Let's remember that Herbert Hoover was smart, informed, experienced, and no demagogue. Comparing him with the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party doesn't insult either of them.
Hoover's credentials, like George Romney's today, appeared impeccable. If anyone deserved to win the election of 1928, he did. Al Smith may have deserved it too, but that doesn't mean that Smith would have had a better chance of handling the collapse of the world economy than Hoover. Both were blindsided, but Hoover was elected and bore the blame for what followed, though he hadn't caused it.
In 1928 he didn't foresee the disaster about to overtake the world for the same reasons and non-reasons that others didn't. Hoover had become a very successful man playing by the rules that were in place when he came to maturity in his profession as a mining engineer and later as an appointed public servant. He knew as well as anyone, perhaps better than most, how to be President as long as those rules were in place. Few in those days were listening to the Cassandras predicting economic disaster.
Why bother listening to prophets of doom? You don't have to deal with doom until it happens. You won't be ready for it, but then it may not happen; so you won't have to be ready. The public philosophy today resembles that attitude. Besides, when disaster comes your careful plan for handling it will probably be outdated anyway.
Today Governor Romney is as confident as Hoover was when he predicted after his election that the end of poverty in America was at hand; but instead of the end of poverty, Hoover got a ruined economy and a great depression. In contrast, Romney tells us with confidence that he knows how to save America. He has a plan!
The trouble is, he doesn't know, and neither does President Obama, what he will have to do. He doesn't even know what he will be able to do. He cannot predict what resources will be available to him if he becomes President, or what options will be available if the rules change on him.
There is a difference between 2012 and 1928, however, if we are willing to face it. Today nobody needs to be blindsided; we can accept as fact that things are just as bad as they appear to be. We also do not have to pretend that the candidates know the future, because they don't.
So in the voting booth. we must each choose the one we trust most to get it right, to know both what he is doing and why.