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.

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Politics May 26, 2018: Donald Trump considered the least ethical president in recent history

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Donald Trump considered the least ethical president in recent history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

(Official White House Photos by Joyce N. Boghosian)

According to the news media’s reporting President Donald Trump has long been treated as unethical, now a new Gallup Poll confirms the American public agrees. According to a Gallup Poll released on Friday, May 25, 2018, only 37 percent of Americans believe Trump has “excellent” or “good” ethical standards with a larger number at 40 percent saying his standards are poor. Trump is the only president in modern history to have the public think so little of his ethics, but have a higher approval rating than the ethic rating. Only the scandal-filled presidency of Bill Clinton elicited such low ratings.

According to Gallup’s poll, only 7 percent of Americans think Trump has excellent ethical standards, 30 percent say they are good, 19 percent say not good, while a majority 40 percent saying they are poor. Only his predecessor President Barack Obama had a low rating in 2013, but not as low with 50 percent saying his ethical standard was “excellent” or “good” and with 32 percent saying, it was poor. The results show that that the public is increasingly questioning the ethical standards of their president.

Trump’s presidency has been marred by scandal; first Russian interference in the presidential election and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the matter. Trump repeatedly calls the probe a “witch hunt” which he wants to be concluded, but so far, there have been “five guilty pleas.” Then since January, Trump has been faced with mounting questions about his involvement with adult film star Stormy Daniels, his personal lawyer Daniel Cohen, paying her off and forcing her to sign a non-disclosure agreement a month before the election. The question remains whether Trump knew about it, considering he repaid Cohen.

Neither has his cabinet behaved with pristine ethics. Trump has a frequent cabinet and staff turnovers, especially in the last six months. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin misused government funds, spending too lavishly, however, Pruitt remains in the administration. The recent nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary former White House doctor Ronny Jackson was forced to withdraw over a question regarding his prescribing medications. Trump has continued support for both Pruitt and Jackson, emphasized his presidency’s questionable ethics. However, Trump did fire his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who plead guilty to lying to the FBI, a felony charge stemming from Mueller’s probe.

Unlike Trump’s predecessors, who had higher ethics rating than approval ratings, Trump has a higher job approval rating. According to Gallup, President Trump’s approval rating is 44 percent compared to his 37 percent ethic rating. The only other exception was Clinton in January 1994, when his approval rating was 54 percent, but his ethics rating was 43 percent, the closest to Trump’s. Obama in 2013 had a 27 percent approval rating, but a 50 percent ethics rating.

Gallup asked the ethics questions three times in George W. Bush’s presidency from 2002 to 2005, and during that time, his approval rating fell, but his ethics rating remained higher. In 2002, Bush’s approval rating was 69 percent, while his ethics rating was 74 the highest in history, in October 2005 it was 49 to 55 percent. Bush’s polling was the rare exception, with Gallup asking the ethics question in his second term. The question was asked at bookends, in 2002 after his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where he had the highest approval rating in modern history, and in October 2005, just after his mismanaged response to Hurricane Katrina, and flooding in New Orleans that killed 971.

Clinton’s second outing with the ethics rating in October 1994 had him with 50 percent approval rating, but a 57 percent ethics rating. George H. W. Bush had a 63 percent approval rating in May 1989, and a 59 percent ethics rating. The first president Gallup asked the ethics question about, was Ronald Reagan, the question was asked three times in his first term from July 1983 through October 1984. Reagan’s ethical standard remains the same; 64 and then 67, while his approval rating went higher from 44 to 58 percent right before the presidential election. Additionally, the majority of recent presidents had ethics numbers above 50 percent. As CNN noted, “The more popular the president, the more likely people are to say that he runs an administration that is rightly focused on ethics.”

Gallup asks this question very few times during a presidency, often earlier in the first term and not while scandals have consumed a presidency mostly in a second term. Trump’s presidency is an exception, where he was elected amid scandal and questions about Russian interference. The only other recent presidency that has commenced with scandal was Clinton’s, and by the first poll, Clinton had allowed a special prosecutor to investigate the “Whitewater real estate controversy.” The prosecutor ended up being Kenn Starr, the author of the Starr Report used as the basis of Clinton’s impeachment.

Only two of the presidents were mired in scandals during their terms. Ronald Reagan managed to escape unscathed from Iran Contra in 1986. Then Clinton whose scandals with women included accusations of sexual harassment, the Whitewater investigation, and the finally the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to his impeachment and near ouster in 1998. Gallup, however, did not ask the ethic question at the darkest points of the Reagan or Clinton presidencies.

Not asking the ethics questions every year in a presidency at least makes the poll and rating flawed and misrepresenting history and difficult to make comparisons. Either way, Trump’s scandal-filled and mismanaged presidency has definitely affected the public’s view of his ethics, if not the way he performs his duties.

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 over a 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

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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 10, 2018: GOP closing in on Democrats in new 2018 Midterm elections poll with Trump the main issue

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GOP closing in on Democrats in new 2018 Midterm elections poll with Trump the main issue

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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In less than six months before the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats are losing their poll advantage against the Republicans. In less than four months they lost a significant advantage, that indicates that the election could still go either way. On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, CNN / SSRS released a new poll on the midterm elections, that indicated 47 percent of “registered voters” supported their local Democratic candidate versus 44 percent saying they support the Republican candidate. In February, Democrats had a huge 16 point lead, that shrunk in March to six percent and now is three percent, within a poll’s margin of error. President Donald Trump’s approval rating is partially the cause as Democrats have yet to focuses on an issue to rally voters aside from their opposition to the president.

According to the latest poll, American voters still do not know if the GOP should retain control on Congress; the House of Representatives and Senate. Democrats only have a slight edge when it comes over who “the country would be better off” with 31percent versus 30 percent saying the GOP. While 34 percent saying it does not matter who controls Congress, with nearly half of independent voters 48 percent among them.

Still, more Democrats are very enthusiastic about the election versus Republicans, 50 to 44 percent; Republicans have boosted their enthusiasm factor up from 36 percent in March. As CNN notes, “53% of those who are very enthusiastic about voting say they’d back the Democrat in their district vs. 41% who say they favor the GOP candidate.” Ten percent more of enthusiastic voters want that Democrats to control Congress. Enthusiasm is always an important factor in elections as it brings voters to the polls, the extra incentive is necessary especially in midterm elections.

This year’s midterms are definitely a referendum on President Trump, with 64 percent claiming Trump is a very or extremely important factor in their voting this fall, while among enthusiastic voters that numbers jump to 78 percent. Enthusiastic voters are the ones that oppose the president the most with 51 percent wanting a candidate who opposes his policies, versus 46 percent, who want a candidate that agrees with him. Still, those numbers are down from January, 52 percent of voters would support a candidate who opposes Trump versus 41 who support him, the numbers are now 48 to 43 percent.

Helping the Republicans is that Trump’s poll numbers among all Americans are actually holding “steady” at 41 percent approving and 53 disapproving the same as in the last poll in March. The president’s numbers are far better among voters, with a 44 percent approval rating and a 51 percent disapproval rating. However, he is gaining points in his handling of the issues. Meanwhile, six in ten Americans find the country is going in the right direction, 57 percent up eight points from March. More Democrats find the country is going in a good direction, 40 percent up from 25 in February.

Trump’s numbers are improving because of increased Democratic support, especially on the issues. The economy is the issue where Trump has the best approval rating, at 52 percent up from 48 percent. Eleven percent more Democrats approve of the president’s handling of the economy now with 26 percent. Trump’s number is also improving on foreign trade 43 percent up from 38, and immigration 40 percent up from 36. His approval rating has also improved on foreign affairs to 42 percent up from 39 percent. Some of these numbers are the best since his first 100 days in office.

Trump’s best issue in the polls, the economy seems to be the most important issue to voters with 84 percent calling it extremely or very important, that number has grown from February, where 79 percent felt that way. Taxes is a rising issue with 73 percent saying is important, up from 67 percent. Immigration also remains hot-button issue, 76 percent up from 72 percent of voters calling it important. Gun control remains an important issue, 76 percent of all voters consider it important, only down two points from February, when there was a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The 15 point divide between the two parties has virtually faded with 79 of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans calling it an important issue. The rest of the issues have declined in importance; health care down 80 from 83 percent, sexual harassment 58 down from 64 percent, and even the Russia investigation are losing importance 40 down from 45 percent. The changes in importance on issues is mostly partisan based.

The Congressional party leaders in the House on both sides fare worse in their popularity than the president. Only 30 percent view Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi favorably versus 49 percent unfavorable, with only 57 percent of Democrats having a positive view of their leader. Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan fares better with 38 percent viewing him favorably versus 46 percent unfavorably. Ryan numbers are better mostly from greater GOP support, with 67 percent of the party having a positive view of the speaker. Despite voters feeling about their leaders, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably, 44 percent to the GOP’s 39 percent.

While voters usually want candidates that share their views, Democrats care about less about this than Republicans, 76 to 67 percent. Democrats have been facing problems trying to decide which issue they should focus on in the midterm campaign. Most, however, agree an anti-Trump campaign will not be enough. Princeton University historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer told The Hill, believes that vagueness on the issues helps the party, “Politically, their preference is to have some agenda items and some broad ideas that the party will fight for, and enough vagueness that it’s hard to be pinned down. It’s literally a document to rally people, and I think the good ones are written that way.”

Writing in an editorial on CNN, entitled “Democrats, focus on midterms — not Trump impeachment talk,” Zelizer cautions “The biggest challenge for Democrats is to avoid letting anti-Trump fervor drown out their own message.” Democrats need 23 seats to gain control of the House and at least a seven-point poll advantage over the GOP, which they lost in this latest poll. Trump’s improved polls numbers are a hamper to any anti-message against him, get is now also no longer the most unpopular president, his poll numbers are similar to Democratic President Jimmy Carter in May 1978, still, not the most promising comparison to the one-term president. With Trump’s numbers in a “Goldilocks zone,” where he can neither harm nor help his party, and Republicans will have it easier as a result to retain power, while Democrats will have to work harder for control of Congress.

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.

Politics May 7, 2018: First Lady Melania Trump’s poll numbers surge as she unveils Be Best initiative

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First Lady Melania Trump’s poll numbers surge as she unveils Be Best initiative

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Twitter

While her husband’s poll numbers stagnate, First Lady Melania Trump’s polls numbers are surging to heights only in President Donald Trump’s dreams. According to a CNN / SSRS poll released on Monday, May 7, 2018, Mrs.Trump now has a 57 percent favorability rating, up 10 percent from January. Mrs. Trump’s numbers are better than her husband has ever experienced. The good news in the polls comes as the first lady unveiled her “Be Best” child welfare program in a Rose Garden ceremony.

The first lady’s rise in popularity coincides with President Trump’s scandals, particularly the revelation he had an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2006 just after the birth of first couple’s son, Barron. First Lady Melania is benefitting from the same surge in public approval from members of all political parties as former First Lady Hillary Clinton did 20-years ago when President Bill Clinton was embroiled in a scandal involving an affair with former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

According to the new CNN poll, the first lady has a 57 percent approval rating, while only 27 of respondents have a negative view of her. The numbers have risen because of Democrat approval of the first lady, with 15 percent having a more favorable view of her since January. The numbers have only increased by five percent among Republicans. Despite the increase, still, a majority of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of Mrs. Trump, 40 to 38 percent.

Melania’s number has risen because of increased support from the nation’s women with an addition of 13 percent, to just seven percent of men. In total, 54 percent of women view the first lady favorably, with only 30 percent not. Melania’s last best polling was in March 2017, when she had a 52 percent favorable rating versus 32 unfavorable. Although first ladies usually have higher favorability than the presidents, the difference between President and Mrs. Trump’s poll rating is more glaring. Trump only has a 41 percent approval rating with a 53 percent disapproval in the same CNN poll.

CNN cites the “sympathy” factor as the main reason Melania’s numbers have increased. Unlike her predecessor, when news emerged of each affair the president had during their marriage, the first lady did not show a united front and did do not stand by her man as Hillary Clinton famously quipped in a 60 Minutes interview during the 1992 presidential campaign. Instead, Melania asserted her independence from her husband. In January, after news of the affair with Stormy Daniels become public, the first First Lady did not join the president on his trip to the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland and she traveled herself to the capital for Trump’s first State of the Union address.

In February, when news broke that the president had another affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2006, the first First Lady chose to travel to Andrews Air Force base to travel with the president. Melania Trump did not want to walk across the White House lawn to Marine One with the president, a photo-op so common in the Clinton era, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In between, especially during the recent state visit from France, Mrs. Trump avoided taking her husband’s hand. Through it all, she has not commented or defended her husband as Hillary famously did so in early 1998. Her stoic silence had garnered her sympathy from the American public.

Despite, the bump in favorability, her husband’s image still tarnished Melania and her numbers are not yet reaching her predecessors at this point in their first term. According to a CNN poll from September 2010 poll, Democrat Michelle Obama had a 62 percent favorable rating and only 25 percent unfavorable. Republican Laura Bush fared even better when a May 2002 CNN / Time poll had her with as 67 percent favorable rating, only 8 percent unfavorable, with 25 percent undecided.

Her poll bumps most resembles Hillary Clinton, whose husband President Bill Clinton faced his whole presidency with scandals and accusations. According to the Pew Research Center, Hillary had a 57 percent favorable rating in July 1994, the same point in her husband’s first term, and after her foray into healthcare policy. However, after the Lewinsky scandal broke and impeachment ensued Hillary’s numbers hit a record high. In March 1998, her favorable rating was 65 percent, in October it fell to 58 percent to rebound to 66 percent in December; a term high as impeachment hearing was going on in Congress. At the same time, President Clinton’s numbers fell to 51 percent.

First Lady Melania Trump’s high poll numbers come as she is coming into her own as the first lady. Two weeks ago she planned every aspect of her first state dinner welcoming France’s President Emmanuel Macron and first lady Brigette. Today, she unveiled her initiative “Be Best” in a Rose Garden speech. According to the White House, “BE BEST will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.” The child welfare program emphasizes the problems children face with their physical and emotional health, drugs particularly the opioid crisis and cyberbullying on social media. Althotheirhere first lady is announcing her initiative 18-months into her tenure, she has spent her time on events concerning children. She announced in one of her rare presidential campaign speeches in 2016 that she would be focusing on cyberbullying as First Lady.

In her 10-minute speech, with her husband present Melania unveiled her program. Mrs. Trump expressed, “As a mother and as the first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide.” The first lady also explained where the initiative’s name originates, “I feel strongly that as adults we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.”

The most controversial part of the first lady’s program is cyberbullying. Here again, Melania is showing her independence from her husband. The president is well known for his insults on the campaign trail and especially on Twitter and he is considered the nation’s bully-in-chief. The first lady almost seemed to be schooling her husband discussing the initiative, saying, “As we all know, social media can both positively and negatively affect our children. But too often, it is used in negative ways. When children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways and can affect positive change.” That independence from her husband, his scandals, vices, and policies, are why Melania Trump is setting herself apart and gaining the public’s trust.

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 27, 2017: Obama beats Trump as Gallup’s most admired man in 2017, Hillary Clinton still top woman

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Obama beats Trump as Gallup’s most admired man in 2017, Hillary Clinton still top woman

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Although the sitting president is usually the Gallup poll’s most admired for the year, this year is it is not the case. Former President Barack Obama beat out President Donald Trump as the most admired man in the 2017 edition, while 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton remains the country’s most admired woman. Gallup Poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, their annual list of most admired men and women for the year with almost predictable results. For the tenth straight year, former President Obama has topped the list of most admired men, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of most admired women for a record-breaking time. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump came in a close second but missed the honor most sitting presidents experience.

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 17 percent of the vote, down from 22 percent last year, and his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 13 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last ten years. 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). Obama becomes the only the second former president besides Eisenhower in 1967 and 1968 to win the year’s most admired. President Trump came in a rather close second with 14 percent; the third time Trump has ranked second in the poll. This year is the president’s seventh appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Vice President Mike Pence sees his second appearance on the list coming in again at the bottom of the list.

Even as a sitting president Trump cannot eclipse Obama as the most admired man in the country an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed. 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. Now only 13 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in his first year of office with only a 37 percent approval rating on his 338th day in office. The last time a sitting president missed the honor was 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.

In Gallup’s 71 years issuing the most admired list, sitting presidents have topped it 58 times. Gallup indicates, “Previous incumbent presidents who did not finish first include Harry Truman in 1946–1947 and 1950–1952, Lyndon Johnson in 1967–1968, Richard Nixon in 1973, Gerald Ford in 1974–1975, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George W. Bush in 2008. All but Truman in 1947 and Ford in 1974 had job approval ratings well below 50%, like Trump.”

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2017 Top 10:

1. Barack Obama 17
2. Donald Trump 14
3. Pope Francis 3
4. Rev. Billy Graham 2
5. John McCain 2
6. Elon Musk 2
7. Bernie Sanders 1
8. Bill Gates 1
9. Benjamin Netanyahu 1
10. The Dalai Lama 1
11. Mike Pence 1

Despite losing the election Trump last year, former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 22nd time and 16th year in a row more than anyone ever on the list. Clinton has her lowest showing; however, winning only 9 percent of the vote, last year she had 12 percent for the top spot. 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 has appeared on the list 26 times. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 7 percent. Current First Lady Melania Trump sees her first showing on the list coming in at number 8 but with only one percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2017 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 9
2. Michelle Obama 7
3. Oprah Winfrey 4
4. Elizabeth Warren 3
5. Angela Merkel 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Condoleezza Rice 1
8. Melania Trump 1
9. Nikki Haley 1
10. Duchess Kate Middleton 1
11. Beyonce Knowles 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. This is the first year former Bill Clinton has dropped out of the top 10; he appeared on the top 10 for 25 years and remained on top of the list throughout his entire presidency from 1993 to 2001. 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 49, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 30 showings. Gallup does not believe however, Obama and Clinton will hold on to the top spot in future years and believe Trump could attain the position next year.

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 12, 2017: Trump has worst first-year presidential approval rating in history but great success with his agenda

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Trump has worst first-year presidential approval rating in history but great success with his agenda

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump is the most unpopular president in modern history with record-low approval ratings his first year in office. (Source: White House Facebook)

As President Donald Trump approaches the end of his first calendar year in office, his approval rating has remained at record lows for a first-year president. Trump’s approval rating has never risen above the 40s and has now settled in the low 30s. According to a new Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, has Trump’s number is a new low even for his presidency with a just a 32 percent approval rate, while his disapproval rating grows to 63 percent. Still, Trump’s numbers are not much different then Pews’ from October where the president had a 34 percent approval rating, and in February just a few weeks into his presidency when he had a 39 percent approval rating. Despite his unpopularity and low approval ratings, Trump is successfully accomplishing his agenda contradicting the usual correlation between popularity and presidential success in the polls.

The Pew poll was taken between November 29 and December 4 and the numbers come as the first arrests begin in special counsel Robert Mueller Russia election interference probe and Trump’s first national security advisor Michael Flynn plead guilty for lying to the FBI. Still, the low numbers appear as the president moves forward with his agenda. Trump experienced first major legislative victory with the first passage of a tax reform bill. Additionally, The Supreme Court decided in his favor of his third travel ban. Trump tenure is seeing the greatest stock market highs in history, as Jeff Greenfield pointed out, “the economy is roaring, too.”

Greenfield in his article “Has Trump Made Approval Polls Meaningless?” published in Politico on Nov. 29, a week before the Pew poll argues, “He is the most disliked president ever at this point in his term. And he’s more consequential than presidents who were twice as popular.”
Greenfield lists many of Trump’s accomplishments up to publication including having nine nominees places on the on federal appeals courts. Trump also had another legal victory when a federal district court sided with Trump’s choice “to place his budget director as temporary head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

In addition, Greenfield pointed in a referendum on his presidency’s Trump candidate for the special Alabama Senate election Roy Moore, who has been accused of improper relationships with teenage girls is leading the polls. Greenfield credits Trump’s success on “support for Trump’s agenda, combined with his still-strong position within the Republican base, has effectively neutered any meaningful GOP resistance to the president’s wretched excesses.”

