A Backwards View of Presidential Approval Ratings in Times of Crisis

Recently in various news sources, it was reported that President Trump had experienced an increase in his presidential approval ratings due to his perceived handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic. How does this compare with presidential approval ratings in times of crisis in our past?

A fair comparison is not easy to arrive at given the increased partisanship the U.S. has experienced especially within the past five years. See Pew Research’s new study on how the gap has widened. Plus, the science of poll taking has evolved considerably over time. Still, for what it may be worth, let’s look at how public opinion responded to presidential handling of crises starting with Truman.

TRUMAN: His popularity went down quite a bit from its height of over 80% after entering office to the dumps by 1947 in the mid to lower 40% range. There was considerable reaction against him during that time leading to major GOP gains in the 1946 Congressional elections. But, as the Cold War heated up, his popularity went from a nadir of around 38% after the 1946 elections to over 60% approval with the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine designed to rescue Europe. However, it soon began to decline again to where it looked like he could not possibly be elected in 1948. That was one of the greatest political upsets in our history and led to another spike of support in 1949 of over 60% with the creation of NATO and victory in keeping the Soviets from grabbing West Berlin.

His support steadily declined after that as China went Communist, McCarthyism raised its ugly head and the Korean War turned into a stalemate. His firing of MacArthur sealed his fate politically though he could have run again. He left office with the lowest public approval ratings on record around 24%, just slightly below George W. Bush’s. He also holds the modern record for the lowest overall average of popular support for his term in office at 45.4%.

So, yes, it is true that in popular opinion spiked in the crises that Truman faced.

IKE: His approval ratings are among the most consistently best of any modern President. He never went below 50% and most of the time he was at or slightly above 60%. His overall average was a stunning 65%. His approval ratings spiked to their highest of about 80% from about 70% when he took decisive action during the Little Rock controversy and soon thereafter with his response to Sputnik to call for many to become scientists and mathematicians. They sank to their lowest of close to 50% when his Chief of Staff Adams had to resign due to a major scandal in 1958, but rose after that.

Since Ike didn’t face any major crisis sufficient to impact his approval ratings, we don’t have much to work with here. We LIKED Ike.

JFK: His approval ratings were the highest of any Presidency for his time in office of an average of 70%! He received a spike of approval in response to his standing firm in response to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Went down at first as a result of the Bay of Pigs fiasco but rose quickly to 83% with his forthright apology for that debacle placing the blame squarely on himself, and rose again with the Cuban missile crisis, declined after that as the Civil Rights issues heated up but spiked up with his response to the March on Washington with his major address on race—the first President to make a strong stance publicly in favor of civil rights.
So, in his case, he also gained support in response to crises, but not in large amounts in large part since his approval ratings rarely dipped much below 60%.

LBJ: He received a huge outpouring of support for how he handled himself after JFK’s murder and that lasted for months at over 80%, but then went down and down and down as a result of the escalation of the Vietnam War. His only spike of support oddly enough came after he announced he wasn’t going to run for re-election. He rarely got as much of 50% support by mid to late 1967 and after. Overall average amounts to 55.1%.


So, yes, he got a huge spike early, but….

NIXON: One might be surprised to find that overall his approval ratings stayed in the above 50% to a bit over 60% for much of his presidency until, you guessed it, Watergate. At first, he gained support even going over 60% in early 1973 but it then collapsed leaving an overall average of 49%. So, no, he didn’t have any significant spikes upward or downward in approval ratings until Watergate.

FORD: It seems unfair to discuss this topic with Ford as he came into office in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. He had good support at first but his controversial pardon (a wise and brave decision) cost him dearly. The fall of Saigon in 1975 was his nadir in support at below 40%, but he saw a significant rise in support after that as his wife Betty Ford came forward on 60 minutes to speak candidly on several topics such as her alcoholism, issues with marijuana and in favor of pro choice in abortion. Ford helped himself by calling for reduced taxes. So, his approval went from below 40% to over 58% before it began to slide downwards leading to his defeat to Carter. He holds the third worst overall support record since WWII of 47.2%


CARTER: He gained significant support as he negotiated lasting peace between Egypt and Israel but saw his popularity decline steadily to the 40% range with a mild spike up to the mid 50s with his efforts to negotiate arms limitations with the Soviets though never ratified, rose to 61% by taking in the Shah of Iran but then his “malaise” speech sealed his political demise along with mishandling the Iran hostage situation.

