Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Private Inauguration Part 2 - The Obamas

The private swearing-in of the new administration continued hours after Vice President was sworn in by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Vice President's Residence. When compared to the last Sunday private swearing-in, President Ronald Reagan had his with a small audience in the foyer of the White House right after Vice President George Bush. President Barack Obama's was simpler than that. The president and the first family walked in to the Blue Room with the Chief Justice and the only audience seemed to be the film crew. Chief Justice John Roberts read the oath from a piece of paper, swearing-in Obama a third time since January 20, 2009. He and the president stumbled through the oath the first time around and non-believers in the president believed since he said it wrong he wasn't really the president so later that day the two redid the oath. A note on that presidents, chief justices and their vice presidential counter-parts have messed up the oath of office plenty of times. Even the man who took the oath as a president-elect and later administered the oath as chief justice, William Howard Taft substituted a word in the oath when swearing-in Herbert Hoover. Taft's response, "Before radio ... we messed it up even more than that."

The Private Inauguration Part 1 - The Bidens

The private swearing-in of the president and vice president happened a little differently than in the past. When President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush were sworn in on a Sunday, their little ceremony was held in the White House foyer. Invited guests sat in chairs facing the staircase and watched as the vice president went first and then the president.

This year the vice president took the oath of office almost four hours before the president. Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in my Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor (who apparently went from the ceremony up to New York, but will be back in Washington by noon tomorrow for the public swearing-in) in a ceremony that looked more like the Reagan/Biden private swearing in but at the Naval Observatory, aka the Vice President's Residence.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My 118th Post

118 was my classroom for 3 of my 4 years of teaching social studies at Castro Valley High School. When I got the room my second year of teaching (aka my sophomore year of high school 2), it had just been renovated and got a new classroom marker shown above.

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #30 - "There's an Inauguration For That"

Times they are a changing. When a new technology surfaces it of course becomes a part of the national story and an inauguration is always a new chapter on the American story. When Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term, his inaugural this time around will be the first to have an app.

There were other technological advances that helped usher in a new presidential administration, or at least get the message out that there was one.

James K. Polk's inaugural on March 4, 1845 was the first to be telegraphed.

William McKinley in 1897 was the first to be filmed using a motion picture camera.

The first telephone at an inauguration was in 1905 for Theodore Roosevelt.

This just in, radio joined the event by broadcasting Calvin Coolidge's inauguration in 1925.

Inaugurations became talkies in newsreels with Herbert Hoover's swearing-in in 1929.

Don't touch the remote (which probably wasn't around), Harry Truman's 1948 inauguration was the first to be televised.

William Jefferson Clinton's inaugural ceremony was the first broadcast live on the internet on January 20, 1997.

POTUS QUOTUS - GWB43 SECOND INAUGURAL 2005 - "The Battle Cry of Freedom"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

POTUS QUOTUS - WJC42 SECOND INAUGURAL 1997 - "The Great Communicator (Revamped)"

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #29 - "First Frist Ladies and Inauguration"

The role of a first lady on Inauguration Day increased early in the 20th Century.

Helen Taft became the first to ride back to the White House with the newly sworn in president, William Howard Taft, in 1909.

The Tafts ride back from the Capitol after the inaugural ceremonies on March 4, 1909.

For Woodrow Wilson's second swearing-in, Edith Wilson became the first First Lady to accompany the president to and from the ceremony. In 1921, the outgoing first lady, Wilson, rode with incoming first lady Florence Harding to the Capitol starting the tradition of first ladies following the president and president-elect. Eventually, First Ladies and Second Ladies would ride to the Capitol with their successors separately from their husbands.

On Lyndon Johnson's Inauguration Day in 1965, Lady Bird Johnson became the first First Lady to hold the Bible for the president. Judy Agnew became the first Second Lady to hold the Bible for the vice president on Vice President Spiro Agnew's second inauguration in 1973.

Lady Bird Johnson holds the Bible for President Lyndon Johnson on January 20, 1965.

Judy Agnew holds the Bible for Vice President Spiro Agnew on January 20, 1973.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #28 - "From The East Front to the West Front"

Andrew Jackson's first term and the 11th inaugural ceremony on March 4, 1829, was the first to take place outside on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol building. This tradition of taking the oath on the East Front would last until President Jimmy Carter's swearing-in on January 20, 1977.

President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961 on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol.

A new precedent began with a new president, with Ronald Reagan's swearing-in on January 20, 1981, presidents have taken the oath of office on the West Front. The West Front of the Capitol allowed for more space both on the make-shift stage and the crowds of people. It also gave the television audience sweeping scenes of the Mall.

