The Second Term
The Wall Street Journal has a feature today, Unlucky (Lame) Ducks? It is about the tendency of re-elected Presidents to have horrible problems in the second term. The POTUS known by PG, from LBJ to GWB, certainly testify to this. BTW, LBJ is Lyndon Baines Johnson, not LeBron James.
The WSJ sets out to show that the second term curse is a myth. They do not quite succeed. Rhe fourth paragraph contains a gem. Put your coffee down before you read this. “Two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley, were assassinated in the first year of their second term. But both were arguably successful in the short time they served.”
There have been thirteen Presidents to serve two full terms in office. This includes Grover Cleveland, who served a term, was defeated, and won a second term four years later. Five of the first seven Presidents were eight year men. Three of the four Presidents before BHO served two full terms. By coincidence, we are now in the second longest period of not having a President die in office. If the cigarettes don’t kill BHO, this record will be broken in 2015.
On Tuesday, November 13, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to William S. Smith. He wrote “God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.” Twenty years later was the middle of Mr. Jefferson’s second term as President. There was no rebellion.
Looking back on the last hundred years, the second term is not pretty. It makes you wonder why anyone would want to seek reelection. Let’s break it down.
Woodrow Wilson got America in World War I. He campaigned for reelection in 1916 by saying he kept us out of this conflict. He suffered a stroke in 1919, and was incapacitated the last year of his administration. The Republicans won the next election easily.
Calvin Coolidge became POTUS when Warren G. Harding died, and won a full term in 1924. He was very popular, and could have won a another term in 1928. This would have put him in office at the start of the Depression, which his policies helped to create. Scandal wise, did not get caught.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had battles over trying to enlarge the Supreme Court. Many of the New Deal programs were ruled unconstitutional. Europe and Asia were a mess.
Harry S Truman became POTUS when Franklin D. Rooseveltdied. He won a full term in 1948. The Korean War turned ugly, there were scandals, and Joe McCarthy had a good time.
Dwight D. Eisenhower had numerous scandals in his second term. His golf game suffered.
Lyndon B. Johnson became POTUS when John F. Kennedy died. He won a full term in 1964. He is the last VPOTUS to have the boss die in office. The War in Vietnam got ugly in his full term.
Richard M. Nixon won a landslide over hopeless Democratic opposition. Ethical issues caused him to resign in 1974. He spoke in a monotone.
Ronald W. Reagan had the Iran-Contra-Cocaine affair in his second term. The problems caused by the government financing terrorist armies, by importing cocaine, are still with us.
William J. Clinton could not keep his pants on. This was before, during, and after his second term.
George W. Bush saw his wars go sour in the second term. Tax cuts were used to pay for these wars, causing economic problems.