So, yes, good support for his peace efforts and for showing humanitarian concern for the seriously ill Shah. His overall average of 45.5% approval is just higher than Truman’s for second worst since WWII.

REAGAN: He began with only 51% but gained significant empathetic support as a result of nearly being killed with approval ratings rising to 68% but then the Rust Belt rusted away to a major crisis taking down his approval ratings to the 40% range but those steadily and strongly improved with his handling of major issues such as invading Grenada after which his ratings hovered around the 60% range until Iran contra hit the news bringing his approval ratings down in the lower 40% range. He recouped his support quickly though with going public with a heartfelt apology in March of 1987 for Iran Contra and gained more support with his superb discussions with Gorbachev leading to an Intermediate Missile Reduction Treaty.

So, yes, his approval ratings went up strongly not once but twice in response to serious crises. His overall average stands at 52.8% and that was lowered by the length of the recession.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH: He is a strong case for gaining very strong approval for a crisis with his handling of Saddam’s grab of Kuwait where his support quickly soared from around 57% to an incredible high of 89% within little over a month’s time Amazing support but that soon dissipated to about 29%, a loss of 60%!!! as a result of a recession and other issues. It was “the economy, stupid” that did him in along with his breaking his election campaign promise to “read my lips” about no new taxes. Still, his overall average approval stands at 60.9%.

THE PARTISAN DIVIDE GROWS

BILL CLINTON: His popularity declined quickly in the midst of 1993 with the perceived mishandling of Waco to a bit below 40% to see it quickly rise to near 60% with his Oslo I accords between the PLO and Israel. They declined soon thereafter back into the 40% range with Mogadishu but rose steadily after that with the start towards welfare reform and helping facilitate a lasting peace between Israel and Jordan. Still, he will only win with 49% of the vote in 1996. After that, his approval range improved to the 60% range and while scandal after scandal emerged none hurt his approval ratings much.

The public felt he had done so well at a variety of things such as helping bring lasting peace in Northern Ireland, getting NAFTA approved, having budget surpluses, and more that the scandals just didn’t make much of a difference. Impeachment actually improved his support to as high as 62-3%. And, he stayed in the 60% range for the rest of his Presidency. His overall average was 55.1%. His will be the first Presidential administration where there will be virtually unrelenting Congressional partisan efforts to find scandals to harm the presidency.
So, in his case, his approval ratings did go up in crises even in the midst of scandals.

Starting with his Presidency, the partisan divide has sharply increased. The main reasons would be: (1) the creation of Fox News which was designed to go after the “main steam media” for purveying fake news and intending to bring Clinton down; (2) the growing impact of Prot evangelicals siding with the GOP thus a tendency to see the “other” as somehow evil; (3) the rampant impact of gerrymandering making the real elections be the primaries thus bringing more “true believers” to Congress from both parties with little inclination to compromise; and, (4) the successful efforts made by folks like Gingrich, Falwell and Schafly to use wedge issues like abortion and gun control to divide the public more so as to enable the GOP to have a better chance to win elections. Clinton’s average support from Dems was 80% and from Reps at 27 for a whopping 53% differential.

W: The partisan divide continued here with an average GOP support for W. at 81% and Dem at 23% for a differential of 58%. W. started out with decent support at around 60% but then took the sharpest increase in the history of Polls due to his handling of 9/11 to close to 90% within less than a month. That declined to his starting point of around 60% by the start of 2003 and then spiked about 10% with his surge. But, that gain was soon wiped out by the chaos in Iraq and it was a steady downhill movement from there to where he wound up with the second worst public approval rating of around 25%.

Like his Dad, he had a spectacular outpouring of support in a very short time but lost it. By and large, however, he was spared unrelenting efforts by his political opposition to find scandals to harm his presidency.

OBAMA: He had entered office hoping to help heal the partisan divide. However, he was never given a chance to do it. On the very evening of his first inaugural, the GOP leaders met to decide to do all they could to make sure he was unsuccessful and thus be a one term President. They were aided by the birther movement and Obama is a Muslim craze both designed to delegitimize him as NOT BEING a “real” American.

