USA > Politics > White House
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10 April 2018
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President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
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43rd US president George W. Bush,
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to the Supreme Court
of the Constitution
(Article II, Section
2, clause 2)
states the President
and by and with the
and Consent of the Senate,
shall appoint ...
Judges of the supreme Court."
That "advice and
has meant different
things in U.S. history.
In the early days of
nominees to the court
got a passing glance.
The Senate acted
within about a week,
from the date of
nomination to a vote.
But there was
marked difference after 1967,
the year Thurgood
was nominated to be
black Supreme Court justice.
the median wait time
for a presidential nominee
than two months.
(Current members of
faced an average of 71 days.
That includes Antonin
who died at the age of 79
And it's very
if not probable,
to replace Scalia
— and he is pledging
to do fulfill
his "constitutional responsibilities" to do so
— will break the
record for the longest
wait for a vote in history.
The fight to replace
could be historic,
the longest vacancy on the court
since it went to nine
justices in 1869.
The President's Daily Brief./ daily intelligence briefing
Camp David, Maryland
at Camp David
Air Force One
Air Force One is actually not a single plane;
in fact, it is a radio call sign used
for any plane that happens to carry the president.
There are two 747-200s,
designated VC-25As by the Air Force,
that carry the president
unless he travels to a place
where the runway is too short,
in which case he switches to a smaller plane.
with tail codes 28000 and 29000,
were commissioned by Ronald Reagan
and delivered in 1990
under the first President George Bush,
when the Soviet Union was still around
and White House aides used beepers.
The big communications innovation at the time
was a fax machine that the president’s staff could
to keep in touch with the ground.
Boeing 757-200 / Air Force One
Boeing VC-25 / Air Force One
customized Boeing 747-200B jumbo jet / Air Force One
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The Guardian p. 2
30 August 2004
Huge protest against Bush on eve of party meeting
43rd U.S. president George W. Bush (R).
The Constitution and the Supreme
both say a president is largely
from civil lawsuits.
The chief executive
does critical work leading the
the logic goes,
and shouldn't be bedeviled
ordinary civil lawsuits.
George W. Bush Presidential
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USA > Politics > White House
President, Government, Leadership
In a Speechifying Season,
a Look At How the Writer's Job
By ROBERT K. LANDERS
April 12, 2008; Page W8
White House Ghosts
By Robert Schlesinger
Simon & Schuster, 581 pages, $30
The eight hours Richard Goodwin spent writing the speech one March day in 1965
were "the finest moments of my life in politics," and the address itself,
delivered in the chamber of the House of Representatives that very night --
leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act -- was perhaps the high point of
Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency. "It is not just Negroes, but it is all of us,
who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we . . .
shall . . . overcome," Johnson said, making the black protest anthem his own
After the moving speech, reporters were told that Johnson himself had composed
it and was responsible, in particular, for the inclusion of its most memorable
phrase. But the speech and the phrase were, in reality, Mr. Goodwin's work.
After a year of close collaboration with the president, he had drawn on his own
knowledge of the man -- "not merely his views, but his manner of expression,
patterns of reasoning, the natural cadences of his speech," Mr. Goodwin recalled
in his 1988 memoir. The speechwriter had sought "to heighten and polish --
illuminate, as it were -- his inward beliefs and natural idiom, to attain . . .
an authenticity of expression." Though Mr. Goodwin's hands were on the
typewriter, "the document was pure Johnson."
The longstanding tradition back then was that the presidential speechwriter
should remain largely out of public sight, his existence almost a secret shame,
intimating, as a speechwriter for President Carter once put it, that the
nation's chief executive was "too lazy or too stupid to decide for himself what
he is going to say." President-elect John F. Kennedy, with his Inaugural Address
in nearly final form, even pretended to be writing a first draft of it in
longhand so as to give a leading reporter the impression that he, Kennedy, and
not Theodore Sorensen or anyone else, was the author. But in recent decades,
Washington journalist Robert Schlesinger observes in "White House Ghosts," the
phantoms -- "for better or worse" -- have become far more visible.
Mr. Schlesinger, who interviewed more than 90 speechwriters and other White
House aides, has written an evenhanded account of the speechwriting for
presidents, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to George Walker Bush, with a chapter
devoted to each presidency. His episodic history is fluent, well researched and
Raymond Moley, one of FDR's speechwriters during his first term, saw himself as
more than a wordsmith, and rightly so. "My job from the beginning . . . was to
sift proposals for him, discuss facts and ideas with him, and help him
crystallize his own policy," Moley wrote in 1939. Implicit in this conception of
the speechwriter's job, notes Mr. Schlesinger, was the idea "that policies and
words are inextricably linked -- the former cannot be conjured in the absence of
the latter." Moley, Sam Rosenman and other Roosevelt speechwriters were advisers
as well as wordsmiths. But the job "has evolved," Mr. Schlesinger notes, "as
television eclipsed radio as the nation's medium, as the White House staff grew
from a handful to a sprawling group of specialized cadres, and, of course, as
each president has dealt with it in his own way."
