2018 Presidential Election

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Former president D. Wire Newman turns 90

Former president D. Wire Newman turns 90 today, becoming only the third president to reach that milestone.

Newman and his wife of 64 years, Cissy, still live in his hometown of Elberta, Alabama (population 1,746) and has no public celebration scheduled.

Newman served as the nation's 41st president from 1987 to 1991, the first president elected after Ronald Reagan's second term was truncated, resetting the presidential election cycle. The Democratic former governor of Alabama served only one term before being defeated for reelection in 1990 by Owen Lassiter. He has spent the three decades since leaving office as the head of several nonprofits, although he has stepped back his involvement in recent years owing to age.

The last living president who served in the 20th century, Newman has been supportive of President Sam Seaborn, although he has felt free to air some of his grievances with the incumbent's performance in his old age. Notably, the former president has expressed annoyance that he was "the last Democratic president who knew how to pick a [good] running mate the first time around", but also praised the selection of Olivia Emmett Franklin for the Supreme Court, expressing his belief that the country should always have at least one African-American justice on the Supreme Court.

He joins John Adams and Herbert Hoover (other one-term presidents) as the only presidents to reach the age of 90; only Hoover has had a longer post-presidency than Newman (who left office 29 years and 261 days ago), having spent 31 years as a former president when he died in 1964.

Former acting president George P. Bush, who acted as president between Reagan's incapacitation in August 1985 and Newman's inauguration, is the longest-lived person to have ever acted as president. Bush turned 92 in September, and has for the most part eschewed the public spotlight since his term as vice president and acting president ended.

Newman (photo by James Cromwell)
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That is unfair to Santos. Santos did pick a good running mate the first time, but unfortunately McGarry died. He picked a good Vice President the second time, but unfortunately Eric Baker had a stroke.
That is unfair to Santos. Santos did pick a good running mate the first time, but unfortunately McGarry died. He picked a good Vice President the second time, but unfortunately Eric Baker had a stroke.
OOC: While Newman is being his somewhat cranky self, he's not really wrong.

Leo would have been a great vice president, but once you look at it from an in-universe perspective, he was a bad choice as a running mate. He had no electoral experience (going through a crash-course in how to be a candidate after the convention) and had nearly died of a heart attack less than a year before being selected to be the VP nominee.

Hoynes is opposite: he was a great running mate (balanced the ticket, unified the party after the '98 primaries, had a track record of electoral victory and insider experience in Washington), but a pretty lousy vice president, because, you know, he joined Spiro Agnew in the "vice presidents who resigned in disgrace" club.

And of course, the less said about the wisdom of choosing Franklin Hollis as the VP nominee, the better.

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Franklin confirmed by Senate

The Senate today confirmed Chief Judge Olivia Emmett Franklin as the nation's newest Supreme Court justice, ending a 12-week process in a resounding victory for the White House.

A largely party-line vote approved Franklin's nomination by a margin of 61-39, making her the nation's first female African-American justice and the first African-American to sit on the court in decades. The historic nature of her selection is complemented by her extraordinary life story of growing up from humble, working-class roots in rural South Carolina.

In his brief remarks at the White House, President Seaborn hailed her confirmation as "further proof of the American dream, and evidence of the continued progress towards making this a more perfect union."

"With this historic vote," the president continued, "the Senate has affirmed that Chief Judge Franklin has the temperament, intellect, history, integrity and dedication to serve on the nation's highest court."

Resistance among the Senate Republicans had largely crumbled in the face of political pressure from moderates in the GOP caucus and from swing-state senators facing tough re-election prospects. Hardline conservatives led by Herman Morton (R-WY) reportedly planned to filibuster the nomination after it became clear that Franklin would win an up-down confirmation vote, but aborted the plan once it became clear that they could not come close to the 41 senators necessary to sustain a filibuster over the party leadership's objection.

Chief Justice Evelyn Baker Lang is expected to swear Franklin in Saturday at a private ceremony at the Supreme Court building. Franklin is not expected to change the balance of the court on most issues, as her views are largely similar to retired justice Rachel Carmine, who she is succeeding.