Though he had inherited huge crises, the GOP was not about to work with him so one doesn’t see any significant spikes upward in his approval ratings except for taking down Bin Laden which gained him a quickly evaporated 7% gain. He will wind up with an average approval rating of 47% though he started at around 60 and left office at that rate. He was much more popular overseas as in Europe than here.

One can’t help but compare his situation with the aftermath of the bitterly contested 2000 election. Gore and the Dems conceded reasonably gracefully and did NOT band together to make W. unsuccessful. The 2008 election stands out as the first Presidential election since 1860 where the losers refused to accept the results. There were many, many GOP inspired Congressional hearings designed to harm Obama’s presidency. Now, the Dems have been copycats with Trump. Some feel they’ve gone too fur.

TRUMP: His average support to date has been 40%, the lowest on record. Recently, it grew to 49 % for finally taking charge of the Covid-19 outbreak. His low was 35% which he has hit several times. His partisan divide is even worse than Obama’s with average GOP support at 84% while average Dem support has been 16% for a differential of a staggering 67%. Now, contrary to the GOP on the evening of Obama’s first inaugural, the Dems did not agree to do all they could to make him unsuccessful. Indeed, there have been a number of bipartisan bills of quite some import passed.

On the other hand, the Dems pushed for impeachment without making sure they had bipartisan support. Same mistake the GOP made with Clinton but while that cost the GOP electorally that has not happened with the Dems. The Dems did not lose significant support though many pundits were sure they would.

A TENTATIVE CONCLUSION

With the growing partisan divide, it is unlikely that Trump or any President will experience the kind of sharp outpourings of support that several previous Presidents received during times of crisis. This does not augur well for our future. Trump made much of his popularity increase, but it was small by comparison of the even spectacular gains made by several presidents earlier.

How Previous Presidents Handled Pandemics

Our nation’s expectations of how well Presidents should handle epidemics and pandemics has increased over time.

1. Wilson and the flu pandemic of 1918-9. Wilson was so tied up first with the war and then with post war negotiations centered around the eventual Versailles Treaty and League of Nations that few expected him to do much about this flu pandemic. He himself contracted the flu while at Versailles but recovered. There were no federal policies at all at that time related to the flu pandemic. His only action, at the behest of his generals, was to stop troop transfers to and from Europe for a while to help contain the spread of the virus.
America felt it was on the cutting edge of dealing with issues like typhus and yellow fever; and, it was. But, the President was not expected to have any significant role in these matters.

2. Ike and polio This was a major issue at the time, but the President was again not expected to play much of a role. The development and distribution of the Salk vaccine in 1954 completely changed the nature of this terrible scourge. Ike’s appointed head of the brand new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was Olveta Culp Hobby and it was she who made the crucial decision to make Salk’s vaccine widely distributed.
I recall, and I imagine many of you reading this, also remember standing in line to receive the vaccination. In my case, I was in junior high and stood in line in our gymnasium to get it.

Hobby was forced to resign soon after her decision due to criticisms of not putting in place strong enough safety measures.

These days that would surely be a major scandal, but it wasn’t at the time. Her reputation soon recovered enough for Ike to ask her to consider running for President in 1960.
Now, there’s a what if!

3. Gerald Ford and the Spanish flu epidemic that never happened. I honestly didn’t remember this at all. Gerald Ford and the swine flu pandemic that never happened in 1976 is a reminder that government action can backfire. Ford became worried of reports that a severe flu outbreak had happened at Fort Dix among military recruits. So, he promptly put in place a vaccination protocol to nip it in the blood or face a reemergence of the 1918 Spanish flu. Around 40 million were vaccinated, BUT it was not necessary as the flu that was present turned out not to be fatal. Worse, around 500 had the nasty side effects of Guillian-Barre syndrome of whom thirty died.

But, this debacle paled in comparison to the impact of his courageous pardon of Richard Nixon and, worse, his statement in a debate with Carter claiming that Poland was not under Soviet domination really hurt him. I recall watching that.

4. It really wasn’t until Ronald Reagan was first elected that a President was seriously expected to deal with a pandemic, in this case, HIV/AIDS. He and his aides were severely criticized for a tardy response to that crisis. But, one must recall that their views accurately reflected the moral views of social conservatives especially including evangelicals as a significant part of his base that this pandemic was a just consequence of improper behaviors.

5. It is VERY IMPORTANT NOW to correct a common misperception about President Reagan that he was utterly opposed to homosexuality and was willing to just let HIV/AIDS victims die.

