Theres nothing so terrible as a bad idea whos time has come.
In 1929, the idea was protectionism. Against the overwhelming advice of economists, Republicans in Congress, and the Republican in the White House, thought that a vastly higher protective tariff was a good idea. There was much wrangling to get it passed. It was touch and go there for a while. And then came the front-page New York Times headline:
LEADERS INSIST TARIFF WILL PASS; Smoot and Borah Contradict Reed, Who Told Philadelphians Bill Was Dead. LONG DELAY ADMITTED Pennsylvania Senator Asserted Farm Bloc Was Killing the Measure. Reeds Attack on Corn Belt Bloc. LEADERS INSIST TARIFF WILL PASS
It was not the only tariff story on page one, either. And on page two, some nitty-gritty details of the bill were milled in public:
WOLLS TARIFF DATA CALLED 89% WRONG; Merchants Challenge His List of American Products Made Abroad and Sold Here. WILL FIGHT BAN ON THEM Results of Nation-Wide Survey to Be Used in Campaign to Alter Senate Proviso. Will Distribute Findings. Find Labor Not Hurt. Retaliation Is Feared.
The next day, several more tariff-related stories hit the Times, my favorite being
WOMEN HERE URGED TO FIGHT TARIFF BILL; N.Y.U. Economist Tells Them It Is Stupid and Dishonest and Will Raise Living Costs.
The story on the first page, though, tells the big political picture pretty well:
SENATORS RENEW DEMAND ON HOOVER FOR TARIFF STAND; Johnson and Harrison Call for His Guidance as Chamber Clashes Over Bills Fate. CONFERENCE DEMISE SEEN Accusing Republicans of This Aim, Simmons Holds President Responsible With Party. SMOOT ISSUES CHALLENGE He Denies Killing Plan and Pleads for Passage — Robinson Pledges Democratic Aid in Speeding It. Hope for Reaching Conference. Johnson Asks Bills Chances. DEMAND ON HOOVER FOR TARIFF STAND
In the end, President Herbert Hoover came through. He signed the bill the next year.