OTD in History… June 20, 1963, President Kennedy establishes direct hotline to the Soviet Union

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OTD in History… June 20, 1963, President Kennedy establishes direct hotline to the Soviet Union

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history, June 20, 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement creating a direct hotline between the two countries, which President John F. Kennedy had negotiated after the slow exchange of messages during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis put the countries at the precipice of nuclear war. The hotline still exists between the United States and Russia; however, the technology has been updated three times since the agreement was signed in 1963.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis the previous October 16–28, 1962, the US and Soviet Union had a confrontation over each other’s nuclear weapons. The Americans had weapons stored in Italy and Turkey and the Soviets were planning to transport nuclear weapons to Cuba, in order to deter another American invasion like the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. After a U-2 spy plane discovered the missile facilities in Cuba, President Kennedy ordered a blockade to deter any further ballistic missiles reaching Cuba and demanding the Soviets dismantle those already in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union. The negotiations between the two nations were long and tense. It took 12 hours for the Kennedy Administration to “receive and decode” Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev’s 3,000-word settlement. The administration drafted a reply and in the interim, the Soviets sent another message demanding the US to remove their missiles in Turkey.

Quicker communications between the US and Russia might have resolved the crisis more swiftly and with less threat of a nuclear war. The nations decided to establish a “hotline” for faster and direct communications to avert further crises. In June 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed hotline agreement formally called the “Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link.” The agreement outlined, “For use in time of emergency the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have agreed to establish as soon as technically feasible a direct communications link between the two Governments.”

On June 20, President Kennedy released a statement about the hotline, saying, “This age of fast-moving events requires quick, dependable communications for use in time of emergency…. both Governments have taken a first step to help reduce the risk of war occurring by accident or miscalculation. This agreement on a communications link is a limited but practical step forward in arms control and disarmament.” August 30, 1963, was the first time the system was used. The phrase the US sent was “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890,” because it utilized the entire alphabet and numerals.

The hotline was not a “red telephone” but encrypted messages sent through telegraph wires and using teletype machines. The system consisted of “two terminal points with teletype equipment, a full-time duplex wire telegraph circuit and a full-time radiotelegraph circuit.” Kennedy would send a telephone message to the Pentagon, where they would encrypt the message and then send it through a transmitter. The US first used the hotline to notify the Soviet of Kennedy’s assassination. President Lyndon Johnson, however, was the first president to use the hotline. In 1967, he responded then-Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin during the Six Day War in the Middle East. Johnson warned the Soviet leader who was supporting the Arab nations that he was considering sending the Air Force to aid Israel.

In 1984, the hotline changed over to fax machines, while since 2008 it has been through secure emails on a computer network. The system has worked, and never has the two countries ever been at the precipice of nuclear war as they had been in 1962. In 2010, President Barack Obama joked that social media was replacing the hotline, “We may be able to finally throw away those red phones that have been sitting around for so long.” Recently American relations with Russia have turned frosty under Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the US should not consider retiring those phones just yet.

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.

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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.

Education August 25, 2017: Malia Obama officially moves in to Harvard University freshmen dorms

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Malia Obama officially moves in to Harvard University freshmen dorms

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Photo: B Scott / @lovebscott Twitter

Former President Barack Obama’s eldest daughter Malia Obama officiallyjoined Harvard University’s Class of 2021. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, Malia moved into Harvard’s freshmen dorms. The former president and first lady Michele Obama helped their daughter move into her dorm in Yards reserved for freshman. The move was low key, with Malia looking to fit in rather than outshine her fellow classmates. Former President Obama and First Lady Michelle were seen helping their daughter with boxes and leaving her dorm building after Malia was settled in. The president was spotted the same day at Harvest restaurant in Harvard Square.

Malia is Harvard legacy both the president and first lady attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where the president made history as the first African American Harvard Law Review editor. The country’s most prestigious and oldest college was home to many famous alumni, including eight former presidents and a number presidential children including two that went on to become president, John Quincy Adams, and George W. Bush. Malia will hardly be the only famous Harvard freshmen on campus this year, actress Yara Shahidi is also attending, and even received a letter of recommendation from the former first lady. Shahidi stars in ABC’s “Black-ish” but deferred enrollment until 2018 while she films the spin off “Adult-ish.”

Last year, the Obamas said they did not press their daughter to attend an Ivy League university. Former President Obama relayed they told Malia, “I don’t want them to think, ‘Oh I should go to these top schools.’ We live in a country where there are thousands of amazing universities. So, the question is: What’s going to work for you?” The president advised his daughter “not to stress too much” and reminded her “Just because it’s not some name-brand, famous, fancy school doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a great education there.” In the end, Malia opted for the Ivy League crown jewel that tops national and international university rankings.

The former first daughter, 19 graduated high school in 2016 and was accepted that year but decided to take a gap year. In the past year, her father left office, her family moved out of the White House. In the fall, Malia went on a trip to Bolivia and Peru, the Boulder, Colo. company Where There Be Dragons that specializes in gap year and summer programs. Since her father left office, she interned at the Weinstein Company, attended the Sundance Film Festival, protested the Dakota Access pipeline project and vacationed in Aspen, Colorado. Malia then spent her summer on family vacations in Bali and Martha’s Vineyard and rocked out at Chicago’s Lollapalooza.

Malia has shown an interest in film, having had two other internships on television shows. In summer 2014, Malia was a production assistant for CBS’ now cancelled sci-fi series “Extant” starring Halle Berry, and in the summer of 2015, Malia interned on Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls. Her interests are sparking speculation as to what her major or concentration would be while at Harvard.

Boston Globe reporter Steve Annear attempted to score an interview and approached Obama’s eldest daughter. Malia “declined” the interview, and explained “I can’t,” but as Annear recounted she “politely returned a handshake.” Tuesday, Aug. 22 was Harvard’s official move-in day for freshmen, but students who needed to were allowed “to move in a day early, based on travel schedules, athletic schedules, or other needs.” Freshmen orientations began on Tuesday, while classes start on Aug. 30. Annear was the only one who approached the former first daughter for her celebrity; instead, she appeared speaking with fellow freshmen.

Still, Twitter was filled with tweets from her classmates broadcasting Malia sightings and catching photos of her parents on campus. One student went overboard on Twitter with her excitement as she saw her brother chatting with Malia, posting a couple of tweets and a photo declaring “My brother and Malia are about to be besties,” facing a backlash the student deleted her tweets.

During Malia’s senior year, President Obama told Ellen DeGeneres, “Malia is more than ready to leave, but I’m not ready for her to leave.” When asked about speaking at her graduation, the then president replied, “Malia’s school asked if I wanted to speak at commencement and I said ‘Absolutely not.’ I’m going to be wearing dark glasses, sobbing.” Both the former president and first lady were spotted leaving Malia’s dorm wearing sunglasses although it was dark outside, attempting to cover their emotions at dropping off their first born at college.

Related: Malia Obama to join Harvard’s Class of 2021 in fall 2017 after gap 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 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.

Wikipedia

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.

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

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Lincoln may be on top but presidential rankings remain controversial

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

Credit: Whitehouse.gov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full overall rankings from CSPAN’s 2017 survey:

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

Party support divide among recent presidents:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Politics January 23, 2017: Obama leaves office with average approval ratings how will his legacy fare?

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Obama leaves office with average approval ratings how will his legacy fare?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Obama White House

Barack Obama is leaving the presidency popular and with a high approval rating, but his term average is lower than other recent presidents. According to a Gallup Poll released on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, the day Obama left office his final approval rating and the average for his presidency. According to Gallup Obama’s last approval rating was 59 percent, but his average is much lower at just under 48 percent with 47.9. With the President Obama’s final poll numbers set in stone, it is becoming easier to determine how he ranks against his predecessors, what his legacy will be and how history will look at him.

According to earlier Gallup poll on Obama’s favorability published on Monday, Jan. 16, Obama has a 58 percent favorability rating, when he entered office in 2009 the president had 79 percent favorability his highest. In general, Obama has averaged a 53 percent favorability rating; his first year was his best where he had a 55 to 69 percent rating, and most recently after the 2016 election where Obama saw a 61 and 62 percent favorability rating. At his lowest, the president had a 42 percent rating just after the 2014 mid-term elections, where the GOP regained control of the Senate and saw momentum.

Of the four presidents, Gallup tracked favorability ratings, Obama will see himself in second place after Republican George H.W. Bush, who left office in 1993 after losing his reelection bid, but still managed to have 62 percent favorability by January 1993. Ranking after Obama is Democrat Bill Clinton who had 57 percent favorability in January 2001. Only Republican George W. Bush embattled by two long and unpopular wars and an economic collapse fared the worst, with only a 40 percent favorability rating.

Obama’s favorability rating is on par with his approval rating, where last scored a 59 percent according to the Jan. 17–19 Gallup Daily tracking, with a 57 in his last weekly poll. Obama had an average of 49.1 percent approval rating for his first term and a 46.7 percent for his second term. Obama tied for second place with the smallest approval rating range, which was only 31 percent. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961) also had a 31 percent range, but John F. Kennedy, who died tragically in office, had the smallest range of only 24 percent.

Obama’s last weekly approval rating puts him in the high range of departing approval ratings of post-World War II presidents. Bill Clinton in 2001 had the highest exit approval rating with 66 percent. Next Reagan had 63 percent in December 1988; Obama comes in third with 59 percent, tying with Eisenhower with 59 percent in 1961 and Kennedy who had a 58 percent approval rating just before his assassination n November 1963. Of the recent presidents, George H.W. Bush with 56 percent in 1993 and George W. Bush, who only had a 34 percent approval rating the week before Obama took office in January 2009.

Despite this recent uptick in popularity Obama will not leave office as one of the most popular presidents, in fact, his term approval rating will only sit below 50 percent at only 47.9 percent. Obama’s highest approval rating was 69 percent just after his inauguration, Jan 22–24, 2009, with the highest weekly average that week with 67 percent. Obama’s lowest point was a three-day average of 38 percent approval rating “Eight times, most recently Sep 2–5, 2014,” with a lowest weekly average of 40 percent, which Obama saw 12 times during his presidency “most recently Nov 3–9, 2014.”

Of the 12 post-World War II presidents, Obama sits at ninth place. Obama’s numbers never really went far high or very low accounting for his low position. Gallup analyzed that Obama “subpar approval ratings for much of his presidency.” Gallup noted that Obama started out with high numbers for an incoming president but after his first year in office his numbers to around 50 percent and staying below the “majority level” until he just before his reelection in 2012 in his 16th quarter in office.

After his second inauguration Obama’s approval numbers fell to the 40s, and during that period, he saw his lowest numbers. With his presidency close to ending a contentious presidential election going on did Obama’s numbers rebound in 2016 his last year in office where he again saw numbers over 50 percent. As Gallup indicates, Obama’s “32nd and final quarter job approval average of 55.7% was his third-highest as president.”

The following is the term averages:

1. John Kennedy (January 1961-November 1963) 70.1
2. Dwight Eisenhower (January 1953-January 1961) 65.0
3. George H.W. Bush (January 1989-January 1993) 60.9
4. Lyndon Johnson (November 1963-January 1969) 55.1
5. Bill Clinton (January 1993-January 2001) 55.1
6. Ronald Reagan (January 1981-January 1989) 52.8
7. George W. Bush (January 2001-January 2009) 49.4
8. Richard Nixon (January 1969-August 1974) 49.0
9. Barack Obama (January 2009-January 2017) 48
10. Gerald Ford (August 1974-January 1977) 47.2
11. Jimmy Carter (January 1977-January 1981) 45.5
12. Harry Truman (April 1945-January 1953) 45.4

Despite the rankings, Obama’s lowest approval rating was only 38 percent, which he saw in August and October 2011, “after contentious negotiations over the debt ceiling limit and subsequent downgrading of the U.S. credit rating.” Obama saw a 38 percent approval rating again in September 2014, when as Gallup indicates, terrorist group ISIS beheaded American journalists, and after a particularly tense summer in the US, with racial tension, and international conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and Israel with the Palestinians. Most post-war presidents saw approval rating lower than Obama with five below 30 percent. Only Eisenhower and Kennedy never saw number lower than the 40s.

The out-going president had the third highest job approval low of all post-war presidents.

Job approval lows:

1. John Kennedy (September 1963) 56
2. Dwight Eisenhower (March 1958) 48
3. Barack Obama (2011, 2014) 38
4. Bill Clinton (June 1993) 37
5. Gerald Ford (January 1975 and March 1975) 37
6. Lyndon Johnson (August 1968) 35
7. Ronald Reagan (January 1983) 35
8. George H.W. Bush (July 1992) 29
9. Jimmy Carter (June 1979) 28
10. George W. Bush (October 2008) 25
11. Richard Nixon (July 1974 and August 1974) 24
12. Harry Truman (February 1952) 22

President Obama’s low overall ranking is also because he has never had high peaks in his approval ratings, and only ranks ninth in job approval highs, with 67 percent. Only Nixon and Reagan also never saw approval ratings over 70 percent during their presidencies. Obama’s presidency never had a “rally event” a threat to public security as Gallup calls it that bolsters an approval rating to very high numbers. The only thing Obama had that was close was when his administration caught “Osama bin Laden in May 2011,” but then Obama’s approval rating only bumped up to 52 percent.

