Friday, March 30, 2007

Institute Recieves Feedback

Our Hall Institute panels on the upcoming election held at Monmouth University and at Stockton show how deeply worried the people are about the course this nation is embarked on.

Corzine's Endorsement

Sources say that Corzine will announce on Monday that he will support Hillary for president; this follows on a similiar announcment fromBilly Jean King.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hillary's Negatives

According to a Harris poll, about half of the adult voting population would not vote for Hillary Clinton. Although it was expected that she would have high negatives, that number is likely to startle everyone.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Obama's Growing Presence in NJ

Strong support is building for Obama in the traditional Democratic power houses in Essex and Hudson counties. These usually world weary figures must see something they like. It reminds us of when John Lindsay ran for the Mayor of New York. His slogan was—he’s so fresh and they look so tired (his opponents look weary that is).

The Resume Candidate

If one looks at resumes, the most impressive one of presidential candidates is that of Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, former ambassador to the UN, former energy secretary, and a former congressman. Some of his friends unfortunately are telling gossip columnists in NYC that he would settle for the vice presidency. Ugh, one does not run for the vice presidency and garner any excitement.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Road Show Begins

Our Presidential Forum road show began today with a taping of Carpe Diem, Montclair State University's award-winning weekly half-hour magazine show.

Host Bill Berlin discussed the 2008 presidential race with NJ Monthly Editor David Chmiel, Hall Institute Communications Director Richard Lee, and me. Air dates will be scheduled later.

On Monday, we are off to the Richard Stockton State College of New Jersey for our first panel discussion.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Ten Worst Presidents

Recently, I outlined the late Gerald Ford’s view about what presidents he admired and those he did not care for during his lifetime. And then I examined the reputations of the men who have been seen by historians as the great and near great in that office. There were no surprises of course, but there is really a dearth of public knowledge in general about American history. Now we have an even more tricky collective wisdom about the very worst presidents of the previous two centuries.

On top of the list is James Buchanan who had a long distinguished career before entering the White House, but who unfortunately simply watched as the Southern states left the Union and actually sought to buy off the secessionist and slaveholding interests during his term in office. The second worst is Warren Harding whose administration has become synonomous with corruption and cronyism. He was an elegantly handsome man with not many thoughts in his head; but he was a relief from the overly challenging and moralistic Woodrow Wilson. He is followed by Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson who was impeached and nearly convicted for opposing the Reconstruction including the 14th amendment. He wished the Southern leaders to grovel before him for forgiveness, but granted amnesties to nearly all of them, just to show that they were indebted to a poor white. He detested African Americans, and his racism was obvious even at that time.

He is followed on the list by Franklin Piece who was a Northerner who supported the slave interests in his presidency during the 1850s. Number 5 is Millard Fillmore who in the preceding term (1850-1853) advocated a compromise fathered by Henry Clay that delayed secession by allowing slavery to spread across the lower Mason Dixon line. His predecessor, John Tyler, was a Democrat parading as a Whig who moved to admit in the Union Texas and parts of the West, and thus helped increase the power of the South in the Senate. Tyler during the Civil War actually served in the Confederate Congress, committing the classic definition of treason.

After the war, the nation wanted peace and elected a warrior who promised them peace—U.S. Grant-- who for two terms presided over an administration of corruption. Added to the list, probably unfairly, is William Harrison who was president for a month, dying after contracting an illness during his long inaugural. The historians then have named Richard Nixon (tied), Herbert Hoover (tied), and Zachary Taylor to the list to get an even ten.

It is obvious that some presidents especially in the period between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln simply served in a time when the expectations and the powers allocated to the executive were modest. They were in turn modest men with much to be modest over. But the insistence of liberal historians on ranking Nixon on its enemies list is really historical unfair and simply incorrect. A recent edition of “Foreign Policy” is much more on the mark. It ranks Nixon as third-- only behind the great Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman, who created the post war alliances, as a master of foreign policy, with his opening to China and his treaties with the Soviet Union. One may dislike his prolonging of the Vietnam war and also his complicity in the Watergate cover up, and still recognize his gifts. We don’t have to be like Nixon—a good hater. As for Herbert Hoover, he surely pales in comparison to his successor, but he had one of the most distinguished pre and post careers of any president. Even Franklin Roosevelt supported him once for president. Hoover was just not up to the ending of the Depression, but at times even FDR wasn’t either. Hoover unfortunately was a boring Teddy Roosevelt, a mild progressive who became more conservative as he came to comment on the New Deal and the welfare state. He did not do himself a service by his later reactionary comments, while FDR became more liberal and internationalist As for Zachary Taylor he was only president for a short period of time, and was proving to be a politically na├»ve leader who was learning the ropes when he too died abruptly.

We have for some reason decided to end celebrating Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays and establish something called” Presidents’ Day” , so we can sell mattresses and used cars in February. But in reality we do not want to celebrate Presidents’ Day; we want to remember the three or four truly great presidents we have been blessed with. Let us restore a commemoration to their birthdays, and forget the rest -- or at least this list.

