avoided if only Woodrow Wilson hadrnsimply kept his nation out of the war,rnwhich Wilson promised to do with nauseatingrnregularity while he was runningrnfor reelection.rnBut as if two great mistakes were notrnenough for one President, Wilson’s blindrncrusade to “make the world safe forrndemocracy” also led to a third mistake.rnIn financing the Great War, Wilson set arnprecedent whereby the United Statesrngovernment would borrow billions ofrndollars but never retire the debts, therebyrnlegitimizing the concept of a largernand permanent national debt. Thus,rnWilson was the first President to permanentlyrnmortgage the future of his country.rnThe United States had had to borrowrnbillions of dollars to fight its previousrnwars, and indeed the cost of the CivilrnWar was proportionately much largerrnthan the cost of World War I. But afterrnall earlier wars the country had workedrndiligently to repay the debts. Not afterrnWorld War I. When Woodrow Wilsonrntook office the national debt was lessrnthan 1,2 billion dollars. Before Wilsonrnleft office it hit $26.6 billion. Wilson executedrnand buried for all time the preciousrnpolicy that, except in rare circumstances,rnthe federal government wouldrnnot spend more than it takes in.rnBy 1920 the country was sick, bothrnliterally and figuratively, of WoodrowrnWilson. His interventionist philosophyrnand strident preaching about what wasrnsupposedly good for the country andrngood for the world had exasperated people.rnThe country was readv and willing,rnif not straining at the leash, to get shedrnof other peoples’ troubles. About anyrnRepublican for President would do.rnWarren Harding filled the bill perfectly.rnWithout a doubt, Harding wasrnthe closest thing to a perfect cipher tornever occupy the White House. But atrnleast Warren Harding, unlike TheodorernRoosevelt or William Howard Taft orrnWoodrow Wilson, never made any bigrnmistakes. Frankly, the corruption ofrnHarding’s appointees as well as Harding’srnphilandering “on the side” can bernoverlooked. The country has alwaysrnbeen able to survive a few shysters inrnhigh office lining their pockets, and thernnation is not really harmed just becausernit has a President whose main hobbyrnstems from an excessive fondness for thernopposite sex. These time-honored vicesrnare infinitely preferable to those of socalledrn”good” Presidents who needlesslyrnembroil their country in other nations’rndisputes. Presidents who impose gargantuanrnnew taxes. Presidents who send millionsrnof American bovs to die fightingrnother nations’ wars, or Presidents whornDestinations PastrnTraveling through Historyrnwith John LukacsrnJohn Lukacs brings history to life inrnthese unique travel essays that takernreaders on an erudite tour from WorldrnWar n to the present, with particularrnemphasis on eastern Europe.rn248 pages, 0956-4, $26.95rnClioosing TrumanrnThe Democratic Convention of 1944rnRobert H. FerrellrnFerrell tells one of the great politicalrnstories of this century: how Harry S.rnTruman, a manrnwhom Rooseveltrnbarely knew, wasrnhandpicked by arnhandful ofrnDemocratic insidersrnto become thernsuccessor to thernailing president.rn168 pages, 0948-3,rn$24.95rnA New MandaternDemocratic Choices for arnProsperous EconomyrnLouis A. Ferleger and Jay R. MandlernIn A New Mandate,rnLouis Ferleger andrnJay Mandle put forwardrna fresh strategyrnfor restoringrnAmerican competitiveness,rnarguing thatrnproductivity growthrnand technologicalrnchange can be reconciledrnwith democratic and egcilitarianrnvalues. 168 pages, 0940-8, $29.95rnAt bookstores or order toll-freern1-800-828-1894rnLSSOUtLrnUNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI PRESSrn2910 LeMone Blvd. Columbia, MO 65201rnsend the nation irrevocably down thernroad to fiscal ruin. No, the plain truth isrnthat all the critical mistakes of this centuryrnwere made by the troika of “leaders”rnwho followed in the wake of the untimelyrndeath of Garret Augustus Hobart.rnI confess that a few years ago, while researchingrnthe history of my family, I uncoveredrnan ugly skeleton. It seems thatrnin 1911, over 35 years before I was born,rnmy paternal grandfather Charles L.rnHyde was convicted of mail fraud andrnsentenced to 15 months in the federalrnprison at Leavenworth, Kansas. Grandfatherrnappealed but lost. But he did obtainrna stay so that he could appK’ to PresidentrnTaft for a pardon. Many monthsrnpassed with no word.rnFinally, Grandpa was ordered to surrenderrnto the federal prison in Kansasrnby March 5,1913. On March 3, Grandparnstood on the train platform in Pierre,rnSouth Dakota. His wife Katherine andrntheir five children were on hand to seernhim sent to prison. With only minutesrnto spare. Grandpa’s lawyer ran up with arntelegram: “President Taft has pardonedrnyou!” It seems that President Taft, whornhad a nose for seeing justice done, referredrnGrandpa’s request to the U.S. AttorneyrnGeneral for review. However, forrna long time Attorney General Wickershamrndidn’t check into it. Finally, Wickershamrntended to the matter, and the resultrnwas that President Taft signed thernpaper granting Grandpa’s pardon on thernlast working day of his term.rnOn page 352 of the 1913 annual reportrnof the U.S. Attorney General,rnGrandpa’s case is summarized as follows:rn”It seems that whatever dissatisfactionrnarose among the investors was created byrna circular letter sent out by a dischargedrnemployee of the petitioner…. The misrepresentationsrnwhen investigated dwindledrnto such a degree that the AttorneyrnGeneral was satisfied petitioner hadrndone nothing to deserve a prison sentence.”rnThus, due to the untimeh’ deathrnof Garret Augustus Hobart, the nationrngot Teddy Roosevelt, and only because ofrnRoosevelt did William Howard Taft becomernPresident. And it’s only because ofrnTaft that the country has the benefit ofrnHarlow A. Hyde. Why? Because if Taftrnhadn’t been President my Grandparnwould have gone to prison, and I knowrnmy mother would never have marriedrnthe son of a convict!rnHarloM- A. Hyde writes from Lincoln,rnNebraska.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn