The Campaign Spot

Why Obama Can’t Win With Truman’s Strategy

My old boss from many years ago at Congressional Quarterly, John Bicknell, writes in Roll Call today that Obama’s choice to adopt Harry Truman’s “give ‘em hell” strategy would work better if it was still 1948:

Perhaps most importantly, despite the economic problems the country faced in 1948, underlying support for continuing the New Deal was strong. Obama faces an even tougher economy, and his economic program inspires little loyalty beyond the Democratic base.

Nearly as significantly, Truman’s personality fit the moment. Can Obama, the cool intellectual, be convincing as the fiery populist? Perhaps, but he lives in a much more open and diverse political world than did Truman, who could get away with saying things that no candidate could utter today without his words being instantly reported and just as quickly condemned.

In a speech in Gary, Ind., just days before Election Day, Truman said, “If anybody in this country is friendly to the Communists, it is the Republicans.”

Then, Pietrusza writes, “Having smeared the GOP as Reds by day, by night he proceeded to condemn its leadership as Nazi and fascist” and effectively called Dewey a front man for Hitlerites, raw talk three years after the end of World War II.

Jonah, I believe that’s your cue.

Although I suppose it’s not that hard to imagine Obama calling the GOP a bunch of Communists and condemning them as Nazi and fascist.


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