Bush's Challenges Not Unusual for a Second Term PresidentBreaking News
Historically speaking, however, the administration's struggles since the 2004 election may not be very surprising, given the spotted record of second-term presidencies.
Bill Clinton was impeached, though not convicted. Several close aides to Ronald Reagan were indicted in the Iran-contra scandal. Richard M. Nixon, of course, resigned over Watergate. And Woodrow Wilson couldn't get Congress to ratify the League of Nations and struggled with debilitating health problems.
"It fits into what has been a recent pattern over what has been now 70-odd years," said Chester Pach, a presidential historian at Ohio University. "It's hard to know how it could play out. It could be a real disaster, but it could be a period of temporary reverses."
Alfred J. Zacher, author of "Trial and Triumph - Presidential Power in the Second Term," says that of the 19 presidents re-elected through history, only six can be said to have had truly successful second terms, and even some of them faced significant challenges. The six, according to Mr. Zacher, are George Washington, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and President Reagan.
Several historians attribute the second term problems to a confluence of hubris, overreaching and, oddly, complacency.
Presidents and their staffs are typically triumphant after re-election, especially if they are believed to have won a greater mandate than they did in their first election as Mr. Bush did, leading to a high self-regard among the administration officials.
But there is also a tendency toward complacency and burnout given the incredibly strenuous and taxing workload carried by White House staffers. Realizing that vulnerability, and looking to cement their legacies as great leaders before they leave office, many presidents set what may be over-ambitious goals, said Rick Shenkman, editor of the History News Network at George Mason University. "They want to do something really big."
comments powered by Disqus
- Now it’s the University of Louisville’s turn to remove a Confederate statue
- A fortress built by Alexander the Great after he conquered Jerusalem has been discovered
- Yale students protest decision to keep Calhoun’s name
- Six maps that will make you rethink the world
- Middle Tenn. State President Wants to Strip Confederate General’s Name From Building
- The historian and cartographer Bill Rankin has developed a new way to visualize slavery
- Paula S. Fass says young Americans need required national service
- Historians are now trying to show that the gay revolution also took place in the midwest
- The Unconference Movement Grows – And Historians Are Taking the Lead
- New appeal to "Bring Back Military History"