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Political trivia

Just a few odds and ends of political trivia that have been bouncing around in the back of my head recently...

  • For 20 years, the United States had five consecutive presidents who were Navy men -- four of whom served during the same war. (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter)
  • Recently, someone once again brought up the tired old "why aren't the Bush twins serving in the military." It got me thinking -- when was the last time a sitting President had an immediate family member on active military service? It would be a hell of a big security issue, one would think, and the most recent example I can think of is during World War II, when President Roosevelt's eldest son, James, served in the Marine Corps -- retiring as a brigadier general and picking up the Silver Star and the Navy Cross along the way. (In the same war, his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., served as a Brigadier General in the Army and landed in Normandy on D-Day, dying of a heart attack in France barely a week later.)
  • Massachusetts has the (I believe) unique distinction of having both its senators having killed people under what some consider questionable circumstances. Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge into the water and left a young woman to drown, not bothering to notify authorities about the accident for a full twelve hours (and after conferring with family and attorneys.) And John Kerry personally shot and killed at least one enemy combatant during the Viet Nam war in an action some have said was of questionable legality. (For the record, I have previously stated I think that Kerry's actions were entirely appropriate and legal, and said so during the campaign. It's his conduct after the war that I thought was illegal.)

Anyone else got any favorite political oddities? Please, we've all seen the Kennedy/Lincoln comparisons, so skip those.


Comments (38)

Ted Kennedy also lost a bro... (Below threshold)
Strick:

Ted Kennedy also lost a brother who died testing a highly dangerous, all volunteer experimental weapons program. Another brother was decorated for service in one of the most dangerous branch of naval service during the same war.

Kerry would have been an idiot not to shoot an armed enemy who showed no signs of surrender, running away or not. You never know when he's going to turn and start shooting again and he might not be running tomorrow.

There, now you've done it. You've gone and made me defend those two.

Eisenhower's son John serve... (Below threshold)
Stormin:

Eisenhower's son John served in the Army during the Korean War rising to the rank of brigadier general in the Reserves. My father knew him when he was still a major.

Yes, skip the Lincoln-Kenne... (Below threshold)

Yes, skip the Lincoln-Kennedy ones, because some of them are bogus anyway.

One of my favorites: who is the Baby Ruth candy bar named after? it's not Babe Ruth, but the little daughter, Ruthy, of President Cleveland.

California has had two gove... (Below threshold)
Webster:

California has had two governors who faked the killings of others. Only in California. Both Republicans.

Big Mo,You may wis... (Below threshold)
Malibu Stacy:

Big Mo,

You may wish to check with snopes.com on the "Baby Ruth" Cleveland claim. It's bogus:

"The claim that the "Baby Ruth" bar was named after Ruth Cleveland is found dubious by many because Ruth Cleveland died of diphtheria in 1904, over seventeen years before the "Baby Ruth" bar was first produced. Naming a candy bar after the long-dead daughter of a former president would certainly be a curious choice. Moreover, the notion that a candy bar called "Baby Ruth" should appear on the market just when a baseball player named Babe Ruth had suddenly become the most famous person in America is perceived as a rather striking coincidence."

Malibu - thanks. I'll have ... (Below threshold)

Malibu - thanks. I'll have to recheck that Cleveland bio I read.

The number one rule of Amer... (Below threshold)
cirby:

The number one rule of American politics for the last sixty or seventy years:

Never get into a vehicle with a Kennedy.

(One got run over by a destroyer while in a PT boat and later got shot in a car, one blew up in a B-17 full of explosives, one drove off a bridge and killed his passenger, one crashed a private plane because of stupid flying, not to mention the various "Drunk While Congressional" cases...)

People have to let go of th... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

People have to let go of this served in the military stuff these days. There just aren't enough people engaged in military activity anymore. There is no draft. The Middle East wars which are the biggest thing in decades are still small.

In order to be President, you must be able to lead a war (you're Commander in Chief ffs). If you have to have servered in order to lead a war as President, very shortly that will mean that the President will need to be chosen a relatively small segment of the public. Primarily a Republican dominated one.

A similar argument can be made for children serving as well.

