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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: The Today Show Screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Donald Trump considered the least ethical president in recent history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

(Official White House Photos by Joyce N. Boghosian)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Wikipedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikipedia Commons

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

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 17 percent of the vote, down from 22 percent last year, and his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 13 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last ten years. President Obama has the second overall most admired titles besting former Presidents Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) but behind Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). Obama becomes the only the second former president besides Eisenhower in 1967 and 1968 to win the year’s most admired. President Trump came in a rather close second with 14 percent; the third time Trump has ranked second in the poll. This year is the president’s seventh appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Vice President Mike Pence sees his second appearance on the list coming in again at the bottom of the list.

Even as a sitting president Trump cannot eclipse Obama as the most admired man in the country an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed. It is a tradition for the sitting president always to be named the most admired and has been the case for 70 years since the poll originated in 1946. Now only 13 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in his first year of office with only a 37 percent approval rating on his 338th day in office. The last time a sitting president missed the honor was in 2008 when then President-elect Obama edged out President George W. Bush who was seeing extremely low approval ratings at the end of his tenure.

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

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2017 Top 10:

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

Despite losing the election Trump last year, former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 22nd time and 16th year in a row more than anyone ever on the list. Clinton has her lowest showing; however, winning only 9 percent of the vote, last year she had 12 percent for the top spot. Clinton only lost the number one spot in 1995 and 1996 to Mother Theresa and 2001 when First Lady Laura Bush took the position. Clinton has appeared on the list 26 times. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 7 percent. Current First Lady Melania Trump sees her first showing on the list coming in at number 8 but with only one percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2017 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 9
2. Michelle Obama 7
3. Oprah Winfrey 4
4. Elizabeth Warren 3
5. Angela Merkel 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Condoleezza Rice 1
8. Melania Trump 1
9. Nikki Haley 1
10. Duchess Kate Middleton 1
11. Beyonce Knowles 1

This year’s list is seeing some record number of appearances for both the most admired men and women. For the men, Rev. Billy Graham has his 60th top 10 finish having been in the top 10 every year since 1955, except for 1962 and 1976. This is the first year former Bill Clinton has dropped out of the top 10; he appeared on the top 10 for 25 years and remained on top of the list throughout his entire presidency from 1993 to 2001. On the women’s side, Hillary Clinton has the most top honors on the list with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt second with 13 top honors. Queen Elizabeth has the most top 10 appearances of all women with 49, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 30 showings. Gallup does not believe however, Obama and Clinton will hold on to the top spot in future years and believe Trump could attain the position next year.

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

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

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POLITICS

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EDUCATION

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gorsuch becomes 113th Supreme Court Justice after historic Senate vote

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump’s record low approval rating first in presidential history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Historians predict impeachment Trump presidency will not survive Russia scandal

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

Party support divide among recent presidents:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Politics January 25, 2017: Americans agree with Trump’s America First Inaugural Address

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Americans agree with Trump’s America First Inaugural Address

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

Approval ratings upon entering the presidency:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Trump era begins amid protest and turmoil

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Politics January 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 January 10, 2017: Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

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Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

With just ten days to go until Donald Trump takes the oath of office becoming the President of the United States, the Senate is beginning confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet nominees. So far, the Senate scheduled confirmation hearings for eight of the cabinet’s most important positions and began the process on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 on Capitol Hill. Democrats are promising to give Trump’s nominees a difficult time in the hot seat, many of the president-elect’s nominees have not submitted financial documents to Office of Governmental Ethics their review; Trump’s cabinet is expected to have the greatest net worth of any previous presidential cabinet. None of the nominees can be confirmed until Trump takes office.

As ABC News notes all cabinet level position, leading a government agency need to be confirmed by the Senate. They include the following posts: “the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans affairs, as well as the attorney general, director of the Office of Management and Budget, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. trade representative, ambassador to the United Nations, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and administrator of the Small Business Administration.”

In total 1,212 “senior posts and agency heads” need to be confirmed by the Senate after a “background check” is complete. A lengthy indeed, so much so that the trump transition is downplaying the need for background checks in an attempt to move along the confirmation process in the Republican-controlled Senate. Only advisors to the president and the White House chief of staff are exempt from the arduous process.

ABC News explained the confirmation process; nominees go through extreme vetting by the president’s team and the FBI submitting “financial disclosure reports, criminal checks and questionnaires about ties to foreign governments.” Then the appropriate Senate committee conducts the hearing for the nominee then they vote to determine if the entire Senate will vote to confirm the nominee if so it goes to the Senate floor. Since the Democrats opted for the nuclear option, confirmations only require a “simple majority” vote of 51 senators, and they can no longer be filibustered or require 60 votes.

The following is the schedule for the Senate confirmation hearings:

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions — Jan. 10–11, 9:30 a.m.
Homeland Security: John Kelly — Jan. 10, 3:30 p.m.
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson — Jan. 11–12, 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
CIA Director: Mike Pompeo — Jan. 11, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao — Jan. 11, 10:15 a.m.
Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross — Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Housing: Ben Carson, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos — Jan. 17, 5 p.m.
Secretary of Labor: Andy Puzder — Jan. 17 (tentative)
U.N. Ambassador: Nikki Haley — Jan. 18 (tentative)

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

 

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.