The Instigator
BennyW
Pro (for)
Tied
5 Points
The Contender
imabench
Con (against)
Tied
5 Points

Warren Harding is a vastly underrated US President

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/25/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,535 times Debate No: 19475
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (2)

 

BennyW

Pro

I will be arguing that the fact that Warren Harding often gets placed near the bottom of lists of US presidents is not really fir to him and in fact he should be placed close to the top. I will argue that his fiscal policies, as influenced by his secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon helped subvert a depression earlier and kept the economy strong. I will also mention why it is not right to wholly place the blame for Teapot dome on him. My opponent may bring up his own reasons for objecting to Harding. First round is for acceptance and setup, argumentation starts second round.
imabench

Con

I accept this debate, I believe that Warren G Harding rightfully should be placed near the bottom of presidents in terms of what they accomplished during their administrations. However rather than wholly focusing on fiscal policy I would like to bring into questions Warren G Harding's foreign policy, appointment of adviser to his cabinet, laws he supported or vetoed, etc. because no president should be examined exclusively though his fiscal actions during his administration
Debate Round No. 1
BennyW

Pro


My opponent says he is going to bring up several reasons that Harding was bad that do not involve what I mentioned and that is fine as I said he could use anything against him, it is important to look at everything. I would also like to make it known that although I am arguing that Harding was a great president, at the same time he was still a man and so was not perfect, so we must measure it by his relative success against his mistakes.


So the readers know Warren Harding was the 29th President of the United States of America serving from 1921-1923.


To see how successful he was in his accomplishments we must first look at his mandate. His mandate was a return to normalcy, which he did accomplish. The country was in a bad state after Wilson was in office. Some say that Harding was a do nothing president, but that is not entirely a bad thing.


He saw that the best thing to do when dealing with the economy was to leave it alone, but this idea was mostly inspired by Andrew Mellon. By doing so, he averted having the recession that had started in 1920 from becoming worse and so by 1921 the economy was back to normal. When he died Coolidge took over and continued the same policy and by 1926 unemployment had fallen to 1%. [1] He was concerned with the Government having too much control. [2]


To address something I brought up as a possible attack against him, Harding was not personally involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. It was primarily Albert Fall his Secretary of the Interior. The extent of the blame on Harding could be the fact that he appointed fall in the first place but that would be secondary. Overall the Teapot Dome Scandal was nothing compared to the scandals of many presidencies. [3]


Harding was instrumental in the civil rights movement; contrary to the claim sometimes made that he was affiliated with the KKK. He was also involved in veteran’s affairs.[4]


I am eager to hear the reasons and the controversies or corruption that my opponent will bring up to discredit Harding.


(Yes the video is rather long but only about the first half deals with Harding or about 27 minutes in)



1http://www.lewrockwell.com...


2 http://www.jstor.org...


3 http://www.lewrockwell.com...


4 http://thewesternexperience.com...


imabench

Con

Warren G Harding became president following WWI, a time at which Americans were sick of intervening in foreign affairs that they felt did not concern them. Warren G Harding did advocate retaining to normalcy in the 1920's and turning Americas back on the world. This idea of non-intervention would be carried on by later presidents and allowed for the events of WWII to come about such as the rise of Hitler, Japanese aggression against China, creation of Fascism in Italy, etc.

Although Harding was not directly responsible for these things, his policy of avoiding foreign affairs were carried on by his successors which allowed for these events to transpire and would ultimately plunge the world into the Second World War. Had Harding remained even a little more open to US participation in foreign affairs then some of these events could have been halted and WWII might have never occurred.

One of the only beneficial outcomes of WWI was the creation of the League of Nations, a prelude to the UN. this league of nations was created by Woodrow Wilson but Harding never made the US a member of the League of Nations, which severely limited its influence. The US was kept out of the League of nations by Harding, and the League of Nations had also failed to prevent the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and later Nazi Germany. Had the US been involved in the League of nations then a more coordinated effort could have been given to prevent dictators like Mussolini and Hitler from ultimately tearing Europe to shreds.

