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Published:September 14th, 2008 19:46 EST
History Cafe - Episode 9: The US Presidential Elections Alphabet (Part II)

History Cafe - Episode 9: The US Presidential Elections Alphabet (Part II)

By Krzys Wasilewski

*Audio coming soon!

L like LBJ. Replacing John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office would be a daunting task for any politician, especially for someone like Lyndon B. Johnson. The short-tempered Texan made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the Kennedy clan, yet to show respect for his predecessor, Johnson kept most of the secretaries in place. Dubbed the "great legislator," LBJ went down in history as the president who committed the US to the Vietnam War - the conflict that would prematurely end his political career.


M like Mondale (Walter). The vice president in the administration of widely unpopular President Jimmy Carter, Mondale realized that defeating Ronald Reagan in 1984 would be mission impossible. Predictably, the presidential election was a one-man show, but Mondale made history by choosing for his running mate Geraldine A. Ferraro, the first woman to ever compete for this position. Outspoken and ambitious Ferraro paved the way to future generations of female politicians, like Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin.


N like Nixon (Richard M.). Few politicians could rival Nixon in ambition and stubbornness. The prodigy of American politics in the 1950s, who made a speed-of-light career from a senator to the vice president in the Eisenhower administration, Nixon disappeared from the national scene in the 1960s. But when everyone thought "Tricky Dick" to belong to the past, he reinvented himself, working with the party grassroots and finally winning the 1968 presidential election. A master of foreign policy, Nixon is now remembered for the Watergate scandal that abruptly ended his presidency.


O like Obama (Barack). Although the outcome of the 2008 Presidential Campaign remains unknown, the senator of Illinois is already portrayed as a historical figure. The first African-American politician to ever represent the major party in the presidential election, Obama is also one of the few candidates who were born to a foreign-born parent.


P like Presidency. Surprising as it may sound now, many founding fathers opted for monarchy. Alexander Hamilton, for example, feared that too much power in the hands of uneducated people could easily bring chaos to the republic and only a strong sovereign guaranteed that the fruits won by the Revolutionary War would not be wasted. He saw George Washington as the perfect candidate for the first king, but the general never seriously fancied this proposition.


R like Republican Party. Founded in 1854, the Republican Party has produced 19 presidents so far. It came to power in 1860, running on the anti-slavery and pro-industry ticket which secured the party`s domination in northern states. Presently, it usually performs better in the conservative South and Midwest whereas the Democratic Party - born in the South - scores greatly on both coasts. As a coalition of conservatives, evangelicals, libertarians and tens of other groups, the Republican Party is often rived by inner frays and competing programs.


S like Secretaries of State. From John Jay to Condoleezza Rice, secretaries of state remain the highest officials in the administration, except of course for the president and vice president. Their main job is to steer the country`s foreign diplomacy, but in many cases they play an important role in shaping domestic policies or even military strategies. As they are usually ambitious politicians with presidential hopes in mind, the cooperation between the Oval Office and the Department of State is often far from close.


T like Tapes. Tapes brought down President Nixon. Ironically, it was Nixon himself who ordered to install a recording machine in the White House. Knowing how the media hated him, the president hoped that tapes would present his achievements in the true light in the future. Contrary to his expectations, they revealed machinations in domestic politics and eventually led to Nixon`s resignation in 1974.


U like United States. Much has changed in the United States since the Proclamation of Independence in 1776 but one thing has remained constant: elections. The right to choose representatives lay at the reason why the colonies rebelled against Great Britain and has been uncontested ever since. From George Washington to George W. Bush, all presidents have been elected in free and democratic elections. Although results invariably disappoint some voters, it does not change the fact that few countries can boast a better system of governing than the United States.


V like Vice Presidents. To quote one entertainer, the "vice president is the man with the best job in the country. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, `How is the president?`" Apart from presiding over the Senate, the constitution does not specify the responsibilities of the second in command. Nevertheless, everyone competing for this position must meet the same conditions as are required from presidential candidates: be a natural-born US citizen, be over 35, and living in the US for at least 14 years. Among the vast roster of vice presidents, the incumbent one, Richard (Dick) Cheney, is said to be the most powerful.


W like White House. Also known as the Executive Mansion, the White House was completed in 1800, the last year of John Adam`s one-term presidency. Following presidents ordered new sections be built and the old ones redecorated yet it wouldn`t be until 1851 that the resident bought the first bathtub. In 1812 the White House was destroyed by cruel British soldiers and it took five years to restore the building to its former fame. Now, there are 132 rooms, 35 of which are bathrooms, located on three floors. There is also one bowling alley and a movie theater.


XYZ... Leave it to the new candidates!


That`s all from the History Cafe. We hope you enjoyed our Presidential Elections Alphabet, whose first part you can download from the Student Operated Press.


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