Presidents Who Change Their Minds

I am a history nerd, and politics is a fascinating subject, so an article entitled “The Presidents Who Changed Course in Office” really piqued my curiosity.

Certainly a lot can happen over the course of four to eight years — nationally, internationally, and in a president’s personal life.  As the article’s author Sean Braswell states, “Circumstances often demand that a president go against his principles or prior statements.”

This was quite true for President George W. Bush.  He had campaigned on a platform of avoiding foreign entanglements and getting involved in “nation building”, but the tragedy of 9/11 forced a major change in his administration’s direction.  Change of a different sort happened to his father, George H. W. Bush.  Remember his pledge “Read my lips, no new taxes”?   But when the budget deficit began to climb alarmingly, he agreed to tax hikes.  Unfortunately, politics trumped courage and he lost reelection in 1992 (but he did win the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s Profile in Courage Award in 2014 for doing what was best for the country).

Perhaps the most devastating change can come in a president’s personal life.  Abraham Lincoln’s beloved son Willie died in the White House.  It’s a great credit to an already extraordinary man that his ability to manage the Civil War did not seem affected.  On the other hand, when Calvin Coolidge’s 16-year old son, Calvin Jr., died in 1924 from blood poisoning, the grief-stricken president was virtually disabled by depression for the rest of his term in office, and nothing was done about the country’s deteriorating economic situation.

The question today becomes in what ways will Donald Trump change course?  Will he be like George W. Bush and see the wisdom in change, or will he be like Herbert Hoover, who, as an individualist, downplayed the Great Depression as “a passing incident” and didn’t take serious economic and social measures until it was too late to save his presidency?

Stay tuned….

The complete article can be found at   http://www.ozy.com/politics-and-power/the-presidents-who-changed-course-in-office/75838?.

 

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