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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > STUDY OF THE PRESIDENCY

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments This thread will examine the rights, responsibilities, and powers of the office of the presidency.

What expectations should we have of the person who holds this highest office? Are we too critical and has the media driven a wedge between the American people and the holder of the Executive Office no matter who that might be?

Will we ever be able to return to the age of Camelot when we still believed in the best for this office or is all that since lost? Will any president be able to regain our admiration and our honest appreciation for the demands of the job itself; knowing full well that he or she is doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world?

Why haven't we had a woman president yet in this country?

What responsibilities do we have as citizens in relationship to our president?

Of course, we will also discuss and examine the constitutional requirements for this office and the laws and amendments which effect the presidency.


message 2: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments Yes, you did then (smile). Good adds. I am hoping that we can get some discussion going on some of the above and the questions posed in message 1.


message 4: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Here is a book focusing on the presidency and Congress:

Separate but Equal Branches  Congress and the Presidency by Charles O. Jones


message 5: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Bentley wrote: "Yes, you did then (smile). Good adds. I am hoping that we can get some discussion going on some of the above and the questions posed in message 1."

Great, they are good questions!


message 6: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments If you ever wanted to learn more about the offices inside the White House, this is a good book:

To Serve the President by Bradley Patterson


message 7: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments A new book:

American CaesarsNigel Hamilton

Booklist:
In explicit emulation of Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars, Hamilton presents character sketches of U.S. presidents since 1945, excluding Barack Obama. Encompassing their pursuit of power, tenure, and personal lives, emphasizing female relationships with wives and other women, the portraits attempt to reveal the men behind the presidential image. Opinionated but acutely insightful, Hamilton grasps the effects of personal traits on the presidency, as shown in his biographies JFK (1992) and Bill Clinton (two volumes, 2003 and 2007). Summarizing in this work the insatiable carnality of those narcissistic chief executives, Hamilton also cleaves to the maturation in their understanding of leadership––both JFK and Clinton recovered from serious political mistakes. So describing character traits sterling or dross, and their influence on behavior in office, Hamilton praises FDR, admires Truman (with caveats), grants peace-keeping probity to Ike, and is illusion-free concerning JFK. Considering their successors all lesser presidents, Hamilton ranges from condemnation of LBJ, Nixon, and George W. Bush to ambivalence about Reagan; but biography fans won’t equivocate: Hamilton’s effrontery in mimicking Suetonius pays off in irreverent, pedestal-toppling prose. --Gilbert Taylor


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Wasn't sure where to put this but at least has some relevance...First Ladies. Written by the former Chief Usher at the White House. I have not read this (yet).
Upstairs at the White House  My Life with the First LadiesbyJ.B. West

Also on the topic of First Ladies ~
Founding Mothers  The Women Who Raised Our Nationby Cokie RobertsCokie Roberts
From Publishers Weekly
ABC News political commentator and NPR news analyst Roberts didn't intend this as a general history of women's lives in early America-she just wanted to collect some great "stories of the women who influenced the Founding Fathers." For while we know the names of at least some of these women (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney), we know little about their roles in the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, or the politics of our early republic. In rough chronological order, Roberts introduces a variety of women, mostly wives, sisters or mothers of key men, exploring how they used their wit, wealth or connections to influence the men who made policy. As high-profile players married into each other's families, as wives died in childbirth and husbands remarried, it seems as if early America-or at least its upper crust-was indeed a very small world. Roberts's style is delightfully intimate and confiding: on the debate over Mrs. Benedict Arnold's infamy, she proclaims, "Peggy was in it from the beginning." Roberts also has an ear for juicy quotes; she recounts Aaron Burr's mother, Esther, bemoaning that when talking to a man with "mean thoughts of women," her tongue "hangs pretty loose," so she "talked him quite silent." In addition to telling wonderful stories, Roberts also presents a very readable, serviceable account of politics-male and female-in early America. If only our standard history textbooks were written with such flair!


message 9: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Thanks, Alisa. We shouldn't ignore the First Ladies!


