Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Franklin Pierce - Whipping Boy of Pundits and Naysayers
Once again, the name of Franklin Pierce comes up in the political blogosphere this election year. In her article, "Wes Clark and the Military Credential," in the TIME/CNN blog Swampland, Karen Tumulty discusses the men who had military experience as generals before being elected U.S. President. General Wes Clark recently said that John McCain's military service didn't necessarily mean he would be a good Commander-in-Chief, which set off a firestorm of chatter in the media. Ms. Tumulty, taking the same exhaustive, thorough approach to journalism that I do, used Google to find out how many U.S. Presidents had been generals, and how those Presidents ranked in a survey of historians, political scientists and legal scholars that the Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society did in 2000. Please note that John McCain was not a general, the world changed quite a bit between the time of George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and I personally believe this whole discussion is irrelevant.
In any event, Ms. Tumulty notes that of the twelve former generals who became President, "...two were flat-out 'failures': Franklin Pierce (Mexican War) and Andrew Johnson (Civil War)." Poor Franklin Pierce--Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than this guy.