The Pew poll was also released a day after Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the State of Israel’s capital and decided to move the embassy from Tel Aviv a policy decision that will have a major impact on the Middle East. Trump’s policy victories are not without their controversies and divisiveness between the American public, especially along partisan lines. The president also remains controversial with his impulsive Twitter habits that cause him more harm than his political positions. The Pew poll indicates that the negativity towards Trump comes with the Russia probe and personal style rather policy.

Still, no matter the strange theories, unverified videos or insults the president hurls on Twitter, he can accomplish his agenda because of the strong support from his party, both the voters and on Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. As Greenfield notes, Trump accomplishes his agenda “the same way he won the White House in the first place: by capitalizing on a unique political mix of geography, a last-minute intervention, and the right opponent.”

Among those who disapprove of Trump’s performance in the Pew poll, 14 percent actually find something they are pleased with that the president has accomplished. Of those approving of Trump’s performance, 37 percent are disappointed with something of Trump’s actions. The most popular response has been his personal style and particularly his Twitter habit, with 26 percent claiming his personal style and 14 percent saying his Twitter usage.

There is deep partisan division regarding the Russia probe with only 26 of Republicans and Republican leaners believing there was “definitely or probably” “improper contacts” by senior Trump officials. The number increases threefold when it comes to Democrats and Democratic leaners, with 82 percent saying “improper contacts” probably took place and 49 percent saying they definitely occurred. Both parties scribe to different views as to the importance of the probe with only 19 percent of Republicans finding it important versus 71 percent of Democrats.

After initial tax bills passed in both the House and Senate by partisan lines, the two houses are now nearing a final agreement on their tax reform bill. The House passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on Nov. 16, with a party vote of 227–205, and Senate passed their version with a 51–49 vote, and only one GOP dissension, vocal Trump opponent, Bob Corker (R-TN) opposed the bill and voted with the Democrats.

Pew found that an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats with 71 and 70 percent respectively find “proposed changes to the federal tax system” are “a very important issue for the country.” The bill unpopular with the middle class from both parties will be Trump’s first major legislative victory after the collapse of the Obamacare repeal efforts. The tax bill, however, still accomplishes one of the GOP’s health care goals repealing the individual mandate requiring all American have health insurance if not they are penalized with a monetary fine.

The worst news Trump is also losing ground with the very base that elected him and makes accomplishing his agenda possible. Trump now only has 76 percent support from Republican voters down from 84 percent in February. Demographically, Trump is seeing his popularity diminish among key groups. Trump is losing ground with Republican voters 50 and older down to 38 percent from 50 percent, and whites 41 percent down from 49 percent. Trump lost the most support from evangelical Protestants 61 percent down from 78 percent.

Still, as Pew indicates “Trump’s job approval rating among members of his own party, while lower today than at the beginning of the year, is in line with those of most of his predecessors.” The main reason behind Trump’s lower numbers is that he has lower approval numbers from the opposing party than his predecessors with an only 7 percent approval from Democrats. No other president in his first year in office had an approval rating in the low 30s.

Trump’s rating is 16 percent lower than the all-time historical low. The previous record holder was Bill Clinton who at the end of 1993 had a 48 percent approval rating. Like his boasts, President Trump has made his mark on the presidency in his first year accomplishing more than his higher-rated predecessors did. Trump does this, because as Greenfield indicates despite being a historically unpopular president” he is “in a position to preside over more consequential changes, at least at this stage in their terms, than presidents like Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama who were elected with clear electoral mandates.”

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 July 23, 2017: America deeply polarized as Trump presidency hits six-month mark

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump’s polls at the six-month mark shows discontent especially among Democrats. President Donald J. Trump | July 20, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As President Donald Trump’s hits the six-month mark of his presidency, polarization in the nation is at an all-time high. ABC News and Washington Post released a new poll on Sunday, July 16, 2017, that looked at Trump’s approval rating and followed up with another poll released on Monday, July 17 examining his presidential behavior including his Twitter habits. A Gallup Poll released on July 21, also showed how Trump’s approval rating is below 40 percent mostly because he lacks almost any support from Democrats. According to the new ABC News poll, only 36 percent of Americans “approve of Trump’s job performance,” while the Gallup Poll has Trump approval rating for his second quarter as president at 38.8 percent. The results show that Trump is the most unpopular president at this point in his presidency than any other president in the last 70 years of polling mostly because the nation is the most polarized over Trump than ever in history.

Trump’s approval rate numbers are his lowest and six points lower than they were in April when he reached 100 days of his presidency. Trump has only a 36 percent approval rating in the new ABC News / Washington Post poll entitled “Six months in, the latest poll reveals a record low for Trump,” but a 58 percent disapproval rating. Americans however, approve of the president’s handling of the economy, 43 to 41 percent. According to the Gallup poll entitled “Trump Sets New Low for Second-Quarter Job Approval” Trump’s approval rating for the second quarter of his presidency from April 20 to July 19, is 38.8 percent. In his first quarter, Trump’s approval rating was 41.3 percent. Until President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May his daily tracking approval rating remained in the low 40s, but since then it has remained for the most part in the high 30s.

The only other modern president with such a low poll number at the six-month mark of their presidency was Gerald Ford with a higher, 39 percent in January 1975. Ford, however, was not elected, he became president after Republican Richard Nixon resigned from office, and he faced a backlash for pardoning the disgraced president over the Watergate scandal. Trump also makes a record for highest disapproval rate at the six-month mark, beating President Bill Clinton whose disapproval rating was 51 percent in July 1993.

Gallup does not include Ford in their list and claims Trump’s numbers at this time are closest to Clinton, who had a 44 percent approval rating. The rest of the post-World War II presidents saw over 50 percent approval ratings at the six-month mark, with the average at 62 percent. Looking at all presidential quarters Trump ranks 250th out of 287 quarters. The lower numbers were recorded in later parts of the embattled Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush presidencies.

The gap between Republicans and Democrats’ approval of the president is astounding. According to ABC News, 90 percent of Conservative Republicans and 82 percent of Republicans, in general, approve of the president’s job performance. Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove, with only 11 percent approving. Not many independents approve of the president either with only 32 percent feeling that way.

The Gallup poll shows an even more dramatic partisan divide, only 8 percent of Democrats approve of Trump, which is the lowest opposing party support in the modern history of presidential polling. Trump has support from 85 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Independents. As Gallup indicates that is a 77 percent difference from members of either party. Gallup notes, “The high degree of political polarization in Trump’s approval ratings is one major reason why his overall ratings are historically low. Presidential job approval ratings have become increasingly polarized in recent presidential administrations, but the degree of party separation in Trump’s ratings reaches new extremes.”

Trump has had historically low approval ratings because he has not any support from Democrats, partisan support is key to higher approval ratings. The last two presidents Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush had about 30 percent from the opposing parties. Obama had 28 percent of Republican approving his job in 2009, and Bush had 30 percent of Democrats in 2001, despite another contentious election, which was decided by the Supreme Court. Trump has a low approval rating from independents, lower than from previous presidents, where the average at 53 percent, only Carter had low support, with only 42 percent.

The partisan polarization has grown exponentially since Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency, before and since the 1950s opposing parties used to give a high approval rating to new presidents, a minimum of over 40 percent. The situation changed with Clinton, who received just over 20 percent support from Republicans. Independents also abandoned Clinton with only 44 percent approving of him in 1993. Trump has a problem with Independents as well, with only 36 percent supporting him. Fortunately, for President Trump he has overwhelming support from his party, with 86 percent support whereas the average since 1953 has been 82 percent.

The ABC News poll also looked at Americans’ view of the issues that have plagued Trump ‘s presidency and cause his lagging numbers, the Russia election interference controversy, and the embattled Obama repeal and replace bill going through Congress. The public does not approve of the president’s son, “Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and campaign manager, Paul Manafort” having met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign to gain Intel on opponent Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. The revelation and the Trump Jr.’s emails detailing the meeting set-up confirm that the Trump campaign was talking to Russia and looking for their help.

According to the poll, 63 percent of Americans found the meeting inappropriate. Americans now overwhelmingly believe Russia interfered in the presidential election with 60 percent responding that way, but 40 percent do not think there was any interference. Republicans, however, do not believe Russia helped Trump’s campaign with only 9 percent feeling that way. Meanwhile, a slight majority 52 percent believe the president is interfering with the investigation, while 37 percent believe he is not interfering.

In general, a majority, 55 percent of Americans do not believe Trump is succeeding in his agenda and campaign promises, while only 38 percent say he is making “progress.” One of the president’s biggest campaign promises to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law is also turning into the young presidency’s biggest failure. Although the House of Representatives passed a bill, the American Health Care Act on the second try, the Senate was not satisfied with it. This past month, the Senate failed with two incarnations of the Better Care Act, without either going to a floor debate and vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell than planned to put to a vote a years old House bill that only repeals the health care and replace in two years time., that idea has not garnered enough support for a vote. Trump, however, is demanding that the Senate not only repeal Obamacare but also replace it before the August recess or else the recess should be canceled. Now the Senate with a vote on the House bill and will add amendments.

According to the ABC News poll, Americans prefer keeping Obamacare to any alternative; Congressional Republicans are floating 50–24 percent. The House and Senate bills both cut Medicaid funding for the states. The cuts were the main reason Republican senators came out against the bill, and they were in good company. According to the ABC News poll, 63 to 27 percent of Americans believe, “it’s more important to provide health care coverage for low-income Americans than to cut taxes.”

Americans are not very confident about the president representing the country on the world’s stage either. Around 75 percent of Americans do not trust the president to “negotiate with other world leaders” especially Russia’s Vladimir Putin. While 48 percent of Americans think, the country’s world image and reputation are weaker under Trump with only 27 percent saying, “it has gotten stronger.”

