LexisNexis: Cabinet Resignations Not as Prolific as Past Presidents
The last five administrations resemble revolving door
DAYTON, Ohio, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The flurry of resignations from President George Bush's cabinet seems significant, but, compared to past administrations, is still not all that monumental, a study of data on LexisNexis has revealed. LexisNexis is a leading provider of legal, news, business and risk information. From forced resignations to mass resignations, the leader of the most powerful nation in the world has historically endured changes in his leadership team. For instance, in 1841, John Tyler's administration was rocked by the resignation of all but one cabinet member -- a symbolic protest to his demanding policies. Then, more than 130 years later, President Jimmy Carter demanded the resignation of all of his cabinet members, later accepting only five. Putting together the best, most qualified and publicly appealing cabinet is not the simple task it appears to be. And, once that cabinet is assembled, keeping it together is another monumental task, a search of the LexisNexis(R) database indicates. In that study of the five most recent administrations, positions on presidential cabinets were more like revolving doors. On Monday, four of President Bush's cabinet secretaries resigned, bringing to six the total of his key leaders to quit since his re-election. The White House announced Monday resignations of Colin Powell, secretary of state, Ann Veneman, agriculture secretary, Rod Paige, education secretary and Spencer Abraham, energy secretary. Earlier, Donald Evans, commerce secretary, and John Ashcroft, attorney general, resigned. In all, eight people have resigned from Bush's original cabinet. In 2001, Mel Martinez, housing and urban development secretary, and Paul O'Neill, treasury secretary, stepped down. The search of the more than 32,000 LexisNexis sources and four billion- plus documents indicates that the administration of Ronald Reagan was the most plagued with resignations, minus Carter's "July massacre," as dubbed by the media. With the exception of his vice president, Reagan saw all but one of his cabinet positions change hands during his two terms in office from 1981-1989. Only Samuel Pierce made it through both terms in his position as HUD secretary. In addition to the cabinet musical chairs, Reagan endured four chiefs of staff and six national security advisors, with Colin Powell holding that post for the last two years of that administration. And, there was the resignation of Secretary of State Alexander Haig, famous for his "I am in control here in the White House" comment after Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. The LexisNexis search shows that many of Reagan's top leaders left office under a cloud of legal proceedings with the Iran Contra investigation leaving a vast amount of carnage in its wake. The highest ranking and most powerful person indicted was Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who was charged with lying and concealing nearly 2,000 pages of details of the affair. John Poindexter, one of the six national security advisors, was convicted of obstructing Congress after he approved financing that led to the Iran Contra debacle. His conviction was overturned on appeal. James Watt was not an Iran Contra victim. It was his mouth that got him into trouble. He resigned his Secretary of Interior position in disgrace in 1983 after making off-color comments about minorities and religion. While Reagan's administration saw a Secretary du jour, things calmed down slightly for his successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, according to the LexisNexis database. Only seven cabinet secretaries, or half of his leadership team, saw it fit to leave office during GHW Bush's single term in office. And, only one of his seven resignations was under inauspicious conditions -- Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos, who was forced out by Chief of Staff John Sununu. On the other side of the coin, the Democrats have seen their fair share of resignations, the LexisNexis search shows. Eight of Jimmy Carter's cabinet members eventually resigned during his one term in office. Only his secretaries of education, labor, agriculture, interior and defense made it through Carter's four years. Other top administration officials, including Carter's Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, were forced out. In Young's case, it was because of unauthorized meetings with PLO leaders. For Bert Lance, Carter's budget director, allegations of financial improprieties cost him his job. The last Democrat to head the White House is Bill Clinton. Before he finished his second term in office, he had 10 of his original cabinet members resign and several of their replacements also resign. Clinton had four commerce secretaries and three secretaries of treasury, defense, and energy. Only his attorney general and secretaries of the interior, education, and health and human services endured all eight years of Clinton's presidency. His non-cabinet senior leadership also saw a lot of turmoil. His chief of staff, Mack McLarty, was "encouraged" to leave the White House to allow for some controls and organization to be instilled. White House administrator David Watkins resigned after it was reveled he used a government chopper to go on a golf outing. White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum resigned amid the Whitewater scandal. Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell was also a Whitewater victim. And, Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders finally packed it in after her highly criticized stance on abortion, drug legislation and sex education. Other interesting anecdotes discovered in the LexisNexis search: - Andrew Jackson appointed four secretaries of state and five secretaries of the treasury within five years. - Gerald Ford cleaned house by firing his secretary of defense for insubordination; his secretary of agriculture for making a racist joke; his CIA director to "bring change to the agency" after a 1975 investigation; and his vice president to get a fresh face on the 1976 Republican ticket. - Lyndon Johnson so detested his attorney general appointment that he labeled it his "biggest mistake." When Johnson heard Richard Nixon denounce that attorney general in a campaign speech, Johnson was reported to have said "I had to sit on my hand so I wouldn't cheer it." About LexisNexis LexisNexis(R) ( http://www.lexisnexis.com ) is a leader in comprehensive and authoritative legal, news and business information and tailored applications. A member of Reed Elsevier Group plc (NYSE: ENL) (NYSE: RUK) ( http://www.reedelsevier.com ), the company does business in 100 countries with 13,000 employees worldwide. In addition to its flagship Web-based Lexis(R) and Nexis(R) research services, the company includes some of the world's most respected legal publishers such as Martindale-Hubbell, Matthew Bender, Butterworths, JurisClasseur, Abeledo-Perrot and Orac.
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