Potus Spout Pouts

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on December 29, 2010

The United States is in a period of almost unprecedented stability, in the office of President. The last time a President did not finish his term was 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace. Gerald Ford assumed the office. It is note worthy that Mr. Ford was appointed to the Vice Presidency, after the resignation of Spiro Agnew. This was the first, and only, time the 25th amendment was used, to designate a successor Vice President.

When reserching this feature, PG typed Nixon into the google search engine. The top result was NixonNow , a watch company. Their website advertises “The Beastie Boys Time Teller”. In all the watches displayed, the time was 10:09.

Getting back to Presidential stability ( not related to the mental capacity of the person serving ), it has been 36 years since a President did not finish his term of office. The only longer period of Presidential stability was at the start of the republic. George Washington took office April 30, 1789. The first President to die in office was William Henry Harrison, who passed April 4, 1841. This gives us 52 years of Presidential stability, the longest span is the history of the republic.

With the exception of Mr. Nixon, death has been the only way out of the White House, before your term ended. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached, but neither was removed from office by the Senate.

There have been eight Presidents to die in office. All but one ( Zachary Taylor) were elected in years ending in zero. This “zero factor” was in effect between 1840 and 1960, and seven Presidents in a row elected in zero years died in office. The “zero factor” guaranteed a White House death, roughly every twenty years. Such an abrupt transition is not good for smooth governance.

The “zero factor” was defeated by Ronald Reagan. He was elected in 1980, shot in 1981 and recovered, and served two full terms. There were many concerns about Mr. Reagan’s age before his election, and may have suffered early stage Alzheimers while in office. The winner of the 2000 election, George W. Bush, served two uninterrupted terms.

PG found a Playboy magazine article about the “zero factor” once. It was published before the 1980 election, and PG found it in 1983. The writer interviewed the Press Secretary for an also ran candidate, who said they were not concerned about the “zero factor”. The Press Secretary interviewed was Jim Brady. He served as White House Press Secretary, and was shot in the 1981 attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life.

The constitution provides for Presidential elections every four years. They can be lively affairs. However, when the election is over, the results are respected, and the winner allowed to serve. ( This is a contrast to the chaos seen in Iran. After the shabby election of 2000, maybe a bit of dispute was in order.) This system of regular elections, and frequent changes in power, is in contrast to the historic pattern of strongman rule, where the new ruler takes power with the murder of the old ruler. However corrupt the american system is, it is better than that.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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