Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Obama haunted by the ghost of Herbert Hoover

Like Obama, Hoover was the child of a broken home with an unconventional background. He was far more widely traveled than most Americans in his day, and his time overseas made him a globalist in his thinking in many ways. His wife (Lou Henry Hoover) was unusually well educated and assertive — at a time when few women went to college, she graduated from coeducational Stanford with a degree in geology. Hoover was an unconventional candidate who came into office on a tidal wave of support. Hoover, Secretary of Commerce during the Roaring Twenties, had never held elected office before winning the presidency. His campaign went deep into enemy territory, winning over solidly Democratic states in what was still the deep blue South including (like Obama) Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. Hoover was the great progressive hope of his day — he had supported Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 Bull Moose campaign and was seen as much more forward looking and progressive than the party machine. He ran on the most diverse presidential ticket until Barack Obama’s own election in 2008; Hoover’s running mate, Kaw nation member Charles Curtis, was the first Native American and the first American with significant non-European ancestry to serve as Vice President of the United States. Hoover continued to burnish his diversity credentials in the White House; he was the first president since Theodore Roosevelt to invite an African American to a White House dinner and he wanted progress on Native American issues to be a hallmark of his administration. Hoover was also deeply concerned about the health of the middle class and the condition of the poor. He was an early backer of the long term, low interest mortgage that became the cornerstone of middle class finance, and he came into office hoping that prosperity would eliminate poverty in the United States.

In office, Hoover showed many of the same foreign policy instincts as President Obama. He was a strong supporter of disarmament, focusing on naval buildups as the greatest danger of the day. He began the withdrawal of US forces his predecessors had committed in Haiti and Nicaragua, hoping to push the reset button on US relations with Latin America. He sought to avoid confrontational US statements and to downplay possible grounds for conflict. His strong humanitarian instincts (he had led efforts to relieve starving Europeans during and after World War One) made him reluctant to use force but also left him concerned about the well being of people in other countries.

But what worries — or should worry — the White House is this: despite his long record of progressive politics, his personal appeal and his sympathy for the downtrodden, President Hoover is best remembered for failing to master the Great Depression. . .
Is Carter A Best Case Scenario?

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