The President's First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned - Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency

The President's First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned - Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency

by Douglas Alan Cohn
The President's First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned - Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency

The President's First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned - Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency

by Douglas Alan Cohn


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A fascinating new angle on presidential history, assessing the performances of the presidents in their freshman year of the toughest job in the world. Grouped by the issues the new presidents confronted in their first years in office, the book takes readers into the history, thought processes, and results on a case-by-case basis, including how the presidents’ subsequent actions proved that they learned (or didn’t learn) from their mistakes. From George Washington to Barack Obama, The President’s First Year details the challenging first twelve months of all our presidents’ tenures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493011926
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 01/15/2016
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Douglas Cohn is writer/owner of Washington Merry Go Round, America’s longest running syndicated column, founded by Drew Pearson 1932. He has been the primary speaker at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Press Club, West Point Founders Day, and the International Platform Association. His television work includes numerous appearances on A&E’s Biography Channel, the Military Channel, and CNBC. His program “West Point at the Opera” was featured in The New Yorker. He is a member of Critical Issues Roundtable, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank of retired generals. A 1968 graduate of West Point, was a U.S. army airborne ranger who led a recon platoon in Vietnam. His medals include two Silver Stars and Purple Heart. He was retired as a captain after convalescing from gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest, abdomen, leg, and hand. He and his wife of 41 years, Kathryn, have four children and six grandchildren. They reside in McLean, Virginia.

Table of Contents

(Note: Each president is preceded by the order of service.)

Notes on the Text vii

Introduction: The Freshman President 1

Chapter 1 The Model Others Failed to Follow 7

1st George Washington-Precedents 7

Chapter 2 Witch Hunters: Sedition and McCarthyism 19

2nd John Adams-Sedition 20

Timeline: XYZ Affair, Sedition Act, Quasi War, and Louisiana Purchase 22

34th Dwight D. Eisenhower-McCarthyism 28

Table: Well-Known Names from the Hollywood Blacklists 36

Chapter 3 The Loners 38

3rd Thomas Jefferson-Louisiana Purchase 39

Map: Louisiana Purchase, Mexican Cession, and Oregon Territory 43

39th Jimmy Carter-Stagflation 47

Chart: Prime Rate 1955-2014 51

44th Barack Obama-Obamacare 52

Chapter 4 Conflicts They Might Have Prevented, Avoided, or Won: 1812, Vietnam, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq 57

4th James Madison-The War of 1812 58

36th Lyndon Baines Johnson-The Vietnam War 65

43rd George W. Bush-9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq 70

Chart. 9/11 Comparative Time Sequence 72

Essay: Is the Vice Presidency the Best Preparation for the Presidency? 75

Chapter 5 America's Original Sin: Slavery 77

Table: The Twelve Slaveholding Presidents 79

5th James Monroe-Missouri Compromise of 1820 79

12th Zachary Taylor and 13th Millard Fillmore-Compromise of 1850 84

14th Franklin Pierce-Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 88

15th James Buchanan-Secession 92

Chart. Slavery, Census, and Secession 95

17th Andrew Johnson-Reconstruction 98

Chapter 6 Professional Generals of the Nineteenth Century: Counterweights of the West 101

7th Andrew Jackson-Trail of Tears 102

9th William Henry Harrison-Health of the President 107

18th Ulysses S. Grant-Trust and Distrust 109

(see also 12th Zachary Taylor, Chapter 5) Essay: None of the Twelve General/Presidents Took the Country into a Major War 114

Chapter 7 Taxation with Representation: Tariffs to Income Taxes 116

6th John Quincy Adams-Tariff of Abominations 118

23rd Benjamin Harrison-1890 McKinley Tarirf and the Panic of 1893 123

27th William Howard Taft-Income Tax and Suffrage 125

40th Ronald Reagan-Flat Tax 127

Chart. Income Tax as a Percentage of Gross Income 1913-2013 132

Essay: Why Social Security Benefits Should Be Paid Out of General Revenue and Not from a Regressive Social Security Tax 134

41st George H. W. Bush-"No New Taxes" 136

Essay: Ex-Presidents 139

Chapter 8 Panic, Laissez Faire, and Depression 141

8th Martin Van Buren-Panic of 1837 142

Essay: Physical Traits and Whether They Matter 144

30th Calvin Coolidge-The Road to Depression 146

31st Herbert Hoover-The Great Depression 149

Table: American Financial Crises 153

Chart: Significant US Tariffs 154

Chapter 9 In Defiance of Party 156

10th John Tyler-The Man without a Party 156

19th Rutherford B. Hayes-The Great Swap 159

43rd William J. Clinton-A President for All Reasons 162

Chart. They Lost the Popular Vote and Won 165

Essay: An Argument for Run-Off Elections 166

Chapter 10 Empire Wars: Mexico and Spain 168

11th James K. Polk-The Mexican-American War 169

25th William McKinley-The Spanish-American War 171

Chapter 11 Invade or Blockade: Fort Sumter, the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis 174

16th Abraham Lincoln-Fort Sumter and the Civil War 175

Chart. If the Upper South Had Not Seceded 186

Essay: Secessions 187

35th John F. Kennedy-The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis 189

Essay: The Case for a National Election Law 194

Chapter 12 Machine Men 196

20th James Garfield-Gender-Biased Suffrage 196

21st Chester A. Arthur-Conkling's Man 199

Chapter 13 Reform Men 202

22nd/24th Grover Cleveland-The Veto President 202

26th Theodore Roosevelt-Panic of 1907 205

Essay: Why We Should Not Rank the Presidents 208

Chapter 14 Unpardonable Scandals: Teapot Dome, Dirty Tricks, and an Unpardonable Pardon 209

29th Warren G. Harding-Teapot Dome 210

37th Richard M. Nixon-Dirty Tricks 212

38th Gerald R. Ford Jr.-Pardoning the Unpardonable 216

Chapter 15 An Absence of Deterrence: World War I and World War II 220

28th Woodrow Wilson-World War I 221

32nd Franklin Delano Roosevelt-World War II 228

Chart Blame Keynes-US vs. German Military Spending 1932-1945 235

33rd Harry S. Truman-The Bomb and Japan; Korea and China 236

Essay: Are Governorships the Best Preparation for the Presidency? 245

The Freshman President's Epilogue: The World's Most Exclusive University 246

Appendix A Details for Income Tax as a Percentage of Gross Income 1913-2013 248

Appendix B The Anaconda Plan 251

Appendix C The Lincoln-Greeley Letter 253

Appendix D The Nixon Pardon 255

Acknowledgments 257

Endnotes 259

Selected Bibliography 279

Index 289

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