Franklin in an interview with NBS (photo by Viola Davis)

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

New era for ACA begins with Caldwell retirement

The American Christian Assembly (ACA) has begun a new chapter today, with the retirement of its last remaining co-founder, Reverend Al Caldwell. Caldwell, who turns 80 in December, has been struggling with several ailments for the past several years, according to a spokesman for the conservative Christian group, and had had little involvement in the day-to-day operations of the group "for some time."

Caldwell, Reverend Don Butler, activist John Van Dyke and televangelists Ted Baker and John W. Wesley formed the ACA in 1979 as a loose alliance of evangelical Christians, who had been politically activated as a result of social changes in the 1960s and 1970s. Almost as soon as it formed, the ACA showed itself to be a political force to be reckoned with, helping put both Ronald Reagan and Owen Lassiter in the White House, and impacting the national debate on issues such as abortion, censorship, education, LGBT rights and the separation of church and state.

The ACA's loose leadership structure, with frequent rotation of the presidency among its leaders, allowed it to survive the fallout from Baker's 1988 conviction on tax fraud and embezzlement charges, and the revelation that he had frequented prostitutes of both genders. New activists, such as George Rohr and Mary Marsh, moved into leadership roles in the 1990s with Baker's resignation and Butler's sabbatical from overt political engagement.

Following the 1998 electoral victory of Josiah Bartlet, the ACA's power began to wane: the Democratic Party would win three straight presidential elections, with both Wesley and Butler failing to win the Republican nomination for president. The country's attitudes on most social issues begun moving consistently away from the positions advocated by the ACA, and the number of Americans identifying as "non-religious" continued to increase with each passing year. In 2010, the organization threw its support behind West Virginia Ray Sullivan for president, but he was soundly defeated by Glen Allen Walken.

The Walken administration would not be as friendly to the ACA as either Reagan or Lassiter. The president flatly rejected naming ACA members to high posts in the administration, and infuriated the group by naming only one "reliably conservative" (Howard Weston) justice to the Supreme Court despite having three vacancies open during his term. Wesley left the group after disagreements with the other leaders in 2011, and continues to preach in Florida. A major shake-up in the group's leadership occurred in 2015: Van Dyke died of a heart attack, Rohr resigned to (disastrously) manage Republican candidate Kate Hodder-Shaw's failed campaign for governor, and Butler withdrew when his son Ethan publicly rejected the group's demands that he tow the line on social issues on his way to becoming governor of South Carolina.

In the five years since, Caldwell and Marsh served as the de facto leaders of the organization, creating a more rigid structure with Caldwell as the organization's president while Marsh served as its vice president and head of communications. A spokeswoman announced that Marsh will serve as the organization's acting president until a December meeting of the council. Rohr, who is currently a lobbyist for the Christian conservative organization America for Better Families, is rumored to have been invited back into the organization to act as a counterweight to Marsh.
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Wednesday, October 14th 2020

Tensions calm after first round of Kazakh elections

— Fighting has begun to calm after the first round of presidential elections in Kazakhstan. After weeks of political skirmishing between supporters of various candidates and accusations of Russian interference in the elections, reporters in the former Soviet republic have reported a drastic decrease in political violence. Some sources in both the Kazakh government and intelligence community suggest that the failure of far-right pro-Russian candidate Vladimir Zhirov to make the October 24th runoff has deenergized both supporters of Zhirov as well as actors who wish to destabilize Kazakh politics.

Prime minister Tomar Sarsenbaev of the National Social Democratic Party (NSDP) and Mazhilis member Marat Kuzherbayev of the ruling Nurly Zhol will face off in the runoff after garnering 31 and 24 percent of the vote, respectively. Zhirov came in third with just under 21 percent, followed by activist Mukhtar Mutaliyev of the Erkin Ult Party with 11 percent. They are running to replace term-limited president Erik Tuleev in what could be the first transfer of power between two freely-elected leaders in Kazakhstan's history.


Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Seaborn nominates Mike Casper to head FBI

President Sam Seaborn has nominated Deputy Director Mike Casper of the FBI to be the agency's next director. If confirmed, Casper will be the nation's seventh FBI director, replacing Marcus Blakemore, whose ten year term expires in February 2021.