I wonder of the Left realizes the whole 'chickenhawk' argument is going to come back and bite them on the ass.

You're making the possibly ... (Below threshold)

You're making the possibly invalid assumption that they really CARE about it, instead of just using it as a political ploy.

I'm cynical. They'll use it until there's no benefit, then discard it and deny they ever used it in the first place.

Jimmy Carter graduated from... (Below threshold)
Rod Smith:

Jimmy Carter graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946. Somehow I have trouble equating that to "serving" during WWII although it may be technically correct.

Then to say that Johnson "served" as well is a real stretch. A couple of weeks of "active duty" includes one mission where no real "combat" was seen in order to claim a medal is hardly a record to be even mentioned except by politicians.

About 20 years ago I was ta... (Below threshold)
RPL:

About 20 years ago I was talking with one of the doormen in my building who was a WWII vet, and served in the PT boats. While he wasn't on JFK's boat, he was in the same squadron. The opinion was that JFK was "crazy brave," and was looking for glory to be used as political capital after the war. He took risks that he didn't have to take, and this cost him his boat.

His leadership after the sinking is the stuff of legend, however.

A couple of stray facts tha... (Below threshold)
Marc W:

A couple of stray facts that I like:

Assuming Bush finishes his term, he and Clinton will represent two consecutive presidents who each served two complete terms. We haven't seen that happen since Madison-Monroe. And Jefferson-Madison-Monroe was the only time three consecutive presidents each served two complete terms.

Also assuming Bush finishes his term, he will represent the fifth consecutive president (Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush) whose tenure in office started at the beginning of a term and ended at the end of a term. The last time we had so many such consecutive presidents was Washington through Van Buren, which represented eight.

OK, here's another favorite... (Below threshold)

OK, here's another favorite: who was the only president who had ever been a POW?

Andrew Jackson, who was held by the British when he was a lad during the Revolution.

Didn't John Keery shoot his... (Below threshold)
todd:

Didn't John Keery shoot his foot while it was entrenched in his mouth in 'Nam?

Did you know William Howard Taft was the originator of the President's Physical Fitness Award? And did you know that too much exercise alters the expression of genes? This can lead to severe cases of regressive genetic doofussism as seen in Bob Taft, Ohio's Governor.

How about the recent run of... (Below threshold)

How about the recent run of Governor-then-President?
Carter
Reagan
Clinton
Bush

Washington and Clinton simi... (Below threshold)
DC Bound:

Washington and Clinton similarity:

George Washington's head is on the penny.

Bill Clinton once got head from a secretary named Penny.

Marc W,What's with... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

Marc W,

What's with this "assuming Bush finishes his term"?

How 'bout if assuming you go answer the door and it's a Secret Service Agent....you know they're watching you, right?

Imhotep,How about ... (Below threshold)
Marc W:

Imhotep,

How about calming down? OK?

I only included "assuming Bush finishes his term" because he hasn't yet. When something hasn't happened but I assume it will, I generally include the caveat "assuming [insert event here]."

There are enough cases of BDS in the world that you don't need to go finding them where they don't exist.

Sheesh...

Gerald Ford is the only onl... (Below threshold)

Gerald Ford is the only only child to be President.

I had a far left liberal st... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I had a far left liberal start with the "why aren't the Bush Twins in the Military" line. I told him that they were serving the in the same unit Chelsea Clinton was in for Kosovo and Serbia.

He conceded the point and moved on to the next Howard Dean scripted talking point.

Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon & Ford were all in the Navy and served in WWII. Good point about Johnson's service. Al Gore was a seasoned combat veteran compared to LBJ.

Carter was a graduate of the Naval Academy, but didn't graduate until after WWII was over.

Re the Bush twins not being... (Below threshold)
Marc W:

Re the Bush twins not being in the military:

I remember one blogger (I think it was Hawkins at Right Wing News, but I could be wrong) making a good point.

One can expect firefighters police to risk their lives fighting fires and crime without being called a hypocrite for failing to join the Fire or Police Departments. Similarly, one is not a hypocrite for expecting soldiers to do their jobs -- even if one is not enlisting in the armed forces.

