In the past, Harper’s magazine has been so far ahead of the news cycle that Lewis Lapham, their venerable arch-liberal former editor, didn’t even bother to wait for the Republicans’ 2004 convention to actually occur before filing a story on its events. But, as I noticed in a Denver airport newsstand before flying back Sunday afternoon from a weekend confab with my partner in punditry at PJM Political, they’re running a cover story this month titled “Barack Hoover Obama.”
Gosh, there’s a shocker of a headline.
Last year, Orrin Judd, co-proprietor of the long-running Brothers Judd site and I repeatedly referenced variations on “Smoot-Hawley 2008”, as we riffed on echoes from Obama and his advisors on the campaign trail similar to the disastrous anti-free trade bill that Hoover reluctantly signed off in 1930, one of the first of many missteps the progressive Hoover and FDR both made on the way to prolonging the Depression far longer than it needed to be. As Mark Steyn presciently noted, other nations had economic Depressions at the start of the 1930s; the US had a Great Depression, earning that added sobriquet due to its needless longevity.
In October of 2008, in possibly the first reverse-Lapham ever, Hugh Hewitt wrote a blog post in October of 2008 with nearly the same title as Harper’s article this month. Back in August of ’08, Jim McTague of Barron’s magazine wrote, “It’s almost as if Obama wants to repeat the mistakes of Herbert Hoover.” (Watch CNBC video from last August here, which references that quote.) And Jeffery Lord of the American Spectator ran an article in December last year titled “Obama as Hoover”, even as Obama was merely Photoshopping signs promoting the otherwise powerless “Office of the President Elect.”
As Steyn wrote in March, “This is the point:”
The nuancey boys were wrong on Obama, and the knuckledragging morons were right. There is no post-partisan centrist “grappling” with the economy, only a transformative radical willing to make Americans poorer in the cause of massive government expansion. At some point, The Economist, Messrs [David] Brooks, [Christopher] Buckley & Co are going to have to acknowledge this. If they’re planning on spending the rest of his term tutting that his management style is obstructing the effective implementation of his centrist agenda, it’s going to be a long four years.
Or as Glenn Reynolds likes to ask, “Who were the rubes?”
Related: Rand Simberg writes, “Surprise, Surprise”:
And a few of the commenters below note how unfair in one sense the comparison is — Hoover was quite an accomplished engineer and won praise as secretary of commerce under President Harding before becoming president himself. Of course, both Hoover and Obama were successful authors before becoming president; the former via a best-selling textbook titled Principles of Mining (a topic that would be anathema to 21st century progressives); the latter via his autobiographical genuflections on his vast and storied pre-presidential career.
Also Related: “Unaccustomed As We Are To Defending FDR…”