However, there is an alternative view of Obama’s nascent presidency now being bandied about by conservative commentators. While they readily compare Obama to FDR, they claim that the Great Depression was lengthened if not exacerbated by the increase of federal spending starting in 1933. This minority of columnists and broadcasters somehow contend that if we had just stayed the course with Herbert Hoover’s policies of allowing the financial market to recorrect itself without government intervention, then perhaps to his prediction, prosperity really would have been found just around the corner.
Although this is a clear rewrite of accepted history, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’ve decided to try to embrace this theory and see how it may apply to other periods of American politics. When I continue to reflect on this radical yet surprisingly obvious understanding of history, I realize that many of the presidents we have come to admire have actually done this country great harm.
First take George Washington. A war hero? I think not. After fumbling through a battle victory at Yorktown, he allowed Lord Cornwallis to escape. By ending the war prematurely, he enabled the British military to leave America and regroup, giving the United Kingdom a continued colonial stranglehold of vast amounts of lands in the world for more than a century later. Because he didn’t “finish the job,” America would be forced to again to fight the British a generation later in the War of 1812, or what I like to call, Revolutionary War II.
A real American commander would have pursued the fleeing Red Coats across the Atlantic and established a military occupation of Great Britain, liberating the English from the tyranny of their monarch. After allowing American-trained British jurists to put King George III on trial for war crimes, control of the United Kingdom would have been handed over to the descendants of Oliver Cromwell until warring ethnic factions on the British Isles could be brought to peace and an educated populace could conduct elections for a freely chosen chief executive.
Yet because of Washington’s inaction, to this day Canada is forced to bear the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on their currency and the island of Bermuda must still fly the Union Jack. The oppression is unjustifiable, and if freedom were allowed to reign, Canadian currency would feature Wayne Gretzky, and Bermudans would have a variety of summer clothes to wear. Who likes short shorts? Bermudans like short shorts.
Now let us look at Thomas Jefferson who is clearly to blame for America’s current housing market crisis. In 1803, he doubled the size of country by negotiating with Napoleon the Louisiana Purchase of 828,800 square miles for only $15 million. Jefferson may have thought this was a good deal, but wasn’t this all just risky real estate speculation? Perhaps Jefferson was only going to hold onto what is now some or all of 14 states for a few years and then try to sell it for a higher price to the British or Spaniards? Yet what he did was even more dangerous. He opened up the new lands for Americans to build homes, establish farms and ranches, and then try to flip for a profit. This model gave Americans the false belief that real estate would always rise in value, and now the housing bubble that began at the beginning of the 19th century finally burst.
Lastly, let’s look at Theodore Roosevelt who affixed his name to the Meat Inspection Act of 1906, actually putting the federal government in the position of being able to regulate what we eat. This overreaching bill put federal bureaucrats in charge of the quality of the steaks and hot dogs that we eat. Why should some desk jockey in Washington decide the quality of pork roll on the Jersey Shore? This kind of government regulation is strangling the Mom and Pop stores out of business. At the same time, he establishes the first national park. Can you imagine how much cheaper gas would be in America now if we could have explored Yellowstone for oil?
We can’t change history, but we can change how we feel about it. Maybe we should rethink the memorials in Washington. Let’s take Lincoln off his marble chair and replace him with a real American leader, Millard Fillmore. Why should a statue of Thomas Jefferson grace the national mall when a statue of Warren G. Harding would be much more fitting.Let’s salute the real leaders of America, the leaders who were smart enough to do nothing