The bandwagon really needs to make a comeback. Let’s make it happen!
I read about FDR's relations with Hoover and Wilkie thanks to you, but what where his views on Landon and Dewey?
Alf Landon is either completely forgotten or used as a punchline because FDR destroyed him by an ungodly margin in the 1936 election, but Landon, who was Governor of Kansas, was a highly-respected leader by politicians on both sides of the aisle. FDR liked him and even offered Landon a spot in his Cabinet later in his Presidency. Landon liked FDR, too, supported him on numerous issues (including a lot of the New Deal) and really wasn’t that distant from Roosevelt ideologically. Unfortunately for Landon, he faced FDR in 1936 when Roosevelt was really at the top of his game, as popular as he would be during his 12-year-long Presidency, and also as healthy as he would be during his Presidency.
All of that turned FDR into a steamroller and poor Governor Landon just happened to be the opposition. It must not have eaten at Landon too much because he lived until 1987. That’s right — the second person to run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t pass away until 1987 when he was 100 years old.
The campaign between FDR and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 was significantly different because it took place in the midst of World War II and because FDR was obviously dying. In 1944, FDR didn’t quite have the energy that he used to have on the campaign trail. Dewey, on the other hand, was only 42 years old and had all of the energy in the world. Instead of hammering Roosevelt’s policies, Dewey took a ton of shots at FDR’s fitness for continuing as President when his health was failing and his physical appearance was deteriorating frighteningly. Roosevelt didn’t know Dewey as well as he had known Hoover (a former friend), Landon (whom FDR respected and liked personally), or Willkie, who ended up being close to Roosevelt and serve as a special envoy to war-torn Europe. FDR’s campaign focused on what Roosevelt had accomplished and how close the Allies were to bringing World War II to an end. Roosevelt really didn’t run against Dewey in 1944, he ran (as much as FDR could run — get it? because he was crippled — too soon?) on his own record and on the always-effective argument that you don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream, particularly when that stream is the deadliest and most horrific war in the history of the world.
Incidentally, the best quote about Thomas E. Dewey during the 1944 campaign came from a Roosevelt, but not from Franklin. FDR’s cousin and Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, the acid-tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth — described Dewey as the little groom figurine on the top of a wedding cake because his mustache made him look like that was exactly where he belonged.
Of course, the worries that Governor Dewey expressed throughout the 1944 campaign about FDR’s fitness to remain in the White House and the President’s failing health were completely accurate. Five months after Roosevelt defeated Dewey, FDR was dead. Dewey was nominated once again by the GOP four years later, in 1948, against FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman. And as even casual readers of history know, some newspaper editors jumped the gun with the morning edition that was being published for the day after Election Day because Dewey did not defeat Truman.
It’s fair to say that Bobby and Lyndon Johnson had a complicated relationship. Bobby was not initially in favor pf having LBJ as Jack’s running mate —he worried about whether anyone had been running so hard for the seat himself could suppress his own presidential ambitions so quickly. And I don’t think either of them ever felt warmth or trust toward each other. Truth was, Bobby’s close relationship with Jack prevented Johnson from ever really getting close to Jack as he would have been had Bobby not been in the picture. It was, in my opinion, a classic “three’s a crowd” scenario. But even though there was no love lost between Bobby and LBJ, I wouldn’t go as far as to call them bitter and implacable enemies, as some have suggested. Johnson was capable of kindness toward my brother, and courtesy, and political support. Toward me, Johnson was consistently solicitous and friendly. I liked him and always got along with him very well.
Still, I know that there were times that Johnson tried to play Bobby off against me, which is bizarre, since there was no way that a Kennedy would side with an outsider against another Kennedy. With all of his political acuity, I would have thought he’d understand that. Nevertheless, Johnson never learned it and never gave up trying. “I love Teddy and Sarge is great,” he used to say. “Now what is with this strange fellow Bobby? Why is he so difficult?” Bobby cut right to the heart of the matter. “Why does Lyndon fear me so much, for chrissakes?” he said once. “He’s the president of the United States and I’m the junior senator from New York!”
-Edward M. Kennedy (True Compass)
Wonderful shot of two women outside of a polling place in Kentucky during the 1920 presidential election, flanked by Warren Harding posters.
It’s unclear from the photo if the women were actually voting (or indeed if this was November 2, the day of the election), but they could have, as 1920 was the first year in which women had the right to vote in every state (of which there were 48 at the time). The Nineteenth Amendment had been ratified in August.