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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Herbert Hoover


In the waning days of his administration, it is said that Herbert Hoover sat in the White House and literally didn't know what to do. The nation had slipped into a depression and the best he could say was that the economy would have to take it's course. This was after the famous, Prosperity is right around the corner speech. Hoover was a rich man who didn't understand struggle and the nations woes just seemed like a distasteful mess that was beyond repair. He did not like Roosevelt. He did not understand a man who had become a cripple and seemed to exude a confidence and enthusiasm that should have been his. Riding to the inauguration, neither man looked at each other.
Now we have our Hoover. The automakers are closing. Interest rates are at zero. Credit is frozen, people are losing their jobs in a tidal wave of corporate panic. Yet our Hoover sits in the White House and does nothing. After the firecracker of the Great Bailout, we are left with a man who just wants to go back to his ranch. You can see it in his face. I didn't make this mess fairly screams out at you. He is busy giving oil companies their last shots at Federal Land out west and pardoning cronies and putting his boots by the door. Time to go back to Texas and live like a rich oil baron again. Maybe it is his due. But the truth is he doesn't know what to do. Like Hoover, Bush is a duck hit on the head with the concussive effects of nuclear force bad news. The waves just keep coming and he is not a man for this type of crisis. Like Hoover, Bush has always been a rich man comfortable with steering the ship, not charting new courses. Like Hoover, his best effort was to reassure the American public the economy was fundamentally strong before handing over the keys to the bankers to keep their own respective ships afloat.
Now the car manufacturers are dying. They are looking to Washington for help, but Hoover is not thinking about that anymore. He is thinking about that final ride into the sunset where the world is right and let's leave it to that new guy. While not a cripple, Obama climbed out of obscurity and he knows how to fight. The ride to the inauguration will be a repeat of two fundamentally different men sharing a common space. Then they will both be on their own.
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Books by William Hazelgrove