The Corner

Re: Zell

The trouble with GOP partisanship is that it’s GOP. Richard Norton Smith, in his biography of Thomas Dewey, tells an interesting story. In the 1944 Dewey-FDR race, Roosevelt made a classic charming riposte to Republican charges that he had sent a destroyer to pick up his Scottie, Fala. His defense of his dog (cover your ears, Jonah; Rich: more proof that the beasts are no good) has gone down in history as the Fala speech.

But Dewey hit back. FDR made a joke out of a defense issue? Well, he hadn’t taken defense seriously before World War II. The speech was blistering, greeted with cries of “Pour it on!” Smith thinks it was the best Dewey ever gave.

Sadly, the lesson Dewey learned from it was that he had been too “hot.” No one could have beaten FDR in 1944, but Dewey was still remembering the lesson in 1948, when he had a real shot against Truman (who, of course, felt no such compunctions).

Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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