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U.S. PRESIDENTS DURING WAR AND PEACE

by Dr. Thomas E. Davis, Col., USA (Ret.), ©2016

Warren G. Harding did not complete his term, dying from a heart attack on August 2, 1923. He received the Republican Party’s nomination at the national convention on the tenth ballot.

(May 16, 2016) —[Editor’s Note:  The following is a continuation from Part 1 found here of what will ultimately be Dr. Davis’s fourth book.]

Wilson, the arrogant socialist Democrat, was succeeded in office by Warren G. Harding, who looked every inch the president.  He spoke well, but his looks belied his character; he was a philanderer. “Harding’s cheating was legendary. He reportedly had s** just outside his office in the White House with Nan Britton, a young woman who had idolized him since high school and who eventually had a child by him.”  

Harding overlooked corruption in his administration, which was undoubtedly one of the most corrupt.  In 1923 Harding made a trip out West, including a trip to Alaska, accompanied by his wife and his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover.  Harding most likely knew, because he asked Sec. Hoover what he would do if he found corruption within the administration.  Hoover, being an honest man, a practicing Quaker, answered that he would expose them.  It mattered not, because Harding “purportedly” suffered a heart attack and died in San Francisco on August 2, 1923.

Calvin Coolidge, Harding’s vice president, was awakened at his home, and his father, a notary public, administered the oath of office on the family Bible. The Coolidge administration was not particularly notable.  His claim to fame was his presence; his inactivity was legendary, as Walter Lippmann once noted, “Mr. Coolidge’s genius for inactivity is developed to a very igh [sic] point. It is far from being an indolent inactivity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge constantly occupied.”

He spoke a few words about which many jokes and stories were told.  President Coolidge was followed by Herbert Hoover, a trained engineer who graduated from Stanford University in its first class.  Most of his life was spent in public service, but his presidency was haunted by the monetary crisis and stock market crash of 1929. Though Coolidge had pondered the causes, he finally concluded the stock market crash and resulting devastating depression were simply inevitable.

During the political campaign of 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned on the theme that Herbert Hoover was responsible for the market crash.  He rode that false claim to the presidency and was inaugurated in March 1933.  FDR, a wealthy man in his own right, had served in various offices for many years, including a stint as Under Secretary of the Navy.  He had a reliable Democrat Congress ready and willing to pass any and all legislation proposed by him.

In effect, Roosevelt’s actions expanded the “Imperial Presidency” that had its beginnings under George Washington. “When the French Revolution led to a major war between France and England, Washington refused to accept entirely the recommendations of either his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was pro-French, or his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who was pro-British. Rather, he insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger.”

That was totally in consonance with his admonishment that this new nation should avoid all entangling foreign alliances. In plain-speak: “Keep our nose out of other nations’ affairs.”

Roosevelt’s theme of legislation was known as the “New Deal.”  The legislation was passed and signed into law, although much of it was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.  Nevertheless, though he did little to alleviate the widespread depression in which the entire world was ensnared, he was reelected by a landslide in 1936.

FDR made no secret of his infidelities, and his wife Eleanor, a kind and gentle lady, ultimately turned to other women for solace and love.  Yet, good American and elegant lady that she was, she served in many capacities to ease the pains of depression-era families.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as governor of New York, then was elected to four terms as U.S. president beginning in 1933. The 22nd Amendment, which limits the chief executive to two terms, was not ratified until Feb. 27, 1951.

Roosevelt was a spiteful individual with a mean temper and little regard for those who served this great nation.  Shortly after his inauguration in 1937, Roosevelt held one of his fireside chats in which he stated that he was going to change the Supreme Court by adding one new associate justice for every sitting justice over the age of 70 years and six months.  His explanation for this action was that the court was burdened with far too many cases.  That was a blatant lie.  His true motive was to pack the Supreme Court with justices loyal to him who could be trusted to get his legislation approved.

