As Karl Rove keeps droning on and on, I think it is time that someone corrects the record. His latest piece on how it is "tough for a party to win a third White House term," thus making a future Clinton campaign an uphill battle, is simply pick-and-choose journalism.
In case you haven't read his latest piece in the Wall Street Journal, he writes that "Adlai Stevenson couldn't follow Truman, Nixon failed to replace Eisenhower, Humphrey fell short after LBJ, Ford couldn't win a full term once Nixon fell, and Al Gore didn't succeed Bill Clinton. Since candidates of unusual skills failed to win a presidential three-peat, Mrs. Clinton could face a rough road."
Here are some facts that he omits:
1. Out of 16 presidential elections from 1952 to 2012, seven have been reelections resulting in incumbent victories: Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. This means that of all the presidential elections from 1952 to 2012, there have only been two unsuccessful reelection campaigns: Jimmy Carter and George Bush (noting that Kennedy and Nixon were both replaced by their vice presidents while serving their first and second terms, respectively). Thus, American voters have only voted for the opposing party in the middle of a sitting president's first term 12.5 percent of the time. To rephrase, 87.5 percent of all one term presidents since 1952 have been reelected. 2008 was an unusual election because it featured no incumbents and resulted in a switch of parties. Four elections featured incumbent vice presidents (1960, 1968, 1988 and 2000). Of these four, one vice president (George H.W. Bush in 1988) won a term consecutive to his vice presidency and another former vice president (Richard Nixon in 1968) won a term that took place eight years after his vice presidency, making Rove's case that it is difficult for a party to win a third White House term a valid one. But what Rove doesn't acknowledge is that from 1952-2012, American voters chose the incumbent party in consecutive elections 50 percent of the time (1956, 1964, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2004 and 2012).
2. Rove points out that Adlai Stevenson couldn't follow Truman. Comparing this to the present day is nearly impossible considering that prior to Truman's eight years in office, FDR served from 1933-1945, 12 years in total, before the establishment of the 22nd Amendment. A 20-year party run, with one president in office for twelve years alone, simply cannot be compared to present-day presidential two-term campaigns.
3. The fact that Nixon failed to replace Eisenhower is less relevant, considering that he ran for reelection eight years later and won. While Rove's point also is that Nixon did not win consecutively to when he was a sitting vice president, a comparison still can be made to the fact that Secretary Clinton ran in 2008 and may now return to run again eight years later. 1960 is to 2008 as 1968 is to 2016. Although the same party has remained in power throughout the eight years, unlike was the case with Nixon, Clinton can come back and win what she previously did not.
4. It is not surprising that Humphrey fell short after LBJ. As we know, President Johnson served the remainder of JFK's term and then his own. With anti-Vietnam sentiment, and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King's assassinations, Humphrey's election was held at an extremely politically tumultuous time. Generalizations about party control cannot be made without focusing on history and political climate as well. And I know that Mr. Rove knows this well.
5. And finally, Ford's re-election was difficult as most pundits and scholars agree because of his presidential pardon of Nixon after Nixon's resignation from office. Comparing this to Obama and Clinton is not comparing apples to apples.
As Rove continues his "bash Hillary" tour, I will continue to watch with utmost interest. His best asset is his ability to pick and choose facts, leave out details, and then easily be able to persuade those who don't hear both sides that he is correct. For the record, he is not.
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