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February 11, 2009

Political Heresy and Unvarnished Truth

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Yesterday, in 1899, the future 31st president of the United States, Herbert Clark Hoover, married Lou Henry in Monterey, CA. Happy anniversary, Mr. President.


I mention this for several reasons. Hear me out, for there is a method to my madness.


Of course, for starters, I readily admit that I am fascinated with everything that has to do with anything about presidential history; especially presidential trivia.


As an aside, President Hoover shows up from time-to-time in my research on the history of Carroll County. According to Cathy Baty, a local history buff at the Historical Society of Carroll County:


“Herbert Hoover’s great-great-great-grandfather, Andrew Hoover, settled in Maryland in the 1740s. President Hoover came to Carroll County on May 25, 1929, to visit his ancestral home on a land tract named "Mirey Spring," located near Linwood, on Clear Ridge Road, south of Uniontown and adjacent to the Pipe Creek Brethren Church.”


More on President Hoover in a minute…


The other night, just as I was about to fall asleep watching President Barack Obama’s first televised news conference, he declared that a failure to act quickly on the stimulus package currently in play in Congress “could turn a crisis into a catastrophe… I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis.”


Well darn – so much for the rhetoric of “hope” and “yes we can.”


Faced with falling approval ratings and a series of cabinet appointees that failed because they evaded taxes, the campaign rhetoric of hope has quickly turned into a presidency of doom and gloom.


In light of then-Senator Joe Biden’s admonishment while he was vice presidential candidate, that paying taxes was “patriotic,” apparently President Obama has developed a penchant for associating with unpatriotic Americans who do not believe in paying taxes.


Let’s also briefly mention the synthetic uproar over Sen. John McCain’s vetting process by the left and the liberal media that greeted his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, because her teenage daughter had the audacity to reject abortion as a solution to an unplanned pregnancy.


There has, of course, been not a word printed or uttered by the elite media about the vetting process of President Obama’s cabinet choices.


Yes, the sound you are hearing is that of crickets chirping.


Meanwhile, not wanting to overlook any opportunity for humor, many colleagues have called to my attention the reason Democrats are always rally to raise taxes is because they don’t pay their taxes… They only want you to pay higher taxes…


While I was looking for the exact date and context of the comment about “patriotic taxpayers” by now-Vice President Biden, I happened upon my next point – in a recent column by Lorie Byrd.


Ms. Byrd put words to my memory that when President Bush recognized the recession he inherited in 2001 by saying the economy was “slowing down,” he was scolded by the media and Democrats for “talking down the economy.”


Moreover, I loved her next paragraph: “President Obama now refers to the economy of the most powerful country in the world as a ‘continuing disaster.’


“He warned the country that if Congress did not pass the so-called ‘stimulus’ bill we ‘will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.’ Not reverse? Ever? The country he believed three months ago was up to any challenge, with unlimited possibilities, is now in such dire condition that we could be forever in economic ruin? Where did the hope go?”


Well, the election is over and “yes we can” has quickly given way to populist rhetoric and petty political expediency.


So, what in the heck does this have to do with President Hoover, you may ask?


Only everything.


You better sit down and take a deep breath before you read what I am about to write next. Are you ready? I am about to utter heretical words for which I may ultimately be banished to a re-education camp.


I am one of those economic historians of which President Obama spoke with such disparaging words in his news conference. Here goes – read carefully.


The New Deal policies and politics of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt only made the economic crisis he inherited – worse.


Just as President Obama’s economic stimulus package will make the current crisis a catastrophe.


On January 22, 2009, Margaret Hoover, the great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover, wrote in her inaugural column for David Frum’s


“The unlikely coincidence of the current economic crisis with the ‘08 presidential campaign, created an opening for a national debate about the effectiveness of New Deal economics.


“Thanks to Amity Shlaes’ groundbreaking work in The Forgotten Man, honest historians and economists have begun to debate her thesis— that New Deal economics failed to fix the Depression, and likely contributed to making it ‘Great.’ ”


Count me in as “part of (the) small cadre of academics who've taken on the task of restoring the reputation of the nation's much-maligned 31st president,” which Louise Radnofsky mentioned in her November 4, 2008, article in the Wall Street Journal.


Ms. Radnofsky calls to our attention the work of Professor Glen Jeansonne, of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who says that President Hoover is “the most misunderstood and the most underappreciated president…"


This is where I will leave you for now. Yes, gentle reader, I will return to my soapbox about President Hoover, the failure of the New Deal, and how it parallels with the misguided economics of the 2009 economic porkulus, err, stimulus legislation, in a future column,


Right now, I believe that watching the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with my wife is far more interesting than the tiresome sycophant dog and pony show that is currently being played out in Washington.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at


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