This scheme was met with alarm and anger in the Congress.  One senator, Burton K. Wheeler from Montana, went to FDR’s office and told him, “I will not support your legislation (the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937) to change the Supreme Court.”  Roosevelt reportedly told Sen. Wheeler to “Get the hell out of my office!”
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/roosevelt-announces-court-packing-plan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_Procedures_Reform_Bill_of_1937
http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/history/CourtPacking.cfm

Nevertheless, the imperious FDR “ordered” Sen. Joe Robinson of Arkansas, the majority leader, to “get it done.”  Unfortunately it was extremely hot in Washington, DC that summer, and the Senate chamber was not air-conditioned.  Sen. Robinson argued, threatened and cajoled the Democratic senators to pass the president’s legislation, all to no avail.  The heat took its toll and Sen. Robinson died of a heart attack, which was the end of Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme.

What role did FDR play in getting the United States involved in World War II?  Early on, there was little desire on the part of the American people to get engaged in a foreign war.  The memories and the horrors of World War I were still fresh in the minds of Americans, many of whom had fought and had relatives killed in World War I.  We were essentially isolationists. FDR was aware of the sentiments, but it was to his advantage and his narcissistic ego that he be prepared to be the leader of the forces deployed against Germany, Italy and Japan.  Read the following link to get a clearer idea of FDR’s role in getting us into war.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/fdr-foreign/

Therefore, Roosevelt struggled against the constraints of neutrality and in 1941 persuaded Congress to pass the Lend Lease Act.  In April he authorized American forces to illegally attack German submarines west of a given longitude in the Atlantic.  The sinking of the U.S. destroyer Reuben James on October 31, 1941 with the loss of 155 men should have been a signal.  We were about to become involved in the ongoing war.  It should have also been a signal to take precautions to safeguard locations such as Pearl Harbor.  But, who knows what evil….

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America’s prodigious industrial might, the atom bomb, and superior military prowess combined with that of her allies to end the war in victory on September 2, 1945. Military tribunals, better-known as War Crimes Trials held in Nuremberg, Germany and in Tokyo, set numerous precedents and resulted in 19 defendants sentenced to death by hanging. Not much of a bargain considering the fact that 60 million human beings worldwide lost their lives.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

In any event, Franklin Delano Roosevelt engaged in suspect activities bordering on the criminal.  Thank God we had Harry S. Truman, a levelheaded, courageous, no-nonsense leader waiting in the wings.  And Mr. Truman was NOT even Roosevelt’s choice to be the Vice-President! Had Divine Providence once again saved our blessed Republic?  In my humble opinion, YES!

With a sure and steady hand on the helm, Mr. Truman, a World War I captain of artillery and combat veteran who was never briefed on the atomic bomb, had the intelligence and courage to utilize that weapon to end World War II.

Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president on April 12, 1945, after FDR passed away while in office

Harry Truman became the Democrat nominee for the presidency in 1948.  His opponent was the showy and flamboyant public figure from New York, Thomas E. Dewey; all the polls indicated that Dewey would win in a landslide.  Therefore, Mr. Truman went to bed on election night believing he would be the loser.  Again, our benevolent Creator intervened and Mr. Truman went on to become, in my opinion, a superb president; a sign on his desk read “The buck stops here.”  This writer, a constitutional conservative, has the greatest admiration for the best Democrat to ever hold the office of President of the United States.

Mr. Truman also had the courage, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of UN forces in Korea, attempted to subvert the authority of the President by urging members of Congress to authorize United Nations forces to cross the Yalu River into China. Mr. Truman was blunt and to-the-point when he stated, “I’ll fire the son of a b****.”  True to his word, he wasted no time in relieving MacArthur of command in Korea, thus ending the career of a brilliant but egomaniacal military genius.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_S._Truman

The 1952 presidential election was a “No Contest.” Truman, not popular though an efficient and tough chief executive, decided not to run. The Democrats chose Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson as their candidate.  He was, however, outclassed by the tremendously popular World War II hero, commander of European forces to beat the Germans, Dwight David Eisenhower.

 

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