In Carol Gelderman's earlier study of presidential speechwriting -- the
incisive and concise (221 pages) "All the Presidents' Words" (1997) -- she
identified the Nixon administration as the one where the decisive break
occurred. President Nixon "established the first formally structured White House
speechwriting office, called the Writing and Research Department," its ranks
fluctuating from 12 to 50, part of what Nixon called the "PR group." But, said
Ms. Gelderman, an English professor at the University of New Orleans, "the
writers rarely assumed a consultative role in policy matters. Unlike their
predecessors from Rosenman to [LBJ's Harry] McPherson, Nixon's writers had no
regular access to the Oval Office." Indeed, the reclusive Nixon wrote some
speeches virtually on his own. Mr. Schlesinger's account bears Ms. Gelderman
Speechwriters had little involvement in the making of policy and only limited
access to the president in most of the administrations that followed Nixon's,
even that of the "Great Communicator." "For eight years," writes Mr.
Schlesinger, "Ronald Reagan's speechwriters had had diminishing access to a
president who was remote from even his closest aides. [But he] had presented a
clear ideology and style so they had gotten his voice even though they might go
months without seeing him." Between the ideological conservatives writing
Reagan's speeches and the more pragmatic senior staffers in his inner circle,
there was continuing tension -- tension that was constructive during the first
term, in Mr. Schlesinger's view, but, with some different people involved,
destructive during the second.
Reagan appreciated the importance of speeches to a successful presidency, but
George Herbert Walker Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford were less concerned
with the words they proclaimed, Mr. Schlesinger reports. Mr. Bush disdained
"high-flying" rhetoric and never even practiced delivering his speeches
beforehand. Mr. Carter "didn't much like the idea of using [speechwriters],
ever," one of his wordsmiths recalled. President Ford "rarely faced up to the
fact that making a major address is one of the most important things a President
does," said his chief speechwriter, Robert Hartmann. Journalist John Hersey,
shadowing Ford for a week in 1975 much as he had shadowed Harry Truman in 1950,
found himself "profoundly disturbed by what seemed to me the aimlessness of the
speechwriting session" that Ford had with his writers in advance of an address
at the University of Notre Dame. Hersey contrasted it with a speechwriting
session of Truman's, "at which most of his principal advisers, including Dean
Acheson, were present, and during which policy was really and carefully shaped
through its articulation."
Presidential speeches are important not only as a means of educating and
persuading the public but also, according to Mr. Schlesinger's father, the late
historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., "as a means of forcing decisions,
crystallizing policies, and imposing discipline" within the executive branch.
During the presidency of Bill Clinton, there was something of a return to the
older tradition of involving speechwriters in the making of policy, the author
says. "There was more crossover between the speechwriters and policy aides than
in any presidency since [LBJ's]. . . . Clinton preferred to work on speeches
with aides who could answer substantive questions about policy." But Clinton
also often preferred to ad lib his remarks rather than stick to his prepared
speech, and he spoke so often that, in effect, he devalued his own words. In a
typical year, by one count, he spoke in public 550 times, compared with Reagan's
320 times and Truman's 88.
Unlike his father and despite his own oft-derided propensity for verbal gaffes,
George W. Bush has recognized the importance of speeches, notes Mr. Schlesinger.
"He put a great deal of time and energy into speech preparation and faith in his
speechwriters." As some of Bush's speeches illustrate, particularly in the
aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a president's words do matter.
By departing from the older tradition, recent presidents seem to have
inadvertently denied themselves the power of speechwriting to clarify their own
thinking and aid in the making of policy. Arthur Schlesinger, to whom his son
has dedicated "White House Ghosts," said he fully agreed with Carol Gelderman on
"the necessity of 'uniting important policymaking and speechwriting functions in
one trusted adviser.' " Robert Schlesinger refrains from endorsing that
prescription, but his extensive study seems to provide further support for it.
Mr. Landers is a writer in Arlington, Va.,
and the author of "An Honest Writer:
The Life and Times of James T. Farrell" (Encounter).
March 31 1981
Reagan stable after shooting
Reagan was last night recovering in hospital after a successful two-hour
operation to remove a single bullet from his left lung following an
assassination attempt outside the Hilton Hotel in the centre of Washington.
Dr Dennis O'Leary, a spokesman for the George Washington University Hospital,
said the President was awake and in a "stable condition." He said there had been
no serious danger to the President's life. Dr O'Leary said the bullet had
ricocheted off his seventh rib. But he assured the American people that the
70-year-old President was in "excellent" condition and in good physical shape.
Three other men were seriously wounded in the shooting. They were the
President's 40-year-old press secretary, Mr James Brady, a Washington policeman,
and a secret service agent. Dr O'Leary said a bullet had passed through Mr
Brady's brain and he had experienced severe brain injury.
According to the doctors, Mr Reagan had been given a blood transfusion on his
arrival at the hospital and before going into surgery. The bullet was found
lodged in the tissue of the lung and was easily removed because there was no
abdominal bleeding. The doctors suggested that Mr Reagan could be up and about
again within a fortnight.
The doctor said that Mr Reagan had sailed through the operation" for a man of
his age. But he warned that an operation of the kind he had been through causes
"stress" to the body, though in Mr Reagan's case, because of his good physical
condition, the doctor did not seem unduly concerned.
The White House said the President was in good spirits as he was wheeled into
surgery . He told Senator Paul Laxalt, "Don't worry about me, I'll make it." A
doctor said the President had told Mrs Reagan, "Honey, I forgot to duck", and
that he looked up at assembled aides and said, "Who's minding the store?" and
that he joked with surgeons, "Please tell me you're Republicans."
The Secretary of State, Mr Alexander Haig, took control of the government soon
after the incident, awaiting the arrival in Washington of the vice-president, Mr
Speaking from the White House, Mr Haig said he had been in touch with America's
friends and allies abroad.
Mr Haig looked shaken as he read the statement in a broken voice, saying that no
defence alert had been taken. In the pandemonium outside the Washington Hilton
after the shooting, secret service men wrestled the assailant to the ground. He
was named as John Warnock Hinckley, aged 25, of Evergreen, Colorado. The secret
service said that Hinckley seemed to have acted alone.
From The Guardian archive >
March 31 1981 > Reagan stable
G, Republished 31.3.2007, p. 36,
From The Times Archive
On This Day - May 18, 1976
After the Watergate scandal,
Jimmy Carter’s position
became an electoral asset,
and he received more than 50 per
of the popular vote in the 1977 election
MR JIMMY CARTER’S campaign technique has improved since the
primary season opened in New Hampshire last February. He now carries the aura of
a man who might very well be President next January, instead of seeming simply
one of a large number of candidates claiming that the wind of victory was in his
He treats the topics he discusses seriously, balancing specific proposals with
his now familiar oath of sincerity which still sounds sincere, even though he
has been swearing it in public several times a day for nearly 18 months.
At a rally in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in a working class suburb of
Baltimore on Friday night, the effects of this balance in his oratory were
striking. He started to talk about the need for honesty in government and the
hall fell silent. Everyone listened. This is the thing which disturbs everyone
in America, the long-latent suspicion that every politician in Washington was
corrupt, which exploded with Watergate’s demonstration that the suspicion was
He said that the important thing was for the candidate to keep the confidence of
the electors. “I would far rather lose the election, I would rather lose my
life, than betray your confidence”, he said. Enough people have heard him and
believed him to bring him to the brink of victory.
From The Times
On This Day - May 18, 1976,
http://www.newsint-archive.co.uk/pages/main.asp - broken URL
From The Times Archive
On This Day - July 20, 1974
A resolution submitted
to the House Judiciary Committee
sought to impeach President Richard Nixon
over the Watergate scandal.
became the first US president to resign.
A FOUR-PART draft resolution impeaching President Nixon for
alleged “high crimes and misdemeanours” ranging from obstruction of justice over
the Watergate affair to personal tax fraud was presented to the House Judiciary
Committee today. The devastating case was presented by Mr John Doar, chief
committee counsel to the 38 members who will have to vote whether to submit a
full bill of particulars to the full House. A vote is expected within a week.
Mr Doar was quoted by members as saying “reasonable men acting reasonably would
find the President guilty”. Mr Nixon was cited by Mr Doar for:
1. Being “personally and directly responsible” for the cover-up of the Watergate
break-in which had been done on his “behalf”. Specifically, he was accused of
suborning perjury, paying hush money, destroying evidence, and interfering with
the legal investigations.
2. “Massive and persistent” abuse of his powers through the break-in at Dr
Ellsberg’s psychiatrists’ office, unlawful wiretapping and abuse of government
agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence
Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.