Speaking in a Rose Garden ceremony, Seaborn praised Casper as a "dedicated and steady law enforcement officer who has shown himself to be an exceptional leader throughout his long career."

Casper has over three decades of experience as an FBI agent, having been recruited shortly after graduating from American University with a degree in the administration of justice in 1987. He served as an FBI liaison for four years in the Bartlet administration and headed the task force that rescued Zoey Bartlet from her abduction in 2003, for which he was eventually given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the one of the nation's highest civilian honors. After leaving that role, Casper served as head of field operations starting in 2005, before becoming deputy director after Blakemore's confirmation in 2011.

The president told reporters that he wished to give the Senate enough time to properly consider a nominee so that a new director "can be swiftly voted on" once a new Congress begins its session on January 3, 2021.

"As a nation, we are indebted to Director Blakemore for his steadfast work these past ten years," the president said. "I have full confidence that under his leadership, and that of Deputy Director Casper, the FBI is doing all it can to help states insure the integrity of next month's elections against groups who want to subvert or distort the democratic process for their own ends."

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

President Seaborn announces Department of Energy and CERN partnership for Supercollider

President Sam Seaborn in a press event in the Rose Garden announced the signing of an arrangement with CERN regarding the construction of the next generation Supercollider for particle research. Standing with the Director General of CERN, the President spoke about collaboration with international partners and the spirit of scientific discovery. Senior sources report that the news was delayed for the announcement due in no small part to the recent confirmation battle over Associate Justice Olivia Franklin.

The arrangement as stipulated in the agreement is the largest change in the relationship between CERN and the United States since becoming an observational member of CERN in 1997 under President Lassiter, as the arrangement will have the the United States and CERN jointly finance the project to build the next generation super collider. News of the announcement set K Street alight as well as other groups with the announcement that the final site had not yet been chosen. However senior sources within the Senate CST committee have revealed 6 leading states: Illinois, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada. Expansion of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory was not considered.

The Supercollider is currently being funded in piecemeal from several items in the approved budget, most notably the Commerce, Energy, and Transportation budgets, but is likely to receive a formalized budget allocation in the next budget. NBS investigations indicate that the Governors of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Nevada have all indicated they are seeking meetings with the Department of Energy regarding the site selection.
With a new justice, it's time for an updated Supreme Court infobox:

Cast (all previously established)
Glenn Close as Evelyn Baker Lang
William Hurt as Jackson Hoyt
Edward James Olmos as Roberto Mendoza
William Fichtner as Christopher Mulready
Kevin Costner as Edward Appleton
Dianne Wiest as Judi Rand
Thomas Gibson as Howard Weston
Matthew Perry as Joe Quincy
Viola Davis as Olivia Emmett Franklin
And, for those interested, here are lists of Supreme Court Justices by seat:

Chief Justice
1953-1969: Earl Warren (appointed by Eisenhower)
1969-1986: Warren Burger (appointed by Nixon) [1]
1986-1992: Henry Staub (appointed by Bush) [2]
1992-2004: Roy Ashland (appointed by Lassiter)
2004-0000: Evelyn Baker Lang (appointed by Bartlet)

Associate Justice 1
1937-1961: Hugo Black (appointed by F. Roosevelt)
1961-1999: Joseph Crouch (appointed by Kennedy)
2000-0000: Roberto Mendoza (appointed by Bartlet)

Associate Justice 2
1939-1962: Felix Frankfurter (appointed by F. Roosevelt)
1962-1995: Byron White (appointed by Kennedy)
1995-0000: Jackson Hoyt (appointed by Lassiter)

Associate Justice 3
1949-1956: Sherman Minton (appointed by Truman)
1956-1991: William J. Brennan (appointed by Eisenhower)
1991-2017: Douglas Dreifort (appointed by Lassiter)
2017-0000: Joe Quincy (appointed by Walken)

Associate Justice 4
1939-1975: William O. Douglas (appointed by F. Roosevelt)
1975-1998: Tom Weddington (appointed by Ford)
1998-2020: Rachel Carmine (appointed by Lassiter)
2020-0000: Olivia Emmett Franklin (appointed by Seaborn)

