Archive for the ‘POTUS’ Category
Artist Norman Rockwell admitted that he had intentionally flattered Nixon in this portrait. Nixon’s appearance was troublesomely elusive, Rockwell noted, and if he was going to err in his portrayal, he wanted it to be in a direction that would please Nixon. National Portrait Gallery
Richard Milhous Nixon (1913 – 1994)
The 37th President of the United States, 1969 – 1974
AKA: Tricky Dick, Richard the Chicken-Hearted, Gloomy Gus, The Boss
College: Whittier College, Duke University School of Law
Married to: Pat Ryan
Children: Tricia, Julie
Previous Jobs: Lawyer, Navy Lieutenant Commander, US Representative, US Senator, Vice President
In His Words: “We were poor, but the glory of it was, we didn’t know it.”
“I always remember that whatever I have done in the past or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible in one way or another.”
“What are our schools for if not for indoctrination against communism?”
“I leave you gentleman now. You will now write it; you will interpret it; that’s your right. But as I leave you I want you to know…. just think how much you’re going to be missing. You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference, and I hope that what I have said today will at least make television, radio, the press recognize that they have a right and a responsibility, if they’re against a candidate give him the shaft, but also recognize if they give him the shaft, put one lonely reporter on the campaign who’ll report what the candidate says now and then. Thank you, gentlemen, and good day.”
“The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.”
“The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep.”
“I should say this—that Pat doesn’t have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat. And I always tell her that she’d look good in anything.”
“North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.”
“The Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards.”
“The Jewish cabal is out to get me.”
“When the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal.”
“We are faced this year with the choice between the “work ethic” that built this Nation’s character and the new “welfare ethic” that could cause that American character to weaken.”
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or a rape.”
“In any organization, the man at the top must bear the responsibility. That responsibility, therefore, belongs here, in this office. I accept it. And I pledge to you tonight, from this office, that I will do everything in my power to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice and that such abuses are purged from our political processes in the years to come, long after I have left this office.”
“I have never been a quitter.”
“Any nation that decides the only way to achieve peace is through peaceful means is a nation that will soon be a piece of another nation.”
“I’m not for women, frankly, in any job. I don’t want any of them around. Thank God we don’t have any in the Cabinet.”
“As long as I’m sitting in the chair, there’s not going to be any Jew appointed to that court. [No Jew] can be right on the criminal-law issue.”
Not true: Nixon did not tell the truth to the American people. Here’s how the Watergate scandal is described by Dummies.com:
President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the infamous Watergate scandal is a controversial issue, even today. Nixon’s role in Watergate has been under discussion and clouded in suspicious for years. In a nutshell, here’s what happened in the greatest presidential scandal in U.S. history:
- On June 17, 1972, McCord and four other men working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (or CREEP — really) broke into the Democratic Party’s headquarters in the Watergate, a hotel-office building in Washington, D.C. They got caught going through files and trying to plant listening devices. Five days later, Nixon denied any knowledge of it or that his administration played any role in it.
- The burglars went to trial in 1973 and either pled guilty or were convicted. Before sentencing, McCord wrote a letter to Judge John Sirica, contending that high Republican and White House officials knew about the break-in and had paid the defendants to keep quiet or lie during the trial.
- Investigation of McCord’s charges spread to a special Senate committee. John Dean, a White House lawyer, told the committee McCord was telling the truth and that Nixon had known of the effort to cover up White House involvement.
- Eventually, all sorts of damaging stuff began to surface, including evidence that key documents linking Nixon to the cover-up of the break-in had been destroyed, that the Nixon reelection committee had run a “dirty tricks” campaign against the Democrats, and that the administration had illegally wiretapped the phones of “enemies,” such as journalists who had been critical of Nixon.
- In March 1974, former Attorney. General John Mitchell and six top Nixon aides were indicted by a federal grand jury for trying to block the investigation. They were eventually convicted.
- While Nixon continued to deny any involvement, it was revealed he routinely made secret tapes of conversations in his office. Nixon refused to turn over the tapes at first, and when he did agree (after firing a special prosecutor he had appointed to look into the mess and seeing his new attorney general resign in protest), it turned out some of them were missing or had been destroyed. (They were also full of profanity, which greatly surprised people who had an entirely different perception of Nixon.)
- In the summer of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against the president for obstructing justice.
The tapes clearly showed Nixon had been part of the cover-up. On August 8, 1974, he submitted a one-sentence letter of resignation, and then went on television and said, “I have always tried to do what is best for the nation.” He was the first and, so far, only U.S. president to quit the job.
The Watergate scandal rocked the nation, which was already reeling from the Vietnam disaster, economic troubles, assassinations, and all the social unrest of the preceding 15 years. It fell to Nixon’s successor, Vice President Gerald R. Ford, to try to bring back a sense of order and stability to the nation. And no one had voted for him to do it.
True: Richard Nixon was 5′ 11′ and weighed about 175 pounds.
Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover were our two Quaker Presidents.
Nixon lost the first televised Presidential debate. Kennedy lost that same debate, according to radio listeners. Nixon refused to use make-up, and his 5 o’clock shadow made him look unkempt to TV viewers.