Jennifer | 7 comments I’ll start with the most appropriate place to begin discussing the powers of the Presidency, original intent. The Authors designated Article II to define the powers of the Executive Branch because they did not feel it to be as essential as the Legislature. Granted, we have moved beyond the 18th century, but how far we have actually moved away from this notion is shocking. I don’t think many in this country would be hard pressed if asked to name the President, but how many could name their Senator or one of their House Representatives? Do we expect too much of our President? Article II Section III defines the State of the Union as a vehicle to “recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient”. Nowhere does it state that the President has any ability to make a law or declare that a war start or stop, only to recommend.
Over time powers have been expanded due to issues of expediency and security, often bordering on illegal. Considering all that we have come to expect from President Obama, has the impression of the powers of the President evolved into one that rests solely on the implied? The Constitution of the United States of AmericaJames Madison


message 11: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (last edited Nov 12, 2010 05:48AM) (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Some great issues, Jennifer. I do believe we expect a lot from a president, things he (I hope one day she) can't control. For example, the economy. As much discussion about bail-outs, the president can do very little regarding changing the course of the economy. However, we expect a president to solve its woes.

I can remember different situations from Washington and Jefferson wrestling about what powers the president has and does not have, since many things are implied. At first, Jefferson thought buying up land in Louisiana was unconstitutional, but then realized nothing was telling him not to do it, and he thought it was important enough to go ahead. So, yes, I think you are correct in that expediency and security (national interest) does create an opportunity for a president to add power.

I do think some of the Founding Fathers would be shocked by today's president. So, the big debate is do we return to the Founding Father's original intent, or let the circumstances of a time dictate growth in the constitution?


message 12: by Vheissu (last edited Nov 13, 2010 11:42AM) (new)

Vheissu | 95 comments Bryan wrote: "At first, Jefferson thought buying up land in Louisiana was unconstitutional, but then realized nothing was telling him not to do it, and he thought it was important enough to go ahead....I do think some of the Founding Fathers would be shocked by today's president.

Excellent points, Bryan. I think today's political leaders, both at home and abroad, would be appalled if a president tried to "purchase" a "Louisiana." Can you imagine? Nobody asked the people living in Louisiana if they wanted to be Americans (or French or British or Spanish). There was never any attention to self-determination, which is practically ius cogens today.

The Americans were lucky that the United Nations didn't exist in the 19th century.


message 13: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments It certainly would be interesting if the UN was around back then. There are a number of things Presidents ignore about the UN like the Criminal Court.


Vheissu | 95 comments Bryan wrote: "It certainly would be interesting if the UN was around back then. There are a number of things Presidents ignore about the UN like the Criminal Court."

I am so very disappointed by this president's leadership in international affairs. I feel he has walked away from his campaign promises without contributing very much to our national security. Very disappointing.


message 15: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Vheissu, you are not alone in this. One thing that interests me about the presidency is how different it is on the campaign vs. being in the office. I'm not making an excuse for Obama, but I wonder if a dose of reality hit him when he entered office. Reagan entered the office hoping to balance the budget, and oops, left with a large deficit.


Vheissu | 95 comments Very good question, Bryan. I wish I knew.

I am old enough to recognize implausible promises made by candidates on the campaign trail when I hear one. Mr. Obama was not the first and likely will not be the last candidate to promise more than he can possibly deliver.

I don't blame politicians for making outlandish promises because they help win elections. There is evidence that some supporters of a particular candidate know that her promises are bogus, but vote for her anyway. I don't blame them either for what is essentially a cynical vote.

Instead, I blame the mass of voters who fall for these wild promises year in and year out. How could anyone believe a promise to "change politics in Washington as we know it?" Hoo-boy, that was a stinker!


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 15, 2010 11:11AM) (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments I think Vheissu and Bryan; people want to believe that things will and can change. It is that hope that keeps folks going.

Obama I believe has tried but is and was young and inexperienced. He is trying to get up to speed but unfortunately he inherited a deficit beyond belief created by George W; two wars and a badly damaged economy which was a ticking global nightmare.

For sure, things in this country could have been a lot worse. Will he be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat to create jobs that were decimated under Reagan including our manufacturing base; maybe not.

