The February issue of Chronicles magazine has a three-page tribute to Warren Harding, who was our nation’s president a hundred years ago. The tribute [Remembering Warren G. Harding] is by Ryan Walters, who teaches history at Collin College in Texas.
I’ve always been baffled by Harding’s low rankings in the lists of presidents. As Ryan Walters writes
Harding is worthy of the highest respect and emulation, not denunciation.
Harding was certainly sound on immigration, signing the 1921 restrictionist law which Woodrow Wilson had vetoed, paving the way for Congress to pass and Coolidge to sign, three years later, the even more restrictive Johnson-Reed Act.
Harding’s foreign policy was also sensible and patriotic. Like his successor Calvin Coolidge he believed strongly in our country minding its own business. After the world-saving ambitions of his predecessor Woodrow Wilson, that came as a great relief to Americans.
Looking at our apparent determination to get ever more deeply involved in the Russia-Ukraine spat, and indeed at our past twenty-odd years of futile missionary wars, I yearn for another President Harding.
I can’t leave Harding without quoting Paul Johnson’s sketch in his book Modern Times, quote:
[Harding] did not believe that politics were very important or that people should get excited about them or allow them to penetrate too far into their everyday lives.
Be still, my heart!