Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Worst President Ever

Slate has published a readable gloss on the political life of Herbert Hoover (in office 1929-1933), who is widely considered to be one of the worst Presidents ever. It was Hoover's misfortune to have the stock market crash just seven months into his Presidency, but it was Hoover's choice to take a largely "hands off" approach to economic recovery and social welfare. Unsympathetic to the suffering masses ("Nobody actually starved," he said) and unwilling to let the government prop up relief programs, Hoover became incredibly unpopular and was booted out of office after one term. It was Hoover's successor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who would craft the New Deal as the government's response to the economic downturn.

The article begins with this wonderful, and telling, anecdote:
In 1932, the parents of a 4-year-old went to court to change his legal name. Christened Herbert Hoover Jones in 1928, when the commerce secretary and Republican presidential nominee was a national hero, the boy deserved relief, said his parents, from "the chagrin and mortification which he is suffering and will suffer" for sharing a moniker with the now-disgraced chief executive. His new name: Franklin D. Roosevelt Jones.

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