The mirror image is about the same, the world does not like Trump very much. According to a recent Pew Research Survey published on June 26, and entitled “U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership” of the over 37 nations surveyed only 22 percent have confidence in President Trump, while 74 percent have no confidence. The numbers are a sharp contrast to those of Democratic President Barack Obama, where it was the reverse, 64 percent had confidence versus 23 percent saying no confidence at the end of his term in January. The favorable view of the US is also in decline, now it is only 49 percent with a 39 percent unfavorable view. When Obama left office, there was a 20-point difference, with a 69 percent favorable view and a 26 percent unfavorable view. Of the 37 countries polled, only Israel and Russia had a better opinion on Trump’s leadership versus Obama.

Democrats claim that the reason for disapproving President Trump’s job performance has less to do with what he does in office and more to do with his personality and character. Gallup and ABC News/ Washington Post conducted separate polls looking at the way Americans view the president personally. Gallup released their poll “Trump Disapproval Rooted in Character Concerns” on July 13, and according to findings, 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s personality and character, with previous presidents’ disapproval was grounded in policies and job performance.

According to Gallup, only 12 percent base their disapproval on Trump’s performance as president, with 16 percent basing it on policies and issues, but an overwhelming amount of 65 percent say it is his personality and personal characteristics. For Obama at the six-month mark, it was the reverse with 65 percent disapproving of him because of his policies, while it was split with George W. Bush between policies at 31 percent and performance at 43 percent.

Apparently, Trump’s personality was a benefit on the campaign trail but a hindrance to the presidency. As Gallup analyzes, “Trump’s unique personal style, brashness, and disregard for conventional political norms and discourse — while clearly a negative for many during the campaign — helped him stand out from other Republican contenders and ultimately contributed to his victory in November.”

Gallup broke it down and found that under character and personality related, 29 percent disapprove of President Trump because he comes across as “Not presidential/Bad temperament/Arrogant/Obnoxious,” 10 percent say he is “Inexperienced/Doesn’t know what he is doing.” Every other reason was all under 10 percent including “Looking out for himself/Doesn’t consider people’s needs,” “Use of social media/Twitter” and “Untrustworthy” all at 6 percent.

Although 16 percent of Americans cite issues and policies as their reason for disapproving the president, no single issue ranked at over 4 percent including foreign policy and health care, which only garnered 3 percent. According to the poll, 12 percent disapprove of Trump because of broad performance, yet no single reason registered above 7 percent, with the most saying it is because they “Disagree with what he is doing/Doing a poor job.”

In contrast, the reasons Americans approve of the president are almost evenly distributed among the three categories, 38 percent for broad performance, 33 percent for issues and policies and 24 percent for personality and personal characteristics. Only under broad performance does Trump get double digits for specific reasons, the highest is at 12 percent for “Doing a good job/best he can under difficult circumstances,” 11 percent for “Keeping his promises” and 10 percent for “does what is best for America.” The remainder is in the single digits for every category and they represent broad and general reasons.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll entitled “Public to Trump: Lay off Twitter (POLL)” also looked at Trump’s personality finding similar negative responses as Gallup’s poll. As ABC News noted, “70 percent say he’s acted in an unpresidential manner since taking office, 68 percent don’t see him as a positive role model and 67 percent disapprove of his use of Twitter.” Additionally, 57 percent “also say that the more they hear about Trump the less they like him, vs. 29 percent who like him more.” While 56 percent find his unpresidential behavior has a negative impact and is “damaging to the presidency overall.” Here even 38 percent of Republicans claim Trump has not behaved presidential. Only 24 percent of respondents find Trump’s behavior presidential.

Although Trump calls Twitter, his way to deliver his message directly to the American public while bypassing the news media, 67 percent of Americans disapprove of him using the social media site. Looking further at the president’s Twitter post, 68 percent said the tweets were inappropriate, 65 percent find them insulting, while 52 percent went further claiming the president’s tweets are dangerous. In contrast, of those supporting Trump’s tweets, 41 percent found them “interesting,” 36 percent “effective” and 21 percent went as far as saying they were “refreshing.”

Democrats, in particular, do not like or personally approve of the president and they also want him impeached a hope and call that started even before he entered the office and has only gotten louder since he fired Comey. A Monmouth University poll published on July 17, finds that only 39 percent approve of the president, while 52 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump. The poll asked about impeachment especially with the anger surrounding Trump’s son meeting with Russian operatives.

The poll says 40 percent of Americans want the president impeached over the Russia campaign interference controversy. Democrats represent the majority calling for impeachment with 70 percent, followed by 32 percent of independents and only 12 percent of Republicans. In 1973 at the start of the Watergate scandal, only 24 percent of Americans wanted President Richard Nixon impeached. A majority of Americans also found the Russia meeting “not appropriate” with 59 percent saying that, consisting of “86 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents, and 28 percent of Republicans.”

To be fair, the ABC News and Washington Post poll does not have a truly fair and bipartisan pool, which they surveyed. According to their methodology the poll was skewed with responses from 35% Democrats, 35% independents and only 23% Republicans. Naturally, Democrats and Democratically leaning Independents oppose Trump; they have never given him a chance since he was elected. For an entirely, non-biased survey, those responding had to be even distributing and independents had to be truly independent not leaning towards either party.

Americans do not feel any better about the Democrats than the y do about Trump, according to the ABC News / Washington Post poll, a majority of 52 percent said the Democrats “just stands against Trump.” Of Americans that feel that way about the party, 27 percent are Democrats, 55 percent are independents” and 82 percent are Republicans. Americans do feel Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote would not have been better than Trump. A new Bloomberg poll released on July 18, gave Trump a 41 percent approval rating, but Clinton had only a 39 percent approval rating. After a campaign, the losing party nominee’s ratings usually improve, but not Clinton partially because Trump keeps attacking her. Still, 20 percent of Clinton voters now say they did not like her and have an unfavorable view of her but only 6 percent of Trump voters feel the same.

In general, Americans are discontent with the current political situation, whether it is Trump, the Democrats, or the resistance movement. We are facing a political malaise not seen since the 1970s when Democrat Jimmy Carter named a speech those fateful and politically fatal words in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s ouster from the presidency earlier in the decade. On July 15, 1979, Carter delivered his Malaise speech to the nation, “The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America….” His words could easily describe the problem the nation faces again today.

The United States now too is facing a crisis of confidence, but it is a crisis because of partisanship. Three different polls Gallup, Reuters, and even the Conservative Rasmussen Reports all indicate that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied and believe the country is going on the wrong track, direction. According to the latest from Gallup from July 5–9, 2017, only 27 percent of Americans are satisfied with the country direction, while 71 percent are dissatisfied, up from 27 percent the month before. There have been lower numbers even in President Barack Obama’s time, in July 2016, October 2013, and from July 2011 to January 2012. The most recent Reuters poll published on July 20, has 58.8 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, with only 25.8 percent saying the country is moving in the right direction. The Rasmussen poll published on July 17, had similar results with 33 percent of respondents saying, “The country is heading in the right direction,” down from the mid- 40s when Trump first assumed office.

The partisanship is getting so extreme Democrats have no tolerance to speak even with Trump voters and supporters. A new Pew Research Center survey, entitled “Since Trump’s Election, Increased Attention to Politics — Especially Among Women” published on July 20, examined how Americans’ relationship to politics and friendships from opposing parties has affected them since Trump’s election. According to the poll, 47 percent of liberal Democrats find that if they had a friend that supported Trump it would put “a strain on their friendship.” Of all Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, 35 percent say it causes a strain. The feeling is worst among White and College educated Democrats with 40 percent and 44 percent feeling that way.

Republicans are feeling in a good and forgiving mood with their party controlling the White House and only 13 percent say it would “strain on a friendship” if a Democratic friend voted for Hillary Clinton. Never mind a friendship, the partisan sentiment has become so toxic that “68 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters say they find it “stressful and frustrating” to talk to people who have a different opinion of Trump. About half — 52 percent — of Republican and GOP-leaning voters say the same.”

Americans are deeply polarized and unsatisfied with the current state of politics, with Democrats bearing the biggest burden and negative attitudes. The problem is that do not realize that the toxic atmosphere is just as bad as they deem the president is or even worse because it causes tensions in normal interactions. The deep polarization and negativity are not necessary, the economy is doing well and growing, the country and Americans are prospering even with Trump as president.

As long as the United States exists, one party will occupy the White House, while the other sits out on the sidelines. However, the Constitution guarantees elections for president every four years and for Congress every two years, guarantees freedoms for its citizens and a checks balance on each of the three branches of government. No matter Trump’s personality and character, nothing can affect the Constitution. If Americans are dissatisfied, they have put their efforts and strengths toward the next election rather than remain negative. As the polls indicate, no matter Trump’s future in the White House, he will go down in his as the most polarizing president to date.

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 January 8, 2017: 115th Congress convenes, Ryan reelected speaker and Senate sworn-in

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115th Congress convenes, Ryan reelected speaker and Senate sworn-in

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Congress met on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, for the 115th session and the first of Donald Trump’s administration with their leaders voted back. The ceremonial duties of the first day in the House and Senate went off smoothly with Paul Ryan (R-WI) being reelected Speaker of the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi (D- CA) as the Democratic Minority Leader. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden swore-in his last group of Senators including newly elected freshmen as well as 27 other Senators who won reelection in November.

In the House, the new Congress was swore-in, and they formally voted in their leaders. Ryan retained his speakership as expected with an almost unanimous vote the Republican caucus. Ryan received 239 votes with only Republican objector, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
W ho decided to vote for Ryan opponent for the speakership in 2015 Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Ryan now embarks on his first full term as speaker presiding over a majority of 241 Republicans, while Pelosi’s Democrats gained six seats with 194 members.

Pelosi retained her minority leader post with 189 votes with only four Democrats defecting. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-New York) cast their votes for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) who challenged Pelosi this past fall. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) voted for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), while Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) chose Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

In the Senate, Vice President Biden presided over the swearing-in ceremonies of freshmen and those re-elected in November for the last time. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) greeted the 115th Congress and their families that attended the ceremony. McConnell expressed, “I’m pleased to welcome back familiar faces and express warm greetings to new members.” McConnell let the Senators know there is “hard work” to be done this term, but now they should “take a moment to celebrate the rich tradition of this day.”