In 1978, a right wing state legislator in Reagan’s home state of California, John Briggs, pushed for a state ballot initiative named Proposition 6 to bar gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools sure that Reagan would support him and publicly pressed him to do so. And, Reagan’s own political handlers urged him to stay away from this issue.
But, in September, he told reporters and with a following op ed that he was opposed to this Proposition as it would do “real mischief”, and the Proposition lost by a wide margin.
He had gay friends, such as Rock Hudson.

While he was very reluctant as President to take any public stand on HIV/AIDS for the first part of his Presidency, he did so clearly and unequivocally at a response to a question in a press conference in September 1985. On Feb. 5, 1986, he made a surprise visit to the Department of Health and Human Services where he said, “One of our highest public health priorities is going to be continuing to find a cure for AIDS.” He also announced that he’d tasked Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to prepare a major report on the disease. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, Reagan dragged Koop into AIDS policy, not the other way around. He followed up with a major address in 1987 supporting efforts to combat AIDS. He got support from Congress for financing this battle from 8$ million in 1981 to $26.5 in 1983 soon increased by Congress to $44 million and doubled that in 1984.

6. With the President’s support, it was his Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who came to the fore to speak out strongly about the need to aid those suffering from this dread disease. His cause was helped when it became apparent that there were those contracting this disease unawares. Koop strongly advocated for the necessity of sex education in the schools to teach about using condoms to protect them contracting this disease. Needless to say, that opened him up to public criticism from those conservative activists who had backed him for being appointed to his post. But, those criticisms soon faded and he has come to be regarded by many as the gold standard for what a surgeon general should do to educate the public.

7. Sadly, probably no case ever equaled in public impact in favor of empathy for those afflicted with HIV/AIDS than the sad, sad case of what happened to tennis great Arthur Ashe. Ashe had found out he contracted the disease while having a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1988. He kept that a secret for three and a half years until he found out that his secret was going to be revealed to the public. He eventually died of pneumonia brought on as a complication of having that disease.

8. I know this is a bit of a diversion from our topic, but I feel President George H.W. Bush deserves great credit for advocating for the U.S. becoming an ADA environment which is generally regarded as the last major piece of civil rights legislation. Having traveled extensively, we are the gold standard in this field. THANK YOU President George H.W. Bush!!

9. Now we come to one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, humanitarian Presidents ever in terms of saving lives from potentially fatal diseases—George W. Bush. For details please see: The March 19, 2020 issue of The African Exponent’s article–
George W. Bush’s Initiative To Fight The HIV/AIDS Epidemic Has Saved Millions of Lives in Africa.

Since being launched in 2003, the global initiative against HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR, has achieved remarkable success, and has been hailed as the biggest single disease global health initiative in history.

And, the article is correct. I know, I know, he and his administration came under great criticism for their conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with subsequent humanitarian disasters. But, NOTHING should take away from this initiative of his. PLEASE read this article. It notes the quite different actions of Obama vis a vis Trump in continuing W’s work.

For Obama and Bush together in Africa see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl0-TC0M6wY

10. We now come to President Obama, the second great humanitarian of our Presidents. Given that his handling of the H1N1 crisis has been so heavily politicized and littered with false accusations, here’s the CDC’s official timeline of the H1N1 crisis:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-pandemic-timeline.html

A good rule of thumb to aid you would be that if you see stories that say he didn’t act until it was very late in the game with a declaration of National Emergency in October of 2009 that strongly suggests that those are partisan political attacks. Just consult the actual record as reported by the CDC and you’ll see he acted much sooner than that. When one considers that the eventual fatality rate was at 0.02% that was significantly lower than was expected. Let’s hope we do that well now, though projections right now are at around 1% which would bring a significantly higher fatality rate.

