Warren G. (the president, not the rapper)

I don’t even remember where I saw this, but I read an article once written by someone who was convinced that the sole reason Warren G. Harding was elected president was because women who had recently been given the right to vote thought he looked good. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?) Anyway, this sounds like typical woman bashing, but I might as well ask: is there any reason to believe this might be true? I’d like to think that the election of Harding wasn’t the result of rational thought, at least…

Mr. Armageddon
“Just when you thought you had all the answers, I went and changed the questions!”–Roddy Piper

President Harding was a well loved president. The fact that he was a large gentlemam in no way impacted on his presidency. President Harding did not finish his full term as president, but that in no way impugns his staying power with his female constituents.

A hat with bells on is not funny, it is the jester underneath.

In 1920, there weren’t many “women’s issues” as there are today, like abortion, pay equity, etc. The biggest issue was suffrage and that had been taken care of. Prohibition was already approved.

The big issue in the 1920 election was whether or not the US should have entered into the League of Nations and ratify the Treaty of Versailles.

I think most women in 1920 voted the same as their husbands and/or fathers.

America was tired of Wilson and his League. Plus 1920 was a recession year…Harding campaigned on “Back to Normalicy.” Everybody bought it.
With 20/20 hindsight it looks like we would have done better to elect Cox/Roosevelt.
Now that you bring this up it’s starting to bother me that when a political party makes a half-hearted effort to get a good candidate in there (at that time Harding was referred to as “A First-Rate Second-Rate Man” by people in his own party)the next four years have not been too great in the history books.
Yes, I’m beginning to think it’s beginning to look like now.

It sounds to me like someone resented the fact that women got the vote and offered up some drivel in support of their disapproval.

…And I see we’ve come a long way, baby.

Harding never even campaigned for the Presidency, yet he got 64% of the major-party votes. (the biggest landslide ever in a Presidential election)

The main reason for this, though you’ll find it edited out of modern textbooks, is that nobody wanted a Democrat in the White House after what Woodrow Wilson did. Wilson :

A. Was a devout white supremacist. He segregated the workers in the federal government. He hailed the overtly racist 1915 movie Birth of a Nation, saying “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is tht it is all so true.”

B. Repeatedly questioned the loyalty of recent immigrants or “hyphenated Americans,” as he liked to call them. He set up the Creel Committe on Public Information, which used propaganda to link Germans to barbarism.
One filmmaker served ten years in prison for producing The Spirit of '76, a film about the Revolutionary War that depicted the British, who were by 1917 our allies, unfavorably. So much for freedom of speech, eh?

C. Was a warmonger. Today he is hailed as bring victory to the U.S. in WWI, but how many Americans know that he landed troops in Mexico ELEVEN TIMES in his Presidency, also in Haiti (1915), Dominican Republic (1916), Cuba (1917), and Panama in 1918? In Haiti, American troops forced peasants in shackles to work on road construction crews. Haitians resisted, prompting a guerrilla war that lead to the loss of over 3,000 (mostly Haitian) lives. Wilson also sent troops to invade Russia in 1918 and 1920, in an attempt to quash the Communist uprising and overthrow of the Russian government. Few Americans who were not alive at the time know anything about our “unknown war with Russia.”
All of this stuff was common knowledge 80 years ago, but by now, it has been whitewashed from American textbooks which glorify Wilson, and teach our kids that he was a hero. Kinda makes me wanna vomit.

For more info on this and other evil things this country has done that nobody is taught in school, check out Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen.

Harding was chosen by the Republican bigwigs because he was seen as the only one who could restore the traditions of the GOP to the Executive office. The party had suffered greatly from a Progressive zeitgeist and the death of T.Roosevelt. All that was left was a few powerful senators with lots of industrial money. They decided that Harding was a guy who would toe the party line.

Harding was just a small-town schmo newspaper editor with a congenial attitude. His administration was extremely corrupt and scandalous because his pals from Ohio helped themselves to everything they could (Teapot Dome, etc.)

As far as the OQ goes I think that since there was an awful lot of money sunk into his campaign there may have been more opportunities for the voters to see photographs of Harding, hence that story. But it’s not like he was some kind of hunka hunka burning love.

He was a “nice guy” though; I don’t know how much of that could have gotten across to the female voter. From personal experience I would have thought they’d “Mondale” him for that.

puffington, while your descriptions of the horrible deeds of Wilson are basically accurate (if understated), I think you’d have a hard time persuading anyone that the general populace rejected the Democrats because of them.

Nothing that Wilson did was reversed by Harding and there was never a general outcry against Wilson’s activities.

His resegregation of Federal jobs gave more jobs to voting whites in the South (and blacks had already been disenfranchised by the early Jim Crow laws); the attacks on recent immigrants were supported by earlier immigrants (who did not want the competition for entry-level jobs) as well as by long-standing anglo Americans who feared that the immigrants with their Catholic/Orthodox/Jewish faiths, their lack of English, and their strange (i.e., not Northern European) customs would overwhelm “our” White/Anglo-Saxon/Protestant culture. His “interventions” in Latin America were also carried on by his successor Republican administrations. They were basically seen as the logical extensions of Manifest Destiny applied to the Monroe Doctrine.

I think the “Return to Normalcy” campaign and a rejection of Wilson’s European attempts at internationalism had a lot more to do with Harding’s election than an accurate assessment of Wilson’s sins.


For a favorable view of Harding that is quite different from that expressed in most history books, see Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People, pages 707-12.