President Barack Obama's first term inauguration in 2009 on the West Front.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #27 - "Second Billing"

Traditionally the vice president of the United States takes the oath office prior to the president on Inauguration Day. John Adams was sworn in as the first VPOTUS on April 21, 1789, 9 days before George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. Four years later when they took the oath of office for a second term, Adams took it first and then Washington.

When inaugurations became common place in the new capital city of Washington on the steps of the capitol, vice president-elects took their oath inside followed by a speech. The most well remembered vice presidential inaugural address was by Andrew Johnson on March 4, 1865. It is more remembered for the belief that Johnson 17 was drunk. He had been suffering a cold and took some whiskey to remedy himself, which led to his speech being slurred. Once outside for the presidential oath, president-elects would first give their address and then take the oath of office. With the passage of the 20th Amendment, things began to change.

Inauguration Day 1969, the outgoing and incoming administrations were comprised of former and present vice presidents. FROM L to R (the brief Johnson/Agnew administration): President Lyndon Johnson (36th POTUS and 37th VPOTUS), President-elect Richard Nixon (37th POTUS and 36th VPOTUS), Vice President Spiro Agnew (39th VPOTUS), and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey (38th VPOTUS)

Once January 20th became Inauguration Day in 1937, vice president-elects took their oath of office outside a few minutes prior to the presidential oath...but minus the address. Since then vice presidents take their oath and enjoy the day. The tradition of not having a set official to swear them in remained. Sometimes the Chief Justice swore in both men (still only men as of 2013), or the vice president chose an associate justice of their liking, or the out going vice president, or the president pro tempore or even the speaker of the House of Representatives administered the oath. The vice president even gets his own song after being sworn in, "Hail Columbia".

Henry Wallace being sworn in as vice president in 1941 by out going two term FDR vice president, John Nance Garner.

On January 21, 2013, the Chief Justice of the United States will once again swear-in the POTUS. Vice President Joe Biden will be sworn in by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the last female to swear-in a vice president, and that was Al Gore for a second term in 1997. Prior to that, Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to administer the Constitutional oath to a vice president, James Danforth Quayle in 1989. Sarah T. Hughes, a federal district judge in Texas, became the first to give the presidential oath in 1963 to Lyndon Johnson in Dallas.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #26 - "The New 57"

When Barack Obama is inaugurated for a second term as President of the Untied States, it will be the 57th Inauguration ceremony since the U.S. Constitution began operating in 1789. So every four years, previously on a March 4th, now on a January 20th, the nation gathers to inaugurate a new presidential administration with the pomp and ceremony of royalty like that of old Europe. But it's an example of what makes the United States so unique and an example of the lasting power of the U.S. Constitution. Every four years, the power of the office goes from one individual to the next connecting the present, 2013, to the past, 1789 and the Revolutionary War two decades prior. No matter if it is your first swearing-in or your fourth, the oath of office is administered and a new term begins.

POTUS QUOTUS - FDR32 SECOND INAUGURAL 1937 - "The First January 20th"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

POTUS QUOTUS - WW28 SECOND INAUGURAL 1917 - "Before Wilson's War"

Comments to the Internets - Secret Service Protection 2

from POLITICO: Obama grants himself lifetime Secret Service protection

1/10/13 1:19 PM EST

President Obama on Thursday signed a bill granting him -- along with George W. Bush and future ex-presidents -- lifetime Secret Service protection, reversing a 1990s law that limited post-presidency security.

The Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 restores lifetime protection for presidents and spouses who served after Jan. 1, 1997, and gives the children of former presidents protection until age 16.

The existing law, passed by Congress in 1994, ended protection for former presidents a decade after leaving office. But members of Congress and law enforcement officials had since come to see lifetime protection as more necessary as global threats have grown.

my comment...
The reason the 1994 law was established was because presidents were living longer. In 1994 there were 5 former presidents alive (Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, and Nixon would die that year, but also he gave up SS protection in '85). The 1860s was the last time this many presidents were alive at once. When lifetime protection was established in 1965, there were only 2 former presidents alive Truman and Ike (Hoover passes away the year before). 2 days after Nixon's 2nd inaugural in 1973, there were no former presidents. Since presidents (and first ladies) were living longer the 1994 law was established. President Bill Clinton would sign the 1994 law and wouldn't be effected as most laws never effect the current office holder (i.e. the passage of the 22nd Amendment, term limits, in 1951 didn't effect Truman whereas Ike was the first to be limited). The 1994 law took effect in 1997, so had Bob Dole won the 1996 election he would've been the first to be limited to 10 years after office SS protection, but George W. Bush became the first effected by this. It was during the Bush administration that returning to the 1965 law was originally brought up. Seeing as how relatively young and healthy Bush 43 is, I would guess something caused the SS suggested to the Congress that a ten year limit wouldn't be prudent. The same probably could be argued for Obama.

in response to Obama not only "granting" himself Secret Service protection for life, another commenter believed he could become president for life. A lot of ignorant speculation all thanks to a misleading titled article thanks to the POLITICO reporter's lame title. Here is my response, aka my comment...

