Vox’s Hypocritical Attack On President McKinley

Mckinley ButtonNow we get to it: William McKinley doesn’t “deserve” to have a mountain named after him. That’s the hilarious argument of progressive-mouthpiece Vox, and it really is the height of hypocrisy, naked partyism, and a window into the corrupt and shameless mentality of the liberal pundit establishment.

President McKinley led the nation out of a terrible depression, and Vox explains that he deserves no credit for it at all because he was lucky. Well, in leadership and history, you get credit for luck,  because doing everything brilliantly and still seeing your army, organization or nation go down the tubes isn’t being a great leader no matter how you spin it. This, as I have written before, is the central, operating myth being drummed into Americans’ minds by President Obama’s minions and journalist-enablers: it isn’t what really happens that matters, it’s what the President wanted to happen. It’s not the bad consequences of policies that we should pay attention to, but the good intentions under which they were undertaken.

That is, in a word, batty. But that’s what the echo chamber wants us to believe. It has reached its apotheosis of absurdity with the proposed Iran deal, which is being defended on the grounds that it is aimed at preventing a nuclear armed Iran, even though that is a goal it can’t plausibly achieve. But it is intended to make the world less dangerous, and that’s what matters.

I have tried to assess how many past Presidents would respond to this theory with “What?,” how many with “You must be joking!” and how many with, “Oh, sure, it’s worth a shot.” In the latter category, so far, I have Carter, Pierce, because he’d be drunk, maybe Ford, because he might not understand the question, and perhaps Wilson—certainly after his stroke.

If there is any field in which the motto, “I’d rather be lucky than good” applies, it’s leadership. If an amateur military leader who happened to know his ancient battlefield tactics—because he was a Bowdoin classics professor before the Civil War—hadn’t been in charge of protecting the Union line’s flank on Day #2 of the Battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln would be remembered as a murderous failure today. Abe was lucky—good, but lucky. If Nikita Khrushchev hadn’t decided that Cuba wasn’t worth launching nuclear missiles over, Jack Kennedy wouldn’t be remembered as a great President (he is, though he shouldn’t be), but as the one who bungled us into Armageddon. If Richard Nixon hadn’t installed a taping system in the White House, or had been as audacious as Hillary Clinton and just destroyed the incriminating evidence that he knew would be subpoenaed by a Congressional committee, he would be regarded as a great President who had a minor scandal in his second term.

McKinley won a war, expanded U.S. territory dramatically (this is a bad thing, of course, to modern progressives), and led a booming economic recovery, something President Obama has not managed not to do. But, says Vox, McKinley’s policies shouldn’t have worked:

“As Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz explain in their landmark Monetary History of the United States, had the silver policy been adopted, the whole recession could have been greatly mitigated if not avoided altogether.”

Isn’t this funny? These are progressive-socialists using Milton Friedman, whom they detest, as an authority, and these authors were making only typical scholarly hindsight bias assertions. Suuure, that’s what would have happened. Prove it. Friedman also wrote that FDR’s policies made the Great Depression worse—have you ever heard a Democrat or liberal cite his authority for that proposition?

President Franklin Roosevelt was incredibly lucky in too many way to count, including the fact that the war bailed the nation out of a Depression that was deepening, not getting better, after his two terms in office. Ah, but that was skill! Ronald Reagan’s aggressive policies and rhetoric causing the Iron Curtain to unravel? Just luck, that’s all: like McKinley, he was a bum, a.k.a “a Republican”). All three of the fiascoes that brought down the George W. Bush presidency, not to mention the 9/11 attacks that  hamstrung the economy, were bad luck (or the absence of good luck): the WMDs intelligence botch, Katrina, and the sub-prime mortgage boom aggressively pushed by Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank and other Democrats that blew up on Bush’s watch. Too bad: the rules are that we give Presidents credit for the good things that happen while they’re in office and mark them down for the bad, whether they were at fault or not.

It is the only way to judge leaders, it is how they have always been judged, and it is the way mainstream media journalists judge Republican Presidents. If they were accountable for what happened, they got the credit too.

Only Barack Obama, among all the Presidents, has insisted on having it both ways. The bad things are always a predecessor’s fault, the good ones are all because of his wisdom and skill. McKinley was a lucky President in some ways, and in some ways not—he was assassinated, you know—and a very successful one who left his nation much richer, stronger,  happier and unified than when he became President. That makes him worthy of the nation’s honors and gratitude.

22 thoughts on “Vox’s Hypocritical Attack On President McKinley

  1. In other words Obama is the stereotypical bad boss, who will take all the credit when things go well, but will throw his underlings under the bus when they go poorly, but we already knew that.

    You are absolutely right that the media capitalizes on the successes of the Democratic presidents while ignoring the successes and playing up the failures of the Republican ones. When there are no successes, they move to purity of intentions. How many glowing stories have we all read in the past 35 (eek!) years about what a swell guy Jimmy Carter is, traveling the world building houses and promoting peace, never mind the fact that he probably broke the Logan Act at least once when he tried to engage in freelance diplomacy against Gulf War I? How many glowing stories about Bill and even about Chelsea, who’s done nothing, have we read?

    How many stories have we read implying that Reagan was probably senile for a good part of his administration, despite the clear absence of medical evidence? I even remember an opinion piece running in the wake of Gaddafi’s decision to give up pursuing a weapon of mass destruction and other troublemaking after the defeat of Saddam Hussein and Syria’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon which posited that none of this success was due to anything GWB did, but to the tireless work of the Clinton-era State Department.

    Unfortunately, this is just the way the mainstream media is, and they’ve successfully tarred any outlet that doesn’t toe the line as a conservative one, unworthy of any credibility.