Nixon had the cottage cheese flown in every week from Knudsen’s dairy in Los Angeles.
He was the first president in 120 years to have both the Senate and the House of Representatives controlled by the opposing party.
President Nixon confesses his role in Watergate cover-up, 5/22/73
Faced with what seemed almost certain impeachment, Nixon announced on August 8, 1974, that he would resign the next day to begin “that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”
Nixon was the first candidate to carry 49 states (1972), a feat later matched by Reagan.
The Official Portrait: James Anthony Wills’ 1984 portrait of Nixon is the official White House Portrait.
Fillmore’s portrait by an unidentified artist dates to about the time he retired from the House of Representatives in the early 1840s. National Portrait Gallery
Millard Fillmore (1800 – 1874)
The 13th President of the United States, 1850 – 1853
AKA: The Accidental President, The Wool Carder President, The American Louis Philippe
From: New York
College: One of eight US Presidents that did not attend college
Married to: Abigail Powers (1826 – 1853), Caroline Carmichael (1858 – 1874)
Children: Millard, Mary
Party: Anti-Masonic (before 1832), Whig (1832 – 1856), American (1856 – 1860)
Photo by Matthew Brady
Previous Jobs: Lawyer, New York State Assemblyman, New York State Comptroller, Chancellor of the University of Buffalo, US Representative, Vice President
In His Words: “The Government of the United States is a limited Government. It is confined to the exercise of powers expressly granted and such others as may be necessary for carrying those powers into effect; and it is at all times an especial duty to guard against any infringement on the just rights of the States.”
“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.”
“God knows that I detest slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not responsible, and we must endure it, and give it such protection as guaranteed by the Constitution, till we can get rid of it without destroying the last hope of free government in the world.”
Not true: Millard Fillmore did not install the first bathtub in the White House.
A piece authored by HL Mencken was published in the New York Evening Mail on December 28, 1917 — 33 years after Fillmore died! — that credited Fillmore with the plumbing innovation. It was all a hoax, though … but it was a hoax that came to be cited as fact for decades after the piece was published.
Mencken eventually admitted that the article was not true, but not before Millard Fillmore had his reputation besmirched. Poor guy; his reputation wasn’t that good to start with!
True: Millard Fillmore was born in a log cabin, and grew up very poor on the New York frontier, in the Finger Lakes region.
He was apprenticed to a cloth maker at age 15, where he learned to card wool.
He was a compromise candidate when he became the Vice Presidential nominee for Zachary Taylor.
As the Vice President, he of course served as President of the Senate during Taylor’s Presidency. He came to support what is now known as the Compromise of 1850, and he championed its final passage early in his Presidency. That legislation was intended to calm emotions and help strengthen the republic, but in the end it only inflamed divisive passions further. It was composed of five separate bills:
- Texas surrendered its claim to New Mexico.
- California was admitted to the Union as a free state.
- The slave trade in Washington DC was banned (though slavery was not).
- New Mexico and Utah were named US territories with no clear ruling about slavery within their borders.
- The Fugitive Slave Act required Federal law officers to return runaway slaves to their owners.
Fillmore directed Commodore Perry to travel to Japan and open that nation to trade with the west. Fillmore directed Perry to use the guns on his steamships to persuade Japanese representatives if they refused to allow Perry to present Fillmore’s letter to the Emperor. The threat was not necessary, and trade with Japan became a reality.
Fillmore threatened to use the US Military on three occasions to help enforce domestic law: against Texas, when that state’s militia was about to invade the territory of New Mexico; against South Carolina, when that state was rumored to be near secession; and against a citizen revolt that attempted to lead a coup against Cuba … and failed.
The Whig party would not nominate him as their candidate in 1854. He eventually became a third party candidate representing the racist “Know Nothing” American Party … which he joined perhaps not because of their ideology, but because it was the best political platform available to him at the time. He lost, winning only the state of Maryland, and retired from politics.
He was not a weak President, but is often seen as such, since his actions failed to save the Union and prevent the Civil War. Today, his legacy is as much about what isn’t true as it is what he actually accomplished.
The Official Portrait: Congress commissioned George P. A. Healy to paint six Presidential portraits: John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K Polk, Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore. Fillmore was finished in 1857; the rest were all complete by 1859. At that point, the paintings were then stored in the White House attic, as framing had not been budgeted. It was left to Andrew Johnson to frame and suitably display the paintings after the Civil War.
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Fillmore Still Dead, Still Misquoted
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Mencken’s Hoax
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Sources on Millard Fillmore
Bill Clinton, Official White House Photo
William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton (1946 – )
The 42nd President of the United States, 1993 – 2001
AKA: Bubba, Slick Willy, The First Black President, The Comeback Kid, The Big Dog
College: Georgetown, Oxford, Yale
Married to: Hillary Rodham
Previous Jobs: Campaign worker, teacher, Attorney General of Arkansas, Governor of Arkansas
In His Words: “I end tonight where it all began for me: I still believe in a place called Hope.”
