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    Opinion... Mike Abrams

    There are just no guarantees in a presidential election

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    July 13, 2015

    The history of the United States being as unpredictable as it is, it’s useful to reflect upon what is usually discerned as the wisdom of the voting public.
    The ad which said “this is not your father’s Oldsmobile” fell prey to the fact that this car is no longer manufactured . . . and so it is with politicians who try to sell themselves as experts in all fields of endeavor.

    I think it’s probably instructive to look at the series of presidents who followed the eminent professor and Democrat Woodrow Wilson into office. People were tired of war, and tired of politics. It was an era of isolationism. Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, all Republicans, were all touted as people who could guide the country into safe harbor after World War I. Harding, the only newspaper editor ever to become president, spent a lot of his time playing cards and drinking whiskey in office, while he hid his mistress in a closet, beyond the eye of his wife.

    Florence Harding, in fact, was the real progressive in the family. The Harding administration was mired in scandal, especially regarding the oil interests of his cabinet members. It is worth noting that Harding, handsome as he was blithering and glib, was the first president elected to the high office after women were given the vote.

    The second man, Coolidge, was a non-entity who sent armed soldiers to put down labor unrest. It was thought that Coolidge was some kind of stoic philosopher, but in reality he was a kind of saturnine cipher whose words, when transcribed, showed someone fully the equal of Harding in intellectual ability.  Grim, weaned on a pickle, he presided over the roaring 20s and made it out of office just when the roof caved in.

    Then we had Hoover, a man of great intellect, an engineer who organized food drives in Europe after the war, and who brought a set of credentials as a great builder into office that none could dispute. He also brought a seeming hubris and arrogance and a real inability to relate to the hungry families in the grip of the Depression. This is strange, because he had a lot of potential. He could analyze a problem. He could even write about it. But he could not stir the public.

    If there were any reason to vote for these men, it might have been that people were simply looking for someone who could drive the car rather than race it down the track. The country settled for more than a dozen years of mediocre leadership under men whose flaws became evident when they were given the reins of great power provided in the constitution. These were the heirs of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln.

    It is said that the it is only divine providence that has protected the United States from the troubles of most of the world. We’ve suffered through presidents who probably knew more about playing poker than foreign affairs. We probably have people running for president this year who have never learned to use a computer or even a screwdriver, who suffer from a blind arrogance and egotism that rest just this side of a Napoleonic complex - something best treated in therapy.

    No matter what the choices, somehow the country has survived. We even survived Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, somehow. There are just no guarantees in a presidential election.