The most concerning part of Harding's presidency though was his appointment of his own friends "The Ohio Gang" to positions in the White House. These men were inexperienced, very ill equipped to handle the tasks given to them, and many of them engaged in reckless, illegal, and shocking actions of bribery and fraud. These men were appointed by Harding and so and and all actions they engaged in went to Harding's credibility. The economy did prosper under him but that was because of the work of the secretary of commerce Herbert Hoover and Treasury secretary Andrew Mellon, not because of the efforts of Harding.

As for the Ohio Gang, here are some of the activities that his own appointed friends were involved in.

Harry M. Daugherty: Attorney General,

He prevented a lawsuit against a company called Wright-Martin Aircraft Corp for defrauding the US out of 2.3 million dollars in war contracts. Harry prevented the lawsuit because he had stock in the company and they had benefited from the government. He was never charged in this matter. Harry was later accused of taking bribes from bootleggers during Prohibition, accused of corruption many times where he stood trial, but was never found guilty because of hung juries.

Harry was also notorious for appointing his own friends to high ranking positions in the justice department, such as William Burns to the head of the Justice Dept.'s Bureau of Investigation. Burns known for authorizing illegal searches and seizures, appointing men to fix trials, sold favors, manipulated files of people, and was the prime person behind the Teapot Dome Scandal. When burns was put on trial he hired "detectives" to "investigate" his jurors. His actions were discovered, a new trial was given, he was found guilty, appealed to the Supreme Court, and his sentence was overturned by them. He was later fired by Harding's Successor, Calvin Coolidge.

http://www.fbi.gov...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://thisdayinalternatehistory.blogspot.com...

Jess W Smith: Harry Daughtry's person aid,

Jess Smith was an aid who was notorious for undermining Prohibition to lease permits to drug companies to sell alcohol as Medicine, however many of the drug companies he drafted permits to were faulty and were actually organizations representing bootleggers, who bribed Smith for permits. The profits Smith received were split between him and a fellow conspirator, he even was known for bringing whiskey to other members of the Ohio Gang and the White House itself before Harding was forced to release him.

http://www.u-s-history.com...
http://www.presidentprofiles.com...

Charles R. Forbes: Director of the Veterans Bureau

Forbes was another Harding appointee who was known for defrauding the Veterans Affairs organization. He took money out of compensation programs meant for WWI veterans to build his own wealth. At the same time he defrauded the nation over hospital constructions by jacking up the true price for the hospitals to be built and then pocketed the excess into his own pocket. Forbes was also known for taking bribes and was finally let go by Harding for all the bad press he received, but Harding allowed him to flee to Europe before he announced his "retirement". He was later found guilty of Corruption though and ended up in Prison.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://www.u-s-history.com...

Warren G Harding appointed friends and doners to top positions in the government, and these very men abused their own powers and profited from defrauding the government and the people of the US for their own personal gain. Harding appointed these very men and therefore their actions are a reflection of his presidency, their performance at their jobs were so poor and unbelievably bad that they overshadowed any good that Harding did as president for the few short years he was president (he died before his 1st term ended).
Debate Round No. 2
BennyW

Pro

My opponent claims that Harding’s interventionist stance and refusal to join the League of Nations actually made WWII worse than it could have been. The reason he didn’t join the league was that first of all, a majority of the American people were opposed to it, and he knew that joining would mean that other nations would have a say in American affairs and we would be beholden to foreign powers. You could say a President who joined the League of Nations was being unpatriotic because they were putting European interests above those of America. Joining such a league may in fact have put us in a position where we would be us less likely to resist Germany later and crippling us by the time WWII came around even though as losers in WWI Germany would be closely guarded and not allowed to join initially, however they were still allowed to join eventually. Due to the German’s resentment at being held responsible and the reparations ruining their economy, it is likely it in fact encouraged them to go to war. It would also have threatened American sovereignty. The truth is the American people still had an isolationist mentality and a president who resists the will of the people should not be considered an effective president or could even be considered a tyrant. They also didn’t want to get involved in another War. [1] If America had been required to get involved in the affairs of other countries it would likely have had a negative effect on our economy as Europe already was having trouble paying off their debts to us.

