Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, Robert Murphy’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal and other recent works that focus on, or spend a fair amount of time in the 1920s and ’30s have done much to counteract the conventional wisdom created by the left over the last 75 years or so that Herbert Hoover “progressive” tenure in the White House was an extension of Calvin Coolidge’s conservative administration. (See also governing decisions made by Bush #41, versus President Reagan for a more recent example of this in action, even though both men had an “R” after his names.)
During Obama’s inauguration a year ago, Jonah pointed out Hoover’s lineage to Glenn Beck, as this Talking Points Memo clip highlights with Media Matters-style tacit disdain and astonishment.
Back in July, Harper’s magazine made the first Obama-Hoover comparison that I noticed from the far left, complete with a spiffy graphic, reproduced above. As I wrote at the time:
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.”
Yesterday, the Rhetorican noted that center left New Republic has joined their more excitable cousins at Harper’s with the same comparison:
TNR compares Obama to Herbert Hoover…”but it doesn’t have to be that way”, their headline adds: “Hoover’s example shows that a person who is highly qualified to be president and who boasts significant accomplishments in office can still fail because of the enormity of the challenges he faces.”
Let’s leave the “highly qualified” alone for a moment. But “can still fail”? Come on. Has anyone looked at unemployment lately? (Scroll all the way down, at the link)
And as the Rhetorican adds, there was yet another Obama/Hoover comparison that occurred last year:
Update: More from the Weekly Standard’s Matthew Continetti, who adds, “When did individual liberty and free enterprise become ‘arcane’? I must have missed it.”