September 11, 2012

In his Sept. 8 op-ed column about President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 convention speeches, “Obama fails, revealingly,” Michael Gerson quipped that “Obama has gone in four years from being compared to Abraham Lincoln to carrying forward the legacy of Warren Harding.”

If Mr. Obama is looking to propel economic recovery, he could do far worse than to embrace the legacy of Harding.

Harding was elected during the “panic” (depression) of 1920, when unemployment grew from 4 percent to 11.7 percent, the gross domestic product fell by 24 percent, and the production of goods and services dropped by 21 percent. These conditions were worse than those in the first year of what became known as the “Great Depression” a decade later.

Under Harding’s leadership, federal spending was cut in half by 1922 and, unlike Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama, he did not seek nor implement a stimulus policy. With these policies in place, the post-World War I depression ended by the summer of 1921. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in 1922 and then to an astonishing 2.4 percent in 1923, the last year of Harding’s administration.

Richard E. Sincere Jr., Charlottesville

The writer is a member of the Charlottesville City Republican Committee.