Presidents are not only the country’s principal policy chief, shaping the nation’s domestic and foreign agendas, but also the most visible example of our values.
A national government using New Deal programs and the massive defense spending beginning with World War II and continuing through the Cold War was Johnson’s vehicle for expanding the Southern economy and making it, as he hoped, one of the more prosperous regions of the country.
Governing is one thing, campaigning is another – and the latter becomes far more pronounced in an election-year State of the Union.
Nixon’s deep antipathy toward Jews is well known, and he took a strange satisfaction in having Kissinger in his inner circle, where he could periodically taunt him.
In seeking an empire of liberty, Jefferson wished not only to expand the country’s territorial holdings, but also to extend American institutions around the globe.
George Washington sets the nation on its democratic path. Abraham Lincoln preserves it. Franklin Roosevelt sees the nation through depression and war.
During Grover Cleveland’s second term, in the 1890s, the White House deceived the public by dismissing allegations that surgeons had removed a cancerous growth from the President’s mouth; a vulcanized-rubber prosthesis disguised the absence of much of Cleveland’s upper left jaw and part of his palate.
I see a direct line between Kennedy and Richard Nixon and the opening to China and the detente with the Soviet Union.
What makes war interesting for Americans is that we don’t fight war on our soil, we don’t have direct experience of it, so there’s an openness about the meanings we give to it.
Despite all the public hand-wringing about negative advertising, political veterans will tell you that it persists because, more often than not, it works. But tearing down the other guy has another attraction: It can be a substitute for building much of a case for what the mudslinger will do once in office.