Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
do you ever wish Richard Nixon was more financially successful so that people could unawkwardly call him Rich Dick Nix? (Pretty sure that would have been his rap name)
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t know how anyone could say “Rich Dick Nix” without feeling awkward, but you definitely settled the question of what Nixon’s rap name should have been.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
thoughts on the tyrant season finale?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I damn near forgot that it was Tyrant Tuesday, but caught the show just in time. The season finale definitely left me wanting to see what happens next.

I’m kind of bummed that they made Jamal into such a monster with the early episodes because he is, by far, the most interesting character and Ashraf Barhoum’s performance makes up for some of Adam Rayner’s wooden performance as Bassam. The really interesting story would be Bassam wanting to overthrow his brother and “save” Abuddin from Jamal, but really have Bassam be the power-hungry brother. That could still be the direction they are heading, but it’s tough to walk back the things Jamal did in the first two or three episodes. That actually wasn’t necessary. They could have made Jamal a flawed character without making him evil. And Jamal coming through at the end (instead of Bassam) could be the redemption story and the twist. To use the Godfather analogy I’ve referenced in the past when talking about Tyrant, it would be like Fredo saving the family as Michael Corleone got more-and-more evil and distant. If they hadn’t made Jamal do some terrible things at the beginning of the series, Jamal would easily be the most likable character on the show. Bassam isn’t likable, Bassam’s wife and kids aren’t likable, Jamal’s wife and son aren’t likable, Jamal’s daughter-in-law isn’t likable, Tucker and the other American characters from the State Department and Embassy are definitely not likable, none of the Abuddin military leaders are likable, and even the opposition in Abuddin (the Sheikh’s son) isn’t likable. Jamal is the most interesting and likable character, but we can’t like him because they had the character commit totally unnecessary (to the story) sexual assaults, cheating, and murders.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the show, and I hope it gets picked up for another season. I just think it could be so much better.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you think President Nixon really meant it when he said that he would have gone for a rap career if they were around in the 30s? Do you think he would have been any good?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Most of my readers will probably look at this question and think that it is one of those silly questions or messages where someone asks or says something odd or outrageous just to see how I might respond. It’s funny to imagine Richard Milhous Nixon simply having rap music explained to him.

But, in reality, Nixon actually did mention the possibility of him becoming a rapper if rap had been popular when he was young. At Nixon’s Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, visitors used to be able to tour the exhibits while listening to the 37th President of the United States guide you via an audio recording (I’m not sure if you can still take the tour guided by Nixon’s voice; when I visited Yorba Linda in 2004, I just did a self-guided tour). The small house that Nixon was born in stands on the grounds of Nixon’s Library, and visitors listening to the audiotape while making their way through the house had their attention directed to several musical instruments that belonged to the Nixon family. When the former President referenced the instruments (on the audiotape) and mentioned his lifelong love for music, Nixon added, "I have often though that if there had been a good rap group around in those days, I might have chosen a career in music instead of politics."

Was he serious? No, of course not. Nixon did have an appreciation for music, and was confident enough in his abilities as a pianist that he played in public from time-to-time. But Nixon was also notoriously awkward and uncoordinated; he usually needed help to open bottles of any type and was so inept when it came to technology that it really is entirely possible that the infamous 18½-minute gap on the Watergate tapes was the result of Nixon clumsily erasing and/or taping over part of the recording.

One of the most crucial building blocks that make up the foundation of a good rapper is rhythm. Not only was Richard Nixon completely absent of rhythm but his lack of coordination actually made anyone around him seem awkward and out of place. Oddly enough, the rest of Nixon’s story resembled that of many contemporary rappers — as a young man, he faced quite a bit of adversity, growing up in an impoverished family on the West Coast (WESTSIDE!) and losing two brothers at a young age. He also had a way with words that very well could have translated into success for rap music in a different time period. While attending high school, Nixon represented the West Coast on the national level in debate/oratory contest. Later, he became the captain of the debating team at Whittier College and coaches marveled at his unique ability to successfully take on any viewpoint on any of the subjects up for debate.

It’s certainly a funny and outlandish image to picture Richard Nixon as a rapper. It’s even funnier to try to figure out who Tricky Dick’s favorite rapper would have been (I’m going to guess Mystikal just because it’s the strangest combination I immediately thought of). But, unfortunately, he wasn’t serious about wanting to be a rapper. And while his verbal skills and talent as an orator could have made him a dangerous freestyler and potential success in rap battles, the complete absence of rhythm would have been a lethal handicap to his reputation as an MC.

(Just out of curiosity, though, what would the best rap name for Richard Nixon be? Just his old-fashioned “Tricky Dick” moniker? “DJ Watergate”? “Presidential MC?” “DJ POTUS?” Since Nixon tried so hard during his lifetime to get his initials over like TR, FDR, JFK, and LBJ, how about “MC RN”?)

