Tag Archives: white house

Casting call

I’m giddy with anticipation.

All the coverage around who Barack Obama may or may not pick for the dozens of positions he needs to fill just has me fidgety.  I tend to be a bit of a political watcher, and I find all this stuff pretty interesting anyway.  It’s been eight years since all this happened with Bush 43, and it was pretty interesting to watch then.  Now, that I’m pretty psyched that ‘my guy’ won, and that he’d already picked the guy I REALLY liked for VP, I’m just super interested to see who he taps for his key positions.  It’s not so much because I’m a political junkie, because I wouldn’t label my level of interest “junkie” level.  I think it’s more because Obama/Biden, and the Secretaries, and the Attorney General, and other key folks will take frequent turns in the spotlight on CNN.com and I’m just interested to see who it will be I’ll be reading about for the next four-to-eight years.  Sort of like a casting call for an unprecedented political TV drama… only the plot lines affect my life on a daily basis.

I really have no point in writing this.  Just that I’m keenly watching it, and it’s fun.

OK, I need to stop babbling.  The problem is, I accidentally left the keys in the ignition of my minivan earlier, in the battery-on position…. yeah, duh, I know.  Then I went to pick Lane up from preschool and, ta da!  Car wouldn’t start.  In-laws weren’t home, friends next door weren’t home, and didn’t have the numbers in my cell phone of anyone else I felt comfortable calling on short notice to beg for help.  So I resorted to the double jogging stroller.  We live about a mile away from Lane’s preschool and I’ve made the trip bipedally before, many time actually.  It’s the only exercise I have gotten lately.  But I didn’t expect to do it today, when it is very cold and windy, and I didn’t expect to have to do it as fast as I had to do it.  But I bundled Jake up to the gills in his snowsuit and a blanket, and off we went.  And I did the 1.2 miles it takes to get from door to door in about 12 minutes, which is by far a personal record for the trek… and pushing 30 pounds in the jogging stroller and in the bitter cold besides.  And for kicks, I jogged some of it on the way home, too.  The funny thing was, when I tried to start the van when we got home, to show Lane how it was broken, the damned thing started right up.  So, it’s running in the driveway, and I’m still feeling short of breath.  Good times.

Executive Experience = Good President? Part 7

#19 – Rutherford B. Hayes.  Hayes had a distinguished military career and served as governor of Ohio before becoming president.  After the incompetence of Johnson and the corrupt nature of Grant’s administration, Hayes was a breath of fresh air for the country, being he was both a competent, savvy leader and very honest.  He brought respectability back to the White House and preserved the remaining presidential power… even regaining a bit of lost ground.  He was the last 19th century president who seemed truly interested in protecting voting rights for blacks.  If he can be faulted for one thing, it might be that he didn’t seek a second term.  He probably would have won and it would have given him more time to see his policies through, including protecting blacks’ rights, all which probably would have been a good thing for our nation.  Regardless, his presidency was pretty well-rounded and marked by a number of forward-thinking accomplishments.  So… EE: yes; Good: Yes.

#20 – James Garfield.  Historians think that if he’d been able  to complete his term, he might have done some good stuff,  carrying on in the tradition of Hayes, though probably not with Hayes’ stalwart integrity.  But he might have done some bad stuff too, as he seemed a bit foundering early in his term.  However, that and two dollars will get you a cup of coffee, since he was assassinated 4 months into his presidency.  His death did help to unite the country in mourning, so at least that can be said for him.  He will thus not be included in my study.

#21 – Chester A. Arthur.  Before becoming VP under Garfield, Arthur was collector of customs in NYC, which sounds sort of lame but in his time, it was a position of great prestige and power.  He was aligned with Roscoe Conkling, a US senator from New York and Republican party boss, who was all about spoils and kickbacks and favor-exchanging to increase his own political power.  Arthur benefited from Conkling’s way of doing business, and likely quadrupled his already lucrative salary through kickbacks, but it was never shown that he took bribes or did anything else more unseemly than the kickbacks.  Conkling was the subject of Hayes’ crackdown on corruption, and Arthur lost his position in the fallout.   Conkling and Arthur then conspired together to get Garfield the nomination for presidency, and Garfield repaid the favor by asking Arthur to be his VP.  When Garfield was assassinated, the Republican party felt they really had an ‘in’ with Arthur, but by all accounts Arthur rose to the position.  He led a fair, productive, and reforming presidency, to the surprise of everyone.  He made the effort to upgrade the White House to a building of style and elegance befitting the nation’s top office.  One of the crowning accomplishments of his administration was the complete reform of the civil servant employment process, requiring service exams for most positions, thus greatly reducing appointments through spoils and cronyism.  He was well-liked and respected among the public, though he didn’t pull great favor with his own party.  He did not receive the nomination to run for a second term partly because of this, and partly because he didn’t really do anything to lobby for the nomination for himself, as he’d been diagnosed with a fatal kidney disease.  He passed away less than two years after leaving office after his first term.  So… EE: no; Good: yes.

#22 — Grover Cleveland.  Cleveland provides an interesting problem here.  Given that he served two, non-consecutive terms, should he get two votes, or just one?  I’m inclined to go with just one, as a summary of his two separate terms.  Let’s see where this takes us!  Cleveland had a pretty rapid political ascent – he started his political career in Buffalo, first as Sheriff, then mayor, then onto the governorship of New York, before receiving the nomination for president.  He didn’t do a bad job as president, but he didn’t do an exceedingly good job either.  He was a man of limited education, and as such often saw issues in very black and white terms, and fixated on certain smaller issues without regard to the bigger picture or historical precedent.  He was certainly less tolerant than other presidents of the time, doing virtually nothing of note to help minority races, and he was against women’s suffrage.  He did manage over his two terms to bring authority back to the presidency with his use of executive privilege and the veto.  But overall, historians view his service as mediocre at best.  So… EE: yes; Good: no.