into both Bill and Hillary Clinton could even more detrimental to Clinton’s campaign than the political scandals that have dogged but not fazed her.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics August 20, 2014: Obama condemns Foley beheading, WH warned, Bush warned of rise of terrorist Iraq

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Obama condemns Foley beheading, WH warned, Bush warned of rise of terrorist Iraq

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, August 20, 2014, 4:02 PM MST

President Barack Obama delivers statement on the beheading of kidnapped U.S. journalist James Foley by the terrorist and militant ISIS, Aug. 20, 2014

Play
President Barack Obama delivers statement on the beheading of kidnapped U.S. journalist James Foley by the terrorist and militant ISIS, Aug. 20, 2014
Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images / White House

Politics June 16, 2014: Obama is now just as loved or not as Bush as favorable ratings hit new lows

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Obama is now just as loved or not as Bush as favorable ratings hit new lows

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, June 16, 2014, 6:38 AM MST

President Barack Obama is now seeing his favaorable ratings falling as much as his job performance approval rating according a new CNN and Gallup poll, June 12, 2014; Obama and George W. Bush now almost have the same ratings
President Barack Obama is now seeing his favaorable ratings falling as much as his job performance approval rating according a new CNN and Gallup poll, June 12, 2014; Obama and George W. Bush now almost have the same ratings
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Politics May 15, 2014: Obama presidential push could force House to pass unemployment extension bill

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Obama presidential push could force House to pass unemployment extension bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, May 15, 2014, 9:43 PM MST

 While the unemployment benefits bill is languishing in the House of Representatives set to expire at the end of May, President Barack Obama maybe could get the House to pass it if he only decides to call and negotiate with the Speaker of the House John B
While the unemployment benefits bill is languishing in the House of Representatives set to expire at the end of May, President Barack Obama maybe could get the House to pass it if he only decides to call and negotiate with the Speaker of the House John B
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Politics May 7, 2014: Monica Lewinsky returns with Vanity Fair tell all as Hillary Clinton tops polls

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Monica Lewinsky returns with Vanity Fair tell all as Hillary Clinton tops polls

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, May 7, 2014, 6:40 AM MST

Then White House Intern Monica Lewinsky with Former President Bill Clinton in 1995 at the time of their involvement, that led to scandal for them both; 10 years after stepping back from speaking to the news media Lewinsky has written a new essay for Vanit
Then White House Intern Monica Lewinsky with Former President Bill Clinton in 1995 at the time of their involvement, that led to scandal for them both; 10 years after stepping back from speaking to the news media Lewinsky has written a new essay for Vanit
Hulton Archive via Getty Images