Job approval highs:

1. George W. Bush (September 2001) 90
2. George H.W. Bush (February 1991) 89
3. Harry Truman (June 1945) 87
4. John Kennedy (April 1961) 83
5. Dwight Eisenhower (December 1956) 79
6. Lyndon Johnson (February 1964) 79
7. Jimmy Carter (March 1977) 75
8. Bill Clinton (December 1998) 73
9. Ronald Reagan (May 1981 and May 1986) 68
10. Barack Obama (January 2009) 69
11. Richard Nixon (November 1969 and January 1973) 67
12. Gerald Ford (August 1974) 71

Obama average approval and favorability numbers come as historians will start assessing his presidency as a complete picture. Gallup analyzes that “Obama’s average job approval rating for his entire presidency was lackluster.” The poll blames it on the lack of a rally event and polarization caused by Republican opposition throughout his term.

Still speaking of the relation between Obama’s approval rating and ranking in history, Gallup concluded, “A president’s overall approval average is one indication of how well he did his job, but often a president’s ratings at the end of his presidency have a greater impact on how he is remembered. Reflecting this, Americans believe that Obama will be judged more positively than negatively by history, and predict he will go down in history as a better president than several of his predecessors who had higher average approval ratings.”

Although it is still early, Obama ranking as president and afterward might not be the same, Obama was not able to accomplish all that he wanted to as president because of his and the Republican Congress’s impasses and stubbornness, and a growing partisan divide. Obama was a go it alone president making his mark through executive actions, with just eight alone in his last month as president. Still, he failed to reform immigration neither through Congress, not through executive action, which the Supreme Court struck down.

Still, in his first year as president, he accomplished what no other modern president could a health care law, the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. The GOP will try to repeal it, but they will face resistance from a public who views it as part of the rights. Obama’s other greatest accomplishment is turning around the economy from a great recession to a flourishing economy with the lowest employment rate in decades. He reformed the education law and saw the nation’s highest high school graduate rates, Obama also believed in second chances, reforming federal sentencing laws, and granting more clemencies and commuting more non-violent drug sentences than any previous president.

According to a recent article in the New Orleans Tribune, “Historians Rank President Obama’s Legacy” historians see psychological effects as part of his success. Obama broke boundaries as the first black president; he was also a professor president who was “disciplined” and often made unpopular decisions, which he saw fit. Obama believed in the American people being the best they can, which was behind his 2008 campaign slogan, “Yes We Can;” he made Americans hope and believe they all could aspire to equality and even the highest office in the land.

We are still too early to assess Obama’s place in history and ranking among the presidents. Time magazine in their article “The One Reason We Can’t Assess President Obama’s Place in History,” spoke to three prominent presidential historians, Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton, Timothy Naftali, Clinical Associate Professor of History and Public Service at NYU and Doris Kearns Goodwin. All three agreed that perspective, context and time are necessary to assess Obama’s legacy to see how his policies and accomplishments hold up.

As Zelizer told Time, “Those policies have to last to be significant, they can’t fade away. If a president does a lot of things that are still around two decades later, I think that’s a great measure of whether a President’s been successful.” Naftali believes that “presidents’ reputations… improve with time,” and Kearns Goodwin says what is important is “whatever historically ends up helping towards social justice or economic opportunity.”

Just as his soaring hallmark rhetoric, Obama had so much potential for greatness, but like his ratings, in the end, he came off as just average according to the numbers. Only in the years, ahead looking back with clearer and less rose-colored views will historians really be able to see how much or if Obama truly changed the country during his tenure.

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 18, 2017: Obama leaves office beloved with high favorability ratings

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Obama leaves office beloved with high favorability ratings

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Barack Obama is leaving the presidency popular and with a high favorability rating, just not as high as he entered the office. According to a Gallup Poll released on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, Obama’s favorability is the second highest of all presidents since 1992, when they began looking at favorability. Obama’s favorability is on par with his approval rating. The president is not even the most popular member of his outgoing administration, First Lady Michelle Obama has a higher favorability as most first ladies do and even Vice President Joe Biden is proving more popular.

According to the Gallup poll, Obama has a 58 percent favorability rating, when he entered office in 2009 the president had 79 percent favorability his highest. In general, Obama has averaged a 53 percent favorability rating. His first year was his best where he had a 55 to 69 percent rating, and most recently after the 2016 election where Obama saw a 61 and 62 percent favorability rating. At his lowest, Gallup notes, the President Obama had a 42 percent rating just after the 2014 mid-term elections, where the GOP regained control of the Senate and saw momentum in the House and general support.

Of the four presidents, Gallup tracked favorability ratings for, Obama will see himself in second place after Republican George H.W. Bush, who left office in 1993 after losing his reelection bid, but still managed to have 62 percent favorability by January 1993. Ranking after Obama is Democrat Bill Clinton who had 57 percent favorability in January 2001. Only Republican George W. Bush embattled by two long and unpopular wars and an economic collapse fared the worst, with only a 40 percent favorability rating.

First Ladies are history more popular than their president husbands are, and Michelle Obama is no exemption to that rule. First Lady Michelle has maintained her favorability during the last eight years, entering in 2009 with a 68 percent rating and leaving with the same number. Mrs. Obama’s highest numbers were two months into the presidency where she saw a 72 percent rating.

Vice President Biden sees his best numbers to date leaving office with a 61 percent favorability rating. Biden’s popularity seems to be recent, at his highest point after the 2008 election, the VP only had a 59 percent rating, and throughout the Obama administration Biden only saw a 38 to 49 percent favorability rating, his number only rose after the 2016 election where they hit 57 percent and kept climbing.

Obama higher favorability ratings in the lame duck quarter of his presidency are on par with improving approval rating, where he last scored a 59 percent according to the Jan. 17–19 Gallup Daily tracking, with a 57 in his last weekly poll. Obama had an average of 47.9 percent for his both terms in office, 49.1 percent approval rating for his first term, and a 46.7 percent for his second term. At his highest point, Obama had a 69 percent approval rating in January 2009, and at his lowest points he had 38 percent in August and October 2011, and then again in September
2014.

Gallup called Obama’s approval rating average “sub-par” and “lackluster,” but they “predict he will go down in history as a better president than several of his predecessors who had higher average approval ratings.” President Obama was always more popular personally than was his policies and accomplishments; he ends his presidency the same way well liked by an American public anxious about the future administration and nostalgic for the last one.

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CNN

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

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

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

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2016 Top 10:

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

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

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

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2016 Top 10:

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

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

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

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

Politics December 10, 2016: Congress passes spending bill again at the last minute averts government shutdown

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Congress passes spending bill again at the last minute averts government shutdown

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Congress seems to love to create suspense and putting the government on the verge of a shutdown, this time, however, it was the Democrats fault as opposed to the Republicans. With an hour to spare on Friday evening, Dec. 9, 2016, Senate passed a 1.1 trillion stopgap spending bill funding the government until April 28, 2017. The bill passed 63–36 with Democrats representing the dissenting votes. Some Democrats threatened a shutdown over health care benefits for miners. The House passed the bill on Thursday, Dec. 9 with a vote of 326–96.

