Archive for the ‘Presidency’ Category

John Gardner, aide to Johnson, and engineer of many Great Society Programs

This explains a lot about the Great Society:

Assassination attempts on Gerald Ford

Yes, there were TWO of them: one by a crazed housewife named Sarah Jane Moore, and another by a crazed follower of Charles Manson named Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Here is the video:

And here is the background:

The 20th century growth of Presidential Power- the “Imperial Presidency” and “Executive Privilege”

Let us explore the expansion of presidential power in the 20th century. Or, perhaps more accurately, let us explore the claims of several 20th century presidents that their power was actually far broader than what had been previously understood.

How did the Vietnam War– especially the quest of LBJ to have the ability to prosecute the war freely as commander in chief– affect the balance of power in regard to the executive branch? How does this fit into historical patterns?

In 1973, in the midst of the unfolding of the Watergate scandal–historian Arthur Schlessinger published a book entitled The Imperial Presidency. Here is a review of that book by another famous American historical writer– Garry Wills– in the New York Times Book Review:

By the time that Nixon became president, this aggregation of presidential power had become noticeable. Besides his beliefs about wartime powers for the president, Nixon, as you know, was also involved in the Watergate scandal. What were Nixon’s beliefs about a president’s power? Go to this website: and use the hyperlinks at the top of the page to skip to part IV, which explains the basics of Nixon’s beliefs. (Of course, you can use the entire webpage for review for your tests as well– it’s very well done.)

After Nixon’s resignation, he agreed to a series of interviews in 1977 with David Frost (this story was told in the movie Frost/Nixon). Frost asked Nixon if there were ANY limits on presidential power? Nixon gave a fascinating response, which you need to read about here:

It is important that you understand these concepts for our later discussion of the Watergate scandal, especially the doctrine of “executive privilege.” In the Watergate scandal, Nixon made the claim that he did not have to turn over the tapes of Oval Office conversations due to this presidential prerogative.

So what were Nixon’s claims regarding executive privilege?

What did the Supreme Court decide?

We live in a post-9/11 world, and our post- 9/11 presidents– both George W. Bush and Barack Obama– have made claims that presidential powers are broader than most people realize. In the wake of 9/11, the executive branch — president and vice president– has claimed an expansion of power to act, and part of the argument is built on war powers–especially under the promotion of Dick Cheney, who began his Washington career as an aide in… the Nixon White House! Here is a timeline of the influence of persons like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in the Watergate scandal– and beyond:

Who was Teddy Roosevelt?

The Talented Mr. Roosevelt
Here is a good video from the history channel about Theodore Roosevelt.

Civil Liberties in Times of Emergency

With the capture and arrest of the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, there are three opinion pieces I want you to read, as well as the first three paragraphs in particular from the front page of Thursday’s paper. As you hopefully know, at first authorities considered charging the surviving bomber as an enemy combatant, and deliberately decided not to Mirandize him once he regained consciousness. Remember that he is a naturalized US citizen captured on American soil and has so far not been tied to any international terrorist organizations. (first three paragraphs are particularly important).

First, from an editorial from the Post-Dispatch:

And this one from conservative commentator George Will:

And from moderate Kathleen Parker:

This is a great chance to APPLY what we learn and use it to determine our course of action. It is also a good chance to review the Constitutional Amendments and Supreme Court decisions as well as other historical precedents that apply to our understanding of  civil liberties. We will be discussing this in class next Tuesday, April 30. Take notes and CONSIDER your answer to these questions:

What are civil liberties? What is the purpose of civil liberties? Are they negotiable or variable? What does history show us about limitations on civil liberties in times of war or crisis? What points does George Will make about previous instances of racially-based civil liberties decisions? What point does Kathleen Parker make about the ease of stripping those perceived as “alien” or “other” of their rights and claims to humanity?

Here is a link outlining very briefly the current case law on the matter of enemy combatants and civil liberties:

Oswald’s assassination by Jack Ruby- newsreel footage

Note the ironies and strange coincidences.

The Electoral College makes it official

The Electoral College met on December 17 and officially cast their ballots for president:

Attractive Stupid People: Poor Franklin Pierce….

This is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time, Christine Lavin, helping you all out in a musical way. Here is a link where you can play the song and read the lyrics as it plays:

Meanwhile, here are the lyrics we listened to in class.

Attractive Stupid People
by Christine Lavin

Attractive stupid people
appear to glide through life
watch an attractive stupid man
attract and land a stupid wife
but the problem is the kids
won’t look as good as mom or dad
and they’re always slightly smarter
which drives their pretty parents mad

Attractive stupid people think
talent got them where they are
sometimes it’s not too good
when your good looks take you too far
to places you’re not smart enough
to know you don’t belong
this is the story of Franklin Pierce
this won’t be a happy song . . .

Franklin Pierce was born in New Hampshire
in 1804
57 years before
the start of our Civil War
behind his back they called him “doughface”
a nickname for a Northern man
who had Southern leanings
slavery? — he was a fan

He became our 14th president
in 1852
he had no real credentials
but his looks sure pulled him through
he’s considered the most handsome man
who’s ever held the job
he was the first — but not the last
Democratic presidential heart-throb

Historians tell us
he was an inoffensive bloke
his lack of backbone makes him
today look like a joke
with the Ostend Manifesto
he tried to steal Cuba from Spain
he wanted to make it a slave state
but cooler heads derailed that train

He was much in favor
of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
which also was pro-slavery
set our progress back
in 1856
he did not get a second chance
Democrats nominated James Buchanan
to take them to the dance

Though he was born in New Hampshire
he rooted for the South
and more than once poor Franklin Pierce
put his foot in his moutha
that is when he wasn’t drinking
and he was drinking day and night
his wife was a religious nut
who knew how to pick a fight

He died of cirrhosis of the liver
in 1869
but with his bone structure
even sick he looked so fine
and for years he’s held the title:
the worst president we ever had
his reign now might be ruined
all because of a hanging chad

Attactive stupid women
attractive stupid men
have led the world astray
again and again and again
as we march into the future
the thought that calms my fears
is there’s an attractive man and woman
in the White House
who’ve got brains between their ears

Better Daisy Commercial

Andrew Jackson review materials

This is from a PBS special called Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil, and the Presidency, and has a glossary of terms about Jackson’s presidency:

Here is the History Channel’s biography of Jackson: