The LuLac Edition #528, July 30th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: SENATOR BARACK OBAMA AND THE LATE THOMES E. DEWEY, CIRCA 1948.
60 YEARS PAST
He was the presumptive President. There was no way the battered Democratic party with the unpopular Commander in Chief was going to win the 1948 election. Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York and former crime fighting DA was the toast of America. He commanded huge crowds wherever he went. Newsreels were devoted to his crime fighting exploits and played in theatres on a daily basis. The national media anointed him as the next leader of the free world. Foreign countries sent emissaries to speak with him to see how they would be treated. Many politicos petitioned him for places in his new administration. Radio commentators of the day did fawning reports on his ability to inspire the country. He was sleek, smooth and charismatic. The only criticism of him was that he spoke in generalities. “I’ll clean up Washington”, “There's a mess in Washington”, and “We’ll build a better tomorrow”.
Fast forward 6 decades later. The Democrats have a presumptive President in Barack Obama. He is deemed a rock star. Foreign leaders give him an opportunity to meet, tour and speak before their countrymen and women. Huge crowds greet him wherever he goes. Videos on the web are made about him and played constantly on the internet. He even shuns the traditional convention hall acceptance speech to go before the assembled multitude in a sports stadium that seats over 80,000. Talk surrounds his new administration appointees, who will land where and in what department. The national media has given him the benefit of the doubt in his experience level. They have also given us a hint of what it means to have him as a symbol of hope. The candidate himself has already indicated that he is more than an office seeker, he is the symbol of the hopes and dreams of the future of America. The only criticism of him is that he speaks in generalities. “Let hope begin”, “We need to have fundamental change”, and “Change is what is needed now”.
Thomas Dewey lost that 1948 election for a few reasons. The farm vote that broke for Harry Truman, the fiesty President’s own tenacious streak and tireless whistlestop campaign. But Dewey lost because he was regarded as an aloof, arrogant, preachy, elitist candidate who spoke in generalities. A gracious man in private, people just did not like him because of his public persona.
We Americans are a cantankerous lot. We don’t like to be told that anything is a done deal. Or that anything or anyone is presumptive. The Obama campaign should take note of that fact.