The first President that se... (Below threshold)
Mark L.:

The first President that served in the Army was (of course) George Washington. But the first President that served in the USN was . . . JFK, elected in 1960! The first President that served in the Air Force was George W. Bush -- 2000.

BRING BACK THE DRAFT!!!... (Below threshold)

BRING BACK THE DRAFT!!!

field-negro - WHY in the he... (Below threshold)

field-negro - WHY in the hell would you want to do that?!?

Mark L - Bush was ANG, not Air Force

Well there is what some cal... (Below threshold)
wilky:

Well there is what some called the "The Curse of Tecumseh", Imhotep. Every president elected in the year ending in 0 has died in office, until it was broken when Reagan finished his term, though John Hinckley tried to keep it going. The only exceptions is Jefferson (1800) and Monroe (1820).

Legend has it that Harrisons troops defeated Tenskwatawa in 1811 and killed Tecumseh in 1812. Tenskwatawa supposedly predicted that if Harrison was elected president he would die in office, and so would presidents elected every 20 years after that. Harrison was elected in 1840.

California has had two g... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

California has had two governors who faked the killings of others. Only in California. Both Republicans.

Ahnold and Reagan...both actors.

But one of them used to be a Democrat, and one is acting like one recently.

Because then Big Mo, we cou... (Below threshold)

Because then Big Mo, we could see who the real patriots are.We can't konw with alot of people. Because their child is tucked safely away at college somewhere. Or they don't have to worry about their child signing up because they need a career or the money. I am just curious as to how many of us would be clamoring for war of there was a draft that's all.

Present company exluded Big Mo, I know you are a patriot, and I am not being sarcastic when I say that.

But I just wonder about some of your friends here at Wizbang. The war takes on an entirely different perpective when it starts hitting close to home. I just think a draft would force everyone to put an equal amount of sacrifice into this war on terror.

Just a thought.

Well, no it wouldn't as mos... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Well, no it wouldn't as most of us here have either 1)served, 2)female, or 3)past the age of Selective Service.

Unless we are fighting another WWII, we don't need a draft. It's such a stupid move that it sounds like something only a Democrat could come up with it...

Oh, wait, one did...

http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/01/07/rangel.draft/

I am just curious as to ... (Below threshold)
cirby:

I am just curious as to how many of us would be clamoring for war of there was a draft that's all.

Don't worry. You won't see a draft until the Democrats get back in power. They're the ones who keep trying to reinstate it, anyway.

You might also note the approximately 2:1 margin of Republicans to Democrats in military service, and the higher-than-average number of people middle class and up who joined our current volunteer force. The percentage of people with high school diplomas in the military is well above the norm, too.

In other words, stupid people, poor people, and Democrats are all noticeably underrepresented in the US military, and notably overrepresented among the people who seem to be avoiding service.

field-negro - much thanks f... (Below threshold)

field-negro - much thanks for the compliment.

I think a draft is a terrible idea, espcially when you think of having all of the nuts on the far left being drafted to fight. There's no way come hell or high water they'd go fight.

The nationalistic spirit that used to exist in this country at all levels, right and left, rich and poor, no longer exists. It can only be found reliably on the political right, only sometimes in the center, and almost never on the left. (Race is another matter.)

In other words, the national will no longer exists to sustain a draft.

Your reasoning is flawed that a draft would reveal who the true patriots are, in that you think it would scare out the right. As others have stated, there are a lot of ex-military, and military wives, on this board. Plus, it's a Michael Moore-on fallacy that no GOPers have their children in harm's way. MO's 2nd US district congressman, GOP Rep. Akin, has a son in the military in Iraq, and my own GOP state rep has served two tours in Iraq, even winning re-election while overseas.

(Me, I've never had the honor of serving because it was never my path in life. But soldiers have the place of highest respect in my book, right next to cops, firefighters, doctors & nurses, teachers and preachers.)

A re-instated draft would tear this country apart more than anything else ever could.

Actually, Strick, the guy w... (Below threshold)
Doug Reese:

Actually, Strick, the guy was turning when Kerry shot him. Was he turning to fire the B-40? Only he knows, but he was turning.