Bill Clinton portrait by Nelson Shanks, from the National Portrait Gallery
“Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
“When I was in England I experimented with marijuana a time or two — and didn’t like it — and didn’t inhale and never tried inhaling again.”
“The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth.”
“Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never. These allegations are false, and I need to go back to work for the American people.”
“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”
“A preemptive action today, however well-justified, may come back with unwelcome consequences in the future. And because … I’ve done this. I’ve ordered these kinds of actions — I don’t care how precise your bombs and your weapons are, when you set them off, innocent people will die.”
“Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
Not true: In a shameless campaign speech for Obama in 2012, Clinton criticized Mitt Romney’s truthfulness:
“You’re laughing, but who wants a president who will knowingly, repeatedly tell you something he knows is not true?” Clinton asked, after discounting a claim in a recent Romney ad that the Obama administration’s auto bailout hurt American workers.
“When I was a kid, if I got my hand caught in the cookie jar, where it wasn’t supposed to be, I turned red in my face, and I took my hand out of the cookie jar,” Clinton added.
True: The future President was born William Jefferson Blythe III in Hope, Arkansas, but his father died in a traffic accident. When he was four years old, his mother wed Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. In high school, he took the family name.
The Clinton family had a cat named Sox … the first Presidential pet to have its own website.
Paula Jones brought a sexual harassment suit against Clinton while he was President, for acts against her while Clinton was Governor of Arkansas. Clinton settled for $850,000.
Bill Clinton was the first President to appoint his First Lady to head a Presidential commission.
Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, had a sexual relationship with Clinton. The result of this affair was Clinton being impeached by the House of Representatives – the first elected President to be impeached. In the Senate, he was acquitted of all charges.
He was the first President to use the Line-Item Veto.
The Official Portrait: When Simmie Knox unveiled his portrait of Bill (as well as one of Hillary) Clinton in 2004, he became the first African American to paint an official White House Portrait of a President.
Only known portrait of Mary Ball Washington. Quoth her son, our first President, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
Abigail Adams, to her son John Quincy Adams, during his first semester at Harvard, “If you are conscious to yourself that you possess more knowledge upon some subjects than others of your standing, reflect that you have had greater opportunities of seeing the world, and obtaining a knowledge of mankind than any of your contemporaries. That you have never wanted a book but it has been supplied to you, that your whole time has been spent in the company of men of literature and science. How unpardonable would it have been in you to have been a blockhead.”
Statue of the Lincoln family, with Mary Hanks Lincoln holding Abraham. Abraham’s law partner quoted him as saying, “God bless my mother; all that I am or ever hope to be I owe to her.”
1933 photo by Elias Goldensky
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)
The 32nd President of the United States, 1933 – 1945
From: New York
College: Harvard, Columbia Law School
Married to: Eleanor Roosevelt
Children: Anna, James, Franklin (I), Elliott, Franklin (II), John
Previous Jobs: Lawyer, New York State Senator, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York
In His Words: “Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”
“I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.”
“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
“In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.”
“We must be the great arsenal of Democracy.”
“We do not see faith, hope, and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.”
“These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him – at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars- his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself – such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.”
Not true: Hyde Park on the Hudson, a movie about FDR and his relationship with “Daisy” Suckley, was widely panned as poor history. It misstated the relationship between these two very good friends, and doesn’t portray events in a historically accurate way. For example, the cottage featured in the movie was not actually a surprise to Daisy; rather, she and Roosevelt collaborated on its design. Enjoy the movie if you like … but don’t look to it for history.
True: FDR and his wife called each other “CP,” a term of endearment that was short for “Certain Person.”
Roosevelt was the first President elected with a physical disability.
He was the first person to lose the election as a Vice Presidential candidate, and then win as the Presidential candidate.
A case can be made that Roosevelt was a racist. After the 1936 Olympics, all of the white athletes were invited to the White House. The black athletes, including the 4-gold medal winner Jesse Owens, were never acknowledged by Roosevelt. During the war, he ordered the internment of over 100,000 US citizens of Japanese descent.
FDR built a swimming pool and a movie theater in the White House.
Roosevelt was the first President to appear on television.
Roosevelt’s “New Deal” redefined the role of government in America. The new federal involvement in matters traditionally handled by the private sector was anathema to the conservatives of his day. His engagement in solving America’s economic problems, however, resulted in his election to an unprecedented 4 terms.
FDR worked at improving his reading speed. Eventually, he was able to absorb an entire paragraph at a single glance.
Roosevelt’s White House pet was a black Scottie named “Fala.”
In high school, I learned that FDR’s “New Deal” helped end the Great Depression and fueled the recovery. In college, I learned that the build-up of the war machine is actually what caused the recovery, and the “New Deal” actually had little impact on the economy. My conclusion: Democrats love it, Republicans hate it, and such is the nature of political discourse. It was true in the 70s, and it’s true today. Unfortunately.
The Official Portrait: Frank O Salisbury painted the image of FDR that ultimately became the Official White House Portrait. The original was painted in 1935, and now hangs in the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. Salisbury made 5 copies, each with slight variations from the original. One of these is in the FDR Library, and the last, painted in 1947, hangs in the White House.
Freedom From Want
New York Times: Tapping The Inner Dog