The legislation marks last major bill of the 114th Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was speaking of his first session helming the Senate on the floor, “This Congress, the Senate has passed nearly 300 bills, and nearly 200 of those are now law. But what really matters isn’t the number of bills passed, it’s what we can achieve on behalf of the American people. And by that standard, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for our country.

Senate Democrats found were willing to risk a government shutdown over the bill, not including retirement benefits for retired coal miners and only a four-month extension of the health benefits rather than a full year. The problem the miners in Appalachian states receive their termination notice three months in advance, meaning they would receive their letters notifying them of the end of the healthcare in January.

Senators from coal mining states objected with Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia leading the charge. Additionally, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) followed with support. All are facing tough re-elections in the 2018 midterms in states President-elect and Republican Donald Trump won.

Manchin argued to change the bill on the Senate floor, “I rise today fighting for the working men and women that we all use in our commercials. Every one of us goes out and basically tries to attract working men and women to vote for us because we say we’re coming here to fight for you.”

McConnell argued that bill received bipartisan support in the House and since the house left for the end of session Christmas recess the government would shut down. The majority leader expressed on the Senate floor, “While some Senate Democrats may want to delay into a shutdown, House Democrats overwhelmingly rejected that approach.”

The rest of the Democrats including the incoming Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-NY) did not want to take a risk and shut down the government. As the midnight deadline neared Schumer indicated, “We’re not going to shut down the government. We’re going to keep it open. We’re going to provide the votes so we don’t shut down.”

Manchin did not have the 41 votes needed to block the bill, but he wanted to delay its passage. Speaking at a press conference, Manchin said, “I don’t think we’re gonna get to the 41 [votes] as of tonight, but we have support to take this fight on.” The tide turned when at 7 p.m. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) abandoned the effort declaring, “We are not going to shut down the government over this issue.” President Barack Obama signed the bill soon after the Senate passed it.

Now negotiations for omnibus spending bills for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year falls into the lap of the incoming President Donald Trump. Trump promised to cut the deficit by getting rid of the “tremendous waste, fraud and abuse.” The new Senate has a busy schedule confirming Trump’s cabinet and a new Supreme Court nominee; they wanted Trump to accept and continuing resolution for the entire year and avoid the 100-day crunch, but he did not want to wait.

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

Politics November 8, 2016: Clinton and Trump make closing arguments at last rallies of 2016 campaign

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Clinton and Trump make closing arguments at last rallies of 2016 campaign

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Chicago Tribune

After more two years, the 2016 presidential campaign is ending. Late Monday evening, Nov. 7, 2016, into the early hours of Tuesday, Nov. 8, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made their final cases to the American voters at their last rallies of the campaign cycle. The candidates held a marathon number of rallies during the last days of the campaign hoping to persuade voters in battleground states that they should be the next president. Clinton ended on a positive note, Trump a more negative tone as both candidates remained close in polls that showed conflicting results entering Election Day.

Clinton made her final rally in the ever more critical battleground state of North Carolina. Clinton spoke to 6,000 supporters at the rally held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she had a little help from some famous friends, singers Jon Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga, who also performed. Clinton hoped to appeal to millennials to help put her over the edge.

Clinton alluded to Bon Jovi’s performance and biggest hit in her remarks. Clinton expressed,
“Well, I got to tell you this is sure worth staying you up for. And you know between now and the time that the poll closes tomorrow, we’re going to be living on a prayer.” Clinton, who ran a campaign made of attacks mostly on her opponent wanted to strike a more positive tone at the end of her historic campaign. The Democratic nominee wanted to contrast herself from Trump’s “dark and divisive vision for America.”

Clinton called on voters, “Tomorrow, we face the test of our time. So if you believe America thrives when the middle class thrives, then you have to vote… If you believe we should make the biggest investment in new jobs since WWII … you have to vote. For the last words of her campaign, Clinton concluded, “If you believe we need more fairness in our economy… If you believe in science … If you believe we need to reform our criminal justice system … If you believe we need to do more to support working families … Let’s go vote North Carolina!”

Earlier in the evening, Clinton “held her biggest rally of the cycle in Pennsylvania” accompanied by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, her husband former President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea. Clinton hosted 20,000 supporters at Independence Hall in Philadelphia where Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi performed. Clinton is keeping up with her positive message ending, apologized for the campaign’s nastiness, saying, “I regret deeply how angry the tone of the campaign became.” The Democratic nominee pointed out the negative words coming from her opponent’s campaign. Clinton then asked supporters, “Let’s show tomorrow there will be no question about the outcome of this election!”

Obama gave a resounding endorsement passing the torch to his former Secretary of State. The President expressed, “We now have the chance to elect a 45th president who will build on our progress who will finish the job … who is smart, who is steady and who is tested. She will work, she will deliver. She won’t just tweet.” Obama asked voters “America, I am betting on you one more time.” The president a notorious and energetic campaigner, who loves the game, has been a top surrogate for Clinton making arguments in Florida and Michigan. While the First Lady who has been Clinton’s campaign secret weapon told the crowd, “We are one day away from once again from making history… This election is on us. It is in our hands. If we get out and vote tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will win.”

Meanwhile, Trump held his last of a marathon of rallies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Midwest state has not voted Republican since 1988, but Trump’s popularity with blue-collar workers has put the state in play. Trump’s simple but full rally contrasted with the caravan of celebrities that have performed concerts and campaigned for Clinton in the final for Trump it has always been the been the supporters who have stuffed his rallies in record number that have been the most important, as the nominee himself is a one-man band. Trump had “enthusiastic crowds in his final swing state rallies in “Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Michigan.”

Trump told his supporters, “We don’t need, we don’t need Jay Z or Beyonce. We don’t need Jon Bon Jovi. We don’t need Lady Gaga. All we need is great ideas to make America great again. That’s all that we need.” Despite a close race with Clinton slightly ahead in some polls, Trump remained optimistic telling his audience at a earlier rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, “I think we’re going to blow them out tomorrow in a lot of different ways, blow them out. No way.” In Michigan he told his supporters, “This is not the sound of a second place finisher, that I can tell you.”

Trump had what was supposed to be his campaign finale rally also earlier in the evening. Trump held a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire with his family, his three eldest children, who were his biggest campaign surrogates and his running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence and his wife Karen as well friend and most loyal and “ardent” surrogate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. There were no celebrities present other than the candidate, but there were laser beams and a fog machine show and 12,000 loyal supporters from the battleground state. There Trump thanked his children, “I heard about the surrogates going all over for Hillary Clinton but I had my family I had the best surrogates of all.”

Trump’s final last minute rally in Michigan, started with a large crowd but as the early morning wore on the crowds dispersed. Trump remained negative to the end, as he needed to be to fight his opponent who has been acting as the incumbent backed a president with a renewed popularity. The GOP nominee declared, “Hillary is the face of failure. She’s the face of failed foreign policy.” Trump’s running mate, Pence gave the same warning earlier in the day at a stop in Minnesota, arguing, “In one day the American people can put an end to decades of Clinton corruption. You here in Minnesota can close the history books on the Clintons once and for all.”

