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After a surprising defeat in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton is reentering the political fray, declaring herself “part of the resistance.” Hillary is not the first losing Presidential nominee to refuse to fade into the electoral abyss.

Some Hillary supporters are holding out hope that she will try again for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020. Should she attempt to mount another run, the pundocracy will likely say that she had her turn and is a voice of the past.

There are two relatively recent good examples of a losing Presidential nominee trying again for the Presidency. The first is Republican Richard M. Nixon, who marshaled an extraordinary comeback in 1968, garnering his party’s nomination and winning the Presidency. The second is Democrat Hubert Humphrey who lost a bid for renomination in 1972.

Republican Richard M. Nixon was the last losing Presidential nominee to come back and win the Presidency. Nixon lost the whisker-close1960 Presidential election to Democrat John F. Kennedy. During that election, Nixon made a deal with New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the titular head of the party’s liberal wing, adding language to the GOP platform sympathetic to Rockefeller in return for his unequivocal endorsement. U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), a leading voice with conservatives, branded the agreement “the Munich of the Republican Party.” The agreement, labeled “The Treaty of Fifth Avenue,” infuriated some conservatives. Nixon lost that election in a squeaker.

Just two years later, Nixon lost a bid for the California Governorship. Many political observers wrote his political epitaph.

In 1964, the GOP nominated the steadfast conservative Barry Goldwater for President. The party lost the election in an electoral landslide. Nixon was one of the few establishment Republicans to resolutely campaign for Goldwater around the country, even delivering the nominating speech for him.

This strategy paid off for Nixon, as once skeptical conservatives rewarded him for his efforts in supporting their champion, Barry Goldwater. Concomitantly, moderates continued to support Nixon. Goldwater returned the favor, endorsing Nixon for the 1968 nomination as early as 1965.

Nixon proved his party loyalty, hitting the campaign hustings in the 1966 Congressional elections, campaigning for conservatives, moderates, and liberal Republicans. He earned chits from all three bloodlines of the Republican Party and became the consensus GOP Presidential nominee in 1968.

In the General Election, Nixon eked out a victory over Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey ‘s predicament after coming up short is similar to the situation Hillary is facing today. Humphrey’s support of the U.S. role in Vietnam turned the former liberal champion into a super villain among the party’s “new left” whose flagship issue was the U.S. egressing from Vietnam. Many had supported U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN), who denounced the Vietnam War as “morally indefensibly” in his failed attempt for the nomination.

Disenchanted progressives did not come out for Humphrey in the General Election, even after Humphrey pledged to unilaterally halt the bombing of North Vietnam “as an acceptable risk for peace.” The progressives thought the nomination was stolen from them. While McCarthy’s mostly young supporters toiled in the Democratic primaries, winning delegates for their candidate, Humphrey collected the support of delegates in those states which did not hold primaries. In these states the party elite controlled the delegates. As a result of this somewhat undemocratic political process, riots ensued in front of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and anti-war liberals embarrassed Humphrey on the campaign trail, sometimes heckling him at his rallies.

Believing the nomination was purloined from their candidate, many McCarthy supporters refused to go to the polls in the General Election, which contributed to Humphrey’s nail-biting loss. In addition, the Humphrey forces were not helped when McCarthy gave a luke warm endorsement of him, telling his supporters: “I’m voting for Humphrey, and I think you should suffer with me.”

There is an eerie similitude between Humphrey’s situation and Hillary’s. Mrs. Clinton is viewed as too centrist, too Wall Street friendly, and too bellicose in foreign policy for young progressives. There has been a seismic shift from the time when those qualities were viewed as an electoral asset. Her husband, Bill Clinton, won the Presidency in 1992 by inoculating himself from charges by Republicans that he was a traditional liberal. Clinton branded himself “a New Democrat” promoting trade expansion, reforming Welfare, and using military force around the Globe, which included enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraq.

