If you enjoyed Jonah Goldberg’s dissection of a goofy MSNBC commercial in which host Rachel Maddow touts the big-government virtues of the Hoover Dam, you might appreciate Arthur Herman’s latest contribution to National Review Online:
Hoover Dam has become something of a liberal icon these days. President Obama points to it as an example of the sort of federally funded projects that once “unleashed all the potential in this country” — potential that his next round of stimulus will unleash again. MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow has pointed to the 726-foot-high, 660-foot-wide dam as proof that some projects are just too big for private enterprise. “You can’t be the guy that built this,” she tells the TV screen. Only government can, is the implication.
Well, that would come as a surprise to the guy who did build it – or, rather, the guys who did, with their private companies. In the five-year process they discovered, even back then, that the biggest obstacle they faced in Black Canyon wasn’t nature or the Great Depression, but New Deal Washington.
The truth was, construction on the scale of Hoover Dam lay far beyond the powers of the federal government — in 1931 or even later.