As the outsider, Trump concluded with that message going to the core of what his campaign has always been about those on the outside of the political establishment. The nominee expressed, “The corrupt politicians and their special interests have ruled over this country for a very long time. Today is our Independence day. Today the American working class is going to strike back, finally.”

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

Politics August 23, 2016: Obama finally tours flood-ravaged Louisiana over a week too late

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Court orders State Dept to release 15,000 FBI newly discovered Clinton emails

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US President Barack Obama speaks after touring a flood-affected area in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 23, 2016. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks after touring a flood-affected area in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 23, 2016. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Over a week after heavy rainstorms flooded Louisiana, President Barack Obama finally toured the most damaged areas. On Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, Obama visited Baton Rouge, Louisiana, saying his tour “is not a photo-op.” Obama waited until he finished his two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts to tour the damage after much criticism locally in Louisiana and by Republicans particularly GOP nominee Donald Trump, who toured Louisiana last Friday, Aug. 20 with his vice presidential running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

President Obama arrived in Louisiana at “11:45 a.m. Central time,” where he was met by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, his wife, Donna, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and Sen. David Vitter, at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. He first visited Castle Place neighborhood, which had been affected badly by the floods. There Obama met and spoke with residents, rescuers and officials. The flooding caused 13 deaths, 106,000 households “registered for assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency,” and 60,000 homes were damaged. Afterward, the president met with the families of shooting victims Alton Sterling and the Baton Rouge Police Department.

After his tour, President Obama delivered some remarks. The president expressed, “I come here first and foremost to say that the prayers of the entire nation are with everybody who lost loved ones. We are heartbroken by the loss of life. There are also still people who are desperately trying to track down friends and family we are going to keep on helping them every way that we can.”

Continuing Obama said, “Sometimes when these kinds of things happen it can seem too much to bear but what I want the people of Louisiana to know is that you’re not alone on this. Even after the TV cameras leave. The whole country is going to continue to support you and help you until we get folks back in their homes and lives are rebuilt.”
President Obama also praised FEMA’s response, which they already spent $127 million on the tragedy. Obama said FEMA’s help is not enough, “Now, federal assistance alone won’t be enough to make people’s lives whole again so I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and local businesses back on their feet.”

The president also jabbed Trump for criticizing him because he did not cut his vacation short to tour the damage earlier. Obama expressed, “So let me just remind folks: sometimes once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass. This is not a one-off. This is not a photo-op issue. This is how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now people still are getting the help that they need.”

Trump toured the damage with his running mate Mike Pence on Friday, where the GOP nominee donated an 18-wheeler of supplies. Trump was still criticizing the president this past weekend after the White House announced the president’s Tuesday visit. Trump told Fox News, “Tuesday’s too late. Hop into the plane and go down and go to Louisiana and see what’s going on, because it’s a mess.”

The president has been widely criticized for not cutting his vacation short to visit the worst flooding in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Instead, Obama was golfing and fundraising for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who also did not visit Louisiana’s flooding victims. Both had been critical of then President George W. Bush when he flew over and did stop during Hurricane Katrina, and took three days to visit the devastation.

Obama took over a week, but the White House deflected the criticism by pointing out the president declared an emergency on Aug. 14, when aid kicked in and Obama received briefings in the interim. The White House was also defensive attacking Trump for saying the same thing Obama did back in 2007 when he was a Democratic candidate running for president. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One the “President is used to people trying to score political points even in situations where they shouldn’t.”

Clinton, who fiercely attacked Bush when she was a New York Senator running for the Democratic nomination in 2007, this time went after Trump for actually visiting the victims in a timely manner. Clinton issued a statement saying, “This month’s floods in Louisiana are a crisis that demand a national response. I am committed to visiting communities affected by these floods, at a time when the presence of a political campaign will not disrupt the response, to discuss how we can and will rebuild toge

Politics August 20, 2016: Trump and Pence tour flooded Louisiana; Obama finally will visit on Tuesday

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Trump and Pence tour flooded Louisiana; Obama finally will visit on Tuesday

By Bonnie K. Goodman

DIMONDALE, MI - AUGUST 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally August 19, 2016 in Dimondale, Michigan.  Earlier in the day, Trump toured flood-ravaged Louisiana. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

DIMONDALE, MI – AUGUST 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally August 19, 2016 in Dimondale, Michigan. Earlier in the day, Trump toured flood-ravaged Louisiana. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Republican nominee Donald Trump became the first major leader to visit flood-ravaged Louisiana, beating out President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump visited Baton Rouge along with his vice presidential running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence toured the damage on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Trump specifically visited Greenwell Springs in East Baton Rouge, St. Amant in Ascension Parish, and some areas of Lafayette.

A Louisiana Republican leadership delegation met Trump at the airport. The delegation included “Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Congressman Garret Graves, Congressman Steve Scalise, and Eric Skrmetta, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and co-chair of Trump’s campaign in Louisiana.” Pence arrived before Trump with his wife Karen and daughter Charlotte and received an early briefing.

Trump and Pence’s visit took them to the areas where the floodwaters are now receding, and the real damage is visible. Trump visited Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, where he met with
“Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”

There Trump and Perkins criticized vacationing President Obama for not coming to the state. Trump said, “The president says he doesn’t want to go; he is trying to get out of a golf game.” Meanwhile, Perkins commented, “I heard he wants to stay under par while we are under water.” Then Trump joked, “He will never be under par.”

The GOP ticket commenced their tour by meeting with “local officials, volunteers and the National Guard and touring the flood damage.” The Republican ticket met also with “Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization.” They visited one of the organizations’ mobile kitchens, and where they were “cheered by the crowds.”

Trump also donated an 18-wheeler full of supplies, and he and Pence helped unload them. Trump said at that time to reporters, “I’ve had a great history with Louisiana. They need a lot of help. What’s happened here is incredible. Nobody understands how bad it is. It’s really incredible. So, I’m just here to help.” Liberals later criticized because the supplies included many toys.

Pence also commented to the media, saying, “These volunteers are incredibly inspiring but the American people need to know that Louisiana needs help. Volunteers, support for the Red Cross, support to the charities like Samaritan’s Purse that are coming along side these vulnerable families and we’re just here to help tell that story and very inspired by it.”

Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ issued a statement about Trump’s visit that was semi-critical. Edwards office said, “Gov. Edwards wasn’t informed of the Trump campaign’s visit to the state or the schedule. We welcome them to Louisiana, but not for a photo-op. Instead, we hope they’ll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm.”

Obama has been vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and been spending most of his time golfing, except a fundraiser for Clinton. The president is facing criticism for avoiding visit Louisiana in the past week. The flooding has caused 13 deaths, while thousands have been dislocated forced to leave their homes because of the flooding, with many of these homes damaged, it has been the worst devastation Louisiana has seen in years.

