Monday, Feb. 08, 2010

Grover Cleveland

Not only is Grover Cleveland the only U.S. President to share a name with a Muppet, but he is also the only U.S. President to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Cleveland was an opinionated politician who exercised his veto powers more than any President had before him. He also eliminated the spoils system (in which an incoming political party gave government jobs to its supporters), an act that, while admirable, earned him many political enemies. But it was his controversial opinion on U.S. tariff policy that cost him the 1888 presidential election.

At the time, the U.S. government was running a budget surplus. Cleveland believed that the government's practice of taking more than it needed was "indefensible extortion." Benjamin Harrison, his presidential challenger, claimed the tariffs protected U.S. industries. Although Cleveland won the popular vote, he lost the electoral one and was booted from office. Four years later he returned for a rematch and won.