I said that I’d be responding to “speed-round questions” tonight while I watched the VMAs and FIFA’s U-20 Women’s World Cup, made a point of suggesting “yes or no” questions, and then kicked off that “speed-round” session by spending several hundred words answering ONE question about something that is ALWAYS confusing — Constitutional interpretation of specific Presidential Succession situations, the difference between a Vice President assuming the President permanently or temporarily assuming office as “Acting President”, and the fact that there a VP assuming the Presidency as President and a VP assuming the Presidency as “Acting President” are two different situations yet result in no difference between the actual duties and powers.

I’m glad I was able to stick with my plan to be concise and quickly answer easy, “speed-round” questions.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
If a Vice President takes over for a period of time from the President, and the President resumes his job but later resigns from office, does the time previously served count for the new President's service? If that makes any sense.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I understand what you’re saying. This is another one of those instances — as is the case with most questions about Presidential succession or the 25th Amendment — where there are no precedents to follow and a lot of confusion, and where that confusion will remain until something happens that actually puts the 25th Amendment into effect and tests the process.

To refresh everyone’s memories, a President can permanently relinquish his office by resigning, which leads to the Vice President (or the person next in the line of succession) becoming the new President. If that happens, the VP-turned-President can be elected to two full terms as President in his own right unless the VP completes more than two years of the unfinished term of the President he succeeded. In that case, the VP is only allowed to be elected to one term in his own right. As an example: when LBJ assumed the Presidency upon the death of John F. Kennedy, JFK had less than two years left in his term. So, LBJ was able to run again in 1964 (and won), and would have been allowed to run for another term in 1968 if he had chosen to. After that, he would have been term-limited and unable to seek the Presidency again in 1972. On the other hand, when Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon in 1974 following Nixon’s assassination, Ford completed more than two years of Nixon’s term. Ford was unsuccessful in trying to win a term of his own in 1976, but if he had won the ‘76 election, he would have been term-limited from seeking another term as President in 1980.

But a President could also temporarily the powers of the Presidency if he or she were incapacitated or unable to discharge their duties, and then reclaim their duties when they are ready. This has happened a couple of times when recent Presidents have undergone medical treatment which required anesthesia. When that happens, the President invokes the 25th Amendment, and the Vice President becomes “Acting President” until the President feels clear enough to reclaim the full duties of the Presidency once again.

Now, this is where the questions start popping up. When a President resigns and a Vice President permanently assumes the powers, duties, and trappings of the Presidency (as in the aforementioned cases of LBJ and Gerald Ford), the VP becomes President of the United States in full. However, when a President invokes the 25th Amendment and temporarily transfers power to the Vice President, the VP does not become “President of the United States”. Instead, the VP becomes “Acting President”, and remains “Acting President” until the President reclaims the position, resigns, or is removed from office.

Since this Constitutional curiosity has never been put to the test, we don’t know for sure what the answer to your question is. But my interpretation is that the time that a VP served as “Acting President” in an instance where the 25th Amendment was invoked would not count towards term limits if that VP eventually became the President in his own right. Plus, the invocation of the 25th Amendment in order to temporarily relieve an incapacitated President of his duties is not meant to be a long-term solution. The 25th Amendment also has a mechanism for removing a seriously incapacitated President who has little change of regaining the ability to discharge his duty. If things got that serious, a temporary fix would be bypassed in favor of removing the incapacitated President and handing power to the next in the line of succession. At that point, the clock would begin ticking to determine whether the successor would be limited to being elected to one or two terms as President on their own, but that’s a different discussion.

The strangest (and most confusing) thing about the differences between someone who assumes the Presidency permanently and someone who temporarily becomes “Acting President” is that there isn’t any difference in actual power. The difference is in the title, but — whether temporary or permanent — they exercise all of the powers of the Presidency.

Forget Will, Kate, and whatever their baby’s name is. Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Blue Ivy are the world’s true royal family. #VMAs
via @Anthony_Bergen, (
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you believe in Barack Obama or do you think he's just an urban legend?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

"Urban" legend? Racist!

Yes, I still believe in Barack Obama. I’m disappointed in many aspects of Obama’s Presidency, but I have been a supporter since the very beginning (before he even officially announced that he was forming an exploratory committee back in February 2007) and I remain a loyalist. He has made some mistakes, but he’s also had to face one of the most obstructionist opposition groups in Congressional history. Time is rapidly running out on the Obama Administration, but I still hold on to some of that hope that I started out with way back when Barack Obama had gray hair. 

Thanks to everyone who suggested IFTTT. That’s what I am using.

I’d enjoy sharing a chocolate malted with Rita Ora at the neighborhood drugstore. If I got lucky, maybe we’d even share a straw & hold hands
via @Anthony_Bergen
I guess that tweeting about the #VMAs is more interesting to readers than tweeting about the National Women’s Soccer League semifinal game
via @Anthony_Bergen
How much of the #VMAs do I need to watch before Suge Knight gets shot again?