Doug Reese

Calvin Cooledge was the onl... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Calvin Cooledge was the only President to have the oath of office administered to him by his father. He was visiting his father's cabin in Vermont when word reached him that Warren Harding had died. His father used the family Bible to administer the oath. I wonder where that Bible is today...

LBJ was the only President to take the oath of office aboard an airplane. It was aboard Air Force One, flying back to Washington hours after JFK's assassination.

I wonder where that Bibl... (Below threshold)
cirby:

I wonder where that Bible is today...

It's in the same room, called the "Oath of Office Room."

The presidents who were nev... (Below threshold)
Marc W:

The presidents who were never elected President:

Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson (Andrew), Arthur, Ford.

Of those, Ford is the only one who also was never elected Vice President.

For the record, Teddy Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, and Lyndon Johnson all ascended to the Presidency upon the death of the President, but were subsequently elected to a full term.

Of all the people who serve... (Below threshold)
Marc W:

Of all the people who served as either President or Vice President, who served the most time (total for both offices)?

Nixon (4,949 days)

Of the 43 presidents, which two were most closely related?

Cleveland (22nd president) and Cleveland (24th president).

That second one is admittedly nasty, and it's important when asking to include the phrase "of the 43 presidents" to clarify that Cleveland is counted as two presidents.

I hardly think that JFK was... (Below threshold)
Monty:

I hardly think that JFK was "crazy brave." There was no evidence of such bravery during his relatively short combat theater exposure. The sinking of PT 109 is remarkable when you consider that the immensely maneuverable PT boat was somehow
cut in half by a Japanese destroyer. The Navy fully intended to court marshall Kennedy but, as usual his father, Joe, came to his rescue. To say that his leadership after the sinking was "the stuff of legend" is true enough.. if you mean it was mostly untrue or exaggerated!
The "other" JFK from Massachusetts may or, may NOT have actually killed an enemy in battle. NO ONE actually SAW Kerry kill the already wounded combatant. We only have HIS word for it. It's just as likely that the soldier died from his initial wounds.
Jimmy Carter, perhaps the worst president this country has ever had to endure, was certainly NOT a WWII veteran. Just as he was NOT a nuclear engineer. Carter was as big a liar as any other politician and more dangerous than most!
Re: BRING BACK THE DRAFT! I agree on one condition...ABSOLUTELY NO DEFERMENTS. PERIOD! There is something inherently wrong with a system that allows the rich and privileged to avoid military service. There can be little doubt that the "upper classes" are NOT PULLING their weight when it comes to fighting for this country. All they do, for the most part, is bitch about how terrible the war is and how horrible OUR troops are
(see John Kerry's remarks and John Murtha's assessment of our military, for a couple of examples). You don't need a war to benefit from a draft. Putting EVERYONE'S ass at risk might lead to a little more cohesiveness in this country.

cirby, where the [email protected]#%& did ... (Below threshold)

cirby, where the [email protected]#%& did you get those figures? I swear you repubs just make sh%$ up. Anyway, you are right about lumping dems with poor people, because most poor people are democrats.But contrary to what you repubs believe, poor doesn't necessarily mean stupid. I have met more stupid people on this site than all the poor people I that I have ever met combined. (Include yourself in that number for me cirby)

And James Cloninger, following your logic; all the posters here are old, female, and war veterans. OK, that explains a lot.

cirby, where the [email protected]#%& d... (Below threshold)
cirby:

cirby, where the [email protected]#%& did you get those figures?

Polls from back in the last election. Actually, if you look at the numbers from absentee ballots, it's more like four or five to one (74% R versus 14% D vs 11% independent, from one poll). I gave you some slack because I figure a number of the military guys who vote Republican switched parties once they enlisted.

I swear you repubs just make sh%$ up.I swear you repubs just make sh%$ up.

Actually, not a Republican, I just happen to align more with some of their goals than with the Silly Party right now.

Of course, if you'd ever spent time in the military, you'd know a bit more about the actual attitudes and beliefs of its members. But don't let reality get in the way of your "reality base."




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