Associate Justice 6 [3]
1938-1957: Stanley Forman Reed (appointed by F. Roosevelt)
1957-1962: Charles E. Whittaker (appointed by Eisenhower)
1962-1965: Arthur Goldberg (appointed by Kennedy)
1965-1969: Abe Fortas (appointed by L. Johnson) [4]
1970-1987: Harry Blackmun (appointed by Nixon) [5]
1987-2016: Maureen Brannigan (appointed by Newman)
2016-0000: Howard Weston (appointed by Walken)

Associate Justice 8 [6]
1945-1958: Harold Hitz Burton (appointed by Truman)
1958-1990: Potter Stewart (appointed by Eisenhower)
1990-2012: Patrick Lafayette (appointed by Newman)
2012-0000: Judi Rand (appointed by Walken) [7]

Associate Justice 9
1941-1955: Robert H. Jackson (appointed by F. Roosevelt)
1955-1971: John Marshall Harlan II (appointed by Eisenhower)
1972-1992: Roy Ashland (appointed by Nixon) [8]
1992-2004: Owen Brady (appointed by Lassiter) [9]
2004-0000: Christopher Mulready (appointed by Bartlet)

Associate Justice 10
1949-1967: Tom C. Clark (appointed by Truman)
1967-1987: Thurgood Marshall (appointed by L. Johnson)
1987-2010: Henry Clark (appointed by Newman)
2010-0000: Edward Appleton (appointed by Santos)

[1] - Second nominee for seat. Previous nominee (Abe Fortas) had withdrawn nomination after unsuccessful cloture vote.
[2] - Bush was acting president during Ronald Reagan's incapacity.
[3] - Seat 5 was abolished in 1867 per the Judicial Circuits Act of 1866.
[4] - Unsuccessfully nominated for Chief Justice in 1968.
[5] - Third nominee for seat. Previous nominees (Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell) were rejected by the Senate.
[6] - Seat 7 was abolished in 1866 per the Judicial Circuits Act of 1866.
[7] - Second nominee for seat. Previous nominee (Cassie Rushton) had withdrawn nomination.
[8] - Became chief justice.
[9] - Previously rejected by Senate for nomination to chief justice (1991).

And by Court, ordered by seniority at the start of the court:

Warren Court, 1953-1969
Warren Burger (appointed by Eisenhower, 1953)
Hugo Black (appointed by F. Roosevelt, 1937)
Joseph Crouch (appointed by Kennedy, 1961)​
Stanley Forman Reed (appointed by F. Roosevelt, 1938)
Charles E. Whittaker (appointed by Eisenhower, 1957)​
Arthur Goldberg (appointed by Kennedy, 1962)​
Abe Fortas (appointed by L. Johnson, 1965)​
Arthur Goldberg (appointed by L. Johnson, 1968)​
Felix Frankfurter (appointed by F. Roosevelt, 1939)
Byron White (appointed by Kennedy, 1962)​
William O. Douglas (appointed by F. Roosevelt, 1939)
Robert Jackson (appointed by F. Roosevelt, 1941)
John Marshall Harlan II (appointed by Eisenhower, 1955)​
Harold Hitz Burton (appointed by Truman, 1945)
Potter Stewart (appointed by Eisenhower, 1958)​
Tom C. Clark (appointed by Truman, 1949)
Thurgood Marshall (appointed by L. Johnson, 1967)​
Sherman Minton (appointed by Truman, 1949)
William J. Brennan (appointed by Eisenhower, 1956)​

Burger Court, 1969-1986
Warren Burger (appointed by Nixon, 1969)
William O. Douglas (appointed by F. Roosevelt, 1939)
Tom Weddington (appointed by Ford, 1975)​
John Marshall Harlan II (appointed by Eisenhower, 1955)
Roy Ashland (appointed by Nixon, 1972)​
William J. Brennan (appointed by Eisenhower, 1956)
Potter Stewart (appointed by Eisenhower, 1958)
Joseph Crouch (appointed by Kennedy, 1961)
Byron White (appointed by Kennedy, 1962)
Abe Fortas (appointed by L. Johnson, 1965)
Harry Blackmun (appointed by Nixon, 1970)​
Thurgood Marshall (appointed by L. Johnson, 1967)

