Monday, June 2, 2014

#empoblognov03 So what is the Obama Doctrine? And what will Obama's successor take from the White House?

On November 16, 2003 (back when my Sunday posts were more frequent), I wrote a post that explained...well, it's easier to just quote it:

I have discovered a pattern in our U.S. presidents that appears to indicate that George W. Bush, our 43rd president, will only be succeeded by five other individuals.

First a look back at some of our presidents in history.

Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was the first (and for many years the only) president who was the son of a former president (in this case, his father John Adams).

He was followed by Andrew Jackson, a charismatic, controversial Democrat.

He was succeeded by New Yorker Martin Van Buren, Jackson's former vice president (and, for many years, the only vice president who was elected to the presidential office immediately after serving as vice president).

Our next president? The old William Henry Harrison.

Our tenth president was the southerner John Tyler, who was not re-elected.

Fast forward over a century, and meet some of our more recent presidents:

Number 39: Jimmy Carter, a southerner who was not re-elected.

Number 40: The old Ronald Reagan, who was older than Harrison.

Number 41: The former vice president George H.W. Bush, famous for breaking the Van Buren curse.

Number 42: The charismatic, controversial Democrat William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton.

Number 43: George W. Bush, son of a former president.

Interesting pattern in reverse, and you don't have to take off your shoes to determine that if the pattern holds, the next five presidents will share characteristics with Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, Adams senior, and Washington. After that, what do we get? An ineffective government? A mad king? No one knows....

Sometimes I wonder how my brain works.

Of course, back in 2003, we didn't know who the next President would be.


There was a possibility that the next President could be whoever became the 2004 Democratic nominee. At various times, the people vying for that spot included John Kerry (the eventual nominee), Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark, John Edwards, Howard Dean, and Al Sharpton.

None of them won the Presidency in 2004, although Dean became immortalized (perhaps unfairly) by a recorded audio scream.

The guy who eventually succeeded George W. Bush as President was someone who didn't even run for President in 2004. In fact, it was a guy who was a virtually unknown Illinois state senator in 2004, trying to get a seat in the U.S. Senate - and who was immensely helped in that endeavor by a speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic Convention - the one that nominated Kerry, who eventually became Secretary of State under Barack Obama (replacing Hillary Clinton).

Now if my theory holds true, Barack Obama (George W. Bush's successor) is supposed to be a parallel of James Monroe (John Quincy Adam's predecessor). Now Monroe is known for two things. One of these is the "Era of Good Feelings," in which the Federalist Party ceased to be effective and there was a one-party system in the country. Although a case could be made that there is only one party that rules today - the "government party" - most people see our current government as subject to Democratic vs. Republican gridlock. No Era of Good Feelings here.

But perhaps there's a parallel in Monroe's other claim to fame - the Monroe Doctrine. At its most basic level, the Monroe Doctrine was an assertion that the United States has the authority to intervene in the affairs of other countries when those affairs affect us.

Yawn, you say. That's not unique to Obama. Every President since Truman, and several before Truman, have maintained that the U.S. has the power to intervene anywhere in the world. And we've done so, sending forces or equivalents to Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Afghanistan, Grenada, Kuwait, and a whole bunch of other places.

But perhaps Obama crossed a line here, since he was caught spying on an ally - German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Notice that I say "was caught," since spying on Germany's leaders predated Obama. But by the time of the Obama Administration, we had turned the Monroe Doctrine on its ear. Rather than warning Europe not to interfere in the affairs of the American nations, the Obama Doctrine warned Europe that we would interfere in their affairs.


Unless a calamity occurs beforehand, we will have a new President on January 20, 2017. And if my model continues to be predictive, this new President will be the parallel to Monroe's predecessor, James Madison. While Madison is remembered as one of the leading forces behind the Constitution, his Presidency is primarily remembered for the humiliating defeat at Washington, DC during the War of 1812 - a defeat that forced the First Family to evacuate the White House. Now we've never had such a threat to our national government since 1814 - even during the Civil War, Washington itself was never invaded by Confederate troops. But if you believe either the right-wing wackos of the left-wing wackos who are convinced that Washington is going to hell in a handbasket, is it too far-fetched to believe that Washington DC may find itself under attack at some point between 2017 and 2025?

Perhaps the President and the President's spouse may be forced to evacuate the White House. (Or, if true marriage equality becomes law, the President and the President's spouses.) If so, what will the President's spouse(s) take during the evacuation? A picture of George Washington? A one petabyte storage device? A Coca-Cola?


Which brings us to the President after the President after Obama. Now Jefferson, despite being known as a small government guy, is probably most famous for doubling the size of our country via the Louisiana Purchase. I don't think that our forty-sixth President is going to double the size of our country - I don't think Canada or Mexico are suddenly going to become red, white, and blue. But if the country is truly going downhill, then perhaps President number 46, instead of doubling the size of the country, will actually cut it in half.

An argument could be made that we're already well on the way to such a divide. For the last couple of decades, talk of red states and blue states has replaced talk of other country divisions, such as the "solid South." In the red state/blue state theory, the coasts are blue (Democratic) while the middle of the country is red (Republican).

What if such a division of the country were actually formalized?

Maybe President 46 will be so, um, "progressive" that the good folks of Texas and other areas will withdraw from the United States. Or, conversely, President 46 may be so "patriotic" that the coasts may split off and form the Inclusive States of America Unless You're a Bigot That We Don't Like.

Impossible, one may say. Yet Czechoslovakia split up (without bloodshed). The Soviet Union split up. The Netherlands Antilles split up. Scotland may split off from the rest of the United Kingdom. And you have those countries that split up due to war, such as Korea and (for a time) Germany and Vietnam. Within the United States itself, individual states have split up and created new states such as Vermont, Maine, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.


I've predicted enough disasters for one day. If Washington gets invaded and our country splits in two, who knows what will happen during the reigns of the last Presidents of the United States.

And afterwards. Articles of Confederation? A reunion with the (non-Scots) England? Giving the whole thing back to the Native Americans and heading back to Europe, Africa, and Asia?

Stranger things have happened.
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