After his loss, Humphrey, like Nixon, tried to prove his electoral prowess by running for political office in his home state. Humphrey handily won an open U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota. This success was used as a momentum boost and a launching pad for another try at the nomination in 1972.

Like Hillary, Humphrey’s ideology, which had been triumphant, was now anathema to the proliferating young progressives in the party. Humphrey’s support of a munificent social service regime and an interventionist foreign policy was now subservient to a policy of “Come Home America.” That was the slogan of Humphrey’s rival and the eventual Democratic nominee, U.S. Senator George McGovern (D-SD).

Humphrey had abandoned his past support for the Vietnam War and his hawkish military views, now averring that U.S. “military involvement in Southeast Asia should be terminated at once” and for the nation to: “reduce sharply our American military installations overseas.”

While Humphrey had the support of the old Democratic coalition, McGovern, an early critic of the war, won the nomination with his slogan: “Right From The Start.”

Like Humphrey on Vietnam, Hillary’s vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq will not be forgiven by the progressive left. Although Hillary has disavowed her vote in an attempt to neutralize the issue, it remains an albatross she cannot eradicate.

Like Humphrey, Hillary suffers from an acute distrust among the “movement left.” They view her as too close to corporations and too bellicose in foreign affairs. Many also believe Democratic Party chieftains thieved the nomination for her. In 1968, many liberals stayed home in the General Election, believing that Humphrey was too hawkish on Vietnam and that the Democratic establishmentarians stole the Democratic Presidential nomination from McCarthy.

Like the McCarthy supporters who believe the election was stolen from them by the GOP high command, many Sanders supporters believe the 2016 nomination was pilfered from them by the Democratic National Committee, citing leaked emails evincing favoritism toward Hillary.

Unlike Nixon, Hillary (69 years old) does not have the liberty of waiting out an election, campaigning for a feckless nominee, then being resurrected as a candidate who unifies all wings of her party.

Like Nixon and Humphrey, Hillary is an ambitious politician. Nixon picked the right political strategy to forge what author Pat Buchanan terms: “The Greatest Comeback.” Contrariwise, Humphrey failed to convince enough voters that his change of heart on Vietnam was genuine.

The best-case scenario for Hillary is that Republican President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings crater, and “buyer’s remorse” emerges in the body politic. The country then slides economically and/or gets enveloped in a military quagmire. Hillary campaigns around the country in the 2018 mid-term elections by euphemistically telling voters “I told you so,” collecting chits as Nixon did in 1966. Hillary would then announce a Presidential candidacy that is in vogue with the times. She would announce from the start that hers would be a peoples’ campaign Hillary would pledge not to accept any donations from lobbyists or from the Financial Services Industry.

Her best hope would be a crowded primary field, where anti-establishment candidates crowd each other out. While the left would not be enthusiastic with her, she would only need enough support from that sector of the party to garner the requisite amount of delegates needed to win the nomination.

In the General Election, Hillary would need to hold the left by crusading against large financial institutions (knowing that some voters will consider her a panderer or hypocrite), while convincing voters in the manufacturing and coal industries that Trump had failed miserably to bring back their industries and that she has a comprehensive plan to put them back to work.

It is a difficult endeavor, with a small window of opportunity, everything must go right for her. However, there is a plausible avenue for Hillary to mount a comeback and capture the Democratic presidential nomination and win the presidency in 2020.


Nepotism in the White House: It’s All Relative

by Rich Rubino on April 11, 2017

President Donald Trump recently appointed his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner as unpaid senior White House advisors. Some legal scholars argue that these “appointments” are in violation of The Federal Postal Act of 1967 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The statute disallows the President from appointing a relative to a “civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control.”

The Trump administration argues that this decree does not apply to members of the White House staff. The law only states that no public official can hire a relative. The Trump administration argues that this does not apply to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner because they are working on a volunteer basis.

