The Harding Debate

D. offers some dissent from recent pro-Harding revisionism in the blogosphere, arguing that there's less than meets the eye about Harding's progressive record on race. I wouldn't, however, quite be so dismissive of Harding's efforts to rollback the Wilson-era crackdown on civil liberties:

Most of all, Harding's administration could afford to be less demagogic because (a) the Great War was over, and thus the rationale for anti-civil libertarian wartime measures was reduced; and (b) its support for restrictive immigration laws allowed the party in control of the government to claim that it was taking action to prevent "alien radicals" from entering the country in the first place (and thus making emergency deportations unnecessary).



The implication here that Presidents are typically loathe to aggregate power to themselves and their appointees, making the relevant variable whether or not they can "afford to be less demagogic" seems backward to me.