The White House later announced on Friday, that Obama would be touring the damage in Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 23. The White House’s statement announcing the visit said the President is “eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods and hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild their community and come back stronger than ever.”

Neither has Clinton visited the region. Instead, she received a briefing from Gov. Bell. Clinton posted a message after on Facebook, writing, “My heart breaks for Louisiana, and right now, the relief effort can’t afford any distractions. The very best way this team can help is to make sure Louisianans have the resources they need,” she wrote in the post. “These are our friends, our family members, our community –, and they’re counting on us to reach out with open arms right now.”

Politics August 12, 2016: Trump claims sarcasm after calling Obama the founder of terrorist group ISIS

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Trump claims sarcasm after calling Obama the founder of terrorist group ISIS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

ERIE, PA - AUGUST 12: Republican presidential candidate  Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally at Erie Insurance Arena on August 12, 2016 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Trump continues to campaign for his run for president of the United States. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

ERIE, PA – AUGUST 12: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally at Erie Insurance Arena on August 12, 2016 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Trump continues to campaign for his run for president of the United States. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

For nearly a week Republican nominee Donald Trump has been calling President Barack Obama and his opponent Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the founders of terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now he says he was just being sarcastic. On Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, Trump blamed the media for literally believing what he said, instead of identifying his sarcasm. This is hardly the first time this campaign Trump has blamed the media for not understanding his sarcasm and misinterpreting his remarks.

On Friday morning, Trump tweeted, “Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) “the founder” of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON’T GET SARCASM?”  The walk about comes two days after Trump starting blaming Obama for the founding of the terrorist group. Trump made the remarks numerous times over two days before going back on his comments.

Trump again went back on his remarks saying he was being “not that sarcastic.” Trump told supporters at an Erie, Pa. rally on Friday, “Obviously I’m being sarcastic … but not that sarcastic to be honest with you.” Trump continued to criticize “dishonest media,” saying, “These people are the lowest form of life. They are the lowest form of humanity. Not all of them, they have about 25 percent that are pretty good, actually.”

Trump supporter and campaign surrogate Newt Gingrich appeared Friday on “Fox and Friends” trying to explain the GOP nominee words. Gingrich blames Trump’s language, “One of the things that’s frustrating about his candidacy is the imprecise language. He sometimes uses three words when he needs 10.”

The former speaker and the 2012 GOP candidate believes Trump simplified what he meant to say. Gingrich clarified, “When you instead compress them into ‘Obama created ISIS,’ I know what Trump has in his mind, but that’s not what people hear. He has got to learn to use language that has been thought through, and that is clear to everybody, and to stick to that language.”

Gingrich, like Trump, blames the media, but also Trump’s campaign style, a holdover from the primary. The former speaker said, “It was a style that none of his Republican opponents could cope with. But I don’t think he yet appreciates, when you’re one of the few candidates for president, particularly when you’re the conservative … you’ve got to understand that the news media is going to attack you every chance they get, and it’s your job to not give them a chance.”

Trump began making waves with this accusation on Wednesday evening, Aug. 10 at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the speech, Trump called the president by his full name, “Barack Hussein Obama.” The GOP nominee called the war in Iraq a mistake, and “criticized” the president’s  “clean up.” Trump said, “Normally you want to clean up; he made a bigger mess out of it. He made such a mess. And then you had Hillary with Libya, so sad.”

Then Trump accused Obama, saying, “In fact, in many respects, you know they honor President Obama. ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS, OK? He’s the founder. He founded ISIS. I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton.”

Trump reiterated the sentiment on Thursday, Aug 11, during an interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt tried to spin Trump asking if he meant, “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace.” Trump responded with certainty, “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Hewitt still questioned what Trump meant, trying to force him to clarify, arguing that Obama’s “not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.” Trump bluntly responded, “I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?”  No matter what, Trump remained steadfast on his position, saying his comments were “no mistake.”

The GOP nominee made the statements repeatedly. Trump also told the National Association of Home Builders in Miami on Thursday morning, “I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They are the founders.” At a rally Thursday evening, Trump said again, President Obama “is the founder in a true sense.” Trump said that the terrorist organization wants Clinton for president, saying on Thursday, “Oh boy, is ISIS hoping for her.”

In a CNBC interview on Thursday, Trump clarified, Obama “was the founder of ISIS, absolutely. The way he removed our troops — you shouldn’t have gone in. I was against the war in Iraq. Totally against it.” Continuing he said, “That mistake was made. It was a horrible mistake — one of the worst mistakes in the history of our country. We destabilized the Middle East and we’ve been paying the price for it for years. He was the founder — absolutely, the founder. In fact, in sports they have awards, he gets the most valuable player award. Him and Hillary. I mean she gets it, too. I gave them co-founder if you really looked at the speech.” Supposedly, Trump originally supported the war despite the denials.

Clinton responded and attacked Trump on his favorite medium, Twitter. Clinton tried to tie the GOP’s nominee words to his fitness to be president. Clinton wrote, “It can be difficult to muster outrage as frequently as Donald Trump should cause it, but his smear against President Obama requires it.” Clinton also tweeted, “No, Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS. … Anyone willing to sink so low, so often should never be allowed to serve as our Commander-in-Chief.”

Politics August 7, 2016: Obama arrives in Martha’s Vineyard for last presidential summer vacation

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Obama arrives in Martha’s Vineyard for last presidential summer vacation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia(upperR) and Sasha step off Air Force One at Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts on August 6, 2016 as they arrive for a two-week holiday at nearby Martha's Vineyard. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia(upperR) and Sasha step off Air Force One at Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts on August 6, 2016 as they arrive for a two-week holiday at nearby Martha’s Vineyard. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Barack Obama is marking his last summer vacation as president. Obama along with First Lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha arrived Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts for their annual two-week vacation. The president will have no official engagements during his vacation.

The president and family in addition to dogs BO and Sunny flew on Air Force One to Cape Cod on Saturday. There the Obamas met with members of the military before continuing to Martha’s Vineyard flying on Marine One.

The president and his family vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard each year of his presidency except in 2012 when Obama ran for re-election. The Obamas again are renting a house on the island in the tony Chilmark. CNN is describing the house as a wooded compound far from the busier Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.

The Obamas usually stay out of the limelight on their vacations, the exception when they are sited at local shops or dining in town, biking or especially in the president’s case golfing. Last year President Obama made the rounds at all of the island’s golf courses playing at each one, often will high profile friends accompanying him.

This year youngest daughter Sasha, 15 will be particularly busy; the first daughter is working at local restaurant Nancy’s seafood restaurant heading the taking out the window. The Obama’s are friends with the owner and eat there often during their vacations.