The Senate chamber was filled with both the newcomers and past Senators including those that are just retiring. Past Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) joined the festivities while former Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) also attended the ceremony. With this 115th session, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) becomes the “longest serving female senator.”

Biden swore-in the freshmen senators in a separate ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Tuesday afternoon. Among the freshmen, two new Republicans, “Todd Young (R-Ind.) and John Kennedy (R-La.),” and five new Democrats “Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).”

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 2, 2017: Trump threatens government shutdown after Congress makes funding deal

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Photo

President Donald Trump is not satisfied with the budget deal Congress made this past weekend and he is threatening a government shutdown. On Tuesday morning, May 2, 2017, President Trump tweeted two posts calling for either changing the filibuster rules in the Senate or a government shutdown so the White House and Congressional Republicans could force a budget without heading to Democrats. Later in the day, Trump backtracked and praised the bill White House Rose Garden at an event honoring the Air Force Academy football team. The threat comes only two days after Congress made a bipartisan deal to fund the government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year aimed at averting a government shutdown on the GOP’s watch.

The disgruntled president took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the Congressional budget deal. Trump wrote in two tweets, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to the president’s concerns at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. Ryan commiserated, “Look, we have a long ways to go between now and September, but I share the president’s frustration. I feel good about the wins we got with the administration in this bill.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the president’s request to change Senate legislative rules to prevent a filibuster at 60 votes to a simple majority. McConnell replied, “That will not happen.” Continuing, the Senate leader explained, “There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar.”

Later, President Trump seemed to have changed his mind about the bill hailing it as a victory. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump expressed, “After years of partisan bickering and gridlock, this bill is a clear win for the American people.” Continuing the President said, “We brought lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle to deliver a budget that funds the rebuilding of the United States military, makes historic investments in border security and provides health care for our miners and school choice for our disadvantaged children.” Trump also praised the increase in funds allotted for border security, claiming, “We achieved the single largest increase in border security funding in 10 years. So we have more money now for the border than we’ve gotten in 10 years,” Trump said. “The Democrats didn’t tell you that.”

At the White House Daily Press Briefing Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney rationalized the President’s first response to the budget deal. Mulvaney explained, “I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try to spike the football and make him look bad. I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take.” The OMB Director did not take a possible government shutdown off the table, saying, “We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats are not going to behave any better than they have the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”

The bipartisan budget deal reached on Sunday evening, April 30, went against President Trump’s wishes in certain key areas. There was no down payment allotted for the proposed border wall with Mexico, an important campaign pledge for the president. Neither did the budget cut funding for Planned Parenthood, something the GOP has wanted to do for a long time. Trump also wanted to cut funding for Obamacare subsidies, the budget will cover them. Sanctuary cities will also remain funded much to the president’s chagrin.

The budget does increase funding to certain key areas. There is a $15 billion increase in military spending, with $1.5 billion going to border security. The National Institute of Health will see a bump of $2 billion in funding. The Environment Protection Agency’s funding remains almost the same, but more funding is going to clean energy and science. Additionally, $68 million goes to New York and Florida to reimburse them for their state spending to protect the president and his family.

The deal also allocates more money to solve some outstanding issues, including miners’ health insurance, Puerto Rico Medicaid, transit infrastructure grants, year-round Pell Grants and fighting the opioid epidemic. There were also funded increases for national disasters in California, West Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Republicans had to cave in to Democrats’ demands on “poison pills” to avert a government shutdown, which would have been disastrous for the GOP because they control Congress and the White House.

Congress was originally set to shut down on April 29, until they passed a short-term spending bill that lasts until Friday, May 5. The House passed the bill 382–30 on Friday, April 28, the Senate followed suit, and the president signed the bill soon after averting a shutdown with a day left to the deadline. Despite his opposition to the new omnibus bill that will fund the government through September, Trump has no plans to force a shutdown now and intends to sign the bill. A budget fight, however, looms over the 2018 fiscal year, and the government could see another shutdown in October.

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 April 16, 2017: Gorsuch becomes 113th Supreme Court Justice after historic Senate vote

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Gorsuch becomes 113th Supreme Court Justice after historic Senate vote

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch becomes the 113th Supreme Court justice after two swearing-in ceremonies on Monday, April 10, 2017. Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation on Friday, April 7, was historic as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the “nuclear option” requiring only a simple majority to confirm Gorsuch and future nominees. Gorsuch was sworn in at two ceremonies, the first was a brief 10-minute ceremony at the Supreme Court building, and then one at the White House’s Rose Garden were President Donald Trump spoke first, and then Gorsuch was sworn in. Gorsuch’s wife Marie Louise and their daughters were present at both ceremonies.

Along partisan lines, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice Friday morning, April 7, 2017. The Senate voted 54–45 for confirming President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s confirmation ended a yearlong drama to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February 2016. In the time the Supreme Court acted with only eight justices, this will be the first time the court is again full with nine members. The court also regains its balance of four conservative and liberal justices with Justice Anthony Kennedy serving as the swing vote.

The Senate vote was mostly along partisan lines with only three Democrats breaking ranks and joining their Republican colleagues in supporting Gorsuch’s nomination. The Democrats were Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. These same Democrats voted with Republicans for cloture and in opposition to the Democratic filibuster earlier in the week.

The battle to fill Scalia’s seat was a bitter partisan one. Last year former President Barack Obama promptly nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland to the vacant seat. As it was in an election year, Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused even to consider Obama’s nominee. McConnell believed the next president should fill the seat. Republicans hoped it would be a Republican president since any candidate from a Democrat would have shifted the balanced and created a liberal court.

For over a year, the seat remained vacant as the Supreme Court operated with just eight justices until President Trump entered the office and nominated Gorsuch. Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Graduating in 1991 with former President Barack Obama. Gorsuch has long held conservative views espousing them as an undergraduate writing for the school paper, The Columbia Daily Spectator and co-founding the Conservative The Federalist Paper.

Gorsuch held two clerkships after graduating law school. First for Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then Supreme Court justices, Anthony M. Kennedy and Byron R. White, who retired in 1993. After making partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, Gorsuch returned to University for his doctorate at Oxford University in legal philosophy, which Oxford conferred to him in 2004.

Starting in 2005, Gorsuch served in U.S. Department of Justice as “principal deputy to the associate attorney general.” Gorsuch returned to his birthplace in 2006 when he was appointed by Former President George W. Bush to be “a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.” The Senate confirmed Gorsuch “without opposition.” Gorsuch is also the author of one book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.”

Eleven years later, Democrats still upset over Republicans refusing to consider Obama’s nominee immediately balked at Gorsuch. They deemed him too conservative, and they found him evasive on how he would decide on issues close to Democrats during his confirmation hearing.

When the Senate was scheduled to vote on Gorsuch, Democrats planned to block the vote, by rallying for filibuster gathering 41 Democrats to stand firm in opposition. The rules required 60 votes for cloture, “ending the debate,” and advancing the vote. Republicans controlled the Senate, but with only 52 votes, they needed Democrats to help them meet 60 votes, necessary, only three Democrats planned to vote with Republicans and voted for cloture.

The only way Republicans could confirm Gorsuch was to use the nuclear option, a change of the rules for confirming Supreme Court justices from a 60-vote threshold to a simple majority of 51. The option ends the need for bipartisan cooperation to confirm Supreme Court judges. The concept is not novel; Democrats first invoked the nuclear option in 2013. Then Democrat and Senate Majority Harry Reid invoked the option when Republicans stalled on confirming Obama’s nominees and lower court judges.

McConnell was intent not to let Democrats oppose a qualified candidate. On Tuesday, April 4, he promised: “One way or the other, we will confirm Judge Gorsuch.” On Thursday, April 6, McConnell was still reluctant to go forward with changing the Senate voting rules. McConnell begged Democrats on the Senate floor not to block Gorsuch.

The Senate Majority Leader said, “So let me say this to my Democratic colleagues: If you truly cannot support the nomination of this eminently qualified nominee, then at least allow the bipartisan majority of the Senate that supports Gorsuch to take an up-or-down vote. You already deployed the nuclear option in 2013. Don’t trigger it again in 2017.”

After the vote for cloture had failed by a vote of 55 to 45, McConnell invoked the rules changing “nuclear option.” After a vote to keep the present rules requiring 60 votes had failed 48 to 52, the rules were changed to a simple majority. After a second cloture vote, the motion to advance the nomination passed. The vote ensured Gorsuch would be confirmed after the 30-hour debate period finished.

The vote altered the Senate forever. The only Senate rule left intact requiring 60 votes is for legislation. The nuclear option ensured that bipartisanship was dead in the Senate, neither party when in power could stop the confirmation process for Supreme Court justices. The option already left Democrats powerless to object to any of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Now lifetime appointments affecting the law of the land can be granted with partisan blind faith. Although Gorsuch was qualified and a fitting replacement to Scalia keeping the court balanced, both Democrats and in the future Republicans will remain powerless to stop a candidate less worthy.

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 16, 2017: Not fake, but the news media is sacrificing accuracy for political bias

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Not fake, but the news media is sacrificing accuracy for political bias

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump and his administration have been waging a war with the mainstream media, calling their coverage fake news, while not necessary fake, their coverage is becoming extremely partisan, and the American public agrees. A recent Gallup poll published on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, found that 62 percent of Americans view political bias mostly favoring the Democrats. The numbers represented a stark contrast to 20 years ago when less than 50 percent saw bias in the in the news reporting. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of fake news, the mainstream media is facing similar criticism as fringe news sources because of their partisan and biased viewpoint. The media’s partisanship is also making them sacrifice accuracy for political favoritism and is being scolded not only by President Donald Trump but also by the American public.

