September 08, 2005
The James Lee Witt of the 1920's
I'm going to second Brad Plumer on this: compared to the historical screw job Herbert Hoover's been tagged with, Carter got off easy. If we're resuscitating reputations around here, there's no better place to start than the best crisis administrator -- both foreign and domestic -- this country's ever seen.
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Plus the closet socialism! Mustn't forget the closet socialism...
Posted by: Brad Plumer | Sep 8, 2005 3:44:05 PM
If you are interested you need to read "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America" by John M. Barry. This book is great. Interesting the first part of the book is particularly relevant because it talks about the Army Corps of Engineers and the historical context of the management of the river.
Posted by: ET | Sep 8, 2005 3:44:12 PM
I'll admit, I don't know a whole lot about Hoover.
Was his 'closet socialism' the socialism of the Left (more Marxist) or more Hitler style 'National Socialism'?
Posted by: Dave Justus | Sep 8, 2005 3:57:15 PM
Dave -- no, not real socialism. More of the "crank up taxes on the wealthy and initiate big public works projects that eventually became the basis for the New Deal" kind.
Posted by: Brad Plumer | Sep 8, 2005 4:03:46 PM
james lee witt in '08?
Posted by: roublen | Sep 8, 2005 4:40:52 PM
Hoover was considered a progressive right up through the end of the 1920s, when he didn't react quit as forcefully as many thought he should have.
His shining moment, though, was his direction of the emergency food relief effort in Europe after the Great War.
Posted by: aphrael | Sep 8, 2005 4:59:49 PM
Hoover was constrained by the prevailing wisdom of the day. However, keep in mind that he wasn't as much of a doctrinaire laissez-faire Republican as he was reputed to be. Burned into my mind -- because at the moment of a crucial high school test it eluded me -- is the memory of Hoover establishing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to provide emergency relief to instutitions in danger of buckling under the weight of the Great Depression. It could be said to be the first "New Deal" program before the New Deal. Granted, it was almost 3 years late in being established, but I'd like to think that this was the sort of thing he would have done all along were it not for the Coolidge wing of the party whose ideology demanded otherwise.
Another two things that Hoover and Carter have in common is that they both have undergraduate degrees in engineering. While we can argue whether or not the two of them got a raw deal from history, I'm sad to say that, as an engineer, this is a sign that the study of engineering is a field that selects against political success.
Posted by: Constantine | Sep 8, 2005 5:39:52 PM
On Hoover, I was thinking (and maybe Goldberg is thinking) more of his work with the American Relief Agency [ARA] to relieve famine in Russia in the early 1920s (caused by Lenin's policies). So grateful were some Russian peasants that they afterwards had Hoover's portrait hanging on the wall with Lenin's.
Needless to say, Russian aid workers who worked with the ARA were later targeted in the purges.
"Another two things that Hoover and Carter have in common is that they both have undergraduate degrees in engineering. While we can argue whether or not the two of them got a raw deal from history, I'm sad to say that, as an engineer, this is a sign that the study of engineering is a field that selects against political success."
Hey, don't forget Brezhnev and Yeltsin. (Oh, and Bin Laden.)
Posted by: Urinated State of America | Sep 8, 2005 7:27:38 PM
As I commented on Brad's site, the real villains of the 1920's were Harding and Coolidge. Coolidge, who it turned out was Reagan's idol, did nothing. At one point he spent three months on vacation in the Black Hills.
Posted by: Randy Paul | Sep 8, 2005 7:51:27 PM
I posted on a thread above, but this seems as good as any to go OT. Democrats have to stop with the "incompetence." If we keep wanting competemce, all we are going to get is a Republican who looks competent, like Giuliani.
Bush did not run on competence in 2000. He ran on vision, courage, character, compassion. It was all lies, but those were his themes. Democratic themes, as MY and others have remarked.
Democrats have to run on character. We are the true caring and compassionate party, the Republicans are callous, greedy, uncaring bastards. Evil. It was George the First and the checkout machine vs Clinton "I feel you pain". It was LBJ who didn't want average people to die for an ideology (daisy ad) and who wanted to raise the uncared for out of poverty.
FDR may have started as a budget balancer but moved on into someone who cared;foreside chats and all; and hoewever ineffective he was, caring kept getting him re-elected.
If Katrina is not used as the opportunity to paint the GOP as the heartless party, Democrats don't deserve to win. It takes guts, but Kanye West provided the 2006 campaign slogan:"The GOP doesn't care about black and poor people."
Cries of "incompetence" is Carter/Dukakis/Mondale BS. Stop it. It isn't even true.
Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 8, 2005 9:01:24 PM
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