I really can’t figure out why so many people are so hung up on U.S. intervention in Russian 1918-20. They always describe it as an “invasion”. Russian anti-Bolsheviks would not have described it as an invasion. Americans fought against Russians, but they also fought alongside other Russians, as well as troops from several other countries.

As to the assertion that Wilson wanted to overthrow “the” Russian government, I certainly don’t think of Russia in 1918-1920 as having “a” government. It had two competing regimes. Granted, the U.S. supported the eventual loser. Allied intervention still does not constitute an “invasion” aimed at “overthrowing” anything. Russian anti-Bolsheviks had been aligned with Britain and France both before and after the abdication of the Czar; I just can’t see what is so shocking about supporting the Whites against the Reds - the same Reds who had blithely given away huge chunks of historical Russian territory to the Central Powers in the separate peace of 1917.

U.S. interventions in Latin America may have been “edited out” of your textbooks, and they’re certainly a pretty good bludgeon against the Wilson administration, but they are nothing like Wilson’s Russia policy.

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

Rereading your post, Puffington I’m not sure I interpreted the part about the overthrow of the Russian government correctly. Mea culpa if I read it wrong.

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

Even though the U.S. intervention in the Russian civil war may have been justified, Boris, I think invasion is a good term for sending troops into another country.

Armed, dangerous…
and off my medication.

And the intervention/invasion/presence in Russia, while it can be debated on the grounds of whether or not it was a good idea, certainly had one unforseen side effect: The U.S.S.R. spent the next 60 years assuming that they would be attacked again and they formulated much of their foreign policy on that basis.

I am not claiming that the Marxist ideologues did not want to export their philosophy, and it is certainly true that under the U.S.S.R., Russia continued many expansionist plans that had been contemplated by the czars before them. However, in many paranoid ways, the U.S.S.R. reacted to different situations not because of ideology or expansionist goals, but because they had already been invaded by “the West” once, and they never believed that it would not happen again.


With good reason, since they were invaded again in 1942.

La franchise ne consiste pas à dire tout ce que l’on pense, mais à penser tout ce que l’on dit.
H. de Livry

The Russians had good reasons to be paranoid, up to and including the Cold War. As soon as anybody managed to gain control of Western Europe, they headed for Russia. Consider just from Napoleon forward how often Russia was at war, how often invasions of Russia were attempted, and how many people it lost.

I was talking history with some gentleman recently – can’t remember who – and turned the topic to Keegan’s book on WW1, and his view that WW1 and WW2 were the same conflict, with a 20 year break (kind of like the Hundred Years’ War, done in bits and pieces here and there). This gentleman’s own personal opinion was that it goes back farther than that – to the Franco-Prussian War, and continues to ferment today in Bosnia and the related conflict.

The sad thing about being fascinated with history is that you can’t see how current affairs turn out to be part of the big picture. T’would be interesting to see a history of the 19th and 20th centuries written in 2100.


Well, you all have given some reasonable arguments why the Bolsheviks would be paranoid. Chief Bolshevik Stalin certainly acted out his paranoia to the tune of 10-20 million lives. The Bolsheviks made enemies of pretty much every country on earth simply by spouting their doctrine.

Why Russia might be paranoid on the other hand, is a completely different question. Russia has been part of the same network of alliances that have bound parts of Europe (and divided them, for that matter) for as long as anybody else. Greek independence was won in the early 1800s by a Franco- Anglo- Russian alliance. Russia and the United States flirted during the U.S. Civil War when each country felt threatened by the British navy.

During the First World War, Russia was a member of the Triple Entente, just like France and Britain. The Allies spent a lot of human life fighting the Turks trying to open a passage to the Black Sea - and one of the main reasons for this was wanting an effective sea line of communication to Russia. The Royal Navy also put a lot of energy into trying to defeat the German surface Navy, also to open a SLOC to Russia, when German submarines posed a far greater threat to Britain per se.

Hardly a history of isolation. Marxist-Leninist doctrine dictated that a workers’ revolution would be beset on all sides by the forces of capitalism. The Western Allies could have sent Lenin’s mother a bouquet of flowers, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. The constant in Europe was Britain and France aligned against Germany. Russia switched sides as they found expedient.

As to the question of “invasion”, it’s fair to say that the Allies invaded Russia, as long as we also treat the British Expeditionary Force as having invaded France in 1914. And nobody treats the BEF as having invaded France in 1914.

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

Melin, and I thought I was original ;-).

I’ve always wondered how much evil in this century would have been avoided had Von Bismarck’s mother said ‘no’ that one fateful night.

And what this has to do with some American president is beyond me, but hey :slight_smile:

This is one of the most interesting topics I’ve seen in a long time.
I’m fascinated by the information on Wilson–coming from a policy background where he is regarded with great reverence. Can you recommend a readable balanced biography?
I’d like to know more.

I’m not sure about a Wilson biography. A lot of us picked up info on Wilson through Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen, The New Press, 1995©. The thrust of his whole book is to get kids to use original sources, so I’d bet that he has a decent bibliography on that section.

(Of course, I haven’t used the original sources yet–but he mentions a lot of historical issues and I simply haven’t had time to work my way up to the 20th century.)


The problem with U.S. intervention in this matter is that it did nothing more than prolong Russia’s civil war and cost thousands more lives.

It’s not that people rejected the Democrats, I’d think, it’s more about sending a message to the party that the politics of their previous President would not be tolerated.