Saturday, January 5, 2019

Simple and binary...................

     As for the tariff, it was an ideal area of concentration for the young congressman, who possessed a highly absorbent mind but not a facile one.  His stolid intellect, without imagination but with a potent capacity for mastering masses of intricate detail.  Further, he tended to view public policy in simple, binary terms — the right way to do things and the wrong way.  For him, the right tariff policy was protectionism.  High tariffs, he once said on the House floor, helped shape America as a country "without a superior in industrial arts, without an equal in commercial prosperity, with a sound financial system, with an overflowing Treasury, blessed  at home and at peace with all mankind."
     By the late 1880s, McKinley had become a leading congressional expert on the country's multifarious tariff structure, which at one point encompassed some 1,524 separate tariffs on as many items, including iron and steel products, wool and woolens, various paint products, wallpaper, crockery, cutlery, glass and glassware, linens, soaps, starch, sugar, and many more,  McKinley knew them all, and so now, some twelve years after embracing Hayes's wise counsel, he was reaping the benefit of his years-long tariff preoccupation.

-Robert W. Merry,  President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

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