Interestingly a Democratic Congressman has been trying unsuccessfully to repeal the 22nd Amendment since 1997. IF by some chance the States ratified a constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd amendment before Obama's term ended in 2017 (it's not a quick process, but there are exceptions), he probably wouldn't be allowed to run for a 3rd term until after he'd leave office since most laws (amendments included) always have a stipulation about the current office holder. In this hypothetical scenario, Obama would have to wait a presidential term before running for that would be 2020. Another example, if the Democratic congressman was successful back in 1997, Bill Clinton would've been prohibited from running for a 3rd term in 2000 and would have to wait until 2004 (and any presidential election after), whereas Bush 43 (having won the 2000 election) would've been able to run for reelection in 2004 and as many times after as he'd want in this scenario.

POTUS QUOTUS - WM25 SECOND INAUGURAL 1901 - "The 20th Century's First Second Inaugural"

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #25 - "The Sampler-Elected Presidents"

So 17 presidents have been reelected to second terms, there were another 4 that were reelected to the presidency. Of the vice presidents that succeeded to the presidency through death of the president, only four were ever reelected to a term of their own after completing their predecessor's term of office like Theodore Roosevelt who finished William McKinley's second term and was reelected to the presidency in his own right in 1904. But it can also be argued that since TR took over so early in the 1901-05 term, six months in, that McKinley's second term was TR's first and the 1905-1909 term was TR's second. The same could be argued for someone like Lyndon Johnson who took over John F. Kennedy's first term with less than one year until the presidential election and then won his own election. And yes, both reasons can be considered correct. This is about the four vice presidents-turned-presidents with on-the-job-training prior to their first run at the top of the ticket.

John Tyler became the first vice president to become president after William Henry Harrison died 30 days after being inaugurated. The U.S. Constitution didn't clearly state that the vice president officially became the president until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967. Tyler, in 1841, established the precedent which Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Roosevelt 26, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and LBJ would all follow until the amendment was written. But it wouldn't be until Roosevelt 26 in 1904, that one of these VPOTUS turned POTUS would win an election after succeeding to the office. Some would try to run for the job they got from outside the democratic process (although elected vice president), but only a few would actually get the chance to try on their own...and even win.

For Tyler, he was more of an independent after being shunned by the Whig Party that nominated him as vice president in 1840 and the Democrats didn't want him. He considered running as an independent but chose not to run in the end. Fillmore, Johnson 17, and Arthur weren't even given a chance for renomination. Tyler would eventually side with the Confederate States of America, or as Lincoln called them the States in rebellion, or something like that. Fillmore gave the presidency another chance in 1856 as the Know Nothing Party's presidential candidate. He would place 3rd in the general election and not like early 21st Century 3rd Parties and their 3rd place positions. Fillmore would win a State, Maryland and not his home State of New York, which means 8 electoral votes and 21% of the popular vote. Johnson 17 would get reelected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee becoming the first and only former president to be elected to the Congress as a senator, but never ran at the top of a presidential ticket. Arthur wanted to try but realized, like Fillmore in 1852, the party wasn't with the incumbent. A challenge TR wouldn't have to face thus starting a new trend.

TR was a popular American with his stories of gallantry in the Spanish-American War leading the Rough Riders. He'd served as McKinley's Assistant Secretary of the Navy and went on to be the governor of New York, a stepping stone to national office. When McKinley's first vice president, Garret Hobart, died in 1899, Roosevelt was put on the ticket because New York Republican Party bosses wanted to put an end to TR's corrupt-busting from the State capital. Of course putting TR, a crazy cowboy according to Mark Hana, McKinley's political brain or Karl Rove, thought it was unwise to put him so close to the presidency. His fears came true when McKinley was shot in September 1901 by Leon Czolgosz. Since McKinley was shot in the first year of his second term, President Theodore Roosevelt's popularity continued to grow through the remainder of that term. His 1904 reelection was a given. However after winning the 1904 election, he declared he wouldn't run for reelection in 1908 because he was following in the tradition set by George Washington and limiting one's self to two terms. Roosevelt 26 considered McKinley's second term as his first term but his declaration as a two term president made him a lame duck president from the start of his second term.

