JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

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Thursday, December 19, 2002
 
Previous jobs of Presidents

After reading David's post, and trying to see if I could do it from memory, I went through every election of the 20th century to see what the previous jobs of the Presidential nominees were. I think I have them all correct.

2000 Gore (VP) Bush (Gov)
1996 Clinton (Pres) Dole (Senator) Perot (Businessman)
1992 Clinton (Gov) Bush (Pres) Perot (Businessman)
1988 Dukakis (Gov) Bush (VP)
1984 Mondale (ex-VP) Reagan (Pres)
1980 Carter (Pres) Reagan (ex-Gov)
1976 Carter (Gov) Ford (Pres)
1972 McGovern (Senator) Nixon (Pres)
1968 Humphry (VP) Nixon (ex-VP)
1964 Johnson (Pres) Goldwater (Senator)
1960 Kennedy (Senator) Nixon (VP)
1956 Stevenson (ex-Gov?) Eisenhower (Pres)
1952 Stevenson (Gov) Eisenhower (University President)
1948 Truman (Pres) Dewey (Gov)
1944 Roosevelt (Pres) Dewey (Gov)
1940 Roosevelt (Pres) Wilkie (lawyer)
1936 Roosevelt (Pres) Landon (Gov)
1932 Roosevelt (Gov) Hoover (Pres)
1928 Smith (Gov) Hoover (ex-Cabinet official)
1924 Davis (ex-Ambassador) Coolidge (Pres) Lafollette (Senator)
1920 Cox (Governor) Harding (Senator) Debs (Prisoner)
1916 Hughes (Judge) Wilson (President)
1912 Wilson (Gov) Taft (President) Roosevelt (ex-Pres)
1908 Bryan (ex-Congressman) Taft (Cabinet official)
1904 Parker (Judge) Roosevelt (President)
1900 Bryan (ex-Congressman) McKinley (President)

What strikes me much more than the relative lack of sitting Congressmen and Senators on this list is the amount of Presidents, and Vice-Presidents. 1952, fifty years ago, was the last time there was an election without a President or Vice-President, and before that 1928. Because these executive officers have been taking up so many of the slots, it’s no surprise that there have been so few people from other jobs. (2004, of course, will be no exception, in that President Bush will be running). And, with these people taking so many slots, the remaining probably comprise too small a sample to make any solid judgements.

That being said, one thing is noticable. After World War II, we saw lots of war heroes. Eisenhower, of course. Both Kennedy and Nixon. Johnson was a decorated Navy vet. McGovern was a bomber pilot. Carter was a Naval officer. Bush, the father, was a fighter pilot. Dole was a veteran of the invasion of Europe. After Clinton and Bush, the son, and the years that have passed since VE and VJ days, that dynamic is gone. It's anybody's game.

To me, the Democratic nomination is open. I mean, how many people in America knew who Jimmy Carter was in 1974 or Bill Clinton was in 1990? That’s why we have campaigns… so the people can get to know the candidates.

That being said, then why is the political media spending so much time focusing on Kerry, Edwards, Liberman, Gephardt, and Daschle? Because it’s easy and the Washington media is lazy. Those five all live in Washington. The political media lives in Washington.

When the campaign starts and everybody has to go to Iowa and New Hampshire, they’ll start covering more people. And different people. The next Carter or Clinton, perhaps.

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