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By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News

 

The Trump, Harding parallel

Posted 7/06/17 (Thu)

We keep hearing and seeing reports from just about every news organization on the face of the earth that indicate Donald Trump has the lowest presidential approval rating in U.S. history.

Just when you think you’ve seen or heard the unimaginable, another bizarre fiasco comes floating out of the White House.

It just seems surreal that this individual, who is alienating about everyone on the planet, claims to be such a successful businessman.

But historians see No. 45, barely five months into his term, as the worst of the worst.

So we decided to look at other presidents who have been loathed to see if Trump really is that bad.

1.) Warren Harding  was a popular Republican who was elected in a landslide in 1920, defeating Democrat James Cox.

People in his cabinet were involved in gross misconduct which didn’t surface until after Harding died in 1923. His presidency was overshadowed by criminal activity including prostitution, gambling and drinking in the White House during the Prohibition years.

Then, after Harding died of suspicious circumstances, the Tea Pot Dome scandal emerged, placing a darker cloud over Harding’s head posthumously.

History has two different accounts of his death. One states that he died in a hotel in San Francisco and the other states that he died while on a cruise in Alaska.

The Alaska theory points toward food poisoning while the San Francisco theory indicates he died of  a heart attack.

Harding was, in a lot of ways, like Trump, but didn’t have the same sarcastic, juvenile attitude that Trump possesses.

Harding was a popular and wealthy newspaper publisher from Ohio who gained a lot of power and apparently abused it for the two years he was in the White House.

He was a Republican, was pro business, taxes were reduced for corporations and wealthy individuals, high protective tariffs were initiated against neighbors and immigration was limited under the Harding administration.

Harding, himself was never placed under the microscope for illegal activity, but a number of the people in his cabinet were.

The Tea Pot Dome scandal involved Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall who leased Navy petroleum reserves at Tea Pot Dome, Wyo., and two other places in California to private oil companies at low and non-competitive rates.

This surfaced after Harding died and was known as the biggest and most sensational scandal in American political history until Watergate happened under the Nixon Administration.

2.) And Watergate is just one of the scandals Richard Nixon had been involved with. While he was serving as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president, he and Eisenhower were under investigation for allegedly using taxpayer money to purchase gifts.

Nixon was called to defend $18,000 in the value of the gifts he received, but he testified that the only thing he ever received from the White House was a dog.

Harding also had an extra-marital affair from 1910 to 1920 with Carrie Fulton-Phillips.

Some people have called Harding the most scandal plagued American president and with just reason. That may change.

Ironically, 43 presidents have been involved in some kind of scandal during their presidency.

Calvin Coolidge and Grover Cleveland were known as the presidents with the cleanest records, but every other one dealt with some sort of crisis.

Some were greater than others, but Trump seems to draw numerous parallels to Harding, not only as president but as Republican candidate.

3.) We all know about Bill Clinton’s sexual scandal with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton lied to Congress about the affair and was later impeached for perjury but the charges were dropped several weeks later.

4.) We can go all the way back to George Washington and find scandal, something we won’t find in the mainstream history books.

First of all, Washington had a rocky and contentious relationship with Congress.

He also approved the Jay Treaty, which attempted to normalize relations with England after the war. In exchange, the British would pull out of forts held on American soil in exchange for favored status over the French. Many in Congress called it treason and wanted Washington tried and convicted.

None of the above are remotely close to the shenanigans Trump has carried out. No doubt, he’s earned his ranking.