Skip to comments."TR: An American Lion" on History Channel NOW (9 pm EST)
Posted on 01/20/2003 6:03:01 PM PST by condi2008
Starting this evening on the History Channel and being repeated a few times later this week. One of my "Top 2" Presidents!
We shall see.
The show is a mixture of old photos, films, and graphics with reenactments by a TR impersonator and words from various talking heads: Morris and his wife, professors, Governor Pataki, Clinton (yes, Bill Clinton), and various Roosevelt decendants. It looked very good -- or rather it is very good for the basic information and the scholars contribute a lot, too. The look of the film is its chief drawback: too many sudden transitions between color and black and white, too many blurry shots, too much jerky camera motion, too many giant labels identifying scholars whose names aren't so important. So I wish the director had taken lessons from Ken Burns, but I definitely want to see more. And the limo show, too.
Sorry I can't help with the content more. I'll get back to you in a few days when I've seen more. One thing I did notice. TR looked to be pretty fat by today's standards, both the actor and the President himself. I don't think he'd pass muster as the picture of vitality today.
I can recommend PBS's Chicago, City of the Century series, though. Fascinating look at old Chicago lore. It peeved me though that, unless PBS is holding back some episodes for the next fundraising, the century in question ends in 1893. PBS will also be having a documentary on the transcontinental railroad next week or so.
It was a bit ironic watching though. A hundred years later, Morgan's Northern Securities dream has pretty much become a reality -- though a giant railway merger is far less frightening today than it once was. The contemporary parallel would be something like a merger of Microsoft, Intel, IBM and Apple. And the mine workers won their fight, but where are they now? Many of the towns they lived in no longer exist. The same sort of battles are still going on now, but railroads and coal don't matter much any more. The centers of economic dynamism have moved on and the "commanding heights" of the economy are elsewhere.
BTW, I heard the author of a new book, The Great Tax Wars on the radio. He said Taft never expected the income tax amendment to be ratified. The amendment was one of those things that get passed because politicians know the votes aren't there to put it into effect. It was the Republican interparty conflict and the Democratic sweep of 1910 that ensured sufficient ratifications and made the Amendment part of the law of the land. Is this true? It looks like a foolish move on Taft's part. He also said that the 1918 elections were the first federal income tax revolt. Disgust with Wilson's high income tax rates brought Republicans back to Congress and doomed the League of Nations and the Versailles Treaty. I suspect it was more Wilson's own mistakes that ruined his plans.
There were some good aspects to Cleveland's first term as POTUS, however, his second term was mired in the worst depression in the nations history, up till that point, with unemployment hitting 18%. Cleveland also made a very unpopular move by ordering the US Treasury to sell governemnt bonds to WallSt bankers for gold. In Cleveland's remaining time in office, he became a protector of the status quo.
In addition, Cleveland didn't believe blacks deserved the same rights as white folks and he didn't support the right to vote for American women. He also wasn't a supporter of states rights.
While Cleveland wasn't considered a visionary leader, by either historians or the common folk, his fiscal conservatism and strong support for the Monroe Doctrine were positive attributes of his Presidency.
For a 19th century Democrat, he was a decent president, but couldn't begin to touch the accomplishments and achievements of TR.
TR was more a nationalist, then a statist, but if nothing else, TR was a true reformer and progressive leader. His public efforts to advance what he would call the "Square Deal", led to many positive changes in government, but did sow the seed for future liberal policies that transpired during Wilson's eight years as POTUS. As with Cleveland, TR also enforced the Monroe Doctrine. It was by Roosevelt's personal determination, political strength and his willingness to employ the US military, that finally allowed the US to build the Panama Canal, controlling it's operation until recently. Giving it away under the terms of Jimmah Carter's outrageous decision, would have seriously angered TR.
TR`s creation of our National Parks system and his general conservationist moves taken to protect open spaces for future generations, were also highly positive moves. It's a shame that the environmentalist wackos have used that part of TR`s legacy to foster an invasion on the privacy and freedom of individual land owners.
The Founders were quite clever. The states with the most poor people also had the most rich people, and they would oppose uniform income taxes, which would allow the federal government to dig deeply into that wealth. So you had greater inequality, but also greater freedom from government intervention. Once income taxes became constitutional, politicians could induce poorer voters in both the poor and the rich states to vote together to get ever more money out of richer voters. Anyway, it was interesting that the most conservative states then are the most liberal today (NY, PA, MA, RI, CT). In those days, their wealth voted. Today it's their poverty.
The book goes into far more detail than I can or would want to follow. But it is curious that taxes were such a big issue at the time. Was there some increase in expenditures at the time that made higher taxes seem necessary?
In those days, their wealth voted. Today it's their poverty.If there's a quote of the day somewhere, this is it. I'll nominate it for quote of the month. Great statement.