I do give Andrew Mellon credit for the economy; however it was Harding who approved of the ideas. As for Hoover, he was not as well received and clashed with Mellon constantly. Shortly after he became president himself the economy was in shambles and he failed to turn it around like Harding had done in 1921 even though he had kept on Mellon as secretary of the Treasury.

Appointing friends could be a sign of corruption but could also mean that you are using those you think you can trust. Lots of presidents appoint friends to their administration the everybody else is doing it excuse doesn’t necessarily make it right but it does reduce the corruption charge for Harding when we look at him relative to other presidents; some examples being JFK appointing his brother (Robert) to his administration than selecting his other brother (Ted) to replace him in the senate a form of nepotism worse than what Harding did, also Barack Obama choosing Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff, the two knew each other from Chicago.

One of my opponent’s own sources shows that Jesse Smith committed suicide when Harding tried to get him to leave. It seems like Harding was actually trying to get rid of corruption.

Now to compare Harding to a few other administrations to see the level of corruption: Let us first look at John Adams, he issued the Alien and Sedition act which made it a crime to speak out against him, essentially violating the first Amendment. [2] There have also been similar acts throughout American History but nothing like that during Harding’s administration. How about FDR’s internment of American citizens who just happened to be of Japanese descent? True we were at war with Japan but these people were citizens. When it comes to corruption there were American Presidents far more corrupt than Harding even if we attribute the corruption of his cabinet directly to him.

Finally, I must reiterate the importance of a president sticking to his mandate as so many have abandoned theirs once they get to office and Harding’s mandate was normalcy. [3] This also would have been less likely to have worked if we were constantly worrying about European affairs.

I thank my opponent for his arguments.

1 http://www.johndclare.net... League of Nations
2 http://americanhistory.about.com...
3 http://teachingamericanhistory.org...

imabench

Con

I concede that the people did not want to be involved but I question this second statement

"joining would mean that other nations would have a say in American affairs and we would be beholden to foreign powers"

The League of nations was a much weaker version of the UN today, and the UN doesnt exactly impact US policy or lifestyle to an extraordinary degree.

" Joining such a league may....where we would be us less likely to resist Germany....and crippling us by the time WWII came around"

I dont entirely see how the US joining the international league of nations would have crippled us from fighting Nazi Germany in WWII.... As for the isolationism what was learned after WWII is that America as a country plays an undeniable role in international affairs, and that such a role existed before the outbreak of WWII. In fact many historians cite how the failure of the league of nations was a result of lack of US involvement.

As for the treaty with Germany following WWI, funny story about that. Harding didnt want to join the League of Nations, and he actually drafted a separate peace treaty with Germany following WWI. This peace treaty involved minimal reparations for the war so that the US and Germany were on relatively flat ground so to speak, but European powers within the League of Nations posed severe penalties on Germany for WWI that contributed greatly to the rise of Hitler and ultimately WWII. Had the US been actively involved in the League of Nations then it could be argued that such drastic demands on war torn Germany could have been lessened, and thus could have possibly avoided WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
(I know people dont trust Wikipedia entirely, I only want to show the part about how the US was ready to make peace with Germany then leave and not demand any kind of payback or anything from them unlike the rest of war torn Europe)

The League of Nations though entered an era of peacefulness right after WWI though, so the idea that

" If America had been required to get involved in the affairs of other countries it would likely have had a negative effect on our economy as Europe already was having trouble paying off their debts to us."

Would be rather unfounded because there would be a lack of foreign conflicts that would require American intervention. Coordinating the debt repayments of European countries was literally the only thing that went on in Europe after WWI, and that would have required excessive intervention by the US like the Pro caims. The only other real events that could have required American intervention came much, much later after the end of WWI. The rise of Mussolini and Facism in Italy, rise of Hitler in Germany, or Japanese aggression against China, all three of these scenarios came long after WWI had ended. If dealt with earlier these developments could have lessened the terrible impact that WWII would have had on the world.

As for the Harding-Mellon argument. Since we agree Mellon was the man behind the economy then Harding approving of his ideas would simply make Harding the doorman who opened the door for Mellon's policies to take hold. Hoover would then be the doorman who would not let him in.

I concede that some historical presidents have appointed their own friends or kin to high positions, but if you closely examine them you will find that most of them were qualified for the jobs they were given.