Let’s take a look at how Obama brought the spread of Ebola to a halt in West Africa. We know that well from our friends in Sierra Leone. Naturally, he faced nasty partisan attacks for his efforts here, but he stayed the course. Again, please consult the CDC timeline. It was President Obama who made the decision to have CDC coordinate the efforts to stop Ebola and it involved sending 3,500 medical personnel to the region to vastly improve their health system’s abilities to deal with this deadly disease:

https://www.cdc.gov/about/ebola/timeline.html

11. It is early for a historian to say much about President Trump as his first term has not yet come to an end.  Still, the record shows that President Trump was consistent from the start of the coronavirus19 outbreak of minimizing the nature of the coronavirus crisis while stating that we were well prepared and/or it was under control, when in fact we weren’t well prepared nor was it under control. He frequently contradicted what was being said by his own health care professionals. He has recently changed his tune but has denied that he ever minimized the crisis let alone was contradicted by his own health care professionals though the recorded record is clear that he did and they did.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/12/trump-coronavirus-timeline/

This timeline has been updated on March 17 to reflect his change in message. He has also made repeated false claims about Obama’s handling of the H1N1 crisis in order to deflect from his own culpability in this crisis. Until he changed, it appeared that he had been more willing to listen to Fox commentators like Hannity and radio personality Limbaugh than to his own health care professionals. Unhappily, he still goes public with disinformation but likely believes it.  This is balanced by how much he relies on a health care professional to provide sound medical advice publicly.

The latter good practice provides a good transition for, despite the issues noted above, the fact that he has made several verifiable good decisions such as early on ordering a ban of Chinese nationals coming to the U.S., ordering a national emergency later, and, ordering restrictions on those coming to the U.S. from Europe.  We must give credit where credit is due and not focus only on his shortcomings.

There has been a surge in public support for him recently which is fairly common early on for Presidents dealing with major crises. That support can have a short shelf life depending on how well the public perceives he is handling it.  Let’s see how this plays out.  As a nation, we need him to do well.

A WARNING TO THE LEFT

Watching videos of a torchlight parade including Nazi salutes and shouted Nazi slogans such as “blood and soil” brings chills to anyone who knows the history of Nazi Germany. . Yes, there can be no moral equivalency to this. All Americans need to do all they can peacefully to reject this hatred.

During the next day, most of those who came to be counter protestors followed this principle by peacefully protesting against the neo-Nazis, KKK, and white nationalists who had gathered at the University of Virginia. And some got the daylights beaten out of them, particularly one in a certain parking garage that I watched being interviewed afterwards.

However, a significant portion of The Antifa was NOT there to peaceably assemble. That cohort came with clubs and other weapons to confront the anti-Semitic crowd which included folks with their own weapons. And, therein lies the great danger of what happened at Charlottesville.

Condoning violence utilized by a faction of Antifa will almost certainly galvanize more support for the political right and will drive away moderates. Trump’s base will feel they have good justification for believing they have been marginalized by those lefties. Folks who are so intolerant of intolerance that they will resort to violence to defeat intolerance should not be attractive to anyone on the left.

You who support such actions in any way must be warned that a major factor bringing fascism to power in the 30s was the actual danger of radical leftists gathering to carry out street fights with the Nazis and their supporters. Most Germans then were not attracted to such a movement. The Nazis promised law and order and that appealed to most or at least gained their willingness to “not get involved”.

If you’re worried about some American style of authoritarianism rising to power, a virtually guaranteed way to make sure that takes place would be to support in any way those who are willing to use any method, including violence, to oppose the neo-Nazis, KKK and white nationalists. ONLY peaceful non-violent protest in intent and in practice can successfully appeal to the better angels of our nature as Americans.

What’s my takeaway here? We should KNOW that from the successes of the Civil Rights movement. Those lessons ought to be applied now as well. As Friedrich Nietzsche put it so well in his Beyond Good and Evil: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster.”

Question for you: To what extent do you agree with this and why or why not?

What Did Pershing Really Do in the Philippines?

President Trump recently told a story about Pershing’s involvement in the Philippines. To understand the story, it is important to know why Brigadier General Pershing was in the Philippines in the first place.

He had to deal with the consequences of perceived broken American promises at the end of the Spanish-American War. Based on what they regarded as American commitments, the Filipinos and Moros (a Muslim ethnic group in the southern Philippine islands) expected the U.S. to grant independence to the Filipinos and preserve the autonomy of the Moros. But, President William McKinley and the U.S. Congress approved an Annexation of the Philippines over the objections of a considerable anti-imperialist movement in the U.S. (see Mark Twain’s classic satirical essay: “To the Person Sitting in Darkness”).

Annexation resulted in a Filipino Insurrection for independence and a Moro Rebellion initially for autonomy. The U.S. Army was sent to put these down. Pershing played a role in accomplishing an end to the Moro Rebellion.