He would however handpick his successor William Howard Taft, his Secretary of War. After realizing Taft was no TR, former President Roosevelt decided to do what only a few former presidents had tried... run for reelection as a former president. Only one has been successful, TR's fellow New Yorker Grover Cleveland. And he was renominated by his own party 3 times in a row. Roosevelt 26 would have to do what former presidents Fillmore and Martin Van Buren did. They went the 3 party route. Whereas Fillmore won a State in 1856, Free Soil Party nominee Van Buren got 10% of the popular vote and no electoral votes. Very modern. All 3 were vice presidents, but Van Buren was the last incumbent vice president to become president through election until 1988 with Vice President George Bush's election to the presidency. As a 3rd Party candidate in 1912, Progressive Party or the Bull Moose Party nominee former President Theodore Roosevelt became the last 3rd Party candidate to come in second place. The 1920 election would be the first election since Roosevelt 26's death in 1919, but there would be a Roosevelt on the ticket. Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Navy and future governor of New York, was the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee to James Cox. A son of Ohio would've been president had either ticket won, but the vice presidents were different. FDR was from New York and Republican vice presidential nominee Calvin Coolidge of Vermont was from Massachusetts. He would be president of the United States before the presidential election of 1924, not that much different from TR 20 years prior.

Calvin Coolidge finished Warren G. Harding's first term after he died of natural causes in 1923. (Myth will have you believe his wife, Florence Harding, poisoned President Harding...she didn't. But there are some that would want you to think that.) Coolidge presided over a prosperous America in the Roaring 20s and was easily renominated by the GOP in 1924. Like Roosevelt 26, but not with the proclamation of not running in 1908 (which limited TR from seeking his own second term or historically speaking an unheard of 3rd term), Coolidge didn't run for another term in 1928 in the days before the 22nd Amendment which limited presidents to two terms, or 8-10 years in office. But Coolidge's successor, Herbert Hoover would face the man in 1932 for which the 22nd Amendment was passed, Coolidge's rival for the vice presidency 12 years before.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first and only man to be elected to a third and fourth term. He also had the most vice presidents, 3. And it was lucky number 3 that succeeded him after he passed in April of 1945. Harry Truman was the lucky one of FDR's vice presidents and served about two and a half months as the nation's number 2 before taking on the big job of filling the shoe's of the POTUS that presided over the nation through the Great Depression and most of the Second World War. Truman's chances of reelection weren't great by 1948, but at least he was easily renominated. The election was close and even though everyone including the press thought Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York (there's that State again) and 1944 Republican Presidential Nominee, would be the 34th POTUS. Truman woke up to learn that he had finally become a president-elect.

Like Johnson 17, Arthur and Roosevelt 26's ascensions to the presidency, LBJ, or Johnson 36, would also become president because of an assassin. John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, while riding in the backseat of an open motorcade. Johnson 36 was sworn in on Air Force One before taking off for Washington, D.C. In 1964, LBJ's popularity propelled him into his own term as president with one of the biggest landslides in a presidential election.

It would be during Johnson 36's term that the 25th Amendment would pass and put John Tyler's precedent into the Constitution. "In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.". It also makes sure there is no vacancy in the vice presidency. When all the vice presidents listed above became POTUS, the office of the vice president remained vacant, as well as the times that the vice president died while in office. Vice President James Sherman was the last to die in office just weeks before the 1912 election. Votes for Sherman would go to Nicholas Butler of New York. This amendment takes care of that.

So when Spiro Agnew became the second vice president (after John C. Calhoun in 1832) to resign from the office in 1973, Richard Nixon became the first POTUS to use the 25th Amendment and fill the vacancy. Gerald Ford became the first vice president never elected by the people, but approved by a majority of the Congress of the United States, House and Senate. With Nixon's unprecedented resignation in 1974, Ford was the first unelected POTUS and went on to appoint Nelson Rockefeller as vice president. They would be the first unelected administration. Ford would earn his party's nomination in 1976, even though he did have a challenge from California's Ronald Reagan. But in a close election, Ford would become the first of these 20th Century vice presidents that moved on up to the presidency through death or resignation to lose election to his own term. Unlike his 19th Century vice president-turned-president counterparts, he at least won his party's nomination and got to face the electorate at the top of the ticket.

Nixon's resignation was the last time a vice president, Ford, became president outside of being elected, George H. W. Bush ran for president in 1988 while he served as Reagan's vice president and won. So while 17 won reelection to a second term and 4 won reelection to the presidency, 21 have spent more than four years as president of the United States.