According to Gallup’s latest poll, 62 percent of Americans find “the news media generally favors one political party over the other.” While only 27 percent still believe the news media is still non-partisan. The numbers grew in that last 20 years. According to Gallup in 1995, only 47 percent believed the media was politically biased, with 48 percent saying they are politically neutral. By 2001, the numbers were already changing, with 51 percent saying there is a political bias versus 41 percent saying there is none. In 2003, the numbers reversed to 48 percent saying there was bias versus 46 percent saying there was none. The numbers correspond with the growth of the partisan divide in the country between Democrats and Republicans in presidential approval ratings.

Fast forward to 2017, and Americans believe political bias has taken over the news media. Republicans, however, are feeling the bias more than Democrats are. Now, 77 percent of Republicans believe the news media is politically biased, while in 2003, only 59 percent of Republicans felt that way. Somehow, Democrats do not seem to believe the news media is any more biased than it was in 2003, then and now only 44 percent of Democrats believe the media biased.

Democrats might not be feeling the bias because it is usually in their favor. According to the Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans think the news media favors the Democrats, while only 22 percent believe it favors the Republicans. Republicans are overwhelmingly accusing the news media of the bias, with 88 percent feeling that way. The Democrats seem far more oblivious to the partisan bias in their favor, with 43 percent believing there is a bias towards their party, but 40 percent believe there is bias in the media towards Republicans.

Americans have long felt that the media had a liberal/Democratic bias, in 1995, 53 percent felt there was a bias towards Democrats with 36 percent believing the bias was towards Republicans. In 2001, 57 thought it was towards Democrats, 30 percent towards Republicans, in 2003, the numbers were almost even 48 percent for Democrats and 42 percent for Republicans.

The 2016 presidential election, brought to the forefront fake news and inaccurate reporting, problems that have been lingering for a while. The Gallup poll examined the phenomenon among the mainstream media’s reporting practices. According to their findings, 55 percent of Americans find the mainstream news’ reporting “often inaccurate,” while only 36 percent find their report accurate.

The American public’s trust of the media has a complicated history, and the distrust is hardly new. The distrust has been above 50 percent five other times in the past 30 years. Media distrust was high in 1986, during the Iran-Contra Scandal with 55 percent and again in 1990 with 54 percent. At the end of the decade, distrust also hit a high note in 1999, during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment resulting from the Monica Lewinsky scandal with 50 percent of Americans claiming inaccurate reporting.

Again, in 2000, during the controversial presidential election between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush decided by the Supreme Court with 65 percent where there was the highest rate of distrust until now. Then again, in 2003, during the Iraq War, 58 percent of Americans found the news media inaccurate. The divisive and highly partisan election in 2016 between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton again led to feelings of inaccurate reporting. This election saw the most partisan reporting by the mainstream media and inaccurate polls all tipping the election in Clinton’s favor. Newsweek even prematurely released a special election edition of their magazine with the headline Madame President a nod to a history-making Clinton presidency, which they had to withdraw from sale after Trump’s surprise win.

Trump spent the campaign angry at the news media for the biased reporting in Clinton’s favor. Even after they were proved wrong, the media continued attacking Trump and his victory’s legitimacy. Then, barely a month into his presidency, Trump had enough and waged an all-out war with the news media calling the New York Times, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC News “fake news.” The sources Trump called out used to be the most reliable in the business. They included the biggest name in print the New York Times, the first 24-hour cable news channel, CNN and the original big three networks ABC, CBS, and NBC that American considered the gospel before the explosion of the 24-hour news cycle.

Trump went after the mainstream news media on Twitter calling them the “enemy of the American People!” His fight continued in his speeches, particularly at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and shutting them out of a press gaggle with press secretary Sean Spicer. The war culminated in President Trump and the White House boycotting the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner.

If not entirely fake news, the news media have become hyper-partisan as the Gallup poll proved, that it is clouding their dissemination of the facts before the public, clear of political bias or influence, where they have been demonizing the president and every word, he says. Professional journalism condemned the president’s criticism, but he is right. The media bias is not professional or maintaining standards all Americans no matter their political affiliation expects. If they intend to be partisan, they have honestly given a disclaimer saying the reporting is not objective but biased.

Trump is not alone; Americans are expressing their disdain for the current state of the news media. In another Gallup poll released in September looked at the “amount of trust in the media.” The poll found as ABC News recounts, “that only 32 percent of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media — a new low, that includes 51 percent of Democrats, 30 percent of independents and only 14 percent of Republicans.” The numbers were considered a new low, looking at the partisan breakdown the liberal bias in the media caters to Democrats leaving Republicans profoundly alienated. The numbers are the reason why during the election, conservatives overwhelmingly turned to Fox News to escape the liberal bias, catapulting the network to the top of the rating pack.

Today’s news media are harkening back to the early days of the Republic, where partisan presses that were party sponsored flourished, they remained the norm and majority through the 19th century, only at the dawn of the 20th century did independent non-Party aligned presses proliferated. Although Trump might be the most critical president of the news since Richard Nixon, the comparison is hardly accurate. Nixon’s attacks were while he attempted to stave off and cover up Watergate. Trump is a new president speaking out, during a time when partisanship is polarizing the nation as never before.

As aforementioned, the news media overwhelmingly supported Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign to the point of blindly reporting she was ahead in the campaign polls and was going to win the election. Of the newspapers and magazine editorial boards throughout the country 38 endorsed Clinton, while only two endorsed Trump. The news media ignored the mood among the public where three traditionally Democratic blue states turned red, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin handing Trump the election and the presidency. Since Clinton won the popular vote while Trump won the all-important Electoral College vote, liberals have never been able to forgive him, and are vehemently protesting his every word. For the news media, Trump’s campaign was golden, and attacking has proven beneficial to a business level, at the sacrifice of honest reporting.

Political journalism today, eschews facts, relying more on opinion and editorials while claiming it is factual reporting. The problem might be forgivable when it involves bloggers or aggregate news sites that thrive on the sensational, but it becomes problematic when the new sources Americans rely on interjecting the political feeling into their reporting when striving for objectivity is the objective. In the constant competitive 24-hour cycle, digital be clicked to survive the world, journalism is falling into the trap and sacrificing their principles. These days journalists are being too carried away with the old adage if bleeds it leads and taking it to new levels of bleeding a stone just to lead.

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 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: Americans agree with Trump’s America First Inaugural Address

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Americans agree with Trump’s America First Inaugural Address

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Political pundits and the news media may have initially called President Donald Trump inauguration address dark and divisive, but the American public liked it and his American first theme. According to both a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, and a Gallup poll released Sunday, Jan. 22 a majority of Americans liked Trump’s inaugural address. The Politico poll found that 49 percent approved while Gallup found 53 percent did not. The Gallup poll also looked at other reactions from the inauguration, and found it very much a partisan affair but was in tune to recent inaugurations.

According to Politico’s poll, 49 percent that either “watched or heard” the speech thought it was “excellent or good,” a total of 65 percent of Americans “reacted positively” to the speech’s “American First” theme and presidential agenda. Only 39 percent of Americans thought the speech was ‘fair or poor.” Meanwhile, 61 percent agreed with the policy of “”buy American and hire American.” Additionally, Politico’s poll found that “51 percent of voters described the speech as ‘optimistic,’ 46 percent of respondents say the speech was ‘presidential,’ and 44 percent say it was ‘inspiring.’”

After the inauguration, Gallup conducted a poll to gauge the reaction of Americans to the ceremony, Trump becoming president and his inaugural address. In this poll, Trump’s numbers were closer to feelings about recent inaugurations. The survey showed that a significant number of Americans 53 percent said that his speech was “excellent” or “good,” while 20 percent have a negative view saying it was “poor” or “terrible,” with 22 percent saying the address was “just okay.”

Despite the positive reviews, historically inaugural addresses have been well received by more Americans. In 2013, Barack Obama had 65 percent of Americans giving him “excellent/good ratings” and in 2005; George W. Bush had 62 percent. Obama broke the record in 2009 when he was inaugurated as the first African-American president in American history receiving the highest ratings from 81percent of Americans.

According to Gallup’s poll, 39 percents of Americans felt more hopeful, 30 percent felt less hopeful, and 30 percent felt no different. In general, there was a partisan divide on to how hopeful Americans felt, with 78 percent of Republicans feeling that way, while 56 percent of Democrats felt less hopeful. In comparison, during Obama’s second inauguration in 2013, 37 percent of all American voters felt more hopeful, 27 percent less hopeful, and 30 percent no different.

In 2005, When Bush had his second inauguration, 43 percent felt more hopeful, 25 percent less hopeful and 28 percent no different. The exception to this trend was Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, where he ran on hope and made his history with his election, then 62 percent felt more hopeful, only 11 percent felt less hopeful, and 23 percent felt no different.

Additionally, Gallup asked who viewed the inauguration, Trump’s was hardly the most watched inauguration, and neither was it the most watched recently. According to Gallup’s poll, 46 percent of all Americans saw Trump’s inauguration in any format. Additionally, 23 percent saw news or subsequent coverage of the inauguration.

Only Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 beat Trump’s in recent years, Obama had 60 percent viewership for his first inaugural, but only 38 percent for his second, while Bush had 40 percent for his second inauguration. There was a partisan divide in viewership that was not there as much in previous inaugurations except Obama in 2013, with 61 percent of Republican viewing Trump’s inauguration, versus only 35 percent of Democrats.

The voters’ view of Trump’s inauguration and address was a sharp contrast to the news media’s immediate reaction and commentary from pundits and academics all who agreed that Trump was divisive and failed in his first act as president. A majority analyzed that Trump should have gone a different route than his address that closely resembled his campaign rhetoric and stump speeches. The media was wrong again about Trump as they were about his prospects of winning the election. The contrast and two strikes against the news media show that they are too biased against Trump to the point they are risking their credibility, and the possibility that Trump’s presidency will be a success because he is the one more in tune with the American public.

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 January 22, 2017: The Trump era begins amid protest and turmoil

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The Trump era begins amid protest and turmoil

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of American democracy did not seem so peaceful on Inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2017. Americans in Washington, DC, and around the country protested the new President Donald Trump as he took the oath of office and embarked on what is already one of the toughest jobs as the most powerful leader in the world. As Trump was sworn in as president promising to give a “voice” to the “forgotten” and ensure “American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” violence hit the streets in his names, and thousands marched against him taking over the office of the presidency.