3. Contempt of Congress through his refusal to supply subpoenaed evidence.
4. Fraud in his income taxes, through claiming over $450,000 deductions for a
fraudulent gift of his pre-Presidential papers to the nation.
From The Times
On This Day - July 20, 1974,
http://www.newsint-archive.co.uk/pages/main.asp - broken URL
November 23, 1963
for the world
From The Guardian archive
Saturday November 23, 1963
President Kennedy was in Texas to gather support for his Civil
Rights programme. Like Lincoln before him, it has cost him his life. He believed
in it and he fought for it.
The best memorial to him would be a more rapid acceptance of
it in the South and in Northern communities where the subtler forms of
segregation and discrimination are practised and, for that matter, in every
country where equal rights and opportunities are not accorded without regard to
race or religion.
Civil rights became the foremost part of his domestic programme. He had to move
carefully; both because haste could so easily bring bloodshed, and because he
was opposed by the Southern wing of his own party.
His platform in the 1960 Presidential campaign came out boldly for the Negro's
right to share school benches and polling booths with whites, and for the
Federal Government's duty to enforce this. He was backed in this by Lyndon
Johnson, himself a Southerner and now President.
To the world, he will be remembered as the President who helped to bring the
thaw in the cold war. The real change came only after Cuba.
That crisis, taking the world to the edge of a nuclear war, left its mark on
both him and Mr Khrushchev. Kennedy certainly - and Mr Khrushchev probably -
knew that a false move by either of them could have been catastrophic.
Although, in a conventional sense, the Americans won the encounter, there was no
crowing in the White House. The President recognised how frightening were the
consequences of misunderstandings. But he worked for improvement, as did Mr
Khrushchev, and it came. He leaves in this a monument - but one on to which his
successors must build.
President Kennedy respected his allies and worked with them. His last visit to
this country was during a lightning tour of Europe - part triumphal and part
persuasive - in which he sought to reassure people and Governments that the
United States was as deeply committed as ever to the defence of Western Europe.
But he will be remembered for his youth and friendliness. "The torch has been
passed to a new generation of Americans," he said.
To people in many other countries it was gladdening to see leading the greatest
of Western nations a young man, though one matured by war and years of public
He and Mrs Kennedy made the White House what it has hardly ever been before - a
place where artists and thinkers of all nations and creeds were welcomed. He was
a true liberal, a thinker himself no less than a man of action, and a courageous
From the Guardian
archive > November 23, 1963 >
A tragedy for the world, G, Republished
President Kennedy assassinated
November 22, 1963
Alistair Cooke, New York
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the
United States, was shot during a motorcade drive through downtown Dallas at 1pm
(6pm British time) this afternoon. He died in the emergency room of the Parkland
Memorial Hospital 32 minutes after the attack. He was 46. He is the third
president to be assassinated in office since Lincoln, and the first since
President McKinley in 1901.
Police held as chief suspect Lee Oswald, said to be a self-styled Communist who
once renounced US citizenship and unsuccessfully sought to become a Russian
citizen. The chairman of a Fair Play for Cuba committee, he was arrested in a
cinema after a policeman had been killed.
The new President is the Vice-President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, a 55-year-old
native Texan, who took the oath of office in Dallas at five minutes to four at
the hands of a woman judge, and later arrived in Washington with the body of the
This is being written in the numbed interval between the first shock and the
harried attempt to reconstruct a sequence of fact from an hour of tumult.
However, this is the first assassination of a world figure that took place in
the age of television, and every network and station in the country took up the
plotting of the appalling story. It begins to form a grisly pattern,
contradicted by a grisly preface: the projection on television screens of a
happy crowd and a grinning President only a few seconds before the gunshots.
The President was almost at the end of his two-day tour of Texas. He was to make
a luncheon speech in the Dallas Trade Mart building and his motor procession had
another mile to go. He had had the warmest welcome of his trip from a great
crowd at the airport.
The cries a personal touch were so engaging that Mrs Kennedy took the lead and
walked from the ramp of the presidential plane to a fence that held the crowd
in. She was followed by the President, and they seized hands and forearms and
smiled at the people.
The Secret Service and police were relieved to get them into their car, where
Mrs Kennedy sat between the President and John B Connally, the governor of
Texas. Dallas police had instituted the most stringent security in the city's
history: they wanted no repetition of the disgraceful brawl that humiliated
Adlai Stevenson when he attended a United Nations rally on October 24. The
motorcade was going along slowly but smoothly when three muffled shots, which
the crowd first mistook for fireworks, cracked through the cheers.
President Kennedy assassinated, Alistair Cooke, New York,
November 22, 1963,
The Guardian >
Archives, G, p. 30, 23.11.2005,
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