But unfortunately there were a long line of stinkers promised in previous campaign speeches. Standing up to the establishment is what is hard. Then and only then will you change politics in Washington. Do I think that Obama can do that; don't know but I have not seen it yet except with the health care bill and in part he folded on those things he said he held dear.


message 18: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (last edited Nov 15, 2010 10:59AM) (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Any president today is forced with low voter turn-out, weak political parties, powerful interest groups, and a powerful news media that tends to live on the fringes and reports less about the facts. I think it gets harder and harder for a president to effectively govern under this new system.

It could very well be inexperience that makes a candidate make the promises, and make it difficult to deliver. Bentley, I think you are right about wanting to hear the promises, because it gives us hope. Reagan would be the first to tell you that. It is vital.

If Obama wins a second term, historically, it is difficult to govern in a second term, so it does not bode all that well for him.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments The whole idea of changing politics in Washington seems like a fallacy. We buy that spin because hearing politics as usual conjurs up the unsavory idea that nothing will change, and anytime you are trying to oust the person/party currently in power you are essentially selling change. Seems to me that how the machine of politics runs is not likely to change that much, so the question becomes how any given candidate is able to affect the public policy and legislative changes they envision.


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments As long as obstructing a president's policies works and then the party that obstructs wins in the next election; I think that the American people are actually without knowing it perpetuating that kind of politics. If we wanted cooperation we would reward that. I am not sure anything has changed or will change; from what I can see everything these guys do is all about them and not the country. We want to hear good news because it makes us feel good.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments I agree, and sadly the politicians idea of cooperation is very different from the American people's view of it.


message 22: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments It is a vicious cycle, isn't it? I think all of us would love a president to make effective change, but you have to work with Congress to make hard choices, and Congress is a tough bunch right now-only object is to get rid of Obama, etc. A president is a party leader and sometimes needs to push his party in Congress along. Do we have to wait for 2013. Really?!


message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments Obama is really letting his moment pass. I am not sure that he has the right people advising him frankly. And when you have folks who only want to get rid of you; you and your own party have to fight back. And fight back hard. You know in the midterm election I got three calls a day (personal calls) from the Republican party from the Mayor's office on down (real people on the line not the automatic calls); and they were pushy. I told them continually that I would make up my own mind and what I decided was between me and the ballot. Do you know how many calls I got from Democrats (none). They were putting their money into advertising; I guess that is all well and good but I think they are not reaching the American people...that is so curious in lieu of the fact they reached them during the last presidential election. Things are not working for sure. The Republicans' main goal is inertia so that the president looks bad and if the country goes to hell in a hand basket along with the president - so be it. They just want the power of the White House. Sad isn't it. Once Obama's poll numbers started to come down; their attacks started to go up and over the top. They even are parading out George W again. Now that is unbelievable considering the deficit, the depression, the two wars that we seem not to be able to end were actually started during his eight years. I also think the Republicans are better with propaganda and they have the money of the large corporations behind them - look at Fox News - one big propaganda machine. And to tell you the truth; they have quite a global reach; this network is seen worldwide and their spin is hard to ignore.

As far as the 2013 comment; the answer is maybe. I think if the Republicans lose the next term; they may relent a bit and if the economy and jobs recover. Right now they are playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey and they are trying to pin unemployment on Obama. I was not a fan of his at the beginning; but he is not responsible for this economic mess.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments As a country we have become so focused on instant gratification that we have unrealistic expectations not only for how quickly things can change but the extent to which they are the doing of the incumbant. The electorate seems to have a short fuse and high expectations for how quickly things can change and little recognition that all the Presidents take on whatever was left to them by their predecessor.

As you point out Bentley, they also don't act alone and must rely on whatever Congress they are dealt.


message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments True on all of the above Alisa. I am not sure that we could make the sacrifices of previous generations.


message 26: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Great comments, guys. Gosh, so much has changed in the last 70 years. It took a economic depression to change not only the presidency, but the expectations of the office. It was a real crisis like WW2, civil rights, urban riots, Watergate, 9/11...

