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THERE WAS A favorite story that the Democratic Presidential candidate of the 1950's, Adalai Stevenson, loved to tell to people, especially his campaign staffers, to demonstrate how small his chances were.  When he asked a farmer who was critical of President Eisenhower's farm policy "But why aren't farmers mad at President Eisenhower? the farmer exclaimed.  Oh him?  No one connects him with the Administration!  Stevenson told the story to his associates to show how hard it was campaigning against the popular General.  

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THE RULING IN THE BROWN vs. the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas case, which made segregated schools illegal, may not have ever happened had it not been for two heart attacks.  

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MAYSVILLE ROAD is a highway that runs through Mason County in the bluegrass country of northeastern Kentucky, and its namesake is a small town in that state along the Ohio River.  As of the 2000 Census, the Maysville population was 7,323. The quietness of the road and the town whose name it bears would seem to cover the fact that that at one time, 177 years ago Maysville road played a  role in a  major battle over Congressional and Presidential power... a role that is fundamental in why Bush has the power to threaten a veto of Iraq withdrawal bills today.

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CANDIDATE JIMMY CARTER made a promise that no Presidential candidate will say in 2008, no matter what.  And a promise that no candidate had made before.  But strange as it was, it seemed to make sense in the wake of Watergate and the Nixon resignation.  "If I ever tell a lie," Carter said.  "If I ever mislead you, if I ever betray a trust or a confidence, I want you to come and take me out of the White House."

The obvious problem with such a neat promise, as Carter would find out is that its too hard for a Modern President to live up to.  But this was 1976.

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ALL THAT NEW YORK WORLD PHOTOGRAPHER William Warnecke really wanted to do was take the picture of the Mayor of City of New York, in a lively pose, while talking.  Instead he recorded history...

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ON THE CORNER OF 32ND street and Broadway in New York City, not far from where once a year floats and inflated Bart Simpsons roll down the street for a parade, near an area known as Herald Square, lies a dark green satute of a an old man with spectacles on, leaning back in a chair, his arms slouched over the armrests of the chair.  The average passerby certainly has no idea who he is, disregards the statue, sees it as little more than a stoop for birds.  

If they cared -- and they certainly would not care -- to inspect its base, they would find that it is a statue of Horace Greeley, an icon of 19th Century American journalism.  And his roller coaster of a life is a lot more interesting than the boring statue he got.

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NON BINDING RESOLUTIONS, the Iraq debate stalled in the Senate.  The rock-solid plan to block Iraq War funding undermined.. talk of compromise measures and more non-binds, why in the early running it seems like the '06 Democrats can't get things together on what they were presumably elected to do: to end the war in Iraq.  These first weeks are no doubt frustrating to rank-and file Democrats.  But to historians of American politics, it should be little surprise.    Opposition congresses elected in a midterm, in reaction to a President just don't seem to do well reversing the President's policies without getting the President to compromise, or until the Oval Office changes hands.  Now that we've seen some early results of the 2006 Democrats we can compare them to two previous eras of newly found Democratic Congressional power: 1931 and 1891.

IT'S NOT ALL THAT COMMON for a Speaker to leave the podium and go down to the well of the House and make a speech, but that's just what John Nance Garner did.....

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AMERICAN HISTORY IS REPLETE with names of famous men that schoolchildren will learn about  for decades to come.   Alton Brooks Parker is not one of them.  Not many people know Parker.  Even among the club of failed Presidential candidates of the past, which is a club of some pretty obscure people, names like Wendell Wilkie, William Jennings Bryan, Adali Stevenson or, OK, just to be cute we'll say Mike Dukakis, Parker doesn't ring a bell.

This could be because he ran so long ago, or that he was a person of little significance before or after 1904.  But it also could be because Parker was stuck with the challenging job of running against Theodore Roosevelt, one of the nation's most popular Presidents, in 1904 -- at what was the peak of his popularity--three years after he had taken the oath of office after William McKinley's assasination.

Alton B. Parker was a odd choice for a  Presidential candidate,

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VETERAN'S DAY, ALSO KNOWN AS ARMISTACE DAY, is hardly a holiday anyone talks about anymore.  Few people are off that day, and fewer participate in celebrations.  Some know it celebrates the end of World War I,  called, the Great War at a time when nations thought that maybe, that war was so great that it would be it -- and that the armistace was to be the end of such modern destructive mechanized killing.  Most of us know the phrase that acommpanies this day On the eleventh month, the eleventh day, the eleventh hour, the eleventh minute.  

Armistace Day celebrates how world War I ended.  And in a way, it was a strange ending.  No army was smashed to pieces (though the Germans were battered), no capital was captured and Germany still had forces on the field of battle.  While its true that a land and a civilian population was ravaged, it was actually that of France, on the winning side.

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PRIOR TO BECOMING PRESIDENT, Andrew Johnson held every office possible in American democracy.  He was an alderman, a mayor, a state legislator, a governor, a congressman, US Senator, and Vice President.  James Buchanan was ambasador to England, US Senator and Secretary of State. William Howard Taft was a Federal Appeals Court Judge, a Governor of the Phillipine Territory during a period of rebellion, Secretary of War and also acting Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren was a State Senator, US Senator, Secretary of State and served eight years as Vice President under Andrew Jackson before obtaining a Presidency in his own name.   Herbert Hoover led a multimillion dollar corporation to provide relief to the people of Belgium - led European relief efforts after WWI, was Secretary of Commerce during the commercial 20's.

These men brought rich experience to the Presidency.   They are also among America's worst Presidents when routinely ranked by historians.

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History presents tough odds for a Losing Vice Presidential Candidate running for the Presidency.  But it's not impossible.

LOOK IN ANY HISTORY BOOK that features a list of candidates who ran in American Presidential elections, and you will find the name Rufus King three times.  As a vice-presidential candidate in 1804 and 1808, and in the presidential race of 1816, in which he 'faced off' with then Secretary of State James Monroe seeking his office at the end of James Madison's Presidency. The history books are right on about the 1804 and 1808 elections.  But there is a problem with 1816..

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