... it is curious that taxes were such a big issue at the time. Was there some increase in expenditures at the time that made higher taxes seem necessary?It'll be interesting to see Weisman's take on the tariff. So generally understood it was that the tariff needed revision that during the 1908 campaign, William Jennings Bryan declared that the campaign was not about the tariff. Even Aldrich and co. signed on to tariff reform, although their idea of reform was lateral not downward moves. This was a justifiable, view, not the corrupt, baby-killer oppression that history generally lays upon Aldrich and his tariff. He really believed in it. (I think he was wrong, but his entire party was wrong; and those that got it right, like La Follette, got it right for the wrong reasons; what a mess).
The other pressure for reform was public debt. Tariff receipts were way down following the 1907 Panic. In January of 1908, Roosevelt bragged that the Guvmnet had a surplus. That had turned into a $100+ million deficit by the time Taft took over. Taft recognized that the tariff could not fund the growth in demands on the Treasury.
He is little credited for having actually cut expenses in many departments. He developed the "budgeting system" still in use today whereby Departments submit their needs to Congress, rather than Congress telling them what they'll have. Taft did this in the name of economizing, but I don't think he'd like what came of it, whereby it's entrenched bureaucratic self-justification for more money. Budgeting only works to economize when budgeting is perceived as limited...
So, yes, there was a need for an alternative revenue. Remember that in those days the tariff represented less than half the Federal income.
There is no panic today.
President Bush is dealing with a sluggish economy, brought about by an economic slow down that began in late 1999 and was exacerbated by the effects of the 9-11 attacks. Grover Cleveland faced a full bore depression, in fact, a worldwide depression. The cases aren't similar.
All presidents are limited in what actions they can take to stimulate and revive a flat economy. PresBushes acceleration of the 2001 tax cuts and his recently proposed additional tax plan inititives, should go a long way in further getting the entire economy rolling once again.
However, its a fact of life, when the economy is going good, presidents receive more credit then they deserve --- Slick Willie being the best example of that --- and when economic times are bad, presidents receive more blame then they deserve. The current situation with PresBush is no different. If the economy remains flat through 2004, Bush will have a very difficult time winning re-election. If the war on terrorism/fight against evil remains a hot issue, it will help Bush out in getting himself re-elected. I believe the economy will perk up and Bush will find himself victorious in 2004.
I'm no expert on Grover Cleveland, but I've read enough history to know that while some historians may give Cleveland a pass on his handling of the Depression of the 1890`s, the average citizen didn't. Cleveland was viewed as wildly unpopular because of the depression. This caused huge internal problems for the Democratic Party and made William Jennings Bryant's campaign more difficult from the get go.
Starting in 1887 Cleveland promoted tariff reform, but throughout his presidency, failed to secure real tariff reform. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894 did not meet the campaign promises of the Democrats in 1892 to lower the tariff. Not only did Cleveland refuse to sign the bill, he declined to veto it too and offered no effective leadership on the issue.
Eisenhower and the 1950's were made for each other. Ike became a Republican because he believed Democratic policies were promoting a centralized government at the expense of individual liberty. Ike used a chain of command approach, delegated responsibilities to his subordinates and focused on the big picture. Ike also believed that many problems would be better solved at the local level than through initiatives from Wash-DC. Ike was a conservative minded individual who proposed balancing the federal budget, limiting the growth of federal spending, lowering farm price supports and building a national hi-way system.
In John W. Sloan's book, "Eisenhower and the Management of Prosperity" - Studies in Government and Public Policy, he says about Eisenhower:
-Three Years out of eight, President Eisenhower achieved a balanced budget.
-Ike's performance as chief economic policymaker merits far higher marks than it has received.
-[Eisenhower had a] commitment to fiscal responsibility.
-[he had]impressive skills as leader and politician.
-Sloan contends that even the revisionists have underestimated the full range of his accomplishments in shaping America's postwar economy.
-"Eisenhower appears as a conservative activist, more involved in domestic economic policy than was perceived by his contemporaries."
-Sloan depicts a president haunted by a prophetic fear--the fear that the nation would collapse unless politicians and their constituents practiced self-discipline, especially in balancing the federal budget.
Eisenhower's outstanding leadership, as the American General commanding the Allied forces in Europe, was nothing short of magnificent. Whether he rode Patton to victory and maneuvered Bradley like a chess pawn, isn't the issue. He was the man in charge at a time when the world needed someone of his outstanding caliber to organize, plan and implement the largest military invasion force ever asssembled and drive it onto victory over the axis forces.
Eisenhower was a total success throughout his entire lifetime. He played a big role in world history and dominated the American scene from 1940 through 1960. IMO, Eisenhower was one of the top-25 world figures of the 20th century.
Posted on 02/19/2001 17:40:30 PST by Reagan Man
Yes! Good call. Couldn't get past the sniveling Dreyfuss to watch it all because of that.
"I was in Jaws!" - LOL
Budget and tariff questions are hard to understand. It's not clear in Weisman whether the income tax was the anticipated result of twenty or forty years of preparatory struggles, or whether it was a footnote to the tariff conflict of 1909. Maybe both, depending on how you look at it.
But the sentiment for income taxes in the South and West seems to have been quite strong. I guess that's the other side of federalism. The rich states were bound to oppose plans for federal income taxation. The poor states were bound to overturn the constitutional bar to such taxation. Maybe a bit less piggishness on the tariff might have delayed things, but federal income taxes were probably inevitable.