As per the protocols of Inauguration day, Trump and his family proceeded from the night stay at Blair House to St. John’s Church for the traditional pre-inauguration services. Afterward, Trump and the future first lady Melanie Trump went to the White House for tea with the outgoing first couple President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle and then traveled to the Capitol for the ceremony together.

With clouds hanging over the Capitol on a somewhat warm winter day, at 11:30 a.m. the Inaugural ceremony began. Mike Pence was sworn in as Vice President first followed by Trump as President. Just as Trump took the podium to give his inaugural address, the rain started. Trump delivered a speech that was reminiscent of some his campaign rhetoric. The new president aimed to unite with his speech, but the populist overtones ran high.

In his short 16-minute inaugural address, the new president laid out an “American First” policy, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

Trump promised “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. And I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down.” Contrasting himself to other Washington politicians he pledged, “The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

Painting a “bleak” picture of America, he vowed, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Trump concluded, with repeating his campaign message and slogan, saying, “Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again.”

The news media and historians have called Trump’s speech divisive many political pundits were even more colorful and extreme in the analysis. Trump, who was still playing to his core constituents was never going to please the Democrats that still objected to his election. From Congress all away to the streets of DC and across the country Democrats protested Trump. Over 50 Democratic Congressional representatives boycotted the inauguration after Trump criticized Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis for calling his presidency illegitimate.

Among Democrats that did attend, at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s behest, representatives wore blue buttons that said “protectourcare” protesting Trump and the Republicans bid to replace Obamacare, the health care law. Adding to the tensions of the day, Trump’s former opponent former first lady Hillary Clinton also attended the ceremony, contrasting with her former rival and her presence increased opposition especially for his detractors.

In the streets of Washington, there were some peaceful protests, but they were overshadowed by the protests that became violent as the day went on. In total, 217 were arrested, and six DC police officer injured from the often riot like behavior. Protestors in black masks smashed store and car windows, put a limo on fire. Others blocked checks points into the inauguration preventing those that wanted to go to the inauguration.

The protests capped on Saturday, Jan. 21, Trump’s first full day in office. Around 500,000 protesters packed the streets of the Capitol for a Women’s March on Washington for equal rights for all and opposed everything Trump stands for and his potential policies not just for women’s rights. The march was mimicked in sister cities in the US, with one million marching and around the world for a total of 673 rallies and 2.5 million protesting worldwide. The march was the largest in American history and will be linked forever in history to Trump’s inauguration.

As Trump sat in prayers services at the National Cathedral and visited the CIA, women donning cat eared hats opposed his mere election and the fact that he was not their choice, Hillary Clinton. Celebrities trashed the president, even threatening him, female representatives from Congress spoke out against him, while Clinton tweeted, “Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values.” On Sunday, Jan. 22, Trump questioned the protesters on Twitter, writing, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Despite the opposition, in between celebrating his inauguration, with festivities such as a post-ceremony Capitol luncheon, a parade, and three inaugural balls, Trump began his duties. The new president formally signed executive orders, nominating his cabinet, ending a mortgage premium cut set to run out, and in the Oval Office ridding the nation of the health care law’s individual mandate, the first step in ending a law Republicans have long opposed.

Trump entered office with one of the lowest approval ratings on record. The opposition was high for Trump’s transition, his cabinet choices, but mostly because he was not a Democrat, he was not the first woman president, and most importantly, he was not Hillary Clinton. During the campaign Clinton chided Trump for expressing that he might not accept the election results if he lost, telling him he had to accept them. In the third presidential debate, Clinton called the thought “horrifying,” preaching, “He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

Clinton, however, has never accepted the results and has silently encouraged her supporters to oppose them as well. Clinton took nearly a day to concede, supported Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s recount efforts and is now basking in her supporters’ protests and outrage. Trump won a majority of states, the king making Electoral College, but he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes to Clinton a point Democrats have used against him, although he was not the first president to win the election without it and certainly will not be last.

The nation is more divided than ever among Democrats and Republicans, a chasm almost as big as the one that led to the Civil War over 150 years ago, resulting in a new ideological civil war between the parties and mostly the American public. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln took office with half the countries’ states seceding from the Union; the president tried to unite with his inaugural address like Trump now there is nothing he could have said that would have prevented war beginning a little over a month after he took office. Trump too is leading a fractured nation; with an electorate that has separated themselves from the country he serves as president insisting he is not their president.

What makes the United States unique is its democracy, its peaceful transfer of power between parties for over two hundred years. One party and its supporters alternately were disappointed for four or eight years until the next transfer of power. Democrats now oppose not just Trump or his policies or possible personal foibles, but the bedrock of American democracy, as they protest and shout this is what Democracy looks like.

Democrats have been spoiled by the Obama years where every lifestyle was granted rights. They now oppose the transfer of power and are essentially calling for the Democratic Party to run the country, a democratic dictatorship. They ignore the fact that the country voted not only a Republican president but Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate, that all over the nation, most state governors and legislatures are Republican controlled.

Democracy worked, and the nation wanted after eight years of a Democratic president, the Republican Party and its long known values and policies. For the nation to not spiral out of control, Democratic leaders have to stand up and put an end to the opposition not feed its fires. Clinton has to denounce her supporters’ opposition, but she never will. Clinton cannot accept her defeat, finds comfort in the support, and protests in her name.

It is Clinton, not Trump, who in the end could not accept the election results and in her selfishness, she is fanning the flames putting the country at risk and rocking the core tenants that made America the shining democratic example to the world. Despite all the criticism, there is nothing President Trump could have said in his inaugural address that would end the divisiveness. Unfortunately, as the protests prove, Clinton garnered more power in losing that winning, without Clinton and the Democrats in Congress calling for unity; President Trump although in the authority is powerless to unite the country he so badly wants to lead.

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 10, 2017: 2016 election is over as Congress certifies Trump’s Electoral College win

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2016 election is over as Congress certifies Trump’s Electoral College win

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Finally, what seemed like the longest and nastiest presidential election in American history is over. On Friday, January 6, 2017, Congress in a joint session certified the Electoral College votes the elected Republican Donald Trump president. Like the campaign, the certification process did not complete without Democrats trying to mount a last minute effort to prevent Trump from becoming president, actions, that Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the count shutdown.

In a process that took an hour, Trump was certified with 304 Electoral Votes rather than 306 with two Texas faithless electors voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the other for former Sen. Ron Paul. Democrat Hillary Clinton ended up with 227 Electoral votes as opposed to the 232 she was supposed to receive after the election returns were counted surprisingly five electors defected from Clinton. According to ABC News Online the “FINAL CERTIFIED TALLY: Donald Trump — 304, Hillary Clinton — 227, Colin Powell — 3, John Kasich — 1, Ron Paul — 1, Bernie Sanders — 1, Faith Spotted Eagle — 1.”

The certification did not go off smoothly as some Democratic representatives from “various states” protested during the process, but they needed a Democratic senator to join their cause in writing, and none wanted to make a “formal complaint.” According to The Hill, the representatives that objected to the Electoral Votes include “Freshman Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.)” and “Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).”

Instead, the representatives just interrupted and annoyed Biden who had to chastise them repeatedly, and according to CNN, they interrupted the Vice President 11 times. Biden scolded them a few times, “There is no debate. There is no debate.” Biden told Rep. Jayapal, “There is no debate, and if it’s not signed by a senator the objection cannot be entertained.”ABC News recounted that he banged the gavel several times to stop one representative from speaking.

The Vice President also gave them a reality check telling the representatives “It is over.” According to the Hill, Biden’s declaration prompted “cheers” from the Republicans who mostly occupied the chamber and even made Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) “laugh.” Thankfully, it is all over after the rollercoaster ride that was the 2016 presidential election.

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 8, 2017: Monica Crowley is hardly alone in high-profile plagiarism cases she is in good company

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Monica Crowley is hardly alone in high-profile plagiarism cases she is in good company

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

It is never a good to discover that a best-selling author and journalist plagiarized even worse when they have a Ph.D. from an Ivy League university and are also the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting Designate for the new Donald Trump Presidential Administration. On Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, CNN published a report accusing Monica Crowley of plagiarizing up to 50 passages from her 2012 book “What The (Bleep) Just Happened” published by “HarperCollins imprint Broadside Books.” CNN says that Crowley copied “columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia” and made only minor changes to the original passages. Even more troubling her book does not have any endnotes or even a bibliography citing her sources. It is surprising that it took so long for her transgressions to be discovered.

Neither Crowley nor her publisher responded to the claims, but Trump’s Transition Team is up until now standing by their “senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council.” Trump’s team issued the following supportive statement, “Monica’s exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the Administration. HarperCollins-one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world-published her book which has become a national best-seller. Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”

This is the second time Trump has had to deal with a plagiarism scandal. This past summer Trump’s wife Melania was accused of plagiarizing her Republican National Convention speech, which resembled all too closely outgoing first Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. The accusations created a media sensation, Melania’s speech was written by a longtime Trump employee, who the then-Republican presidential nominee refused to fire.

According to CNN among the sources, Crowley plagiarized from including the following Investopedia, The Mises Institute, and “National Review author Andrew C. McCarthy.” Crowley lifted passages from well- known columnists including “Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin, Stephen Moore, Karl Rove, and Ramesh Ponnuru.” Crowley also copied from the most known news publications including, “the Associated Press, the New York Times, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the BBC, and Yahoo News.”

As CNN noted this is not Crowley first time is facing plagiarism charges, in 1999 Slate accused Crowley of copying passages from her recent Wall Street Journal articles from another article published in 1988 from Commentary Magazine. At the time, Crowley denied the charges, and it seemed to be a blip on her career, but this time the accusations are far more damaging.

Crowley is as CNN described her as a “syndicated radio host, columnist, and, until recently, a Fox News contributor.” Crowley began her career as an assistant to former President Richard Nixon during his post-presidency years. Crowley started working for Nixon after college and worked according to Wikipedia as an “editorial adviser and consultant on Nixon’s last two books.” Crowley is a graduate of Colgate University and received her doctorate in international relation in 2000 from Columbia University with the dissertation, “Clearer Than Truth”: Determining and Preserving Grand Strategy: The Evolution of American Policy Toward the People’s Republic of China under Truman and Nixon.”