Interestingly, as a member of the U.S. Congress, Johnson had employed his brother Sam Houston Johnson as an administrative aide. After the President left office, Sam wrote a book about his experience working for his brother entitled: “My Brother Lyndon.” While the book is mostly complimentary of the President, it criticizes some of his methods as a boss.

The author of this 1967 ordinance was U.S. Representative Neal Smith (D-IA). He said it was aimed mostly at the U.S. Postal Service. However, it encompassed the entire Federal Government.

The issue of nepotism took center stage in the political arena in 1960 when President-Elect John F. Kennedy nominated his younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy, to the esteemed position of U.S. Attorney General. It was crystal clear to most political observers that the younger Kennedy was under-qualified for the position. Kennedy was just 35 years old and sported no courtroom experience. John F. Kennedy made light of his brother’s lack of experience and the nepotism charges, telling the Alfalfa Club that he nominated his brother: “to give him a little experience before he goes out to practice law.”

Actually, Kennedy was very apprehensive about nominating his brother, but did so at the beseeching of his father Joseph P. Kennedy. The U.S. Senate on a voice vote confirmed Kennedy expeditiously. Had there been a roll call vote, it is unlikely that Robert Kennedy would have been confirmed. Nation Magazine called the nomination: “the greatest example of nepotism this land has ever seen.”

In 1993, a Washington DC Court ruled that President Bill Clinton was allowed under the law to appoint his wife Hillary to lead his White House task force on Health Care. Judge Laurence Siberman wrote in the ruling: “a president would be barred from appointing his brother as attorney general, but perhaps not as a White House special assistant.”

Prior to the 1967 statute, there was a long history of presidents appointing or nominating relatives to administration jobs.

In 1797, President John Adams appointed his son John Quincy Adams as Minister to Prussia. In addition, President Adams appointed his son-in-law, William Stephens Smith, as a Customs Agent, and appointed John Quincy Adams’ Father-in-law, Joshua Johnson, to the position of Superintendent of Stamps.

In order to avoid charges of nepotism, President Andrew Jackson managed for his nephew Jack Donelson to be hired as a general land office clerk. Jackson then requested he be assigned to work with Jackson in the White House (at the time referred to as The Executive Mansion).

Jackson’s actions effectuated a chain reaction. His Presidential successor, Martin Van Buren, circumvented the system the same way, hiring his son Martin Jr. as a general land clerk and his other son Abraham as Second Auditor at the U.S. Treasury Department. He then had them transferred to the White House, and like Jackson, Van Buren utilized his sons as private secretaries. Presidents John Tyler and Millard Fillmore used these same methods to get their sons employed at the White House.

James K. Polk did not approve of this practice of making taxpayers pay for Presidential relatives on the federal payroll. However, he wanted his nephew James Knox Walker, to work at the White House. Accordingly, Polk paid his salary out of his personal account.

Later Presidents were upfront about their nepotism. Zachary Taylor employed his son-in-law, Colonel William W. W. Bliss, as his private secretary and advisor. James Buchanan did the same with his nephew James Henry.

Ulysses S. Grant was perhaps the worst Presidential offender. He appointed three of his brothers-in-law to federal government positions, including Fredrick Dent to the position of White House Usher. Dent used the position as a cash cow, selling insider information. Grant also appointed his cousin Silas A. Houston to the position of Ambassador to Guatemala.

President Rutherford B. Hayes employed his son, Webb Hayes, as his confidential secretary, personal assistant, and bodyguard. At the time of his hiring, the younger Hayes was just 21 years old. Webb also served as the official greeter at White House functions.

Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed his son James as an administrative aide, coordinating the activity of 17 federal agencies. The younger Roosevelt came under assault by The Saturday Evening Post for allegedly using his title as the President’s son to win contracts for his insurance firm. James vehemently denied these insinuations.

