|THE SECOND TIME AROUND|
An exploration of Presidential Second Terms
in this forum:
What advice would Eisenhower give Clinton about how to have a successful second term? Are Presidents more likely to speak their minds in their second term i.e. Eisenhower and his "Military Industrial Complex" speech? How does the "lame duck syndrome" effect the workings of the Presidency? What kind of a physical toll does eight years in the White House take on the President? Should Americans have the opportunity to award a successful President a third term? Viewer comments
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Online NewsHour Links
December 23, 1996: A NewsHour panel of historians looks at historical second terms.
December 20, 1996: President Clinton announces the new cabinet members who will join him for his second term.
December 6, 1996: Perspective on foreign policy and second term presidents comes from a panel of historians.
Stephen Ambrose looks at the formative years of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Character Above All investigates the role of character in the American presidency.
Nat Cipollina of Garden City, NY, asks:
Both Presidents Truman and Johnson could have run a second time on their own, because of the way they came to office, yet both found that for whatever reasons it was unwise to seek another term. Could Professors Beschloss and Ambrose address what it was in both Truman's last year and Johnson's last year that convinced them not to run for another term; and to what extent does the lessons and examples of Truman and Johnson help us to understand the dynamics of what happens to Presidents in their second terms. Please also contrast these two examples with President Theodore Roosevelt and his regret at having proclaimed after his election to the Presidency on his own, that he would not run another time, and how this eventually led him, after having been out of office, to run some years later.
Please also address what a person at age 54 would do after having been president of the United States for two terms?
Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss reponds:
Truman was very low in the polls by March 1952. He knew that Eisenhower was likely to beat him and, as a 68-year-old man, he had already served almost two terms. Nor was he motivated to save the country from Eisenhower as he might have been to save the country from isolationist Ohio Republican Senator Robert Taft.
Johnson insisted that he had decided in 1964 to seek only one term. He also felt that it would be easier for him to seek peace in Vietnam in 1968 were he not a candidate. There is considerable evidence that he instantly regretted his decision, hoped for a draft by Democrats in Chicago in August 1968, and to some extent out of pique, repeatedly hamstrung Hubert Humphrey when he ran for President in the fall of 1968.
TR had boxed himself in in 1904 by saying that he would not run again, then found that there was no one on the national landscape who could equal his own perception of his own stature.
As for Bill Clinton at 54, it is not inconceivable to imagine that he might start a domestic counterpart of the Carter Center in Atlanta. Or, as it has been suggested by the journalist Sally Quinn, he might go where the real influence lies and become a talk show host.
Presidential Historian Stephen Ambrose reponds:
Truman decided to not run for another turn when Eisenhower announced in January, 1952, that he would be the Republican candidate.
In LBJ's case, I'm told that Lady Bird made him do it. Certainly it came hard for this proud man, but the facts were against him -- and Lady Bird put him over the edge.
In TR's case, in some ways he made a big mistake in saying he wouldn't run against during the 1904 campaign, but then he had this great work behind him. Only a war could have arroused him. To his bitter disappointment, the war came when he was not at the helm.