Hoover and Trump – Two Peas in a Pod?
Image Courtesy: National Archives

Hoover and Trump – Two Peas in a Pod?

Many people are comparing President Trump and Herbert Hoover as sharing unenviable rank and status in the history of the United States presidency. That’s really not fair!

Yes, they are the only presidents who have held the unenviable distinction of being considered by scholars to be among the ten worst presidents in the history of the United States and who also never previously held any other elected office in the country. And yes, they really do share, uniquely, these qualities.

But, Herbert Hoover and Donald Trump are enormously different, and in spite of being unfortunate presidential choices, shared almost nothing in common as to their interests, personality, and abilities.

Hoover was out of his element, certainly, when elected in 1929, just months before the country spun wildly into the Great Depression. Yes, he made a huge mistake of raising taxes on imports (think tariffs) that forced foreign countries to refuse to buy American goods at exactly the time the country desperately needed such revenue.

BUT, he was, at the same time, a genuine humanitarian having served during WWI as head of the American Relief Administration that helped post war Europe feed its people. He, also, served, as Secretary of Commerce and was key to the construction of the St, Lawrence Seaway and the Hoover Dam.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, brought little to the table, save writing the Art of the Deal, reflecting uniquely narrow experience in the rough and tumble – and ugly – world of real estate dealings, and little to nothing else. Of course, he also has the distinction of founding Trump University that was little more than a scam to separate naïve people from their money.

Indeed, Hoover and Trump’s personalities and experiences prior to assuming the presidency could not be more different. They may each have been one-of-a-kind. But, that is where their similarities end.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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