Monday, March 12, 2007

February 5th 2008

As New Jersey joins the group of states that will have primaries on February 5th 2008, one of the unforeseen consequences will be an even greater emphasis on money and name recognition. The magical odysseys of Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, and John Edwards, maybe upended, not because of what they stand for, but because of the timetable. Large well-funded organization with candidates who are fairly familiar gives them an immense advantage in a primary day that will stretch from New Jersey to California.

Although there are many candidates in the race, there are very few that can play in this opulent ballpark. The Democrats and the Republicans are going to find that the field, sooner rather than later, will support only one or at the most two people who can challenge the current front-runners. The fear that both parties have, especially those with ideological positions on divisive issues is that they cannot attract enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

The Female Head of State

Recently, a young male acquaintance of mine said he could not see entrusting the fate of the republic to a woman president. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, perhaps it might be useful for him and all of us to take a look at women leaders elsewhere. Here is a brief list of famous Female World Leaders:

Indira Gandhi-As prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and 1980 to 1984, Gandhi led the world's largest democracy. Indians called her Mataji, or "respected mother."Golda Meir-Meir moved to Palestine in 1921 from Milwaukee and quickly became a leader in the Zionist movement. She was elected to the legislature of Israel in 1949 and served as prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

Margaret Thatcher-
Thatcher began her long career in Great Britain's Parliament in 1959. She was the first female prime minister and the longest serving. She advocated conservative economic policies during her tenure from 1979 to 1990.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir-The first popularly elected female president in history,
Finnbogadottir defeated three men in her first run for Iceland's presidency in 1980. She worked to modernize Iceland and improve the status of women until the end of her fourth term in 1996.

Mary Eugenia Charles-The first female lawyer on the Caribbean island of
Dominica, Charles was elected prime minister after the island gained independence from Great Britain in 1978. Known as the "Iron Woman of the Caribbean," Charles instituted economic reforms and environmental protections during her three-term tenure.

Benazir Bhutto-
Bhutto served as prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996 during the country's woes with huge debt, the heroin trade and Afghan refugees.

Gro Harlem Brundtland-As prime minister of
Norway from 1986 to 1989 and 1990 to 1996, Brundtland encouraged entrance to the European community. A strong proponent of women's rights, Brundtland helped lead a movement resulting in increased female participation in government. She now serves as the Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Violeta Barrios de Chamorro-Chamorro became the first women to be elected president in the Western Hemisphere when she won the elections in
Nicaragua in 1990. Her reforms failed to help the country's ailing economy and she retired in 1997.

Mary Robinson-After she was elected president of
Ireland in 1990, Robinson said of the Irish voters, "Instead of rocking the table, they rocked the system." After a successful presidency, Robinson accepted a position as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mary McAleese-Elected president of Ireland in 1997,
McAleese continues to promote the peace process between Catholics and Protestants.

Helen Clark-
Clark became prime minister of New Zealand in 1999. She had served in parliament for 19 years and held posts as the head of the health, conservation, housing and labor departments.

Tarja Kaarina Halonen-
Halonen was elected president of Finland in 2000. She had served in Parliament since 1979 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1995 until her election.

Michelle Bachelet- Bachelet was a strong advocate of human rights in Chile. She is also the first female Chilen President.

Maybe the America, which sees itself as a leader, is really a follower in an area that it likes to think it is enlightened. Wake-up men, women are not three steps behind; in fact they are actually ahead of you. More women go to college than men, and your mothers control more money than your fathers.

Law & Order Revisited

The actor and former US Senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson, has announced to a waiting world that he is considering a run for the presidency.

If we are going to the TV series “Law and Order”, I personally would prefer Sam Waterston's character, Jack McCoy. McCoy, with his Lincolnesque pose, stands for truth, justice and the American way. He is a man of enlightenment even though he lives in New York City, has strong views on how to clean up the streets and who periodically shows a sense of compassion. He is also a person with a long history of womanizing, which certainly won’t hurt him this year.

So, if we are going to TV let us go to the star rather than to the supporting actor.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New York Pols & Their Backyard

New Jersey could be much more of a horse race than it has since 1960. Both candidates will be well funded, highly organized and very well known to citizens of our state which makes the idea of undecideds less likely in the long run.

Most recent Quinnipiac University polling shows front-runners Clinton and Giuliani widening lead in Democrat, GOP primaries.

From Eisenhower to Ike

My most recent book review for the Washington Times, takes a look at the transformation of Eisenhower to "Ike" in a work by author John Wukovits:

One cannot help but be impressed by the author's evidence of Ike's genuine concerns for his soldiers and his real hatred of the toll of war. At Ohedruf-Nord and at Buchenwald, for example, he saw firsthand the concentration camps. He ordered that the troops visit the camp near Gatha so there might be no question later of what had occurred.Eisenhower was profoundly shaken by what he saw before him; even the war-hardened Patton turned aside and vomited at the gruesome sights. There were no revisionist historians present, apparently.

When Democrats Attack

The Democrats barely announced their candidates for president and out of the woodwork come attacks by fundraisers on Hillary and counterattacks on Obama. Somehow the Democrats, who have so carefully avoided a firm commitment on getting out of Iraq, have decided to make personalities the top order of business. Bad way to convince the nation they should be back in power or would know what to do with it once they got it back again.