FDR tried some New Deal type solutions while governor of New York and named persons like Frances Perkins to make Social Security a reality. When it came time to worry about supremacy on the high seas, however, his service in the Department of Navy probably served him best. He was forward thinking enough to lay the groundwork for global rules never before contemplated. Although never a Senator, he certainly realized that foreign policy depends on getting along with them. And thus, he chose one to succeed him in what would likely be an unfinished term. Vice President Harry Truman, who gave wartime profiteers hell when he was in the Senate, increased his chances of earning a full term in his own right.
Most political observers recognized that General Eisenhower, who ultimately opted to be a Republican, was positioned to gain enough civilian insight to prevail in 1952. On the surface, it seems ironic that a general would be the one who inherited a peacetime economy as well as recognition for warning us about the military/industrial complex. Communists had become the new adversary and so what better Red hunter than Richard Nixon for Vice-President? The 1960 campaign was built around two Senators who outtalked each other on the necessity of keeping us safe. Like a toss of the dice, Kennedy prevailed. (I often wonder how Al Gore would write the history of that election.) JFK’s short tenure was plagued by the twin problems of civil rights and the Cold War. His successor ascended from the vice-presidency to butt heads with anyone who considered it impossible to have both a successful end of insurgency warfare and a Great Society. LBJ’s claim to fame as a Senator’s Senator was not enough to keep Richard Nixon from having his turn at making America safe from Communism and prosperous at home. Most current political pundits have the end of Nixon’s flawed theory of the presidency seared into their strategic rhetoric.
When Nixon left the White House, the Great Divide between the two main parties set up a rivalry, where both Democrats and Republicans ended up stubborn as mules with memories like elephants. The Church Commission pealed back layers of military intelligence encroachment, aided by an FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. We know from reading James Risen’s State of War that the National Security Authority was initiated by Truman in 1952. It was for that reason FISA was made into law in 1978.
Jimmy Carter, who had good talking points on civil rights from his days as governor of Georgia, also had a feel for nuclear and military matters from his stint as a submarine skipper. His term, which can be characterized as blowback from contentious times, can be sized up as the OIL era. It was his administration which became hostage to the need for capital from petrodollars. Despite his pronouncement that inflation is the cruelest tax of all, he was never able to head off the new OPEC, where Young Turks had proclaimed a policy of technology for oil. Inflation in the US soared and he passed it off to Ronald Reagan in 1980. The Great Communicator brought us continuing inflation and ultimately a foreboding stock market crash. His VP, the first President Bush, succeeded to a military blitz which saved the oil patch for America but neglected the longtime axiom that war expenditures are hard on the domestic economy. Even the Fall of the Wall was not enough to please the folks at home.
Bill Clinton was--still is to many--a hero for a new era of prosperity. The draft was gone. We prepared for the New Millennium! However, he had forewarning of crosswinds midterm in his first administration. Republicans who wanted a piece of the glory of Futurism stood on the Capitol steps and demanded a tightening of how government worked. For economic success and the quelling of major foreign conflicts, Clinton got little respect. As jitters of a new century loomed, so did the litany of “human values” and tax-and-spend selfishness.
The past eight years are so problematic that it serves no purpose to analyze just why Americans ended up with stewardship of the country in the hands of the First Bush’s firstborn son. As a governor not long on military culture, George W. Bush found himself as commander-in-chief. We find ourselves with a domestic economy in shambles, matched by a Department of Defense in less than ready mode, and most citizens mad as a swarm of bees when their hive meets a bulldozer.
So, this to Hillary, Barack and John: Dear Senator, get us out of our misery. What you learned in the Senate is just an inkling of what lies in front of you concerning DOD, DOJ, FBI, NSA, DNC and RNC. May the best person win. We will have to HOPE. It’s up to you to provide some needed CHANGE. If you need help, call on us and our Representatives. That way, the Deliberative One Hundred will maybe understand that you need them too. Just be polite. Remember some of them serve longer than your term.