by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Thomas Sowell‘s latest column at Human Events is not suggesting that Donald Trump’s policies would emulate those of former Republican President Herbert Hoover. But Sowell contends a Trump nomination could have a similar long-term impact on the GOP as Hoover’s four-year record in office.
For decades after Republican President Herbert Hoover was demonized because the Great Depression of the 1930s began on his watch, Democrats warned repeatedly, in a series of later presidential elections, that a vote for the Republican candidate was a vote to return to the days of Herbert Hoover.
It was 20 years before another Republican was elected president. As late as the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan was called by the Democrats’ Speaker of the House, “Hoover with a smile.” When a high official of the Reagan administration appeared before Congress to explain the administration’s policy, a Democratic Senator said, “That’s Hoover talk, man!”
Actually, it was a policy proposal the opposite of that of the Hoover administration, but who in politics worries about the truth? The point is that Hoover was still being used as a bogeyman, more than 40 years after he left office, and nearly two decades after he was dead. Trump’s image could easily play a very similar role.
The political damage of Donald Trump to the Republican party is completely overshadowed by the damage he can do to the country and to the world, with his unending reckless and irresponsible statements. Just this week, Trump blithely remarked that South Korea should be left to its own defenses.
Whatever the merits or demerits of that as a policy, announcing it to the whole world in advance risks encouraging North Korea to invade South Korea — as it did back in 1950, after careless words by a high American official left the impression that South Korea was not included in the American defense perimeter against the Communists in the Pacific.
The old World War II phrase — “loose lips sink ships” — applies on land as well as on the water. And no one has looser lips than Donald Trump, who repeatedly spouts whatever half-baked idea pops into his head. A man in his 60s has life-long habits that are not likely to change. Age brings habits, even if it does not bring maturity.