David Harsanyi has a thoughtful article on Warren Harding at NRO. We should use his insight to help us with our current political decisions. He does have a little red meat in the second and third paragraphs:
Good riddance, Woodrow. Wilson was one of the most despicable characters in 20th-century American politics: a national embarrassment. The Virginian didn’t merely hold racist “views;” he re-segregated the federal civil service. He didn’t merely involve the United States in a disastrous war in Europe after promising not to do so; he threw political opponents and anti-war activists into prison. Wilson, the first president to show open contempt for the Constitution and the Founding, was a vainglorious man unworthy of honor.
Fortunately, we have the perfect replacement for Wilson: Warren Harding, the most underappreciated president in American history, a joyful champion of civil rights and republicanism. Harding deserves to be reinserted into the nation’s consciousness on the merits of his presidency alone. But considering that he also negated much of Wilson’s calamitous legacy, we have an even better reason to honor him.
Sidebar: American (in bold) is an excellent adjective in the quote. Woodrow was not not Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin or Pol Pot to name a few more despicable characters during the 20th century. End Sidebar
David is much more interesting than Jonah’s Goldberg File to cancel Woodrow for two reasons. First Jonah is just, but properly, negative about Woodrow. All three of us agree that Woodrow was an awful person and awful president. We agree that Jonah has been part of our education on Woodrow. But in this time of cancellation of both reservations and people we need something positive. David gives us Warren as something positive.
Second, and even more important, David recognizes that Warren is less than perfect. He says Warren is remembered for his depravity and corruption:
And [Warren] was definitely a flawed president, far too trusting of crooked subordinates, most famously those who participated in the Teapot Dome, a scandal surrounding the leasing of federal oil reserves. (From my perspective, Harding’s views on tariffs and immigration, and his failed effort to poison-pill Prohibition, leave something to be desired, as well. But those are political, not moral or Constitutional, objections.)
We see the opposite point of view all too often. The NRPlus Facebook page had a commenter that couldn’t abide by Calvin Coolidge because he has appointed a justice that enabled FDR and the Great Depression a decade later. Humans can’t see checkmate in 15 moves. Everybody makes mistakes and with public figures some of those mistakes are public.
Everyone is a failure if judged against perfection. Even Bill Russell. He won two NCAA championships, a gold medal, but “only” won 11 of 13 NBA championships. Prohibition was a disaster and Warren and Calvin have to share some of the blame for their lack of perspicacity. There are no free traders among Warren, Calvin, and The Donald. That is a more serious flaw. Yet all three support freedom and particularly economic freedom in many other situations. The Frontrunner might not be as anti-freedom as Woodrow but clearly, to us, if you are pro-freedom then you need to support The Donald in 2020 despite his shortcomings.