Warren G. Harding: A Legend in Mediocrity
Warren G. Haring is well-known for having said that he was not fit for the office of the presidency and never should have been there, which was already enough to make me interested in him. This is very much the case for a lot of presidents, but here just aren’t that many presidents who actually admit it. It’s refreshing to finally find one of them who is actually self-aware and honest.
For better or for worse, a lot of historians definitely agree with Warren G. Harding on that one. He’s considered one of America’s least intelligent presidents, and you won’t find too many people willing to defend his legacy for better or for worse, such as it is. I think this really would have gotten to Warren G. Harding, obviously, and that’s partly because he was a man who was so desperate for everyone to like him.
He was once told that he was lucky to have not been born a woman because he was incapable of saying ‘no’ and he’d have had a lot of kids too early otherwise. The world will obviously never know about that one, but we do know that for Warren G. Harding, being president was really about being a yes man to your advisers, and not the other way around. He was a great figurehead president at least, but not a lot that happened during this particular time period really could have been attributed to Warren G. Harding.
Warren G. Harding managed to have several mistresses, which already would have earned him something of a reputation among American presidents. However, the Teapot Dome scandal sank him entirely. You can think of it as the Watergate Scandal of its day. Of course, Richard Nixon was a better president than Harding in many ways, although that really isn’t a compliment to Richard Nixon.
Some people become famous for being the best of the best. Other people become famous for being the worst of the worst. I’m personally interested in both categories, although I can certainly make time for the people who are basically just really mediocre. Warren G. Harding gets to earn a certain level of fame today for being one of the worst presidents in all of American history. Some presidents would probably be willing to trade with him, because at least that means that he’s been remembered, and many of them haven’t been.
Warren G. Harding was fifty-seven when he died in 1923. It is humbling to think that most presidents are older than that when they actually start running for the presidency in the first place, and Warren G. Harding was already dead at that age. However, many of the corruption scandals and sex scandals that marked the career of Warren G. Harding still make him seem like more of a modern president than he otherwise would have been. His lifespan dates him significantly much more than his behavior ever could.