With the winds of war sweeping Europe and America barely recovering from the Great Depression, the roiling topic leading into the 1940 Presidential election was whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt would step aside or stick his tipped cigarette in the eye of the two-term tradition that all Presidents had honored, following the example set by George Washington in declining to run for a third term in 1796.
The Republicans were running the charismatic and likable political neophyte Wendell Willkie, a New York Republican corporate lawyer who ran an insurgent campaign assailing FDR’s failure to fully resurrect the country from the Depression and rumblings that the President would take the country back into another European war that far and away America wanted nothing to do with.
At the end of the day, Roosevelt was alarmed enough by Nazi fever being foisted upon the European continent that he decided to throw his hat into the ring.
He had to do a delicate dance to get himself on the ticket again, though. Breaking the two-term pledge was anathema to much of the electorate. At the convention in Chicago that summer, Convention Chairman Alben Barkley read a statement purportedly from FDR that the President had no desire to be re-nominated for another term as President of the United States and that “he wishes in all earnestness and sincerity to make it clear that all the delegates of this Convention are free to vote for any candidate.” As the puzzled delegates processed this seeming bow-out by Roosevelt, a voice boomed from the loudspeakers, “We want Roosevelt!”
Everyone looked around, but no one could tell where the voice was coming from. “We want Roosevent!”, the loudspeakers boomed again.
Suddenly, the delegates began to pick up the chant, yelling over and over,“Roosevelt! Roosevelt! Roosevelt!” The popular sentiment wasn’t going to be denied. Despite his selfless intention to step aside in the interests of not tearing the party asunder, the people were speaking. In the face of that rabid approbation, how could the party refuse Roosevelt the nomination, and how could Roosevelt refuse the will of the people?
Well, it wasn’t exactly the people. Unbeknownst to the delegates, the mystery voice that initiated the “We want Roosevelt!” chant belonged to Chicago’s Superintendent of Sewers Tom Garry. Garry was deep in the bowels of Chicago Stadium, manning a microphone, whipping the crowd into an uproar, and running back and forth between the convention floor and his catacomb work station, amplifying his mantra as necessary to stir the delegates into a sufficient frenzy and effect the “draft” nomination that the party bosses were after and that they knew that Roosevelt would accept.
The ruse was the brainchild of Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly, who had been a staunch FDR supporter and was, as were other party leaders, vexed by the President’s refusal to commit to a third term run.
The ploy was a rousing success, and Roosevelt won nomination with 946 votes.The delegates were less enthusiastic about Roosevelt’s Vice Presidential choice, Henry Agard Wallace, whom many considered an untethered loon and the doom of the country should, God forbid, something happen to the President.
JEREMIAH WRONG: Not to be let him be outdone by Hillary’s Gerry Ferraro meltdown, the gods of campaign parity smited the Obama campaign with their own racial Dresden this week, with Obama finally breaking ties with his spiritual adviser and the man who both married him and Michelle and baptised their daughter, Trinity Baptist Church preacher Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
“It just came to me within the last few weeks, y’all, why so many folks are hatin’ on Barack Obama. He doesn’t fit the model. He ain’t white, he ain’t rich, and he ain’t privileged. Hillary fits the mold. Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that! Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger!”
Now there’s a line you’re not going to see on an Obama bumpersticker.
That was over two months ago that Reverend Wright said that, but it’s been making the YouTube rounds in light of Gerry Ferraro’s affirmative action tirade this week. No one had started howling double standard yet and being the pragmatic strategist that he is, Obama went to the back of the train and cut this caboose loose.
You could practically hear the Obama team scramble to do damage control on this lest their margins start evaporating in Kansas and Missouri. About the only thing worse for the campaign would be putting Al Sharpton on the ticket.
Of course, don’t think that his early jettison of the Reverend is going to keep the Limbaughts running the 527s from firing that one directly at the hull of the Obama swift boat this fall.