David Eisenhower, the son of incoming President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was used as a political football. During the traditional ride from the White House to the Presidential Inauguration, President-Elect Eisenhower asked outgoing President Harry S. Truman (who had ordered Eisenhower’s son John to return form active duty in the Korean War), to attend his father’s inauguration. Eisenhower feared that the public would view this as his son receiving preferential treatment. Truman testily retorted in the third person: “The President of the United States ordered your son to attend your inauguration. The President thought it was right and proper for your son to witness the swearing-in of his father to the Presidency. If you think somebody was trying to embarrass you by this order, then the President assumes full responsibility.” The two men had a rapprochement later in life, becoming good friends.

As for John Eisenhower, he was the last son of a President to serve his father in the White House. John served as the Assistant White House Staff Secretary and as an assistant to General Andrew Goodpaster.

During the 1968 Presidential campaign, Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon hired his brother Ed to superintend the mail operations during his Presidential campaign. Pleased with Ed’s work, President-Elect Nixon offered his brother the job of running the White House mailroom. Ed declined the offer, later telling The Times Union: “It was a nice gesture, but I knew it was not the job for me.”

Hiring family members to work at the White House is currently at the forefront of the national dialogue. Norman Eisen, who served as an ethics attorney during the administration of President Barack Obama, maintains that Trump is in violation of the Federal Postal Act of 1967. However, Eisen also realizes the complexity of this issue. He recently told CNN: “reasonable minds can disagree.” History teaches us that the appointments of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner by President Trump are far from unique or unusual.


April 1, 2017

Due to the opposition of the conservative Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was forced to pull proposed legislation supported by President Donald Trump to “Repeal and Replace” the Affordable Care Act. In response, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is hinting that the President may campaign against […]

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There is a Constitutional Avenue to Remove Trump That is Not Impeachment

March 14, 2017

From twitter tirades to bombastic statements, some critics of President Donald Trump are suggesting that the President might be mentally unstable and should be removed from office. The most obvious avenue in the U.S. Constitution to remove a President from office is through the impeachment and conviction process (The U.S House votes to impeach, then […]

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Leakapalooza: Leaks are Nothing New in the White House

February 22, 2017

Donald Trump is waging a Holy War against information leaks. He recently complained:“From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It’s criminal action, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time before me.” Leaking has been a bone of contention between Presidents and maverick government officials throughout the existence of […]

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Trump Was Not First to Use Slogan “America First”

February 1, 2017

In his Inaugural Address, President Donald Trump repeated a theme from his Presidential Campaign, telling the world: “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.” Many Trump critics point to the fact that this was a watchword for those who opposed U.S. intervention in WWll before the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. Actually, the phrase […]

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Presidential Transition Day: Some Interesting Stories

January 11, 2017

Protocol dictates that the outgoing President leaves a note to be read by his successor upon taking office. This practice began when Ronald Reagan left a note for his successor George H.W. Bush, admonishing him: “Don’t let the turkey’s get you down.” The President then welcomes his successor to the White House. The outgoing and […]

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Split Voter Syndrome

January 4, 2017

In 2016, Vermont voters selected Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by more than 26 percentage points over Republican nominee Donald Trump, while also choosing Republican Gubernatorial nominee Phil Scott by over eight points. Contrariwise, West Virginia voters chose Trump with an overwhelming 68.7% of the vote. This was his biggest win in the country. However, […]

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Congressman Tim Ryan: From Political Obscurity To Rustbelt Renegade

December 7, 2016

A year ago, U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) was an obscure backbencher Congressman. He has since become a national figure, first for his consideration by Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her Vice Presidential runningmate, and second for his role in unsuccessfully challenging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in her bid for re-election to […]

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Donald Trump’s Democratic Allies?

November 23, 2016

Donald Trump won the Presidency not only by appealing to the Republican Party’s core conservative constituencies, but also by winning the support of many blue-collar workers who had marked ballots for Democratic Presidential nominees in the past. Trump did this by running as a populist insurrectionist candidate whose appeal ran beyond traditional Republicans who champion […]

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