However, his preferred M.O. was the exact opposite of the st ory told by President Trump. He attempted whenever feasible to negotiate. Indeed, his military Governorship of the Moro region from 1909-13 put in place a healthy list of lasting positive reforms including a transition from a military to a civilian government.

During his governorship, it is true that the Army continued its practice of burying each Moro rebel who had been killed in battle in pig skin to encourage the Muslims to put down their weapons. This policy helped stop the rebellion, but the greater credit should go to Brigadier General John J. Pershing who carried out his already stated policies along with a carefully constructed plan to disarm the rebels with a minimum of bloodshed.

The U.S. Army did not shoot unarmed prisoners of war to carry out Pershing’s successful policies and plan.

What is a takeaway to this recorded history? The U.S. willfully participated in the late 19th Century binge of imperialism already being indulged in by the European powers (an example would be the Berlin Conference of 1884-5 regarding dividing up Africa). Not surprisingly, the Person Sitting in Darkness in the Philippines was not going to cooperate. Their efforts to achieve independence for one group and autonomy for the other would not be successful.

I look forward to your comments!

Are We Ready for a Woman President?

Inside an ice sculpture in Joensu, Finnland
Inside an ice sculpture in Joensu, Finnland

I was in Joensuu, Finland as the primary race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was in full swing. Finland is considered the most “American” nation in Europe, and Finns were wondering whether the U.S. was ready to elect a woman President.

No one was asking about a black President, but the civil rights struggles of blacks and women are very interconnected. In 1870, we were forced to choose between them, and women’s rights came in second. Fifty years elapsed between the Fifteenth and Ninteenth Amendments, so women got the right to vote a long time after black men.

We were at a political crossroads eight years ago. The question I asked then was, “If Obama becomes President, will it be another half century before we have a woman President. We’re at another political crossroads. Here’s the background I recorded in Finland.

 

Oops! Pardon Me

There’s a fair amount of political buzz about the possibility of President Obama pardoning Hillary. We have a long history of presidential pardons that raise intriguing questions. If you’re interested, read my article. I deal with these questions:

  1. Can a President issue a pardon for anticipated indictments?
  2. Can a President issue a pardon for an indictment even though the individual has not yet been convicted?
  3. Can a President issue a pardon for someone lawfully convicted and in prison?
  4. So, what about Hillary?

Let me know what you think. If you have something you’re wondering about in current news, please let me know.

 

Failed States in the Middle East

I recently gave a presentation on Failed States in the Middle East. It included an update on the precarious situation in the “Stans” of Central Asia. We have a personal interest in Kazakhstan since we’ve been there twice and have friends there. Even though these nations are generally off our radar, it’s important to keep an eye on Islamic radicalization wherever it is progressing.
Failed States in the Middle East May 9, 2015

If you prefer to download the recording, here’s the link: Failed States in the Middle East (right click and save as)
The mildly annoying crackling sound is a result of the recording device being in my shirt pocket. Sorry.

The_Muddle_East_cropped

America First: Have We Been There Before?

“America First,” has widespread appeal right now, but it’s not new. The America First movement of the 1930’s has strong similarities. Charles Lindbergh was its prominent spokesman. Besides keeping Jews fleeing the holocaust from entering the U.S., it hindered FDR’s efforts to prepare the nation for the possibility of war. It was the attack on Pearl Harbor that quieted the America First movement then. What do you think about today’s push for” America First”?

What Does Andrew Jackson Tell Us About the Cruz – Kasich Deal?

When I heard about Ted Cruz and John Kasich agreeing to work together to keep Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination, I began looking for historical precedents. The best I can come up with is the presidential election of 1824. There were four candidates and no winner. In the deal to keep Andrew Jackson from the presidency, John Quincy Adams won the office for one term. Jackson called it “a corrupt bargain.” It’s a cautionary tale. What do you think of the Cruz – Kasich deal?

 

Arab Spring Five Years Later

Last night I began a four-part Middle East series for Davenport and Bettendorf Public Libraries sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities. Some people who weren’t able to make it to the presentation asked for the recording. Here it is. Hope you enjoy it. I would really like to have your comments. If you questions about this topic or others, feel free to ask. While you’re here, please sign up on the right so I can keep in touch with you via email.

If you prefer to download the recording, here’s the link: Arab Spring Five Years Later