I think Americans make big change when there is a crisis; we will probably sacrifice then. However, until that time, what do we do? A skillful president and Congress are needed to make changes, I suppose.

I think you are right, Alisa, that people's expectations are high making it more difficult for a president to govern.


message 27: by Vheissu (last edited Nov 16, 2010 11:05AM) (new)

Vheissu | 95 comments Bentley wrote, "For sure, things in this country could have been a lot worse."

Amen to that, brother.


Vheissu | 95 comments Alisa wrote: "The electorate seems to have a short fuse and high expectations for how quickly things can change and little recognition that all the Presidents take on whatever was left to them by their predecessor."

Exactly right, Alisa. I hold the mass of Americans more responsible for recent disappointments than I do the officials who disappointed them. The public is ill-informed about political maters and few take the time and energy required to inform themselves better. I suppose I sound like a scolding school master.


message 29: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (last edited Nov 16, 2010 11:34AM) (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments lol, Vheissu. We should add the ill-informed and impatient public to our list.

We give a president two years with our mid-terms, so there is a little patience involved, but not a lot.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I definitely want to read some of the recommendations above, but must comment regarding the President being the leader of his party, and, therefore, needing to push that policy(ies). This has been the case during our lifetimes and, to a certain extent for several decades previous to our lifetimes. But Washington, was not a member of a political party and believed the party system would not be good for the country. How different things might be had his opinion on this subject been followed!


message 31: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (last edited Dec 06, 2010 06:39AM) (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Quite true, Elizabeth. even though many of the Founders thought parties were destructive, I think human nature intervened and they joined opposition groups.

It is also interesting to study the Monroe administration (Era of Good Feelings) or the Republican domination after the Civil War. In these "one party" moments, there was in-fighting and factions, so I think it would have been impossible for Washington's opinion to be followed. Would you agree or disagree?


Elizabeth (Alaska) I need to read more - lots more. But in recent times, I see factions. Even in today's Congress, though Pelosi and Reid were able to get things through, there was nothing clean about it and, I think, legislation suffered terribly.

What little I do know, the power of the Presidency has changed dramatically. Now it is being said, and by Boehner, that the President sets the agenda. I want to know how/why this happened. I'm currently reading The Proud Tower  A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914 Barbara W. Tuchman Barbara W. Tuchman. The section on the US 1890-1902 barely mentions who the President is, while she spends a great deal of time discussing how powerful was the Speaker of the House Tom Reed.


message 33: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "I need to read more - lots more. But in recent times, I see factions. Even in today's Congress, though Pelosi and Reid were able to get things through, there was nothing clean about it and, I think..."

Good book. Yeah, Tuchman's book covers a period where the presidency was weak and Congress was strong. Congress asserted itself when Andrew Johnson became president, and the executive branch really did not get back its power until Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. FDR and his successors really changed the presidency.
I think they were the ones who did set their agenda and got Congress to move it along. If you set the agenda, it makes sense you are the party leader.

The Proud Tower  A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914 Barbara W. TuchmanBarbara W. Tuchman

This book might prove helpful:
The Imperial Presidency Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Thanks, Bryan. I added the Schlesinger book to my ever-lengthening Wish List yesterday. My library has it, even better!


message 35: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments You are very welcome and thanks for the great discussion.


message 36: by Vheissu (last edited Dec 06, 2010 08:12AM) (new)

Vheissu | 95 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "The section on the US 1890-1902 barely mentions who the President is, while she spends a great deal of time discussing how powerful was the Speaker of the House Tom Reed. ..."

I think there are at least three major reasons for the shift in power from Congress to the president, most of which came in the twentieth century. First was the rise of the mass media, especially radio, motion pictures, and television, which allowed the president to grab the public's attention to an extent never before enjoyed by any president. TR described the presidency as a "bully pulpit;" many have noted that his cousin, FDR, was the first president whose voice was familiar to virtually every American. JFK, Reagan, and Clinton were superb public speakers and used the media to speak directly to the American voter and shape public opinion.

Second, there were three great crises in the twentieth century that were simply beyond the power of Congress to handle. The world wars (World War I, World War II, and the Cold War), the Great Depression, and the civil rights movement demanded presidential intervention because no other institution in the country could possibly respond to them. The president's role of Commander-in-Chief gave him wide latitude in identifying and dealing with threats to the nation's security.

