Recarving Rushmore: With Warren G. Harding
By David Henderson
My wife and I took a break from work yesterday to channel surf. We found Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest and we were hooked, staying with it to the end. At the end, there is an exciting chase at the top of Mt. Rushmore. That got me thinking about who I think should be on Rushmore. A friend, Ivan Eland, has written an excellent book titled Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, in which he ranks the presidents, as the subtitle says, on peace, prosperity, and liberty. #1 in Ivan’s book is John Tyler. I don’t agree with all of Ivan’s rankings. In particular, I think he’s way too harsh on Reagan on foreign policy.
Anyway, I was thinking that way and along comes this op/ed, amazingly in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Amid Mount Rushmore warriors, why not a lover: Warren G. Harding?” by Ishmael Reed.
These two paragraphs made me think of Bryan Caplan’s thinking about who should vote and who shouldn’t:
Instead of attempting to suppress the black vote, he was a Republican, who, in 1921, made a speech in Jefferson, Ala., supporting the right of black men to vote. 1921!
He said: “Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.” A reporter said that while the white section of the audience remained silent, the black section cheered.
Of course, I know that Harding had nothing to lose from criticizing whites who voted in the South. Check the electoral map for the 1920 election.
BTW, in case it’s not obvious, I’m not a huge fan of Harding. I just think he was a substantially better president than 2 of the people on Rushmore. His finest action, from the ones I know of, was letting Eugene Debs out of prison.
HT to Jeff Hummel.