Herbert Hoover’s record as a false prophet was consistent to the end.
At the risk of gilding the tinsel, let the record be set down finally as The Nation takes leave this week of the “only party fit to rule.” American memories are short. Four years from now the public will be asked to restore the Republicans and prosperity.
Let it therefore be recalled, now and henceforth, that four years ago not a cloud even as large as a man’s hand had appeared in the heavens. That it was, from the financial standpoint, a clear blue sky may have had a certain prophetic symbolism which was overlooked at the time. Herbert Hoover was about to assume the Presidency. His predecessor, Calvin Coolidge, in his valedictory message to Congress, had declared:
No Congress of the United States ever assembled, on surveying the state of the Union, has met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time. …The requirements of existence have passed beyond the standard of necessity into the region of luxury. Enlarging production is consumed by an increasing demand at home and an expanding commerce abroad. The country can regard the present with satisfaction and anticipate the future with optimism.
There was no difference of opinion, no variation in optimism between the retiring and incoming helmsmen of the nation. In his acceptance address the previous August Mr. Hoover had declared:
We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us. We have not yet reached the goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, and we shall soon, with the help of God, be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation. There is no guaranty against poverty equal to a job for every man. That is the primary purpose of the economic policies we advocate.
And having achieved office on the basis of this premise and promise, President Hoover reiterated his faith in his inaugural message:
Ours is a land … filled with millions of happy homes, blessed with comfort and opportunity …. In no nation are the fruits of accomplishment more secure . . . . I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.
There is no need to set down once more the repeated mistaken prophecies which issued from the White House as the country sank deeper into economic chaos. Those forecasts were sufficiently quoted during the recent Presidential contest. But Mr. Hoover’s record as a false prophet continued consistent to the end. Throughout the campaign he asserted that his Administration was achieving victory over the depression. In Cincinnati, on October 28, 1932, he said: we have succeeded in defeating these forces. We have protected our institutions and our people. We have now transformed those measures into an attack on this depression all along the line.” Speaking at Des Moines of the farmers’ plight, he declared: “Happily, we have won this battle.” And at Indianapolis, on October 29, he said: I pointed out there [at Detroit] that the battle has now changed from successful defense of our country from disaster and chaos to forward-marching attack on one hundred fronts, through a score of instrumentalities and weapons toward recovery. Since that time I have further positive evidence showing that, the measures and policies we have set up are driving the forces of this depression into retreat with constantly increasing rapidity.