Third, and related to the above, these crises led the Congress to delegate many of its Constitutional powers to the president, an implicit recognition of Congress' self-acknowledged inability to deal with these new problems. Beginning with the Budget Act of 1926, Congress authorized the president by statute to assume responsibility for more and more of its Constitutional powers (foreign trade, national security, domestic economic stability, budget management, etc.).

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congress came to regret its delegation of powers to the president, largely because of Watergate and the Vietnam War. Congress discovered, however, that the powers it delegated to the president with a simple majority vote required an extraordinary majority vote to take back, thanks to the president's veto power. For instance, when Congress enacted the 1973 War Powers Act, President Nixon vetoed the measure. In an extraordinary act of defiance, Congress managed to override Nixon's veto.

Since Vietnam, president's have managed to find new and ever bigger threats to national security as an excuse for exercising extra-Constitutional powers. It may now be impossible to realize the Framers' intentions that the Congress, the most representative and democratically-accountable branch of the government, should run the country. We seem saddled today with an indirectly elected, unrepresentative president and an unelected,largely unresponsive bureaucracy as the centers of power in the nation's life.


message 37: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Vheissu wrote: "Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "The section on the US 1890-1902 barely mentions who the President is, while she spends a great deal of time discussing how powerful was the Speaker of the House Tom Reed...."

Great summary, Vheissu. Congress did make some inroads after Watergate: Congress over-rode Nixon's veto on the War Powers Act (but it really isn't used), Foreign Service Surveillance Act (1978) to prevent wire-tapping.

But it seems temporary, doesn't it? I guess Congress still has the power of the purse, though.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Excellent, Vheissu.

"We seem saddled today with an indirectly elected, unrepresentative president and an unelected,largely unresponsive bureaucracy as the centers of power in the nation's life. "

Living in a state with a small population, I like the way the Framers balanced power, and even with the above, still believe the electoral college is better than an election of popular vote. But I see the problems. I have wondered if the winner take all aspect of our presidential elections might not be substituted with electors responsible to the district in which they are elected. There are a couple of states that do this already - isn't Maine one of them?

Your observations duly noted, technology has changed the way our government interacts with us and we with it. Again, regarding our elections, having always lived on the West Coast, it has been easy to see that some elections have been over before many voters had the opportunity to cast their vote. I think we should have polls open across the country for 24 hours. I don't care which 24 hours, just the same 24 hours. Midnight to midnight in New York, 7pm to 7pm in Hawaii. Ballots are counted when every precinct closes.


message 39: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Excellent, Vheissu.

"We seem saddled today with an indirectly elected, unrepresentative president and an unelected,largely unresponsive bureaucracy as the centers of power in the nation's life. ..."


Interesting, Maine and Nebraska have the Congressional District method rather than "winner take all" system. So, I guess more than one candidate can get electors.

I agree with the frustration of west coast voters. Why vote if you hear that a candidate has a strong lead. I think in the 2000 election, a station declared a victor in one of the states before the polls closed and retracted it. Still...


message 40: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments This is an interesting Gallup poll taken recently on the popularity of modern day presidents:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/145064/Ken...


message 41: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Bentley wrote: "This is an interesting Gallup poll taken recently on the popularity of modern day presidents:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/145064/Ken..."


Great link, Bentley, thanks. JFK still up there. Wow.

1. Clinton: We see an upsurge with Clinton, which is no surprise from the recent news reports.

2. George H.W. Bush: Probably an increase due to how well he did on the First Gulf War and handling the break up of East Europe and Russia.


3. Carter: maybe memories of a bad economy and his recent meanness from his journal tour.


Vheissu | 95 comments Bentley wrote: "This is an interesting Gallup poll taken recently on the popularity of modern day presidents:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/145064/Ken..."


Very interesting, Bentley, especially the change in public opinion over the sampled time period.

Clinton and G.H.W. Bush I can understand; compared with today, the early and mid-90s were a golden age for the country.