Robert Kennedy was made the Attorney General because JFK made him, but Robert Kennedy was actually a University of Virginia graduate in Law who almost was accepted into Harvard and was very well respected in his field before his brother made him Attorney General. He was qualified for the job. Rahm Emmanuel meanwhile was already a senior White House adviser to Bill Clinton, currently the Mayor of Chicago, and had served in the House of Representatives. He was qualified for his position as well.

Harding's advisers though were literally his friends who had no prior experience in any field of politics before they were suddenly thrust into the White House, and when they were they used their new found powers to abuse the system for their own personal gain while other more qualified people were overlooked by Harding.

As for comparisons to other arguments, Adams may have passed the Alien and Sedition acts but that was in response to the growing conflict between Britain and France along with fears that the conflict could suck the weak US back into a state of war and that the new country might fall back under colonization. For the record that law was actually nullified so no harm was done.

http://www.earlyamerica.com...

It is also true that America during WWII moved Japanese citizens into camps following the Pearl harbor attacks, but that was driven by public fear and hatred of the Japanese. The same thing occurred after 9/11 when animosity towards people of Arab descent mushroomed. Even today people still protest mosques being built near their homes or even near Ground Zero. These unfortunate periods of time are not driven solely by presidential authority though they are driven by public fear and public demands that something be done if it could bring safety to them after they were just attacked... It wasnt like FDR went around campaigning that he would lock up every Jap the minute he became president.

These men you compare to Harding though are respected presidents because even though they messed up they provided a great service to the nation. Adams kept the country going after the great George Washington decided to not run for a third term, FDR led the country through the great Depression and a majority of WWII, Kennedy even kept a lid on the escalation of the Cold War. Harding as you said was a "do nothing president" So he is still inferior to these men because a lot of corruption happened under his presidency and not a lot of good came out of it compared to these other presidents.

"This also would have been less likely to have worked if we were constantly worrying about European affairs."

It wasnt placing European affairs above American affairs that was the issue in question here, it was the fact that Harding blatantly removed America from ALL foreign affairs and it was during that time that the seeds for WWII began growing along with the seeds for the Great Depression and the breakdown of international trade. European affairs would only require US intervention if the world agreed that US intervention was necessary to handle the crisis...

Ill end here but I would like to ask the Pro where he thinks Harding should be ranked. If a list of the top presidents were to be made where would the pro place Harding? Top 5? Top 10? 15? I just want an idea here so that I know who you are comparing Harding too.
Debate Round No. 3
BennyW

Pro

I will now address the issues my opponent brought up last round
The League of nations was a much weaker version of the UN today, and the UN doesnt exactly impact US policy or lifestyle to an extraordinary degree.

True the UN is a good analogy to the league of Nations and it too threatens American sovereignty. While originally it didn’t have much control over American affairs it has gained more and more power. There are 5 permanent members that have all the power, the US, Britain, France, China and Russia. If three of them vote against us we could be in trouble and China is not too fond of us now. [1] [2] Although in many ways it is also ineffective at accomplishing its stated goals and their efforts to promote peace and human rights can actually make things worse [3]

The League of Nations though entered an era of peacefulness right after WWI

True, but eventually problems did arise as you mentioned. America would have soon enough have to assist in Europe.

It wasnt like FDR went around campaigning that he would lock up every Jap the minute he became president.

Of course not, but the fact that he ended up doing it is what matters. Even if there was an anti-Japanese sentiment does that justify treating people who were born in this country who just happened to have ancestors from Japan like criminals? Realize that all that was required was being 1/16 Japanese. The US even denied that such an event had occurred for the longest time. [4]

FDR led the country through the great Depression and a majority of WWII

Which actually touches on one of the points I was trying to make. FDR’s strategy for dealing with the Great Depression is the very thing that kept us in it, whereas Harding’s handling of the economy kept us out of depression.

Kennedy even kept a lid on the escalation of the Cold War.

Then got us into Vietnam

Harding as you said was a "do nothing president" So he is still inferior to these men because a lot of corruption happened under his presidency and not a lot of good came out of it compared to these other presidents.

