Are Democrats”: Herbert Hoover
and the Kennedy Family
“Some of my best friends are Democrats,” Herbert Hoover might have said. For anyone who knows much about Hoover, this statement should not be much of a shock. For a man who was so closely linked to the Republican Party, Herbert Hoover had a distinctly ecumenical streak when it came to certain members of the opposition party.
In fact, Hoover’s political career began in the war cabinet of none other than Woodrow Wilson. As U.S. Food Administrator, Hoover helped to carry out Wilson’s war policies. Late in life Hoover would recall his service to Wilson in a best-selling memoir entitled The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson. “With his courage and eloquence,” Hoover said of Wilson, “he carried a message of hope for the independence of nations, the freedom of men, and lasting peace. Never since his time has any man risen to the political and spiritual heights that came to him.”562
Wilson was no less impressed with Hoover. Hoover, noted Wilson after the war, “was one of the ablest men we sent over there…. [S]uch men stir me deeply and make me in love with duty”563—strong, even passionate words from a president known for his professorial detachment.
Not surprisingly, Herbert Hoover was lionized after the Great War; he was the man who had saved tiny Belgium and had fed the Allies. As the election season of 1920 approached, both political parties cast their gaze on Hoover as a possible candidate for high office, perhaps the presidency.564
The initial interest in Hoover came from the Democrats, and among the party members touting Hoover was none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt. “I had some nice talks with Herbert Hoover before he went West for Christmas,” Roosevelt wrote to Hugh Gibson in January 1920. “He is certainly a wonder, and I wish we could make him President of the United States. There could not be a better one.”565