Friday, March 07, 2008

1912 Election Redux?

Is 2008 a replay of the election of 1912? A brilliant piece in The New Republic draws the parallels.

Just like today, 1912 was a time when the country yearned for change from the many years of Republican governance... the Republican electorate believed the party had betrayed them... and voters wanted more popular participation in elections and in policymaking, more progressive taxation, and less corporate control of policy.

Recognizing this demand for change, former president Theodore Roosevelt challenged the incumbent William Howrard Taft for the GOP nomination, running an insurgent campaign to take back the GOP for the people. Just like Barack Obama who is challenging the Democratic machine in the person of Billary.

The voter-elected delegates to the 1912 Republican nominating convention gave Roosevelt an overwhelming majority..... 278 to Taft's 48.

But, 540 delegates were needed to cinch the race. So, hundreds of delegates, awarded by the Republican National Committee.... a majority of whom were Taft men.... put Taft over the top.

These GOP back-room "superdelegates" cooked the books, defied the voters, and the results were....

The popular Roosevelt bolted the GOP in a fury and formed the Progressive party. In the general election Taft came in a far third behind Roosevelt.... handing Democrat Woodrow Wilson the presidency. GOP nominee John McSame could win with a similar scenario.

Yet, while there are similarities, and no one expects Obama to bolt the party, it's still a sobering cautionary tale. Roosevelt, the "inspirational candidate" lost the GOP nomination to a party insider.... and the voters showed the party their disapproval at the polls.

One wonders if the Democratic National Committee leaders have lost their bearings and forgotten the lessons of history.

Especially in the world of 2008, where the GOP is meddling with the Democratic nominating process.... crossover voting, primary date tampering, pushing for primary re-dos.... while the 24/7 instant-"reporting" media hypes every negative item, especially gossip.... endlessly.

And, there's a cautionary lesson for Obama's campaign to be learned from the 1912 fiasco. Roosevelt.... allowing his frustration and bitterness to overtake his inspiration.... stooped to calling Taft names.... "puzzlewit" and "fathead" were among his talking points.

This is the precipice on which Obama's campaign now stands. The slings and smears from the Clintonistas are increasing, and the temptation to smear back is strong.

The latest attack on Obama is from Clinton's top aide Howard Wolfson who likened Obama to Democratic pariah, Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, because Obama (gasp) asked Clinton to release her tax returns.

Unfortunately, a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, Samantha Power, succumbed to temptation to respond, and said (off the record) to a Scottish newspaper of Clinton's many sleazy campaign tactics... "She is a monster.... she is stooping to anything."

Today Power issued a statement of apology to Clinton saying "she deeply regretted" her remarks while an Obama spokesman said they have no place in his campaign.

A step back from the Theodore ledge for Obama.

Now, it's up to the vaporous DNC to avoid the same trampling of the voter-delegate majority with their gimmicky "superdelegates" and "add on" delegates and other fussy, non-democratic nonsense.

And, they had better clarify things soon, otherwise McSame will drive his Straight Talk Express through the inevitable split in the party right to the Oval Office.

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