Sasha has also been working busing tables. A fellow worker at the restaurant recounted to the Boston Herald “She’s been working downstairs at takeout. We were wondering why there were six people helping this girl, but then we found out who it was.” First Lady Michelle recently told Entertainment Tonight that she and the president are trying to “‘normalize’ their daughters’ lives “as much as possible.'”

Politics August 7, 2016: Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

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Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama make their way to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on August 6, 2016.  Obama and his family were headed to Martha's Vineyard for their summer vacation. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama make their way to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on August 6, 2016.
Obama and his family were headed to Martha’s Vineyard for their summer vacation. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama commenced his annual vacation in Martha’s Vineyard after partying the evening before on Aug. 5, 2016, at his 55th birthday bash. The star-studded party held at the White House included a bevy of celebrities and politicians deemed Obama’s closest friends.

On Friday evening, Obama celebrated his milestone and last birthday as president at a party paid for by the Obamas at the White House. Although the official guest list has not been made public, the news media has been able to piece together some of the attendees from social media post from party guests.

Among the celebrities in attendance were “Alfre Woodard, movie executive Harvey Weinstein and former basketball star Grant Hill,” “Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker and husband actor Matthew Broderick, “Star Wars” producer George Lucas” and basketball star Magic Johnson and wife Cookie. Usher and Stevie Wonder provided the evening’s entertainment. It is believed that singer and rappers Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Kendrick Lamar also attended.

The party also included political friends “Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Reverend Al Sharpton. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s former chief of staff and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Some news media personalities attended including, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts and ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and husband Al Roker.

A White House official said, “The guest list includes a large number of family members and friends to mark the occasion. The private event will be paid for with the family’s personal funds.” While a party attendee described it as “A real birthday bash with lots of old friends, cabinet officials, members of Congress, celebrities.” The party lasted past midnight.

Obama turned 55 on Thursday, Aug. 4. The president celebrated Thursday evening with his wife and children at a smaller intimidate dinner at the White House. The last time the Obamas celebrated with a big bash was Michelle’s 50th birthday party in January 2014. Michelle also gave a birthday shout out to her husband on Instagram writing, “55 years young and that smile still gets me every single day. Happy birthday, Barack. I love you. -mo”

Politics July 19, 2016: Melania Trump’s political plagiarism scandal is not the first, and not the last

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Melania Trump’s political plagiarism scandal is not the first, and not the last


Did Melania Trump really plagiarize Michelle Obamas 2008 Democratic convention speech?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 18:  Melania Trump, wife of Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 18: Melania Trump, wife of Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It was supposed to be presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s wife, Melania’s big campaign debut, instead, it descended into controversy, as does everything in the Trump campaign. On Monday evening, July 18, 2016, Melania Trump gave the keynote address on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Introduced by her husband, Melania’s job was to humanize Trump, who has been caricatured for much of his career and the campaign. Instead, her big moment was overshadowed by the similarities of two paragraphs with First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic Convention speech and accusations of plagiarism.

Both Melania and Michelle’s passages in their speeches emphasized family values imbued by their parents and passing them to the next generation. The themes were similar and also common for the type of convention speech. Although the words were similar, the sentences were for the most part different with some similar points, and certain keywords, possibly invoking the paraphrasing or copying for verbatim debate. Only one phrase was copied verbatim, “your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” Plagiarism is described as “The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”

According to Harvard University‘s Faculty of Arts and Science “In academic writing, it is considered plagiarism to draw any idea or any language from someone else without adequately crediting that source in your paper. It doesn’t matter whether the source is a published author, another student, a Web site without clear authorship, a Web site that sells academic papers, or any other person: Taking credit for anyone else’s work is stealing, and it is unacceptable in all academic situations, whether you do it intentionally or by accident.” Harvard also lists different types of plagiarism, which include” “verbatim, mosaic, inadequate paraphrasing, uncited paraphrase, uncited quotations.” The only exception according to Harvard is “common knowledge.”

Melania’s speech excerpt read:

“My parents impressed on me the values: that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. They taught me to show the values and morals in my daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

To compare here is Michelle’s speech from 2008:

“And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Almost immediately, after Melania delivered her speech, a journalist specializing in interior design and not politics, Jarrett Hill called Melania out on Twitter accusing her of plagiarism. In his tweet, Hill wrote, “Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech since she plagiarized it.” Hill, who is African-American, has a history of Trump bashing and is a fan of the Obamas, already, had a biased view of the situation. Still, the news media picked up on the story, and it swept through a media who already negatively bashes Trump and his rhetoric and policy positions. Melania’s similar words just was another chance for criticism.

Just as quickly Trump’s campaign denied the accusation. Senior communications adviser Jason Miller issued a statement after the accusations, which read, “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”

According to the campaign, chairman Paul Manafort appearing on CNN’s “New Day” telling Chris Cuomo that the allegation is “just really absurd.” Manafort dismissed the claims, saying, “To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd.” Continuing Manafort explained, “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values. She cares about her family. To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

Manafort then, in turn, blamed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Trump campaign manager made his accusation, saying, “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”

According to a Republican close to the situation, recounted the process involved in crafting Melania’s speech. According to the “operative”, several aides edited the speech and gave suggestions to Melania. Manafort approved the speech in the end. The recount contradicts the account from Trump’s wife who claims to have a written the speech herself. Melania revealed to to NBC‘s Matt Lauer, “I read once over it, that’s all, because I wrote it … with (as) little help as possible.” Melania is not facing the brunt of the backlash but rather Trump’s speechwriters and even Manafort, although no one has been fired for the error.

President Obama’s former speechwriter, Jon Favreau, who was partly responsible for Michelle Obama’s speech, did not seem offended or upset by the possibility of plagiarism. After the accusations had started flying, Favreau tweeted and joked, “(To be honest), I was more offended by just about every other speech than Melania’s plagiarized paragraphs.”

The problem is writers, and academics and even students get away with plagiarism all the time. With the vast amount of information on the internet, many believe that it is fair game, especially if it is a blog or non-traditional source. Academics who plagiarize believe they will not be caught because they are taking ideas from someone they deem less educated and less well known. More often than not if someone does not bring the plagiarized passages up the one, who plagiarizes usually gets away with it.

As a writer, I have experienced being plagiarized, from a woman posting an entire article of mine that was an excerpt from my thesis taken verbatim without any credit, with listing it as her own. To a former professor who for years continually liberally borrows my ideas, themes from my articles for his, even phrases but manages to get away with it because they have the doctorate and the professorship although according to Harvard’s definitions what they have done is considered plagiarism.

Just last week in the UK’s the Guardian Higher Education section a writer on the Academic Anonymous blog recounted finding a creative writing Ph.D. dissertation with 100 passages plagiarized verbatim. When the academic discovered the plagiarism reported it to the dissertation advisor at the British university, the professor protected their student by ensuring copies of the dissertation were removed from the university’s library and made unavailable in any other form to the public. Only a year later was the thesis put back on the shelves, but the Ph.D. graduate was never stripped of their degree or even reprimanded for the extensive and blatant plagiarism, in the most important capstone project of their university education.