Crowley is the author of three books, two on Nixon,1998’s “Nixon in Winter: His Final Revelations about Diplomacy, Watergate, and Life out of the Arena” and 1996’s “Nixon Off the Record: His Candid Commentary on People and Politics.” In 2012 Crowley had “What the (Bleep) Just Happened . . . Again?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback” published the New York Times best-selling book at the center of a plagiarism scandal.

Additionally, Crowley has had a long career as a journalist in print, radio, and television. She has written columns and articles for the New York Post, “The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, and The Washington Times.” Crowley had a radio show on National Public Radio and now a podcast on iTunes. On television, she has spent most of her career affiliated with Fox News and for a brief time on MSNBC.

Oxford Dictionaries defines plagiarism as “The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” Historian Stephen Oates writing on the History News Network describes the severity of being accused of plagiarism, “Plagiarism is the most serious charge that can be made against an author; the accusation alone is so lethal that it can do irreparable damage to a writer’s career.”

The History News Network published a page “Historians on the Hot Seat” looking at the scandals in particularly among professional historians including plagiarism. HNN listed 18 historians some well-known accused of plagiarism or “manipulating” or manufacturing information in their articles or books. The historians include: Stephen AmbroseMichael BellesilesPaul BuhleDonald CucciolettaPhilip FonerDoris Kearns GoodwinLeonard F. GuttridgeStanley I. KutlerAnn LaneBryan Le Beau, David McCullough, S. Walter PoulshockLouis RobertsR. Fred RuhlmanDon Heinrich TolzmannBenson TongBrian VanDeMark, and Matthew Whitaker. Additionally, the Plagiarism Today blog operated by copyright and plagiarism consultant Jonathan Bailey regularly lists plagiarism scandals in all writing fields.

Accusations of plagiarism are often the kiss of death for journalists, authors and academics the intellectual equivalent of a criminal charge. Time Magazine recently listed the six of the most “notable cases of plagiarism” They included a politician, mostly journalists and even a novelist. Vice President Joe Biden’s 1987 accusations of plagiarizing speeches and during law school of copying pages in a Fordham law review article which prematurely ended his 1988 run for the Democratic nomination.

Journalism’s biggest scandal revolved around New York Times Reporter Jayson Blair in 2003, where he made up almost everything in half of his articles including “sources, quotes, events” and even where he “reported” them. In 2007, while working for CBS News Katie Couric had issues revolving her web producer who wrote blog posts in her name, where the producer copied an article, the problem was twofold, the plagiarism and that Couric was not writing her posts. In 2012, New Yorker writer Jonah Lehrer was accused of recycling his writing for the New Yorker from his writings for other publications and making up quotes in his book “Imagine How Creativity Works.”

CNN and Washington Post Journalist Fareed Zakaria was accused in 2014 of “serial plagiarism” flagrantly copying other’s work in his articles, books and on television without any attributions. Author Alex Haley even faced plagiarism charges for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Roots;” courts determined that Haley had copied “ideas, names, and direct passages” from Harold Courlander’s “The African” (1967) prompting Haley to make a financial settlement. Of those only Blair and Lehrer’s career suffered in the long-term, but each author whether journalist, novelist or politician faced immediate ramifications that set back their careers or their pocket book.

The problem is academics with doctorates are often at the center of these scandals as previously noted; they should know the most about properly citing their sources and crediting fellow authors with quotations, endnotes, and bibliographies having gone through the arduous dissertation process and even a couple of published books. Academics are often the sloppiest using their academic reputations as a means of dismissing the charges or even blaming it on their assistants. Accusations run the gamut from misattributing quotes, to the worst of the charges such as Crowley copying passages word for word without quoting and citing and passing those passages and ideas as her own.

In the effects for academic like Crowley who has a doctorate can be more severe. One of Academia’s most famous plagiarism cases involved Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who was accused in 2002 by the Weekly Standard of plagiarizing in her best-selling 1987 book “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga.” First Kearns Goodwin did not comment on the charges of not attributing sources, but more accusations surfaced including that she paid off one of the author’s she plagiarized. She then admitted the improper citations were unintentional an article published in Time Magazine which Forbes called “self-serving,” calling it all an error.

During the scandal, it emerged she also plagiarized in her 1994 and Pulitzer Prize-winning “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.” Kearns Goodwin promised to revise her books to correct the lack of citations. Kearns Goodwin was let go from her position as Commentator for PBS’s “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” and for awhile she was not welcome in historical and commentating circles. Three years later, she published “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which completely rehabilitated her career, garnering her a Lincoln Prize in 2005 and the New-York Historical Society’s inaugural American History Book Prize and 2012 was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Steven Spielberg.

Not all authors are as lucky as Kearns Goodwin for many plagiarism high profile cases like hers tarnishes their career forever. Historian and Arizona State University Professor Matthew Whitaker had his career go down the drain from repeated plagiarism accusations. Whitaker was first accused of plagiarism in 2012 over his 2011 book “Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West” Whitaker dismissed the accusations as amounting to racism. ASU determined passages were copied, but they ended the issue until 2015 when Whitaker again faced accusations of plagiarism for his 2014 book, “Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.” ASU decided to demote Whitaker associate professor until a third accusation arise that he copied power point presentations he created for the Phoenix Police Department. ASU then forced Whitaker to resign from his post.

Plagiarism cases similar to Crowley’s happen all the time, whether in academia, journalism or even literature. Many plagiarism cases go under the radar not getting the publicity they should because the authors are not nearly as well- known, in these cases neither does the authors they copied get their due without the court of public opinion weighing in on the controversies, letting the plagiarists get away easier. The higher profile case usually, the larger backlash against the accused. Recent history has proven that not all cases end up in career death forever, most, however, are punished at least for a while their transgression.

Considering Trump’s case with the plagiarizing speechwriting for his wife’s RNC speech it is highly unlikely he will fire Crowley, but neither should she think she will so easily be welcome back to the writing and commentary world once she leaves the government sector. Like the zero tolerance policies, universities have in place there should be zero tolerance to plagiarism in the professional world. If one does not know how to write, cite their sources or have ideas of their own they should not be writing in the first place, and if they plagiarize publications should refuse to publish their works in the future, then everyone would learn the lesson. Without clamping down plagiarism is going to continue and like this, writers would think twice before stealing others work.

Sources:

“Doris Kearns Goodwin,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Kearns_Goodwin

“Doris Kearns Goodwin And The Credibility Gap,” Forbes, February 27, 2002. http://www.forbes.com/2002/02/27/0227goodwin.html

“Historians on the Hot Seat,” History News Network, April 23, 2010. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1081

“Monica Crowley,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Crowley

Alicia Adamczyk, “Notable Cases of Plagiarism (Other Than Melania Trump’s),” Time Money, July 20, 2016. http://time.com/money/4413480/melania-trump-plagiarism-high-profile/

Jonathan Bailey, “5 Biggest Plagiarism Stories of 2016 (So Far),” Plagiarism Today, January 20, 2016. https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2016/01/20/5-biggest-plagiarism-stories-of-2016-so-far/

Andrew Kaczynski, “Trump national security pick Monica Crowley plagiarized multiple sources in 2012 book,” CNN Money, January 7, 2017. http://money.cnn.com/interactive/news/kfile-trump-monica-crowley-plagiarized-multiple-sources-2012-book/

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 10, 2017: Republicans face in backlash on the first day of 115th Congress

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Republicans face in backlash on the first day of 115th Congress

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Congress convened on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, for the 115th session and the first of Donald Trump’s administration in a rocky start. Even before the session officially started it began with controversy for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives who went against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and voted on Tuesday, Jan. 2 to “weaken” the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, before reversing their course the next day after Trump voiced his disapproval.

On Monday evening, GOP members of the House voted 119–74, to place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under House Ethics Committee at their conference meeting as part of their new rules package. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) were against the changes that immediate faced a backlash and bad press for the new GOP majority.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also spoke out against the GOP’s plan. Pelosi wrote in a statement released after the GOP reversed their vote, “House Republicans showed their true colors last night, and reversing their plans to destroy the Office of Congressional Ethics will not obscure their clear contempt for ethics in the People’s House. Republicans should remember the strength of public outrage they faced in the space of 12 hours as they scheme to do lasting damage to the health and economic security of millions and millions of hard-working families.” The OCE was created in 2008 under Pelosi’s speakership and acts as an independent non-partisan office investigating any Congressional wrongdoing.

The proposal was authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The changes would have prevented the OCE from investigating any criminal wrongdoing . Instead any issue would have had to be sent to the House Ethics Committee or law enforcement, and the HEC would have been given the power to cease any investigation. Additionally, the OCE would have ignored anonymous tips on wrongdoing essentially ending whistleblowing, and the changes would have stripped the office of a communication director aimed at hushing any wrongdoing in Congress and hiding it from the press and public. The concept was the exact opposite of Trump’s promise to drain Washington swamp, instead, it would have made it easier to fill the swamp and keep it all hidden.

The next morning the President-elect let his disapproval be known in two tweets. Trump wrote, “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it…their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!” Trump also used the Hashtag #DTS, “Drain the Swamp,” one of his campaign slogans, that he reiterated after the campaign that he would try to keep during his presidency. A senior GOP aide told CNN just how much Trump’s disapproving tweets altered the GOP’s course on the issue, “It’s safe to say that Trump’s tweets probably added to that pressure but it was already being heavily covered in the press.”

Soon after the Republican conference held an emergency meeting reversing their course. Before noon, on Tuesday the GOP conference voted to take out the changes to the ethics office from the 115th Congress’ rules package that was later voted on in the afternoon. Incoming House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) still believes the OCE needs to be reformed but in a bipartisan matter and will bring the matter up later in the session.

Ryan assured the public in a statement explaining what the GOP representatives planned was not meant that the party would stifle abuses of power. In a statement, the speaker explained, “After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission. I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress.”

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.