Yes he was do nothing in the sense that largely, he had a laissez-faire approach to the economy and he didn’t want to get involved in other nation’s affairs. Usually when presidents interfere in things in an effort to “fix” things they actually make things worse.

I would place Harding definitely in the top 10 and likely the top 5, up there with James Madison, Grover Cleveland, and probably Thomas Jefferson.

In conclusion I want to thank my opponent for debating with me. I hope I have satisfactorily presented my case and ask the voters to vote pro.

1 http://www.freedom.org...

2http://www.cfif.org...

3 http://www.foxnews.com...

4 http://www.lib.csusb.edu...

imabench

Con

1) the 5 permanent members dont have all the power, thats why its called the United Nations not the United Top 5 Nations.... Also the fact that China and the US have some friction doesnt matter at all....
(for the record i dont exactly see fox news as a reliable source)

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://www.un.org...

The idea that the UN doesnt get much done and only makes things worse is purely the pro's opinion too, the UN has done much good for humanity.

http://www.un.org...=
http://www.un.org...
http://www.foreignpolicy.com...
http://e-pao.net...

2) Yes America would have had to assist war torn Europe, we did the same thing following WWII and in that scenario France and the UK were back on their feet in no time. Following WWI both nations were still reeling from the war and had slipped into a devastating economic recession where in any one nation unemployment topped 20%....

So WWI with no UN = Europe in shambles for a long time with no relief at all
WWII with UN establishment = European countries back on their feet in not even 2 years...

3) As for FDR, the point was that if you do enough good for a country then one slip up isnt going to derail your legacy. Harding though didnt do anything clearly beneficial for the country but his administration was rocked with scandals and bad choices...

4) FDR's actions are a different debate, but we both already agreed that it was NOT Harding who managed the economy well, it was secretary Mellon who did that,

"I do give Andrew Mellon credit for the economy"

As for WWII, you didnt really acknowledge that...

5) I believe it was Eisenhower who got us involved in war with Vietnam, JFK just continued it. I think it could be assumed though that a war with Vietnam is a far lesser evil compared to all out Nuclear War with Russia

In Conclusion, this is why i think that Harding deserves to be ranked near the bottom.
1) He provided no large benefit to the country and any benefit that was present came from his advisers who were actually qualified for the positions they held.
2) His policy of isolationism turned America's back on the war torn nations of WWI in Europe, which then sled quickly into a worldwide devastating economic setback.
3) Harding kept the US out of the League of Nations, the older brother of the UN, and in doing so may have helped allow the rise of Mussolini, Hitler, and Japanese aggression against China, the seeds for WWII
4) Harding appointed many of his own unskilled friends to high positions in his administration who were notorious for committing or submitting to acts of fraud, bribery, embezzlement, etc.

Thanks for reading and I would like to thank the Pro for a very, very interesting debate :D
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
they have though, hes had his voting priviledges removed at least once now and he just got them back
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
That's what I figured I have been seeing a lot of it lately I think if someone suspects someone of votebombing they should ask someone to review it rather than resorting to vote bombing themselves.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
logicrules is a notorious vote bomber, look through some of the debates hes voted on.....
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
Mr. infidel how was loicrule's vote a votebomb? His reasons seemed legitimate to me and I am not just saying that because he voted for me.
Posted by vmpire321 5 years ago
vmpire321
:O

(DDO says that the above statement is in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.)
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
its ok i got what you meant
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
Oh no I don't know how I missed this but this first line "My opponent claims that Harding's interventionist stance" should be "My opponent claims that Harding's non-interventionist stance".
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
Innoman I don't want to start a separate debate in the comments but I will just address some of your point briefly. The gambling issue is a bit more complicated than I am willing to go into in the comments, the Klan allegation has been asserted but is completely unsubstantiated. He was only president for a short period of time but many of his policies were picked up by Coolidge.
Posted by jm_notguilty 5 years ago
jm_notguilty
lol I thought he was an actor in the 70s.
Posted by vmpire321 5 years ago
vmpire321
lol. I have no clue who Warren Harding is. XD!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
BennyWimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Counter vote bomb.
Vote Placed by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
BennyWimabenchTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made far better points based in fact. Con seemed to rely on a sociopolitical conformity which is not applicable when discussing the past.