Blogs > Liberty and Power > Warren G. Harding: Great Communicator?

Jun 14, 2005 10:01 am

Warren G. Harding: Great Communicator?

Well....perhaps that is taking it a bit too far but this audio of Harding’s signature “normalcy” speech from 1920 shows the work of a polished orator.

The content also includes much common sense. Unlike the more famous great communicator of a later age, Harding not only cut taxes but reduced the national debt and pursued a consistent policy of arms reduction. Speaking in the aftermath of Woodrow Wilson’s war-created hysteria and red scare, Harding forcefully closes by warning about the dangers of big government:

The world needs to be reminded that all human ills are not curable by legislation, and that quantity of statutory enactments and excess of government offer no substitute for quality of citizenship. The problems of maintained civilization are not to be solved by a transfer of responsibility from citizenship to government and no eminent page in history was ever drafted to the standards of mediocrity. Nor, no government worthy of the name which is directed by influence on the one hand or moved by intimidation on the other. My best judgment of America's need is to steady down, to get squarely on our feet, to make sure of the right path. Let's get out of the fevered delirium of war with the hallucination that all the money in the world is to be made in the madness of war and the wildness of its aftermath. Let us stop to consider that tranquility at home is more precious than peace abroad and that both our good fortune and our eminence are dependent on the normal forward stride of all the American people.

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David Timothy Beito - 6/16/2005

He comes across as pretty thoughtful.

William Marina - 6/16/2005

I enjoyed the Harding audio.

David Timothy Beito - 6/15/2005

I much prefer Harding to Reagan but you're the two men had a lot in common in terms of style, personality, and even appearance. Harding, like Reagan, was affable and upbeat.....though I suspect he had a better appreciation of the fine points of poker.

Both men got bad press as stupid and hollow. A lot of folks still believe the untrue legend that Harding was such a dimwit that he coined "normalcy" as a new word, misreading normality.

Mencken's lampoon of Harding is amusing. He did much the same thing to Coolidge. In retrospect, he probably missed both of them once he had to endure Roosevelt.

Kevin Carson - 6/15/2005

The comparison to Reagan is especially apt, given Mencken's criticism of Harding as an empty-headed bloviator. As for the anti-government rhetoric in the block quote, I think Reagan used a lot of similar rhetoric--and then expanded the state massively.

David Timothy Beito - 6/15/2005

Old Warren knew his limits and had some humility. Few presidents can say that.

Kenneth R Gregg - 6/14/2005

Why not? As far as presidents go, he was one of the better ones. And now that he's dead, he wouldn't sign any bills into law. It would take a 2/3 majority to get any legislation passed, and supermajorities are terribly hard to do.

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