If I've understood Weisman correctly, Taft contemplated tailoring an income tax plan that the courts would not overturn, thus making a constitutional amendment unnecessary. Earlier TR had advocated taking a similar approach to income and inheritance taxes. What such taxes would have looked like is unclear. But the corporation tax that Taft wanted also would have required a Constitutional amendment, so he took that route.
Interesting factlet: TR's father had been a glass importer whose business had been ruined by the development of the domestic glass industry under protectionism. He turned towards banking and was successful. Had he not been, perhaps TR would have been an embittered Democrat.
If I've understood Weisman correctly, Taft contemplated tailoring an income tax plan that the courts would not overturn, thus making a constitutional amendment unnecessary. Earlier TR had advocated taking a similar approach to income and inheritance taxes. What such taxes would have looked like is unclear. But the corporation tax that Taft wanted also would have required a Constitutional amendment, so he took that route.Weisman is correct that Taft wanted a constitutional amendment for a personal income tax, but he is wrong that Taft needed an amendment for the corporation tax. Taft knew the law, and his selection of lawyers for the Cabinet, much derided by the progressives, paid off early with this one. The Cabinet drafted a corporation excise tax that proved spotless in the courts, without the need for constitutional amendment. Taft also saw the tax as a measure of regulatory control over interstate corporations. Ironically, following Roosevelt, Taft was accused of unjust meddling in the legislative process. Where Roosevelt boiled, Taft stirred, and with far greater success in the Congress.
Roosevelt's tax proposals were pure rhetoric. He had no intention of messing with the tax code. The tariff was the largest source of revenue, but not the only, or even the majority source. Nevertheless, the tariff was the key to it all. Tariff revision required an alternative revenue source. Roosevelt proved incapable of meeting the challenge.
The ship program was not the primary cause of increased expenditures. It was one of several. Besides, naval expenditures were offset by decreases in Army pensions (due to deaths of Civil War veterans and their wives), which were the largest single Federal expenditure.
Cannon was stunned when Taft demanded of him two battleships in 1910. He said,
Nothing illustrates better than this the difference between our last two Presidents. Roosevelt never wanted but two at a time and yet he always asked, even demanded, four a year, hoping thereby to get two. You, on the contrary, want two and ask for two...In those days, the keepers of the Federal cash drawer took their job seriously. Roosevelt's fiercest opponent was not Cannon or Aldrich, it was House Appropriations Chairman, Jim Tawney. Tawney once said,
I am tired of these annual wars with Japan, which always occur simultaneously with the consideration of the naval appropriation bill by Congress. All the rest of the time our relations with Japan are friendly, but as soon as we begin to consider the naval appropriation bill then we learn from the press and other sources that war is imminent.In my book I outlined how Tawney was the key to the Taft-Roosevelt break. The Roosevelt fanatics, wonderfully labelled the "incense swingers" by Gen. Clarence Edwards, blamed Tawney for all their ills. For example, Tawwney refused to fund several of Roosevelt's famed (and in my mind useless) "commissions." They went insane over it, to the point that Gifford Pinchot absurdly accused Tawney of being, "the most dangerous opponent of the public welfare in the United States."
The Roosevelt Republicans hadn't a clue when it came to the management of the Federal Government. They thought the Government could snap its fingers and solve all problems. Taft knew it would take laws, not words, to address (not solve) the day's problems. To the wild rhetoric of the progressives, Taft replied in 1912,
Votes are not bread, constitutional amendments are not work, referendums do not pay rent or furnish houses, recalls do not furnish clothing, initiatives do not supply employment or relieve inequalities of condition or of opportunity. We still ought to have set before us the definite plans to bring on complete equality of opportunity, and to abolish hardship and evil for humanity. We listen for them in vain.
Bottom line. If Cleveland had handled the Depression properly, he would have been re-nominated by the Democrats and re-elected in the general election. It's quite obvious, Cleveland was a lousy politician.
>>> That pocket veto, btw, was extremely effective, and Democrats pointed to it as an example of statesmanship for years afterwards.
Since Congress didn't ajourn, there was no pocket veto. "Wilson-Gorman" was an improvement over "McKinley" and did lower overall tariff rates, but Clevelands capitulation hurt his reputation. He had campaigned on tariff reform, but allowed the bill to become law without his signature. The president concluded, that since "Wilson-Gorman" was better than "McKinley", his decision against a veto was proper. Again, Cleveland offered no effective leadership on the tariff issue.
The Wilson-Gorman Tariff legislation was first introduced in the House by William L. Wilson of West Virginia, head of the House Ways and Means Committee. In its original incarnation, Wilson offered a far-reaching tariff reform bill. It moved many products to the "free list". But it also called for a 2% income tax, that was eventually found unconstitutional by the USSC.
When it reached the Senate, protectionist forces under A.P. Gorman of Maryland attached more than 600 amendments to the measure, which destroyed its reform intent. Cleveland gave in and let it become law.
Cleveland offered no effective leadership on the tariff issue.You are wrong.