Skip to content

Time Cover Story One For All Americans “The Presidents Club”

April 13, 2012

An amazing article is featured this week in Time

In this era of political rancor the civility that often can be found among the ex-presidents  of this nation is something to rejoice about.  If you are a political junkie as I am there are so many reasons to read not only the Time piece but also look forward to the forthcoming book The Presidents Club

The Presidents club may not be in the Constitution or any book or bylaw, but neither is it a metaphor or figure of speech. It was created in 1953 at Dwight Eisenhower’s Inauguration, when Herbert Hoover proposed the alliance to Truman. The two men, political and personal opposites, agreed that in the postwar age, a strong presidency was essential to U.S. security, and they worked together to enhance the powers of the office.

Up to that moment, the club had been more an idea than an institution. Some sitting Presidents consulted with their predecessors, yet beyond sharing war stories, there were limits to what a former President could do. Now in an age of global celebrity, when Presidents live longer and larger than ever, they retain unmatched influence long after they leave office. Plus they’re the only ones who know what the job does to a person.

It was Eisenhower whom John Kennedy called on the morning he was about to announce a quarantine of Cuba that could trigger a nuclear war. It was Richard Nixon whom Clinton called late at night to discuss Russia, China and just how to best allocate a President’s precious time. On the night that the SEALs killed bin Laden, Obama placed his first two calls–before informing allies, partisans or backers–to George W. Bush and Clinton.

There is no fraternity like it, and not just because of the barriers to entry or the privileges of membership. It has rules–stay in touch, don’t discuss club business with the press–along with rituals, feast days and a private clubhouse across from the White House reserved solely for the use of former Presidents. It even has souvenirs. Lyndon Johnson gave Ike a pair of gold cuff links bearing the Presidential Seal: “You are the only one, along with Harry Truman, who can legitimately wear these,” Johnson observed, “but if you look closely, it doesn’t say ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican’ on them.”

At a time when a Democratic President and a Republican House Speaker can barely carry on a civil conversation, Presidents talk to, and about, one another in a dialect foreign to the current partisan vernacular. “You will be our President when you read this note,” George H.W. Bush wrote to Clinton, the man who had just defeated him, echoing the message of transitions past, even between bitter political foes: “I am rooting hard for you.” When it was George W. Bush’s turn, his commitment to the club’s code of conduct was unreserved. “We want you to succeed,” he told Obama before the Inauguration, speaking for the entire club membership. “Whether we’re Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country … All of us who have served in this office understand that the office transcends the individual.”

2 Comments
  1. skip1930 permalink
    April 15, 2012 4:09 PM

    The gal who wrote this book was interviewed on Fox News this Sunday. Now I’m thinking I want to read the book. Should be as good as ‘An FBI Agent In The Clinton Whitehouse.’ That was a telling book. Books based on true stories are the best.

    skip.

  2. Dante permalink
    April 13, 2012 11:46 PM

    Can’t wait until Mr Obama joins that club this November. He will be a great fit for the ex president club he already has vacations and golfing down to a exact science.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: