Katrina vanden Heuval tweeted a link to this essay by Mr. John G. Taft at the New York Times of October 22, 2013, titled The Cry of the True Republican. Ancestor worship is quite a marvel to confront in such a heavy dose, it makes one feel an acquaintance with a feudal mentality utterly foreign to the American notion of the self-made man. The essay itself is kind of potted history of the Taft contribution to the American Story, of the necessity of political dynasties and family largess. It does seem to manifest an arrogant and self-congratulatory tone that grates against the American Grain, a kind of inappropriate royalism?
To get past those startlingly immodest opening paragraphs one is confronted by Mr. Taft’s thesis that the Taft political legacy is that of political rationalism as opposed to the past of Joseph McCarthy and the present Nihilist Republicans, made actual by the person of Robert Taft. Does this argument meet the test of the historical record?
For an alternative to Mr. Taft’s thesis Professor Corey Robin provides an enlightening corrective. Here is the link to his essay The Moderate and the McCarthyite; The Case of Robert Taft . Just a sample of this essential essay.
Second, Taft was the author of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, one of the most infamous rollbacks in twentieth century American history. (Far from being a genteel defender or “steward” of tradition, as Taft the grandson suggests, Taft the grandfather aggressively sought to counter the New Deal. When he ran against Eisenhower for the Republican nomination in 1952, Taft was the candidate of domestic rollback, not accommodation, including rollback of such policies as the Fair Employment Practices Commission, which required companies receiving government contracts not to discriminate on the basis of race.)