Fiorello H. La Guardia and the Making of Modern New York

Kessner, Thomas

McGraw-Hill, 1989

p. 97

Warren G. Harding, was President of the U.S. in the early 1920s. He wasn’t good at the job. Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Teddy’s daughter) would visit the White House and find Harding deep in poker games with his friends, surrounded by whiskey bottles (it was Prohibition, but the President wasn’t any more respectful of law than lots of others). He was a slob. He was almost wholly ignorant, unbelievably ill-informed. A “newspaper reporter was stuck dumb when the President tried to explain to him the logic behind [the U.S.’s] high protective tariff: ‘We should adopt a protective tariff of such a character as will help the struggling industries of Europe to get on their feet.’ He said. ‘John,’ he once disclosed to a secretary, ‘I can’t make a damn thing out of this tax problem. I listen to one side and they seem right and. . . .I talk to the other side and they seem just as right, and here I am where I started. I know somewhere there is a book that will give me the truth, but, hell, I couldn’t read the book.’” Harding brought into office aides who were just as ignorant and just as crooked as he. And he had a couple of mistresses. Harding died in 1923, before the nation knew of the squalid condition of its Presidency.