  2. I beg to differ that Gerald Ford was dumb. His concern about promises made to the South Vietnamese and reneged on by Congress appalled him and he handled things as well as expected during the evacuation of Vietnamese who believed the US would keep it’s promises and not abandon them. He made some unfortunate decisions such as pardoning Nixon which were based on his understanding that impeachment and prosecution would tear the country apart. I think the man made a much better President than Jimmy Carter.

    • The fact that Ford was a better President than Carter doesn’t indicate he was especially sharp—an Easter egg would give Carter competition. I like Jerry—he did fine, given his limitations. (And he was right about the pardon.) Fords wasn’t even regarded as a smart member of Congress. Think about that a minute.

      • Yes but he managed to graduate from Yale Law School. I have no idea what his grades were there. However, given the choice between him and Bill Clinton who was probably more intelligent, I’d pick Ford as the kind of man I’d like to see living in the Whitehouse.

          • A friend of mine knew Ford when he was a student (and big time football player) at Michigan. She said he was as very nice person, but not too bright. From what I have read about him, I think that her first hand account is correct. He also seems to have known that he was dooming his political future by pardoning Nixon, but he thought he needed to do it to keep from tearing the country apart.

            • His instincts were very good. Intelligence and leadership ability are not directly proportional, not even close—the Presidency in a pageant to that conclusion: Adams, Madison, JQ Adams, Buchanan, Grant, Taft, Wilson, Nixon, Carter, Obama..

  3. I love quoting myself:

    “He believed in a strong America with military power and a foreign presence, He believed in, and his policies reflected, a nation that sought to spread its culture and values as far as it could, in the interests of freedom and democracy.”

    Well, obviously, President Obama must have targeted McKinley for these very reasons. President Obama believes in weakening America as part of his project of dismantling colonialism. He despises the U.S. military and thinks it is one of the most destructive forces at play in international affairs. He seeks to curtail America’s values in the world in the interest of diversity.

    I’m sure Vox has been given it’s marching orders, er, talking points, er research from Pravda. Give this a little time. There will be more slime heaped on McKinley. The Washington Post will probably run a piece by Eugene Robinson mocking him for having served coffee at Antietam. “Coffee? What was he, a Civil War barista?”

      • Milbank is really a pathetic and biased hack. This was one of his worst, and that’s saying something. I may use it as the ultimate example of a “Don’t sweat the small stuff” rationalization abuse.

        • I do like some of the comments, like this one by conservativbed71

          The problem is that it should be a state issue. Sign it over to the state of Alaska to choose. Supposedly most of them want the change. Cool. Let them vote and do what they want to do. I’m perfectly fine with that.
          The problem is that, once again, Obama simply functions like a dictator. The man has zero respect for anyone that disagrees with him and zero respect for our Constitution. If he was a conservative and/or Republican, his ever present defenders would be saying the same thing. And the news media would be crucifying him for such things if he was a conservative or Republican.
          If you can’t see the danger in permitting ANY president to consistently operate outside the system of checks and balances, then I don’t know what to tell you. His job is not to make law or interpret law. Any middle school government class can tell you that. His main duty is to carry out and enforce the law. It is in his oath of office. Yet he doesn’t do that either unless it suits his purposes. He is a disgrace and has done nothing but weaken our system of government.

  4. Jack,
    Maybe, just maybe it’s dumb (and extremely hubristic) to name any nature-made structure after someone who had absolutely nothing to do with it’s creation. We’re all passengers along for a ride and, except outside our own destinies, have (little to) no say in how the Earth changes and evolves. I realize that’s a broader argument, and one that’s not likely to catch on, but it does underscore the idiocy of this whole debate. Who cares what it’s called?

    Future generations are no more going to remember McKinley because his name was on a mountain than they would if it were given to a celestial body. Man-made monuments are effective because they create an image that can relate back to the person of origin. Mountains, on the other hand, do nothing to evoke whoever or whatever they’re supposed to because the connection is an imagined one. At least Gutzon Borglam had the gumption to carve out a resemblance (I realize I’m going to lose further points for this, but Mount Rushmore is beyond idiotic — and that comes from someone whose stood in awe at it’s base and marveled at the view from it’s peak).

    Why does this have to be part of a progressive or socialist agenda? Perhaps it’s just more people coming to realize that American Exceptionalism doesn’t make us deserving of renaming everything we overtake and framing the world as part of its own narrative. Being more culturally sensitive doesn’t mean that we’re compromising our values and history — it’s a recognition that who we were doesn’t have to define who we become. Pretending as though a nation, it’s traditions, and it’s collective morality are part of some indelible truth that’s past from generation to generation flies in the face of all history. Cultures change, people evolve, and yet somehow life goes on. America was a great nation before we started naming mountains after Presidents and (inshallah) will continue to be long after they’re all bought up and rebranded by corporate sponsors.


    • 1. Well, obviously somebody cares a lot about NOT naming the Mt. after McKinley, or it would be a White House issue. Ask Obama why it matters.

      2. These things have to be named something.

      3. “Future generations are no more going to remember McKinley because his name was on a mountain than they would if it were given to a celestial body.”

      I’m a great mythology buff, and know a great deal about Greek and Roman myths. Know why? Because I looked up “Mars” in the dictionary because I was curious about the name. Naming a mountain after a President accomplishes the same thing, exactly. Your statement is just factually and demonstrably incorrect.

      4. Again, ask Obama. I think my essay was clear on that topic. Honoring a past President who lost his life in doing what he was elected to do should be non-partisan—it is for me— but obviously it’s not to this President.

  5. I seem to recall that Mount McKinley was so named by an act of Congress. By what right does Obama arbitrarily set that aside on his own? But, of course, that question might (and has) been asked about quite a few of his executive orders.

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