Ranked #38: Harding never viewed himself as a leader or even a manager. He thought the position of president was ceremonial. The reason I did not rank him lower was because his neglect of the office did not cause the nation much harm.
Summary: Harding was, without a doubt, a man who never wanted the office of the presidency and felt he was way over his head. The only reason this came about at all was because of his wife, who wanted to live in the White House.
Bio: Harding liked people. As a newspaper publisher in Marion, Ohio, he was so good with employee relations that he never fired a single person in nearly 30 years. Harding knew his limitations and carried himself in a humble way. As a political campaigner, he always resorted to pointing out his positive message as opposed to slinging mud in the direction of his opponent.
He was considered a handsome man, being six feet tall with a big-boned physical appearance. He was a nervous type of person who regularly had indigestion. At 24, he suffered a nervous breakdown. He dressed immaculately throughout his career. Harding liked to play golf and cards. Poker was his game of choice. He attended professional baseball games on a regular basis, and even sneaked off to a burlesque house in Washington DC during his presidency when he had a chance. Harding was known to have affairs that would make Bill Clinton seem like a struggling amateur. Even in the White House, Harding felt no reluctance in carrying out his extra-curricular pursuits because, (to his way of thinking, I can only imagine) being the county’s top executive was a complicated job that should merit some perks.
ne of Harding’s shortcomings was his inability to select proper people to be in his cabinet. Although he had highly-regarded professionals working for him, he also had old friends from Ohio taking full advantage of their positions at every opportunity. They literally pilfered from the government. To say Harding had corruption in his administration was like saying that algebra is a difficult subject to understand. His friends in this case were his own worst enemies. During a poker game one evening, Harding lost a rare set of White House china that was owned by the American people. Drinking was a regular occurrence during White House events, even when the country was going through Prohibition. Harding probably hated every single day of his presidency.
Harding was elected no doubt because the US had endured 8 years of Woodrow Wilson and could’t take a single minute more of that intensity. They wanted somebody more laid-back and friendly. Harding delivered in this regard. Just when the political heat was getting really hot in Washington, Harding and his wife took a trip out to the west coast of the US. He first visited Alaska and planned to spend a little time in California. During this trip he began to feel a minor case of fatigue. As time went on, it grew worse. He finally was able to get to San Francisco where it took a matter of days for him to die of a heart attack. There has been much speculation about his time on the west coast. For some strange reason, his wife refused to allow an autopsy of the President which led many to suspect the reasons for his death. After all, Harding cheated on her a great deal and his administration was in big trouble, legally speaking.
Harding will rank among the lowest rated Presidents. I think he never really wanted the position, nor could he deliver once he got it.
Pros: Supported African American rights and equality. Took part in several foreign treaties including the Treaty of Paris that officially ended World War 1.
Cons: Had one of the most corrupt administrations where there were several scandals. Appointed rich, unqualified friends to important government positions. Gave out massive tax breaks to the wealthy. Had several extramarital affairs while in office. Served whiskey at poker parties in the White House while the rest of the country was experiencing prohibition.
Born: November 2, 1865, Corsica (now Blooming Grove), OH
Died: August 2, 1923 (aged 57) San Francisco, CA
Term: March 4, 1921 to August 2, 1923 (1 term, died in office )