Staub Court, 1986-1992
Henry Staub (appointed by Bush, 1986)
Willliam J. Brennan (appointed by Eisenhower, 1956)
Douglas Dreifort (appointed by Lassiter, 1991)​
Potter Stewart (appointed by Eisenhower, 1958)
Patrick Lafayette (appointed by Newman, 1990)​
Joseph Crouch (appointed by Kennedy, 1961)
Byron White (appointed by Kennedy, 1962)
Thurgood Marshall (appointed by L. Johnson, 1967)
Henry Clark (appointed by Newman, 1987)​
Harry Blackmun (appointed by Nixon, 1970)
Maureen Brannigan (appointed by Newman, 1987)​
Roy Ashland (appointed by Nixon, 1972)
Tom Weddington (appointed by Ford, 1975)

Ashland Court, 1992-2004
Roy Ashland (appointed by Lassiter, 1992)
Joseph Crouch (appointed by Kennedy, 1961)
Roberto Mendoza (appointed by Bartlet, 2000)​
Byron White (appointed by Kennedy, 1962)
Jackson Hoyt (appointed by Lassiter, 1995)​
Tom Weddington (appointed by Ford, 1975)
Rachel Carmine (appointed by Lassiter, 1998)​
Maureen Brannigan (appointed by Newman, 1987)
Henry Clark (appointed by Newman, 1987)
Patrick Lafayette (appointed by Newman, 1990)
Douglas Dreifort (appointed by Lassiter, 1991)
Owen Brady (appointed by Lassiter, 1992)

Lang Court, 2004-present
Evelyn Baker Lang (appointed by Bartlet, 2004)
Maureen Brannigan (appointed by Newman, 1987)
Howard Weston (appointed by Walken, 2016)​
Henry Clark (appointed by Newman, 1987)
Edward Appleton (appointed by Santos, 2010)​
Patrick Lafayette (appointed by Newman, 1990)
Judi Rand (appointed by Walken, 2012)​
Douglas Dreifort (appointed by Lassiter, 1991)
Joe Quincy (appointed by Walken, 2017)​
Jackson Hoyt (appointed by Lassiter, 1995)
Rachel Carmine (appointed by Lassiter, 1998)
Olivia Emmett Franklin (appointed by Seaborn, 2020)​
Roberto Mendoza (appointed by Bartlet, 2000)
Christopher Mulready (appointed by Bartlet, 2004)
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I think we need a profile of how a 35 year old ended up on the Supreme Court
Tim Thomason, who established Hoyt's age and that he was a Lassiter appointee, had this to say when this was brought up last year:

I wanted to make him amazingly young, to make it more of a naked ploy to put someone on the Supreme Court for decades. Owen Brady was also about 40 when appointed, and was canonically young (52 when he died on the show), so it was already established that Bartlet's predecessor wasn't above appointing young legal minds to the highest court in the land.

I didn't cast William Hurt (who is about ten years older than Hoyt), but maybe the years haven't been kind and he's not in the best of health. The Senate in 1995 was majority Democratic (Senate Majority Leader John Hoynes), but I solved that dilemma by having Hoyt start out as more of a moderate with Blue Dog support and a tough confirmation anyway.
With an earlier write-up saying this about Hoyt's confirmation:

Tim Thomason said:
With another retirement came another nomination, this time of the more moderate Jackson Hoyt. Lassiter was in his second term, and was no longer beholden to his promise of only appointing conservative Justices. Although a centrist, Hoyt leaned far right on some issues, notably the death penalty and gun control. For this the Democratic congress fought back, and nearly succeeded in getting Hoyt's nomination not confirmed. Hoyt would be confirmed by enough moderate and Blue Dog Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader John Hoynes, that he passed 59-34. Incidentally, Hoyt was one of the youngest Supreme Court Justices, a fact raised but denied by Lassiter who considered age to "not be an issue."
Unfortunately, Bartlet was only starting to turn gray when he left office (here's a screenshot of him at Santos' inauguration), so that has to be a post-presidential portrait.

Which makes sense, since they based that portrait on how Martin Sheen looks in 2020 versus what he looked like when they were filming the show.
The portraits for Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover both depict them as older than they were in office. In any event, I'm having this framed!