But Johnson? Now that one flabbergasts me. I suppose he is fondly remembered by some for his War on Poverty and support of civil rights legislation in the Congress. But do Americans today remember the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights acts? Do they remember the War on Poverty? Have they forgotten the Vietnam War and the draft? I'm at a loss to explain this.


message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22987 comments Lyndon Johnson was an enigma to many and I think the way he inherited the presidency might still bring back bad memories for some; others like Doris Kearns Goodwin admired him and even his black moods. Many thought he was a better adminstrator than Kennedy. I do not think that Americans have a grasp of their history aside from the platitudes they hear time and time again about various icons like Washington, Lincoln or Jefferson. Key facts learned in school without much depth.

I think that Clinton was actually a good president overall and would be in office still popular if he were president today. I think a lot has to do with his brain power of course but also with his personality. And this is all despite Lewinsky - just think how popular he might have been without that situation.

I think the recent Carter book tour maybe hurt him a bit or a lot. But he certainly for his age is giving it his best every day for other folks less fortunate that he is. But he can put his foot in his mouth.

And of course, JFK for nostalgic reasons always comes out high in any poll; probably in terms of how the country was made to feel having the charismatic young family in the White House.


message 44: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments I think you are right, Bentley, people hear the broad strokes like welfare state and Vietnam, and there you go, bad ratings.

Yeah, I think you have a big nostalgic feelings for JFK: young, vigorous, shot down in his prime, that kind of stuff.


message 45: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Dec 07, 2010 09:56AM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) Bentley wrote: "This is an interesting Gallup poll taken recently on the popularity of modern day presidents:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/145064/Ken..."


Sort of curious that we view all of the presidents in the recent past, except Carter, more favorably than 4 years ago. Is that viewing those time periods more favorably rather than the president himself?

To me, the most interesting of the graphs in the article is that of the average, ending, and current approval ratings. While we may view Johnson better than 4 years ago, his approval rating today is the same as when he left office.


message 46: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Absolutely, Elizabeth, LBJ's numbers are stubbornly low. I wonder how hard it is to work at the LBJ Library, to show some balance. It is a given people will walk into the place with some negative views, but what do you want them to think coming out??


Elizabeth (Alaska) My plan for Johnson is to read

Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream Doris Kearns Goodwin Doris Kearns Goodwin

I remember hearing her talk about Johnson so enthusiastically, that there must be positive things in it that I don't know about.


message 48: by Vheissu (last edited Dec 07, 2010 10:41AM) (new)

Vheissu | 95 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "My plan for Johnson is to read

Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream Doris Kearns Goodwin Doris Kearns Goodwin

I remember hearing her talk a..."


LBJ definitely contributed a lot of positive things to the country. Most people credit JFK with the space program but it was really LBJ who pulled the strings in Congress to fund NASA. LBJ knew that the civil rights acts were the death knell for the Democrats in the south, but he also knew that they were the right things to do. LBJ and Mrs. Johnson were avid conservationists; if anybody remembers driving across America in the 50s, they can see the improvement in our highways today (although I occasionally miss the Burma-Shave jokes). LBJ was one of the driving forces who helped make Texas in Austin one of the nation's premier public universities, and he was FDR's go-to-man when it came to rural electrification in the south. It would be difficult to find a more effective Senate Majority Leader in the 20th century than Johnson.

We now know, however, that LBJ believed the war in Vietnam was unwinnable even as he increased the levels of American military personnel--mostly draftees--into Indochina. I just cannot ever forgive him for that.


message 49: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9916 comments Vheissu, I think did a great job in articulating LBJ's strengths. And Elizabeth, I expect Goodwin will cover those points and more.

And I expect Vheissu's last sentence is why LBJ's ratings are low. It will be interesting to see George W. Bush's ratings next go around.

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream Doris Kearns GoodwinDoris Kearns Goodwin


message 50: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Dec 07, 2010 11:22AM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) As to George W. Bush, it is quite astonishing, really, the improvement in his approval rating in two short years. I wonder if this is an aberration following the release of his book Decision Points George W. Bush George W. Bush and the number of interviews he has done to sell the book.


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