Ah, the U.S. presidents, whose benign visages looked down at you from your elementary classroom wall. Why, wherever would we be without these great men, citizen?
Here are a few we’re all expected to love.
Teddy Roosevelt, whose immediate predecessors had never issued more than 70 executive orders (and some even zero), issued 1,006. He couldn’t get a treaty through the Senate, so he dubbed it an executive agreement and enacted it himself. He thought executive power included whatever hadn’t been expressly prohibited. He’s a hero, kids!
Franklin Roosevelt blamed the Depression on greedy rich people (now there’s a sophisticated business cycle theory for you), and then suspended the antitrust laws (so far, so good) so business could collude with government to keep prices up via the National Recovery Administration. He threw millions out of work by artificially limiting how much agricultural land could be under cultivation, and had huge quantities of wheat, cotton, and pigs destroyed. We’d all be dead in a ditch without him, kids!
Harry Truman, who, fresh from his war atrocities, contemplated sending the army into the countryside to confiscate meat from farmers, instead of just lifting the price controls. He seized the steel mills from their owners — because hey, he’s the president! He took the country to war on his own say-so, ignoring the Constitution. He was awesome, kids!
There are plenty more where these came from, as Brion McClanahan shows in his new book, 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America.
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