As I read Doris Kerns Goodwin’s latest historical opus, The Bully Pulpit, I become more and more astounded by the parallels between the Gilded Age and now. It’s perhaps a prime example of how history repeats itself.
I just read how President Theodore Roosevelt was blamed by Wall Street for the “Roosevelt Panic of 1907.” Th big money men said President Theodore Roosevelt’s “crusade against business” caused the crash, arguing that “his excessive regulation had paralyzed the economy.” The actual cause of the crash was the same thing that caused the Great Recession of 2008. A very large investment bank in New York had abandoned sound banking practices to gamble with customer’s deposits. That caused public confidence in financial institutions to fail, and “customers rushed to retrieve money.” The banks had to be bailed out by, “in the absence of a central banking system,” seventy-year old J.P. Morgan, who served as a “one-man Federal Reserve,” and the federal government. Does that sound familiar?
That’s just one example of the parallels to now. The book has quite a few more, including a “do nothing” Congress that wouldn’t pass hardly any bills a progressive president wanted during the last two years of his presidency.
The full title of the book, by the way is, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. .