Melania Trump’s plagiarism case is hardly the first involving politicians that rocked the political world. The most famous case is Vice President Joe Biden who in 1987, had to withdraw from the 1988 Democratic presidential race after it was discovered that he plagiarized a speech with passages from former Democratic candidates Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, and former President John F. Kennedy. Other notable political plagiarism scandals include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Montana Senator John Walsh, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, and even President Barack Obama.

In 2007, then Democratic candidate Obama lifted some passages from then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s lines from a 2006 speech when he delivered a speech at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Wisconsin. Rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign revealed what Obama did. Obama dismissed it all as nothing much saying, “Deval and I do trade ideas all the time, and you know he’s occasionally used lines of mine. I would add I’ve noticed on occasion Sen. Clinton has used words of mine as well. As I said before, I really don’t think this is too big of a deal.”

Donald McCabe, a retired business professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, conducted a survey in 2010 and determined a prevalence of cheating and plagiarism among college undergraduate and graduate students.

The following are the results of his survey:

  • 36% of undergraduates and 24% of graduate students admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from Internet source without footnoting it.”
  • 38% of undergraduates and 25% of graduate students admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from written source without footnoting it.”
  • 14% of undergraduates and 7% of graduate students admit to “fabricating/falsifying a bibliography.”
  • 7% of undergraduates 4% of graduate students and admit to copying materials “almost word for word from a written source without citation.”
  • 7% of undergraduates and 3% of graduate students admit to “turning in work done by another.” Finally, 3% of undergraduates and 2% of graduate students admit to “obtaining a paper from term paper mill.”

Another survey conducted in 2011 by the Pew Research Center and The Chronicle of Higher Education asked college presidents about plagiarism and cheating at their respective colleges among students. Of the 1,055 presidents asked, 55 percent said that there had been an increase in plagiarism in the ten preceding years, and they predominately, 89 percent, blamed the internet for rampant cheating.

In this case, Melania or most precisely her speechwriters used a common theme for conventions and wives’ of the running mates but made the mistake of staying too closely to a recent and famous speech from a beloved first lady. Viewed by millions, with enough people opposed to Trump, Melania’s first major foray was bound to be scrutinized.

The moment caught the press the Trump campaign wanted but not for the reasons they wanted. Trump, however, will survive the plagiarism scandal as the world can be forgiving just ask historian Doris Goodwin Kearns and even Joe Biden and Barack Obama, who plagiarized speeches once and still ended becoming a popular vice president and president.

Politics July 8, 2016: Obama to return early from Europe to visit Dallas after police shooting

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Obama to return early from Europe to visit Dallas after police shooting

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President of United States Barack Obama, at the media statements after meeting whit Polish President Andrzej Duda on NATO Summit in Warsaw, 08 June, 2016, Poland (Photo by Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

President of United States Barack Obama, at the media statements after meeting whit Polish President Andrzej Duda on NATO Summit in Warsaw, 08 June, 2016, Poland (Photo by Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is cutting his trip to Europe short after the worst attack on police since 9/11. President Obama made a statement about the shooting in Dallas on Friday, July 8, 2016, from the NATO conference in Poland, calling it “a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.” On Thursday evening, July 7, a sniper purposely opened fire on police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest where 11 police officers were shot and five killed.

The White House announced the president’s intended visit to Dallas early next week late Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day, President Obama ordered the flags to fly at half-staff and made a statement condemning the attack.

Speaking from Poland, Obama said, “I believe I speak for every single American when I say we are horrified over these events, and we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas. There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”

The statement was Obama’s second in two days after police officers shot and killed African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota. Police killed Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and the incidents were recorded and posted online. The shootings sparked the protest in Dallas.

The sniper Micah Xavier Johnson, 25 was former Army reservist, acted alone and specifically targeted white police officers. Police took out the shooter. Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the public that Johnson was “upset about Black Lives Matter, he said he was upset about the recent police shootings.”

Both presumptive nominees, Republican Donald Trump, and Democrat Hillary Clinton, responded to the attack in the morning and canceled their campaign events on Friday. Trump issued a statement and video condemning the shooting as an “an attack on our country” and a “coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe.”

Clinton’s first response was on Twitter where she wrote, “I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families & all who serve with them. -H.” Clinton later spoke at the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s conference in Philadelphia.

Politics June 24, 2016: Supreme Court rules against Obama on immigration executive actions

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Supreme Court rules against Obama on immigration executive actions

By Bonnie K. Goodman
June 24, 2016 5:06 AM MST
President Barack Obama blamed the Republicans for the Supreme Court refusing to allow his immigration executive actions, June 23, 2016

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President Barack Obama blamed the Republicans for the Supreme Court refusing to allow his immigration executive actions, June 23, 2016
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Politics June 9, 2016: President Obama endorses Hillary Clinton for president

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President Obama endorses Hillary Clinton for president

By Bonnie K. Goodman

June 9, 2016 11:14 PM MST
President Obama endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a video, June 9, 2016

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President Obama endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a video, June 9, 2016
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Politics June 6, 2016: Obama ready to endorse Clinton this week as she clinches Democratic nomination

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Obama ready to endorse Clinton this week as she clinches Democratic nomination

By Bonnie K. Goodman

June 6, 2016 10:49 PM MST

Now that Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination, President Barack Obama intends to endorse her and begin campaigning for her, June 6, 2016
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Politics May 17, 2016: Trudeau introduces transgender rights bill after Obama issues order on bathrooms

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Trudeau introduces transgender rights bill after Obama issues order on bathrooms

By Bonnie K. Goodman

May 17, 2016 9:50 AM MST

Both US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are announcing new legislation protecting transgender people from discrimination in honor of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, May 17, 2016
Both US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are announcing new legislation protecting transgender people from discrimination in honor of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, May 17, 2016
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

 

Politics April 10, 2016: Obama guaranteed Clinton would be prosecuted if FBI finds it is necessary

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Obama guaranteed Clinton would be prosecuted if FBI finds it is necessary 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

April 10, 2016 2:39 PM MST

President Barack Obama guaranteed that if the FBI decides to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton she would even if she is the Democratic presidential nominee, April 10, 2016
President Barack Obama guaranteed that if the FBI decides to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton she would even if she is the Democratic presidential nominee, April 10, 2016
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Politics March 16, 2016: Obama decides on Judge Merrick Garland for Supreme Court nominee

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Obama decides on Judge Merrick Garland for Supreme Court nominee

By Bonnie K. Goodman

March 16, 2016 9:08 AM MST

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland said Wednesday during his nomination announcement that justices must be faithful to the Constitution and 'put aside personal views or prejudices.'

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Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland said Wednesday during his nomination announcement that justices must be faithful to the Constitution and ‘put aside personal views or prejudices.’
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